I enjoyed my visit to the ruins at Lamanai, the original name of which, Lama’anayin, means submerged crocodile. Once a city of about 35,000 people, Lamanai survived the economic collapse of the Classical Mayan civilization around 900 A.D. and was still an important commercial hub when the Spanish invaded.

From Orange Walk Town, I took a 90 minute boat ride up the New River, enjoying the sights of birds, iguanas, and spider monkeys. The sound of Howler monkeys (and swarming mosquitoes) greeted us when we docked at Lamanai. Our guide Wilfredo, from Jungle River Adventures, was excellent. As a trainer who had instructed many of the other guides there, he gave detailed explanations of the site’s architectural features, cultural background, and monumental engravings. Part of the Mask Temple had just been renovated and revealed to the public. Most of the massive site is still buried under dirt and trees that grow quickly in the tropical climate, and archaeologists estimate it would cost $70 billion to unearth the whole city. Even so, the excavated parts were impressive. Unfortunately, a thunder storm made it imprudent to climb the High Temple (though others decided to take the risk), but everything else was great.

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