By Bret Devies & Tera Williams
The date was June eighteenth, and excitement loomed on the horizon. Waking up at 5:30 in the morning, my wife and I decided to hit the pool. It was early enough that no one else was around, and we got to simply enjoy the perfect humidity as it hung over the refreshing infinity pool. When we were finished we went to breakfast, and by now we were growing accustomed to how perfect everything had been and would be. The meals were always excellent, and despite my critical judgment when it comes to pretty much anything, know that I mean what I say. Every meal was nothing short of five stars. We didn’t have to go far after breakfast, heading to the bar, where we waited a few minutes for our guide to the Maya archaeological site, Xunantunich. A pleasant coincidence- our guide was Joe Awe, the same man who had picked us up from the airport.
The drive wasn’t nearly as long, although it was more interesting. At one point, we had to get out of the van while we crossed the river on a hand-cranked ferry, and once we’ crossed to the other side, we got back in and continued on our way. The ferryman was kind and took a picture of me and my wife in front of the river.
Xunantunich was amazing. Joe knew the history of everything we saw, and told us all about the mythology, rituals, habits, politics, and even showed us their ball court. As we moved through, we came to a clearing. As we came into the clearing, it opened up to our left, showing us a massive palace, El Castillo, and several small temples. They looked incredible. A dozen pictures later, Joe took us closer. We looked up at it from the bottom, and I snapped away on the camera. Then, much to our delight, Joe led us up the stairs, and, explaining every nook and cranny along the way, took us to the top. The sight from atop El Castillo was inspiring and beautiful. In the distance we could hear a massive amount of birds, howler monkeys, and there were tree tops for as far as the eye could see in almost every direction. Straight ahead, the view was of more ruins and partially excavated structures. That was a real experience. We had a busy day ahead of us still, so Iâ€™ll sum up the rest of it. We saw a few smaller buildings, also interesting, and passed by a wedding that was setting up as we left.
After we got back to Chaa Creek we went to the gift shop. Everything they had was amazing, and choosing what we wanted was difficult. We ended up buying some gifts for family and friends, an incredible painting of a Keel-bill Toucan, and a few other items. We went to lunch, which I won’t even bother repeating details about, however on our way out we were met by Lucy, one of the owners. She was very polite, and knew exactly who we were, and that was cool. Afterward we went mountain biking. It had been on-and-off raining so much that the tires quickly became caked in mud. That made it difficult to go up or down hills, but overall, it was still a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by such dense fauna. That was really cool. After we returned the bikes, we lounged around our room a bit. We showered thoroughly, as our clothes, hair, and any exposed skin were covered in dirt and mud. We had a couple of hours until we were supposed to meet for our next activity, so we unwound a bit.
Again meeting at the bar, at 4:30pm, we were led down to the river path. Our guide was a polite and interesting guy who seemed to enjoy what he did. He pulled over a canoe, gave us life vests, and we got ready for our Sunset Canoe Ride. I had an oar, as did the guide, and my wife took pictures. We spent about forty-five minutes paddling upstream. I had never canoed before, but I’d like to think I got the hang of it. It was challenging, but very fun, and several times we passed by other canoeists, who were having more trouble than we were. This was attributable to our guide, who was highly capable at navigating the river. We eventually stopped, and drifted lazily back downstream. It was overcast and a bit early so we didn’t see the sunset, but it was pleasant through and through. Again we went to dinner, had a wonderful evening, and eventually retired for the night. And of course, we took hundreds of pictures that day.