ORANGE WALK

After our experience in Hopkins we brought all our luggage onto the road just behind our hut at about 11 o’clock and waited for a bus. When the bus arrived we put our luggage in the the luggage compartment and travelled for 2 hours until we reached Belize City. The bus went through Dangriga and then went through Belmopan (capital of Belize) and then we arrived at Belize City.

Just before we reached Belize City the driver told everyone to get off the bus for no reason so we had to take our luggage out but half way through he said to get back on again??! So we got back on again but only a few people realized what was happening so the bus only carried like 5 more people.
When we reached the main bus station we only had to wait 5  minutes before our next bus arrived. On this same bus there was a man that was on the other bus and he said he had had to get a taxi when the driver told everyone to get off and it cost him a fortune.

From here,we went to the town of Orange Walk which was 2 hours away. On the way we saw lots of Mennonites.(this is a picture from the New river)-.

mennonites - Travellingminstrel #1
mennonites – Travellingminstrel #1

The Mennonites mostly live in small often isolated communities most of which shun modern lifestyles, preferring not to use electricity or machinery in their self supporting farming methods. The Belizean Mennonites are the most conservative and traditional of all the Mennonites to be found across Central America. They have now been settled in Belize for over fifty years and although many of the communities use horse drawn power to operate the ploughs and saw mills or water power from rivers to run light machinery the traditional groups will not use electricity or motor vehicles, choosing instead to travel on horse drawn covered wagons along dirt roads between their communities.

The men wear black or blue trousers with braces. They all had white skin, straw hats, blond hair and blue eyes. The women wore black dresses down to their ankles with long sleeves. Some had little flowers on their dresses as well. Some of them had bonnets and others had straw hats. The children were also very good. They looked strange next to the locals.

We arrived at the bus station in Orange Walk and took a taxi to a hotel called something like Lamaini River resort(which we found in one of the guide books). The hotel was only 3 minutes away. It was right next to the New river. We asked the price and it was a bit more expensive than what we thought it would be. It was $40 per night. We stayed here for 2 nights altogether.

The same day we walked into town and had a look around. The town was a nice quiet place with a park and benches in the town center. We weren’t that hungry so we went to a chinese take away and ordered 3 massive portions of vegetable fried rice which was only like £2 for the lot! We went to eat it in the town center and after this we went back to our hotel and fell to sleep.

The next day we woke up a bit earlier than usual, had some breakfast and waited near the river until our minibus arrived. Jed was picking stones up from the road to throw into the river. One time Jed threw a stone and it landed on one of the steps going into the river and he wanted the stone to sink into the water. So mum stepped onto the step to pick the stone up but before I knew what happened mum had fallen into the river and had sunk down to the bottom! Jed started to cry, I didn’t know what to do and the ultimate traveller had no idea where mum was because he didn’t see it happen. After 5 seconds or so mum pushed herself to the surface with a big gasp and her arms shot through the water and into the air! She climbed out of the water and when Jed saw mum was ok he started to throw stones in again. We all started to laugh and she said that the weeds had been pulling her down. Plus this river had crocodiles in it!!. Mum went to put some dry clothes on and as soon as she had finished the bus had arrived.

((Before I talk about what happens next I want to tell you of a major disaster that has happened in the future. I lost all of my photos from this blog post!!!! So I am afraid that there aren’t going to be any of the pictures that I took of the wildlife we are going to see! I am really annoyed and I am sure you are disappointed too but there is nothing I can do about it.)) I will use some of my mums instead, thanks mum.

We jumped in and drove off to a lodge next to the New river which was only about 5 minutes away. Once we arrived we took a small boat and all got in it with the guide. We thought we were going to be in a group with some other people but it turned out to just be us which was great news.

our boat - Travellingminstrel #2
our boat – Travellingminstrel #2

We turned right on the river

banks of the New river - Travellingminstrel #
banks of the New river – Travellingminstrel #3

and went under a bridge (which was the road we came on to get here) and around an island. We went past another boat full of lots of tourists. The guide explained that there was only one monkey on this island and it was a Spider monkey(we haven’t seen a Spider monkey yet,on this trip).

It was really tall and could spread out really far just like a Spider. It had a lonely but cute face and was brown(I got a fantastic picture of this monkey sat down but I lost it).

Spider monkey - New river Travellingminstrel #1
Spider monkey – New river Travellingminstrel #4

On our journey to Lamanai we saw all these animals and interesting trees but I lost all of them (mum took a few pictures); Marlot crocodiles,

Marlot crocodile - New river Travellingminstrel #2
Marlot crocodile – New river Travellingminstrel #5

Boat Builder heron, Snowy egret, Black Colored hawk, Northern Jacana, Snake cactus (which grows on trees),

Snake cactus - New river Travellingminstrel #3
Snake cactus – New river Travellingminstrel #6

a sort of insect bat (which were nearly invisible on the trees so I don’t know if you can see them on this photo,they are all in a line on the tree bark and there were around 7 ),

Insect bats - New river Travellingminstrel #4
Insect bats – New river Travellingminstrel #7

Purple Gallinule (a bird) and a common Slider turtle.

