Before I say anything I HAVE to thank Elvira at S&L Travel & Tours for putting up with me through email. I couldn’t leave Belize without making this tour happen and she was an awesome sport in making sure I got my wish.
While I had planned on Belize being just a relaxing getaway, I still wanted to dedicate a couple days to exploring, hence the random trips to San Pedro and days full of snorkeling. Because I wasn’t able to see any ruins when I visited Mexico, they were still on my bucket list and Belize is one of the few places where you can see ruins/pyramids/temples. I knew I would hate myself if I left the country without having done so, so I contacted S&L Travel & Tours to set something up. It didn’t take long to realize that the tour I had my heart set on, which would require a several hours long drive to Guatemala and a couple passport stamps, was impossible due to the fact that I was staying on Caye Caulker. There was no way I could meet the guide at 6am when the first boat didn’t leave the island until around that time. However, Elvira was able to snag me a private tour of Altun Ha, which is only about an hours drive from the ferry port. Little ol’ me roaming ruins solo? Easiest decision ever.
Upon departing the ferry, Mr. Lascelle was waiting for me with my name printed on a sign. I couldn’t have felt more fancy. After bonding over our french names (my middle name is french as well, oui oui) we hopped up in the lovely air conditioned van to make our way toward Altun Ha. I can’t go without mentioning that it was super early, so we stopped for food and he recommended I get a meat pie. Never in a million years would I have tried one of those little concoctions but it was almost like a beef patty in pie form. And I love beef patties.
To be honest, I think Lascelle was fascinated that not only was I a young woman traveling solo, but to top it off, I’m African American. I couldn’t have been more happy to be a brown girl because I like to think I got the Belizean history that isn’t offered to every passenger in an S&L van. Lascelle schooled me on everything from how Black people came to be in Belize, to their struggle in the country. He even mentioned that because it was once a British Colony, Belizean history wasn’t taught in schools just a short time ago, but rather British history. Now why a child in Central America would be required to learn about the Queen of England before their own local history is beyond me, but boy was it fascinating. The history lessons didn’t stop there. Lascelle is also extremely well versed in all things nature. I don’t think we passed a bird, plant, or tree without him being able to tell me the exact name and origin of it. It definitely made me pay more attention along the journey and kept me present as opposed to day dreaming along the ride.
Once we arrived at Altun Ha we quickly made our way toward the ruins. The facts continued to come. Apparently, that particular ruin was discovered by women whose job was to gather rocks, and it extends further into the forest where tourists are no longer allowed to go due to several safety concerns. While I wish I could’ve ventured off further, even if it were allowed, the mosquitos had other plans for me. (Be sure to bathe in deet as this was my first time being bit during my entire trip. I don’t know why I didn’t put on bug spray this day.)
Lascelle walked me around the grounds giving me an in depth lesson about Altun Ha and the Mayans that once walked those very paths. While I assumed that they were naturally small people (due to genetics) he taught me that it was actually their diet, and that the wealthier or higher ranking members of society were quite tall. That was almost as intriguing as the fact that they shaped babies heads from birth by flattening it. Beauty is without a doubt in the eye of the beholder.
At the end of my tour Lascelle suggested I climb one of the pyramids but was quick to say he wasn’t tagging along. To this day I don’t blame him. Even if I weren’t positive he’s trekked to the top of that pyramid many times, as a woman that considers myself to be active, I’d think twice about making that climb again…especially in a dress and Birkenstocks. Next time I’ll be prepared, and there will definitely be a next time. I can’t wait to get back to Belize and will definitely make my dream trip to Tikal a reality with the help of S&L Travel & Tours.