Thursday, January 13, 2011

Plan Your Roadtrip Through Belize -

Plan Your Roadtrip Through Belize

Explore the Belize jungle to the beach and back again – in a very tiny SUV.
by Matthew Phenix
Photo by: Zach Stovall

According to our reliably fallible sense of direction and a rumpled map that’s let us down more than any map should, we’re passing through the village of San Pedro Columbia, in the hilly southwest corner of Belize. We’re well off our planned route, trundling along a dirt road with no name on an impromptu mission to find the ancient Maya city of Lubaantun, established in the 8th century and home to 20,000 people in its prime. We’re close, we hope. Lubaantun (a word that means “place of fallen stones”) was the spot where, in the 1920s, a 17-year-old English girl, working with her adventurer/archaeologist father, reportedly stumbled upon the Skull of Doom, a 4,000-year-old crystal cranium that’s believed to have given its holder the power to kill people with his mind. As side trips go, that beats the world’s biggest ball of twine any day.

Some 700 people occupy San Pedro Columbia these days; it’s the country’s largest enclave of an indigenous Maya tribe known as the Kekchi. They smile and wave to us, a driver with a farmer’s tan and Birkenstocks and a passenger with a blond mop top and three cameras around his neck. Broad foreheads and strong noses call to mind the faces staring back from ancient paintings and sculptures discovered at dozens of sites like Lubaantun, and it’s not hard to imagine these villagers’ ancestors greeting the first Spanish conquistadors with similar warmth and curiosity.

Plan Your Roadtrip Through Belize -

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