Friday, April 09, 2010

April 9 - Caracol and Mountain Pine Ridge

There were nine people on our trip. I met Rob and Sara, an English couple, at Midas Resort as we waited for the collectivo to pick us up. Another couple from England and four medical students, three from England and one Canadian, made up the rest of the group.
Oscar, sixty percent Mayan and forty percent Spanish, was our guide. He completed primary school. He found caring for his younger brothers and sisters and going to school at the same time too difficult. He talked about, among other things, how far he had to walk twice a day to get drinking water for the family. Being as it was Friday once he had completed the tour, which began at 7 am and will finish at 5 pm, he was going to take a three hour bus ride to the northern part of Belize, then walk one hour to his small village to spend the weekend with his wife and children. They live in a small hut with a grass roof, and they all sleep in one bed. He has been a guide for fifteen years, but only works as a guide from November to May, tourist season. The rest of the year he farms sugar cane.
His family speaks Mayan, Creole, Spanish and English. They all sleep in a twin bed most of the time he sleeps on the floor because his children are getting bigger and there isn’t enough room for him. The house isn’t big enough for another bed.
He has a dream. To get a $50,000 loan from the government, build a house in St. Ignazio that would include an office for his business, buy a computer and advertise his services to Europeans.
On our way to Caracol we see a Jaguar. He’s lounging on the road and not very interested in moving when the collectivo stops. Eventually he wanders off into the pine forest. Oscar tells us some guides have worked for fifteen years and have never seen a Jaguar. This is our lucky day.
Caracol, a Mayan ruin, is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but Oscar tells us that in its day it was famous for winning a battle with the people of Tikal.
We eat lunch, move on to the Rio Frio Cave, and the Rio On where we swim in the natural whirl pools and water slides.

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