Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pook's Hill

"Let us keep the dance of rain our fathers kept and tread our dreams beneath the jungle sky." -Arna Bontemps

Raffi =)
I met a man at the bar a few weeks ago named Raffi.  Despite what I’ve been told about talking to strangers, we immediately realized we had one thing in common:  archaeology.   Turns out this is the person I want to be friends with.  He is a professional archaeologist that specializes in Mayan archaeology and history.  He’s also a tour guide.  We got to talking and he says that he can find me work down here when he comes back…HELLO…that’s freaking awesome.  We exchanged phone numbers and started chatting about working here once my term is over.  You know, actually doing archaeology in Belize. 

I ran into him in town a few days later and he asked me if I wanted to go for a ride up to a site with him.  Now, I’m thinking: Adriana, you just met this guy.  You know nothing about him.  He could rape and kill you.  I think he saw the skepticism in my face because right away he said I could invite any of my friends to come along. 

Despite my better judgement, I went.  We jumped into his jeep and off we went.  An hour into the trip, we make a sharp turn and suddenly I'm in the middle of the jungle on a dirt road.  The best way to describe it is like this:  off-roading on a road that's never been used in a jeep that might fall apart with every bump you hit.  

When my cell phone reception gave out and the howler monkeys appeared, I realized just how deep in the jungle I actually was.  The never-ending, dark green canopy of trees finally gave way to sunlight and a clearing that surprised me.  A resort popped up in the form of tiki huts raised about the ground with a beautiful Mayan ruin in the centre.  Where the heck was I?  Raffi told us to hop out and we met the owner.  A lovely lady whose name escapes me at the moment.  She walked us over to the bar and handed us a map of the grounds.  By grounds, I really mean a map of paths in the jungle that we could hike without getting lost.  She warned us about jaguars, panthers and an array of other cats we may encounter.  She pointed out where we could swim and the places we should avoid.  I will admit, I was skeptical about going on this hike without someone who actually knew where to go...but Meredith and I ended up giving it a go.  Words cannot describe the beauty that I saw and felt.  Pictures do not do the jungle justice in any way.  The colours of green, the sounds of the birds, the sights and smells...seemingly dull in any photograph I tired to take.  I wish so badly I could express what I saw and felt walking through the dense bush that was once a home to the ancient people that fascinate me.  I  couldn't help but wonder about walking on the same paths that the Mayans once walked.  What have these trees seen?  What stories could these rivers tell?  What secrets are lost in this jungle?  Who were the people whose footsteps I'm following?  It made me feel like I was apart of something so much bigger than I could ever comprehend.  This exact moment gave me a rush that reminded me why I love what I do.  I found it.  I thought I was lost and that school was wasting my time because I had given up on it.  Negative, I needed to be reminded why I love to learn about people lost in time; I needed to see the real thing and love it in order to bring that back home with me.    

At the end of the trail, Raffi was waiting with cold beers in his arms and a big grin that is so characteristic of him.  Handed us a cold one and said, "let me show you the ruins."  We sat on the steps of the ruins and he began telling me about what they had found there, what they thought it meant and what else needed to be done.  From what I understand, this was a small community, probably run by some kind of noble.  He ran the small village of a group of family members who paid tribute to a bigger city.  It has an interesting feature dedicated to the worship of family ancestors.  

As Raffi finished up telling us about the ruins, a light ran started to mist over the ruins and fireflies danced in the fields surrounding us.  We all sat in silence and took in the beauty that so many people forget still exists in this world.   We finally headed home.

I left with a sense of contentment.  It was overwhelming; but it felt so good.

Any business is good business...if you're looking for a jungle escape, seriously check out:

Peace and Love, 

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