A Travellerspoint blog

Belize

Mayans and Butterflies

Cahal Peche and the Butterfly Farm

93 °F
View 1998 Belize, Tikal, Atlanta, and Cozumel & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Monday, 9 March 1998

Got up early to take a photo of the sunrise and cows
Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise


I went up to breakfast - the way to be sure that Bob doesn't order the same as me is to order without him being there. He was watching a flock of wild toucans so I got there before he did. I ordered Huevos Rancheros and pineapple juice. He had fried eggs and bacon. Breakfast was a flat US$4.50 each no matter what you get.

We had a flat tire right as we arrived at Clarissa Falls, so we went into San Ignacio the next day and had it repaired. We were afraid that if we didn't get it fixed that when we had the next one (the tires were pretty bald) that we'd be stuck. Chena drew us a little map and gare us directions to the garage.
Chena's map

Chena's map


We got the tire fixed - very cheap.
Driver's side

Driver's side


And we got gas.
Rosalie's tacos

Rosalie's tacos

Then we went to Cahal Pech and to the Butterfly Farm as we didn't want to venture far. And since we were going to Tikal later, I thought Cahal Pech was a good place to practice.

The majority of Mayan activity in Belize was between 2000 BC to 1000 AD. But Mayans still live in Belize, especially in the southern part. Belize has one of the oldest known Mayan sites at Cuello; one of the longest occupied Mayan sites at Lamanai; and one of the largest jade carvings ever found at Altun Ha.

Cahal Pech is a few minutes walk from San Ignacio and very accessible. It was a major ceremonial center. There are 34 structures on about 2 acres. Admission for the two of us was BZ$10.00.
Entrance area steps

Entrance area steps

2838715-Cahal_Peche_near_entrance_Belize.jpgTourists sitting on the steps

Tourists sitting on the steps

2838717-Mayan_Ruins_Belize.jpgMayan Ruins

Mayan Ruins

814664-Mayan_City_in_San_Ignatio_Cahal_Pech.jpgDetail

Detail


Note pointed arch

Note pointed arch

Passageway

Passageway

Ditch

Ditch

large_814663-Mayan_City_in_San_Ignatio_Cahal_Pech.jpg34990461710372-Cahal_Peche_O..Cahal_Pech.jpg30142_29.JPG89057322710366-Cahal_Peche_O..Cahal_Pech.jpg
The name is supposed to mean "place of the tick" or something like that because the area had been used as a cattle pasture, and cattle pastures are notorious breeding grounds for ticks. It is unusual in that it has the finish on the masonry which would have been there when the site was in use, and the brickwork is not all exposed as it is at some sites.
Closeup of steps

Closeup of steps


After some looting was done between 1970 and 1985, the local people became concerned. In 1988 a formal large scale excavation was started which continues today. The buildings have been partially restored and are excellent examples of classic period structures.

I lost Bob early on, because the site is maze of steps and alleyways, rooms and open spaces.
96042_07.JPG Cahal Pech My Photos - Roll #1

Cahal Pech My Photos - Roll #1


Hole in the hill

Hole in the hill

Climbing up

Climbing up

Looking down

Looking down

Passageway

Passageway

Looking down from up on the walls

Looking down from up on the walls

7153959814683-Cahal_Peche_M..Cahal_Pech.jpgStairs

Stairs


He went back to the car earlier than I did.
Looking back at our rental car in the parking lot

Looking back at our rental car in the parking lot


While this is one of the most easily accessible Mayan sites, but like all of their cities, it is on top of a high elevation to give a view of all the surrounding countryside and it is a steep climb if you don't have a car. The location on the top of a hill meant that they could send and receive signals from other cities.

