Turning 18 on the River, the Reef and the Ruins
Trip Start Dec 23, 2007
4Trip End Dec 30, 2007
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It turns out their singing, dancing and drinking was the action that night in town.
Until the highway from Belize City is completed in 2008, this area will reman very sleepy!
Wednesday was our day to go out on the boat with Chris and explore the river and caye (pronounced key) system of Southern Belize.
Cotton Tree is 15 miles upriver from the Caribbean Sea and the area called the Port of Honduras
Our first stop was West Snake Caye where we donned our snorkeling gear and flipped overboard onto the reef.
No wetsuits were necessary on this gorgeous day as we explored the coral formations, schools of fish and variously colored starfish.
We swam to shore and sunned on the isolated beach and then we headed for Abalone Caye where the HQ of the Marine Reserve where George told us of the regulations they enforce to keep the fish and bird stocks thriving.
We visited Moho Caye where the only tourist resort in the reserve is. I bought Becca her first "legal" drink and Marcia and Veronica snorkeled over to explore a close to shore shipwreck.
Our trip back to the mouth of the river was spectacular and we entered the Moho River as the sun was beginning to set
Rainforests and coral reefs are considered biological diversity "hot spots" -- areas which have so may species per square mile that are not found anywhere else. Ironically, the rising living standards of the world's poorest people are leading to the cutting down of the rainforest -- on top of the habitat destruction, the burning of the debris contributes twice as much carbon dioxide emissions annual than all the driving in the world. As the greenhouse gasses accumulate they lead to warming oceans and a "bleaching" of the coral reefs. Many scientists believe that the world's reef systems might be gone from this effect in less than 75 years.
All in all a glorious day in the Caribbean. Especially amazing was the fact that we never ran into a single other tourist boat the whole day -- and this is the peak season
Thursday, we set out to learn about the lost civilization of the Mayan. More than one thousand years ago Central America was home to one of the greatest ancient civilizations ever established. The Mayans built dozens of gleaming white cities dedicated to religion, astronomy, mathematics, artistry and sport. Millions of people lived here and their prosperity from agriculture was enough to support a class of warrior kings, priests and nobles.
Imagine a gleaming white city built on a hill with a 12 story temple rising out of the jungle. This was Lubaantun in the year 900 CE. The city was only used for ritual, sport, civil administration and public markets. No one was allowed to live on this hallowed ground.
With no sign of war near the cities and no written records of the history of the time, archaeologists were stumped by the seemingly sudden disappearance (possibly in as little as 75 years) of the entire society.
In the past 15 years, DNA based investigations have documented how the slash and burn agricultural methods of the late classic period exhausted the topsoil and led to the starvation of millions and the collapse of the society. The remnant Maya lived a subsistence lifestyle until the Spanish arrived. Unable to tolerate European germs, 90% of the remaining population died of the new diseases.
Now we know the answer to why Belize is among the least populated places on earth.