On day three of our time in San Ignacio, we decided to do another cave excursion. Instead of waterfalls, this was an educational trip to Actun Tenochil Maknul, or ATM for short. We had to take a van for almost an hour and a half all the way into the jungle. Once in the jungle we had a forty-minute hike to the mouth of the cave. I expected this to be pretty similar to the cave excursion I went on in at Caves Branch, but it was very different.
Once in the cave, we had to swim and hold on to the sides of the cave to get from place to place. We were in the water for a majority of the time until we reached a rocky portion of the cave. Once there, we had to take off our shoes and walk
in our socks. The purpose of this was so that the oils from our shoes didn’t compromise any of the artifacts we were going to see from the Mayan culture. This was extremely cool. We were able to go into rooms where Mayans held different ceremonies. We saw pottery that had been broken
for religious purposes and human remains from people who had been sacrificed to their gods. It was really fascinating to see all of this history live and in person. I have never really been a history buff, but even I was astonished by the culture that believed in so many rituals that seem crazy by today’s standards.
After getting out of the ATM caves, we had some time to relax outside of the jungle. It was really crazy to see all of the people who still lived out in the jungle. It was clear that they rely on the resources that surround them. They wear modern clothing, but other than that, they don’t seemingly use electricity or running water. On our way home, we saw a woman washing her clothes in the river. I’ve always
wondered how people can live like this, but they seem as happy as can be. They don’t know any other way of life and this is how they choose to live. It was refreshing for me to see. Sometimes I wish I could live without a lot of the technology that we utilize today, but I realize that, after
living with cell phones, TVs, cars, and computers it would be difficult to imagine a life without them. Seeing a lifestyle
that didn’t require modern technology was truly eye opening to me. To the left is a picture of the UNCW spelunking team. It actually looks like one of those family portraits you can get at the mall...a little creepy.
Once we got home to San Ignacio I took a quick nap after a long day of spelunking. That night we had to travel to several places until we landed in a small sports bar that had the NCAA National Championship on TV. We were excited to watch it until UNC starting running away with the game. What a horrible championship this way. Granted, I wanted UNC to win the game, but I was hoping that it would at least be close. We ended up leaving shortly after the second half started and we got some pizza. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a pizza snob and as bad as some of the pizza can be in the south, it doesn’t get much better once you reach Central America. I think I will stick to the traditional food of Belize because I find myself pleasantly surprised every time I try a new type of food, and I’m disappointed whenever I have American cuisine.