So I'm a sucker for cold dark caves....

Published: May 3rd 2009
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The last time I visited Belize, I had the fortune to go on one of the most unique tours on this continent, the ATM Cave Tour. Since being in that wet dark cave, I have learned alot about the unique creatures that live in absence of light and heat, and swore I would never be crazy enough to enter again. Until St. Hermann's cave last November....and now the cave at the mouth of the Blue Creek waterfall was calling me inside....

The Southernmost district of Belize, Toledo, has about 55 miles of paved road and the rest remains an expanse of hard to reach wonders! Blue Creek is really off the beaten path, and there are very few tours to this remote spot. We had heard about the Blue Creek waterfalls and cave from a few locals, and had it on the top of our Belizean Adventure Wish List. I had recently received my Christmas money from Grandma Wandke, and thought what a perfect gift of adventure…let’s rent a car and see if we can’t find this spot! The dirt road to Placencia is in the process of being paved so after not driving for 4 months, my first hour behind the wheel was dodging construction workers, mislaid pipes, and of course the potholes! (And look out for pedestrian ramps! Speed bumps on steroids!) We got to the Southern Highway quickly, and about 45 minutes later, it was completely tore up and more gravel/crazy roads! We turned off the highway towards the village of Santa Elena, and the road turned into a conglomerate of medium to large boulders and an obstacle course of Mennonite buggies and stray animals! We seemed to pick all of the correct options at each fork in the road, because soon we pulled into the tiny Mayan village of Blue Creek! We asked a local to point us in the right direction, and found that at the river in the center of the village, we were to follow the hiking path for a 10 minute walk to the waterfall and cave (that’s 30 minutes after Belize hiking sign translation!)

It was here we finally chose the wrong path, and started out on what we thought to be the only riverside trail into the jungle. A Mayan guide called out to us from across the river, “Hey, where are you going? That’s the farmer’s trail…six miles and you’ll end up in Guatemala!” Haha, we turned on our heels and slipped on the mud back to the road. We had been advised that we were not allowed to enter the cave without a guide, so we were excited at our luck in meeting one who offered a good price and a saved us an accidental trip to Guatemala! The hike was an easy 25 minutes, and the last half was along the shocking blue river water! Of course we could hear the waterfall before seeing it, and when we turned the corner all we echoed the same “Wow!” It was a series of falls, spread out over 20 yards and five levels high, with water spilling through the decoration of boulders. The trail seemed to end, and the entrance to the cave could only be reached by climbing and scrambling throughout the cascades! Where the cave walls arched highest, there was a two foot wide natural stone platform just below the surface of water that extended into the deep blue cave river. From the tip of this platform, we jumped into the cool cave water and swam about 100 yards into the black abyss! Another challenge of courage - or craziness! What else is swimming in here? Will I hit a rock outcropping? And it’s getting darker…bluer….blacker….but the water is so refreshing! We swam and explored the cave for a while, then unpacked our lunch on a dock overlooking the aqua blue river! The river beneath the dock was swarming with thousands of tiny fish and we fed them most of our lunch. As the feeding frenzy escalated, there would be so many fish rushing to the crumbs that they were above the surface of the water! Then a large fish would swoop in from below, and hundreds of fish would jump out of the water in every direction! What a show of nature!

On our way home, we decided to take a different route to see if we couldn't find the famous Lubaatun ruins. We followed the archeological signs, and pulled into a grass parking lot lined with Mayan women selling their jewelry and baskets. Its always so difficult to deny these hard working, talented craft artists, but honestly I only need one Mayan basket. And I bought it when I was a tourist here in 2005! 😊 We hiked up and down the steep hill to the entrance, and once again found ourselves to be the only visitors to this ancient site! Lubaatun claims to be the site of the discovery of the (in)famous crystal skull...many stories and science are denying the authenticity of the skull, but the story is interesting nonetheless! It was claimed to have been found by a young girl with her explorer father - while he was looking for Atlantis - on her 15th birthday. This Skull of Doom is made of pure rock crystal and according to scientists it must have taken over 150 years, generation after generation working all the days of their lives, patiently rubbing down with sand an immense block of rock crystal until finally the perfect Skull emerged. It is at least 3,600 years old and according to legend was used by the High Priest of the Maya when performing esoteric rites. It is said that when he willed death with the help of the skull, death invariably followed. It has been described as the embodiment of all evil, and many people believe it to show holographic pictures and emit weird noises!

We were lucky to have an in depth coversation with the local man who worked at the ruins, and he was showing us some small ceramic figures he had recently excavated, including a jaguar head whistle! It's so amazing that they are still finding relics, and 1500 years later, much mystery remains!

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