The layout consists of different courtyards or plazas. The huge area in the center was the marketplace. The peasants lived in thatched houses in the country (perhaps something like the cabin we had at Clarissa Falls). The dwellings were built along the inside walls of the city of brick and stone. The largest rooms were for the royal family.
814657-Royal_Residence_Cahal_Pech.jpgThe Royal Family Residence

The Royal Family Residence

1173337710371-Cahal_Peche_O..Cahal_Pech.jpgCahal Pech

Cahal Pech

We left Cahal Pech and went to a small butterfly farm called Tropical Wings Nature Center and Butterfly House on the road out of San Ignacio. Since we got there about noon and decided to eat before we went to the butterfly farm. We had lunch at the Trek Stop there. Unfortunately, nothing that was on the menu was in stock. Eventually we decided on an egg salad sandwich. They were made right there while we waited (I think the eggs had been boiled in advance) which cost us BZ$5.75 We also got Sprite and cookies for BZ$2.75.

We have been to bigger and more inclusive types of butterfly places - in Costa Rica and in Key West. But this one does like the Belize zoo, and concentrates on Belize butterflies and plants. Admission was BZ$10 each. It is open 9-5.

The butterfly enclosure was very much like the one in Costa Rica that we visited, although smaller
Structure from the outside

Structure from the outside

916031-Butterfly_on_the_roof_Cayo_District.jpgTop of screened and landscaped 42'x60'x21’

Top of screened and landscaped 42'x60'x21’


After lunch we went through the museum, saw the required video tape about butterflies (all the butterfly places seem to have these) and then we went to look at the butterflies.
xb19980309-133530141_26.JPGButterfly

Butterfly

916029-Butterfly_Cayo_District.jpg916027-Butterfly_Cayo_District.jpgCan you see the butterfly?

Can you see the butterfly?


Using a film camera it was difficult to be sure if I had gotten any of the pictures that I wanted, and the one picture I took of the blue morpho (which landed on my leg) was quite disappointingly out of focus. When the blue morpho is resting, it looks like a dead leaf. When it is flying the wings are a beautiful blue.
My foot at the butterfly farm

My foot at the butterfly farm


I walked around in the gardens and looked for hummingbirds. It was very hot and most of the birds were sensibly napping. I had a conversation with a man sitting on a porch
71103263916067-Looking_from_..o_District.jpgPorch and bathrooms at the Nature Center

Porch and bathrooms at the Nature Center


about what bird books one used for Belize, and he said that if you had Costa Rica and Mexico, that would about cover it - he knew of no book specifically for Belize.

Amish

Amish


Then we came back to Clarissa Falls and I had a nap.
View from our window

View from our window


Beside the cabins

Beside the cabins


I donated a book to the library that I had read and we walked around and looked at some of the Clarissa Falls "zoo". The farm has cows (mostly Brahma crosses), turkeys, ducks, chickens, dogs, and cats, plus some more exotic animals the most personable of which is Romeo the toucan.
a19980310-141996995_09.JPGTurkeys on the lawn of the cabins

Turkeys on the lawn of the cabins

large_3424712-Animals_at_the_Farm_Cayo_District.jpg3424711-Animals_at_the_Farm_Cayo_District.jpg3424716-Animals_at_the_Farm_Cayo_District.jpgFree range and caged birds

Free range and caged birds

Romeo the Toucan in the feeding area

Romeo the Toucan in the feeding area


Chena told us that the wild toucans would come by and try to get Romeo to go off with them and he sometimes joins them. But he comes back.
Area with birdhouses and closeup

Area with birdhouses and closeup

3424714-Animals_at_the_Farm_Cayo_District.jpgAnimals at the Farm

Animals at the Farm


I took a short swim before dinner. We had electricity for the afternoon and dinner.
Potted plants on the restaurant roof

Potted plants on the restaurant roof


There are a lot of plants - all labeled in back of the restaurant
Entrance to restaurant

Entrance to restaurant

Toad

Toad

Hen in the rafters at the restaurant

Hen in the rafters at the restaurant


Bob had spaghetti ajo al Clarissa and I had soup and stuffed squash. Service is good and cheerful, even when we moved from outside (when it got dark) to under the roof so we could read (there is a bookcase of books there).

