Our week in Placencia flew by too fast and sadly we left the beach house for our next adventure in Mayan history. We left the glimmering Caribbean sea and drove up to the town of San Ignacio. Along the way we stopped at St. Herman’s cave and the inland Blue Hole. We’d read that these were worth seeing. We’d heard that cave tubing was a lot of fun, but the $125 each tour price was over our budget, so we were happy to see that they offered cave tubing at St. Herman’s cave for $50 each which was more reasonable. In a matter of minutes we had tubes in our hands and were following our guide, Omar, to the entrance of the cave. At the entrance, Omar handed us headlights and we followed him into the dark cave to the water. Once in the water, the current gently pulled us through the giant cavern under stalactites and around stalagmites while our guide explained that the Mayans viewed caves as the sacred underworld. The Mayans used the caves for religious practices including bloodletting and human sacrifice.
I was very excited to do this tour as it sounded like an Indiana Jones Adventure. Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) is an archeological site. The Mayans used the cave for religious ceremonies and sacrifices and the bones of the crystal maiden are the highlight of the tour. You can only visit the cave on a tour. We used Pacz Tours http://www.pacztours.net. The tour starts with a 45 minutes hike with three creek crossings to the entrance of the cave. Once there, you swim inside and the adventure begins criss-crossing over and under boulders and traversing through a river deep inside the dark caverns. The guide pointed out rock formations modified by the
Mayans to create shadows within the cave. Once in the depths of the cave, we climbed up onto a ledge, removed our shoes (kept our socks on) and entered into the world of the Mayans 1,000 of years ago. We walked past pottery used in sacrificial ceremonies, bones and skulls of babies, teens, and adults lay eerily still unmoved for over a millennium. We made one final climb up a metal ladder and we were face to face with the complete skeleton of the crystal maiden. The bones were calcified and shimmer like made of crystal. Who was she and why was she chosen? I pondered as we left her dark crypt and made our way back toward the light and
Hotels and Restaurants:
Black Orchid Resort (15 minutes from airport/free airport transportation provided)
Maya Mountain Lodge