As we saw all this fabulous wildlife a few massive boats (from the cruise ships) with loads of people in and very powerful engines went past us now and then and made strong waves for us. They were very annoying and scared things away.

After an 1 hour or so we arrived at a point where the river grew wider and you could see on the left an entrance to the Lamanai site with boats scattered around the entrance. We drove towards the entrance and hopped off. This was the dock-.

dock - Lamanai Travellingminstrel #5
dock – Lamanai Travellingminstrel #8

We stopped in a shelter near the dock with all the other groups and had our picnic.

After our picnic we went in a small museum just further up the path. It was about what things they found at this site a few years ago and the mayan lifestyle 1000 years ago. This site is half a square mile. It also said there used to be 60,000 people who lived at the Lamanai site.

After here we walked up to the Jaguar temple (they seem to have a Jaguar temple at most mayan sites like for example: Chichen Itza). This was a fascinating temple and seemed to be quite a bit bigger than the Jaguar temples at Chichen Itza. It had a reasonable sized jaguars head at one side and another one at the other side. There were small holes in the head and they were apparently to put incense in to scare the bad spirits away.

Jaguar temple - Lamanai Travellingminstrel #6
Jaguar temple – Lamanai Travellingminstrel #9

After this temple we turned and faced behind us where we saw a hill. We walked up the hill and found another stone building here. This apparently used to be a market so it was named the  Royal Complex market 2. This building had fallen down so you couldn’t really make it out. Around this area we saw a few Howler monkeys howling  and a Red-Capped Manakin (which is a bird).

The next building was called Stela 9. In this temple there used to be a a Lord and his name (translated to English) was Lord sun-Shark. He was the Lord of this temple when he was 17 years old and he ruled this temple until he was 37 years old. His name in the mayan language was Tzik’inxookon.

Stela 9 temple - Lamanai Travellingminstrel #7
Stela 9 temple – Lamanai Travellingminstrel #10

In this area we saw a cheeky Coati-Mundi and the only bird that I have been wanting to see for 4 and a half months and that is the…. Toucan! I have finally seen my first Toucan (although my mum said we saw two in Sri Lanka when I was 6 but I don’t remember that.) . It was sat in a high branch on a tree. This Toucan was yellow and had an extremely massive colourful beak that looked too big for it’s body ( I lost this picture too!). This sort was called the Keel-billed Toucan also known as Rainbow-billed toucan and it is the national bird of Belize. I am super glad I finally saw one.

The next temple  was probably one of my favourites. It was called the Mask temple.

Mask temple - Lamanai Travellingminstrel #10
Mask temple – Lamanai Travellingminstrel #11

It had one massive face on each side, although they weren’t identical. The one on the left represented the face of a woman

woman mask - Lamanai Travellingminstrel #8
woman mask – Lamanai Travellingminstrel #12

and on the the right was a mans face.

Man mask - Lamanai Travellingminstrel #9
Man mask – Lamanai Travellingminstrel #13

I think they were tombs for the king and queen of the Mask temple. This was a very old temple. It was from 100BC – 450 AD. Around this temple we saw a Red-Lored parrot and a Yellow-throated Euphonia (which was a stunning tiny yellow bird).

The next one was the main temple called the Rain temple and it was 180 feet. There was a face on this one as well which represented the Rain god Chac Mool.

The rain temple - Lamanai Travellingminstrel #11
The rain temple – Lamanai Travellingminstrel #14

We took it in turns as usual and walked to the very top of this temple (there was a rope to help you climb up because someone had fallen off.) Once we reached the top point we could see the New river on the left stretching and turning further than the human eye can see. You could also see the thick jungle beneath us. It was magical scenery. After a few minutes up in the sky we walked cautiously back down.

We carried on walking through the jungle until we came up to a tiny ball court. It was said that this was the smallest ball court in Central America (now we’ve been to the biggest and smallest, the biggest one was in Chichen Itza) but it was the biggest center marker of all the ball courts. Apparently in this center mark some archaeologists found 9.7 grammes of mercury! I have no idea why there was mercury there.

The guide asked me if I wanted to see 2 baby hummingbirds that he had found a few days ago and I said yes so we followed him through some small shortcuts and arrived on a main path. He pointed to a small tree on the right where you could see a white nest as big as a golf ball. I walked towards it peeped inside and saw two tiny Rufous-Tailed baby hummingbirds lying comfortably inside the nest. They hadn’t grown any feathers yet. Of course I lost the pictures and mum didn’t take any so this is a photo,near enough to what we saw that I found on the internet.  It was sad to leave them when we did.

Further on he pointed to a wild coffee tree that was planted . Once we had a look at these 2 things we walked back to our boat. All the other boats had gone earlier so that meant that we could peacefully ride back. We saw a massive crocodile and some of the same wildlife but not as much as on the way here. Once we got back to our hotel we fell straight to sleep after our exciting and adventurous day.

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