Mostly at night we just went to bed after dinner. I did spend some time one night when it was relatively clear
Almost Full moon

Almost Full moon


trying to take a picture of the full moon
Misty Moon

Misty Moon


and watching Romeo, the tame toucan who lived at Clarissa Falls,
Romeo the local tame toucan at Clarissa Falls

Romeo the local tame toucan at Clarissa Falls

3424713-Animals_at_the_Farm_Cayo_District.jpgRomeo

Romeo


and the cat who was trying (unsuccessfully) to catch him.
Cat on bird feeding station

Cat on bird feeding station


It was really cold tonight - down to 65 deg F. We almost needed a blanket.
Cats on the steps at night

Cats on the steps at night

Expenses in US$
$12.50 gas - 6 gals /136 miles
2.50 tire repair
5.00 Cahal Peche
10.00 Butterfly
2.88 lunch
1.27 Sprite and cookies
23.00 dinner
(9.00 included Breakfast)
unk Clarissa Falls cabin
$ 57.15 Total in US$

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:04 Archived in Belize Tagged chicken mayan toucan butterflies turkeys toad cahal_peche Comments (6)

Hidden Valley Falls, the Stoplight and Tubing

The Second Day at Clarissa Falls


View 1998 Belize, Tikal, Atlanta, and Cozumel & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Tuesday 10 March 1998

xh219980310-062130142_18.JPGSunrise

Sunrise

We got up after the morning news on the radio. They said that the Snooty Fox team won the canoe race. We had breakfast - French toast for me and eggs and bacon for Bob.

After breakfast I persuaded Bob to drive to Hidden Valley Falls.
Ticket

Ticket


Map of the area at the entrance

Map of the area at the entrance


The road is unpaved (and very rough)
728320-Pine_Forest_road_Cayo_District.jpgPine Forest road

Pine Forest road


and takes you through the Mountain Pine Ridge region - this region has pine trees and is reminiscent of Georgia. There were some beautiful flowers, but we were afraid to stop for pictures.
Foliage Mountain Pine Ridge

Foliage Mountain Pine Ridge


It was about 35 miles and took 2 hours to get there. The falls were very nice.
2448657-Falls_San_Ignacio.jpgFalls

Falls

Hidden Valley falls

Hidden Valley falls

Steps down to an observation area

Steps down to an observation area

Flowers in the steps

Flowers in the steps


This is believed to be the highest waterfall in Central America and is actually over 1,500 ft to the bottom. A viewing platform overlooks the falls.
The whole falls (or as much as will fit)

The whole falls (or as much as will fit)


There is a short scenic trail around the escarpment for taking in the valley view.
90378642449038-Top_of_the_f..an_Ignacio.jpgFalls from overlook

Falls from overlook

large_728336-Mountain_Pine_Ridge_Cayo_District.jpg
Our travel agent had recommended that we get a soft-side cooler to carry materials for lunch, especially going up to Mountain Pine Ridge. So we did that, and it proved to be a very excellent suggestion.
Patio at Hidden Valley Falls where we ate lunch - with a crack

Patio at Hidden Valley Falls where we ate lunch - with a crack


We had PB&J sandwiches , and orange and a Sprite for lunch up there. And I had the rest of the plantain chips. We could have bought stuff to eat there (there is a little store which sells some food and souvenirs), but we ate our own food because we were leaving soon and wanted to eat it up before we went across the border.
728341-Hidden_Valley_Falls_Cayo_District.jpgHidden Valley Falls

Hidden Valley Falls


There is a lodge up here called Blancaneaux which was built by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. We met some folks that biked over from it. They were told it was an easy ride, but it took them 3 or 4 hours.
Road with car ahead of us

Road with car ahead of us


It was much quicker coming down. We saw two big game birds fly across. There was a van from Windy Hill coming down. Their original van had bad wheel bearings. They didn't go much faster than we did.

We decided that "Dangerous Curve" didn't mean a really sharp turn, but a turn with rocks//potholes right around the corner. Also saw "Pin Curve" and "Hidden Slope" sign.
728318-Road_near_town_Cayo_District.jpgRoad near town

Road near town

2449036-Road_San_Ignacio.jpgTrucks and a roadside sign

Trucks and a roadside sign


San Ignacio is across the Macal River from their sister city of Santa Elena.
2448654-Makal_River_San_Ignacio.jpgMakal River

