Today we went to visit one of Belize´s top attractions, the ATM caves. We had to walk through the jungle for about 45 minutes to reach the cave and were then kitted out with helmets with head lamps. We wore bikinis and shorts and a tshirt as most of the cave is in water as a river flows in. The first part involved swimming for about 5 minutes into the cave and then we got out and climbed for a bit and followed some very narrow tunnels and squeezed through some very tight spaces. Parts we had to wade or swim through as the water came up to about our waist and other parts only our ankles. Pretty difficult swimming in trainers as well! The rock formations inside were amazing though, with some of the walls covered in a crystal rock that glittered and there were loads of stalactites and stalacmites. We then had to climb upsome very slippery rocks where we reached the dry chamber. The guide told us we had to remove our trainers and just wear our wet socks so as notto damage the floor of the cave. The cave itself is huge and runs several miles deep and we only went about 2 fifths of the way in. The dry chambers were where the Mayans made their sacrifices, mostly oferring their children as the ultimate sacrifice. It was amazing to see all their pots and urns that have been preserved so well in the cave. We continued a bit further and saw a few skulls of children that had been sacrificed. Our guide showed us how the front of the skull seemed flat and to slope backwards and explained this was because when they were babies and the skulls were still soft, they shaped them stone and heavy weights and flat objects so they would be shaped like this as it was a sign of beauty and intelligence. We thencarried on further into the cave and climbed up a ladder where we could see the whole skeleton of a girl about our age. All the bones had been perfectly preserved where she lay, and archaelogists are not sure whether she had been royalty or just another sacrifice, but DNA tests had shown she wasn´t related to any of the other skeletons.
We then had to leave the cave back the way we had come, so more crawling along tunnels and swimming in our wet trainers, and then once out of the cave we had some lunch and headed back home. It was an amazing experience though and it was lucky that we´re not too claustrophobic!