You really do have to understand a little of the history of Lamanai, and its place in the ancient Mayan world to appreciate the pictures properly. From NorthernBelize.com:
[Lamanai] thrived for over 3000 years. The city of Lamanai began its regional supremacy around 1500 B.C. Extending from the formative years of the Mayan world to the preaching friars of Spanish colonists, Lamanai flourished and supported a vast community of farmers, merchants, and traders.
Three thousand years! It’s hard to even comprehend a civilization lasting that long. I sometimes wonder if ours is going to last out the century.
…of the 700 buildings within the complex, less than five percent have been excavated and explored.
At one point the city had ~35,000 inhabitants. After visiting compact Tulum, Lamanai sprawls in the jungle like an ancient equivalent of Los Angeles. It’s hard to grasp the immensity of the site in one abbreviated visit. And what we see as tourists is a drop in the bucket to what’s out there, overtaken by jungle growth. Everywhere you look there are mounds like the one shown here–this is the debris of hundreds of years covering the buildings that once stood here.
As the Classic Period came to an end in the ninth and tenth centuries, many of the neighboring Mayan cities proceeded through a period of decay to final collapse. Lamanai survived this time of upheaval and continued trade with sites in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula on into the Post-Classic Period. Copper, tin, and bronze objects flowed into Lamanai from sources in west Mexico, the Oaxaca Valley, and probably middle Central America.
Lamanai, possibly because of its “out of the way” location, survived while other Mayan cities declined. It wasn’t until the Spaniards arrived in the 1600’s that the fall of Lamanai was finally achieved, mostly through the introduction of disease. Of course this was all in the name of Christ, because God knows the heathens needed to have their souls saved, right?
If you’re curious to learn more about Lamanai and/or Belize, you can find detailed information and maps about the site here (a different site than NorthernBelize.com), by the way. I printed out a ton of info from that website that I made into a booklet, and it was very helpful.
And now, on to the pictures…
A short walk brings us to the highest and one of the most important structures at Lamanai, the High Temple.
That yellow line in the center of the steps is a rope hanging down to aid tourists to climb. That and a “Be careful, if you fall it’s going to hurt!” are about all the cautions a tourist gets. I love a place where you’re actually responsible for your own actions.
A funny story about the previous picture. The guide offered to take our pic. “Yes,” I said, “please!” When we three went to pose by the edge though, he looked at W and said, “Excuse me so I can take their picture,” meaning Ad and I. We all laughed. “Nope, we’re all together,” we said. Later he offered to take another picture, the one you’ll see with me on W’s lap in the boat. Apparently he’d gotten used to the idea that I was with both guys by then.
And that’s it for Day 3. Well, except for me dressing up in paint, a sequined g-string and pasties and some rocking high heels–and little else!–for Mardis Gras night…I have a picture around here somewhere…
Oh yes! Here it is…
And that, my lovelies, concludes our digital tour for the day!