HideoutThe Hideout

HIDEOUTThe Hideout
The Hideoutnice places to visit and things to do

San Ignacio

December 12th, 2011

My last stop in Belize was a little town close to the border of Guatemala. To San Ignacio I took a bus from Dangriga to the capital Belmopan (6 BZD, 1:30h) and took another bus for an hour until I arrived at my destination. I decided to stay at the Hi-Et, where I had a room for myself for 25 BZD which had a nice balcony, where I spent some time reading. The bathroom was shared but just right next door.

In this town lots of tourists were walking around. And so a lot of people trying to offer you their service. I always startled when a taxi driver shouted his service at me. Sometimes I wished for a tee-shirt saying: “Don’t talk to me!” but I heard from other people that they were even more bothered/pestered than I was.

Where are the bikes?

Since some places to visit are close by I thought about renting a bike. My guide book from the year of 2006 also was mentioning that and so I went on an odyssey to find a bike. First I asked at my hotel but they didn’t know about any place and told me to ask at Pacs Tours (which I shouldn’t recommend for any tours by the way!). They also told me that they don’t know of any place to rent a bike. Finally I came across Mayawalk Tours who were telling me to go to a guy called Hummer, who might rent those out. After some more asking around I found this guy. My hopes elated when I was asking him for a bike. But he only could offer motorbikes. After some thinking he told me to come back half an hour later while he tries to organize one for me. To make it short … he couldn’t find one in the end, but I still was thankful for trying.

The reason why there are no bikes anymore, could be that it would take away business from the taxis. A tour to El Pilar, which is around 16km away is a good way to make some money for a taxi. Some other guy told me that those bikes, which actually existed few years ago, were in a too bad shape … hmm.

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Another day I decided to take a tour to Actun Tunichil Muknal (short ATM), which is a cave. This tour included a 45 minutes hike (each way), lunch and 3h inside the cave with all equipment. Those tours are quite expensive and I paid $75 (US!) in the end, but it was worth it in my opinion. At least if you are new to caves!

At 7:30am we started for the cave in a little van. We were six people and drove for almost an hour until we started our hike towards the cave. Our guide was telling us a lot of stuff about the jungle and certain plants, which was really interesting. It was good to start early, so we were the first tour group that arrived at the cave. After we received our helmets with their headlamps attached, we went directly into the cave.

I heard that there was some swimming involved and was surprised that we already had to do it when we entered the cave. It were just a few meters but enough to get totally wet and awake. I was afraid that I would get cold, since I imagined caves always wet and cold, but the temperature was fine.

We came across several formations of stalagmites which looked beautiful in the way they were created over several of decades. Our guide always told us which walls and stones we shouldn’t touch to prevent the cave from ‘dying’. We went deeper and deeper into the cave and came across more and more Maya remains. Pots and skeletons that weren’t move from the day they had been found. That was quite interesting, that these things didn’t end up in a museum.

I wondered why we had to bring socks with us, until we came to a place inside the cave which we weren’t allowed to enter bare feet or with shoes. Carefully we walked around fragile pots and bones and sometimes our guide told us to switch off our lights. Finally I was able to recognize how dark it can be. Then he was using his flash light to show us the surrounding, which emphasized every piece in the cave even more. At the end of our tour we reached the remains of a complete skeleton. Several stories exists about that one, why it was there and why its spine was broken. But we only can guess …

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