First up, Xunantunich. We stayed at a place called the Trek Stop, which caters to backpackers. It was very hippie-ish with rainwater showers and compost toilets, but it was actually pretty nice. We had a fan in our room (and electricity!) and everything. We had chosen it because if its proximity to the ruins, inexpensiveness, and potential to meet other backpackers. Unfortunately, we ended up being the only ones staying there! Just kind of a freak thing, being the rainy season in the middle of the week. It was sort of cool, having the place to ourselves. The only problem was that rainwater showers have zilch water pressure so we didn't take showers for a couple of days.
We walked the half mile to the river and got on the ferry. There the sign said 1 mile to the ruins, but there were a lot of tourists taking cabs. Scoffing at them, we took the one mile hike. Straight uphill. All the way. Super steep. Now, I don't know about you, but when I'm backpacking across country, doing tons of manual labor, hiking up temples, and scuba diving on my "relaxing vacation," a whole bunch of extra walking uphill isn't really what I'm looking for. Especially in the crazy humidity. But, as was the case with pretty much everything on this trip, I feel like I really earned the pretty pictures.
Xunantunich's most notable feature is its Western Frieze. It is so beautiful. What you see here is actually an artist's replica set in front of the real frieze to protect it.
See how those stairs line up? What do you want to bet that's a direct North-South line? The Mayans were so cool.
Canopy view from the top of the highest temple. We sat up there for a while, chatting with a tourist from Chicago, originally from Latvia. We traded stories of temples and recommendations of places to visit. We forgot to ask his name, so we called him Latvia Chicago for the rest of our trip.
Next up, Cahal Pech! This one was at the top of a hill, too, but we had taken a cab from our hotel as it was about 10 miles away. So, we just had to hike down the hill, which was very fortunate, as we had our backpacks with us.
Give it scale, Liz!
Big stairs! For reference, Liz is about 6 feet tall.
Hey, we were both here! All gross and sweaty!
Zen moment. She also has a very similar picture of me from when I wasn't looking.
The very last installment of Ancient Mayan Cities will be about Tikal, the really spectacular one. You know the thing about saving the best for last!