Today we went to the Mayan site of Caracol. This archeological site is located a 2.5 hour-drive into the jungle from San Ignacio over a horrible, bumpy, muddy, pothole-filled road. The site is very remote. There are no towns, buildings or any other type of settlements in the area. It is very close to the border with Guatemala.
On the drive in we stopped a couple of times to see birds. We found a small group of Ocellated Turkeys. These are very colourful jungle turkeys that are found only in Belize, Petan (the northern state of Guatemala) and southern Yucatan. They are very rare except in a few isolated spots. They have almost been wiped out in Mexico from hunting. The only place they are common in Mexico is at one of the Mayan ruins called Calakmul which is near the northern border of Guatemala. We will go there when we return to Mexico in a couple of weeks. This multi-coloured turkey has iridescent green and blue and several other coloured feathers. I was quite happy to see this rare bird.
A little further down the road we stopped to see a magnificent White Hawk. This all-white hawk is a real beauty and another great find. We only saw it for a few seconds before it flew away. No photos.
The ruins were very interesting but it was not as great as I had expected. Chichen Itza and Uxmal in Yucatan are still the best Mayan sites that I have seen.
Many of the structures at Caracol are still not excavated. They look like a huge mound of dirt with trees and other plants growing on it.
The main structure is a huge pyramid. Not much taller than other pyramids I have seen but a lot wider at the base. It was only unexcavated since 2001. It took a grew of 500 workers more than four years to clear the front of the pyramid and the plaza of plants and dirt. The other three sides of the pyramid remain inaccessible in the jungle. There are very few Mayan structures in Mexico that have not been excavated. Certainly not any main ones. If this were in Mexico, all of the dirt and plants would have been removed and you would be able to walk all the way around the building and view all four sides of it. Clearing away a century of dirt and plants is a huge and very expensive job. Belize does not have the money for it. This 1000-year old pyramid is still the tallest structure in Belize today.
We also saw some interesting bugs and plants and a huge Ceiba tree.
On the way back to town we stopped to see a huge cave called Rio Frio. Actually it is more of a tunnel than a cave as it is open at both ends. It was made by the Rio Frio river which bored its way right through the mountain. Very interesting.
Just outside the cave I saw a swarm of army ants. They had found a big spider and were chasing it. The spider would run a little ways and then stop and then the ants would catch up. This happened several times. Finally they got the spider surrounded and he was a goner. I had always thought of spiders as eating flies and ants another insects and it was interesting to see the tables turned on this one. A spider being attacked and eaten by ants.
I also found some type of a skink, which looks like a snake with tiny legs.
It was a gloomy day and began to rain on the last half of the journey home.