Makal River

x19980310-141430143_31.JPGRiver from the bridge

River from the bridge

Advertisement outside town

Advertisement outside town


To get from one side of the river to the other you must cross the one-lane Hawksworth Bridge - Belize's only suspension bridge which was built in 1949. Walking across is pretty easy, but in order to cross in a car, you have to take your turn. In order to avoid confrontations in the middle of the bridge, traffic is controlled by Belize's first traffic light and one of the few that are anywhere in the country.
One lane bridge

One lane bridge

Red Light - Waiting behind another car

Red Light - Waiting behind another car

Green light

Green light

We have a green light to cross

We have a green light to cross


It's difficult to take pictures of the bridge from inside the car, and so this time when we were crossing to San Ignacio, I got out of the car, and walked across
23770442728333-Looking_acros..an_Ignacio.jpgLooking across the roadway

Looking across the roadway

Bridge and Stoplight

Bridge and Stoplight

728335-Bridge_and_Stoplight_San_Ignacio.jpgwalkway alongside bridge

walkway alongside bridge

San Ignacio from the bridge

San Ignacio from the bridge


while Bob drove.
Behind a truck on a one lane bridge

Behind a truck on a one lane bridge


814703-Police_Station_San_Ignacio.jpgPolice Station

Police Station

Rose's Restaurant in San Ignacio

Rose's Restaurant in San Ignacio


Then we got gas
Gas station tanks

Gas station tanks


and came back.
30142_14.JPGRed light from San Ignacio to Santa Elena

Red light from San Ignacio to Santa Elena


There are people camping at Clarissa Falls now.

I tried to call the airlines to check on our reservation, and it cost me a lot of money, but didn't have much result.

One of the possible activities at Clarissa Falls is tubing. If you have time, Chena will take you up to the ferry at Xunantunich, and you can float down to Clarissa Falls. But I didn't have that much time, so I rented a big tire inner tube for $BZ10 and I did a small 'float'.
Approaching the rapids

Approaching the rapids


I took my snorkel camera and floated down the river to a landing for the cable boat where I was picked up. It is a little bumpy going over the fall areas (which are tiny rivulets - not big falls like Niagra or anything)
Falls from on the river

Falls from on the river


and my butt sometimes would hit the rocks, but it was very gentle. Of course when I went, they were in the middle of a drought - it might have been more exciting if there was more water in the river.
85780068916492-Trees_leaning..o_District.jpg 916493-Falls_ahead_Cayo_District.jpg Tree on the bank among fields

Tree on the bank among fields

River (inner tube and my knee in the corner)

River (inner tube and my knee in the corner)

53579494916461-From_the_midd..an_Ignacio.jpgAnother line of falls on the right

Another line of falls on the right


I saw a kingfisher or two (I tried to get a picture, but it wasn't very good),
Tree branch with a kingfisher

Tree branch with a kingfisher


a green heron wading on top of one of the falls, ducks, swallows, a big orange tufted bird, and a horseback rider. (You can also go horseback riding at Clarissa Falls)
Ferry landing

Ferry landing


I fell out of the inner tube at the falls above the cable boat, but I retrieved the inner tube and waded to shore. Chena picked me up in her truck when she went and got the children from the school bus stop.
School bus

School bus

Bill from Clarissa Falls for the extra dinner and phone

Bill from Clarissa Falls for the extra dinner and phone

We had dinner at Clarissa Falls (Fried fish for Bob and Beef in Tomato for me) and then went back and packed because we are leaving tomorrow.

Our bill has the following items on it that were not included in the overall accommodation price ( in Belize dollars):

2 iced tea $4.50
Coke $1.00
Beef in Tomato $15.00
Fried Fish $15.00
2 chocolate shakes $10.00

c96995_03.JPGDocumenting the condition of the car

Documenting the condition of the car


The car rental people were supposed to pick the car up here this afternoon, but they didn't, so I took pictures of the car all around for documentation of how it was when we left.

It was a chilly night again tonight

Expenses in US$
$2.00 Falls admission
7.50 gas
5.00 tubing
23.00 dinner
2.55 for the restaurant
5.95 phone
unk Clarissa Falls accommodation
$46.00 Total in US$

Posted by greatgrandmaR 20:15 Archived in Belize Comments (4)

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