Cahal Pech – December 2, 2010

It was still raining when I woke up my first morning in San Ignacio, but fortunately it had let up quite a bit and the temperature was still warm enough for shorts.

After eating breakfast at Midas, I caught a taxi to Cahal Pech (a local Mayan ruin).  Unbeknownst to me at the time, Cahal Pech means ‘place of ticks’.  I think I’m glad I didn’t know at the time…yuck.

Most of the major construction of Cahal Pech dates back to the Classic Period of Maya (250-900 AD), but there is evidence of continuous habitation as early as 900 BC which makes it the oldest site in Western Belize.

Since there was a constant drizzle the entire day, I was the only tourist there.  I don’t know for sure if this is a less visited site or if the weather was the reason.  While walking around a local teen caught up with me and basically gave me a guided tour including taking some pictures with me in them.  He was quite nice and made my self-guided tour even more fun.  I found out at the end that he and his brothers ran a little gift shop on the site.  I looked to buy something, but when I couldn’t find anything I needed/wanted I decided to give him a couple of US dollars for keeping me company.

I think Cahal Pech is a perfect site for a first timer.  Its excavated structures are all pretty close together and it’s crowded.  I loved the peacefulness of it.  I would have loved to get sit up there and read/journal, but the weather wasn’t cooperating.

Since the ruin was on a hill over the city, I decided it would be an easy stroll down the hill.  I headed down and went right.  I didn’t walk far before I came across the path of a pit bull that didn’t seem to want to let me pass.  I picked up a large rock and started walking backwards up the hill.  When I reached the visitor’s center of Cahal Pech I asked them to call me a taxi.  Apparently people usually walk down or have their cab wait, so it took a while for him to find someone to call.  Turns out the pit bull did me a favor because I should have went straight down the hill and not have taken a right.  I was confused because my cab driver had gone back and forth up the hill and he could have gone straight up.  My guess is that he had a good reason.

Once I made it back to San Ignacio, I found Pacz Tours.  They came highly recommended.  Their credits include taking Bear Grylls and Andrew Zimmer on tours, as well as National Geographic and Travel and Leisure.  I can now also recommend them, but more on that in later posts.  I booked a tour to Tikal and then went to Serendib for Carmel Custard (flan).

I walked back to Midas Resort and chatted with Mom and Dad on IM.  Then I headed back to my cabana for a long afternoon nap.  The day ended with dinner at Hodes again.

Side note…I chatted with a couple from a cruise ship while I was eating my flan (I originally saw them in the Pacz Tours office).  Their dilemma was a good case for NOT seeing Belize via cruise ship.  They had one day and had taken a shuttle to San Ignacio so that they could visit the ATM cave.  What they didn’t know is that it had rained so much recently that the cave was closed.  They were so disappointed.  My advice…DON’T VISIT BELIZE VIA A CRUISE SHIP…there is just too much to see and do and it will take longer than one day…and, it’s worth more than just one day.

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