You have to see it to Belize it, Part II
Unspoiled Maya ruins encrusted with tangible artifacts transport us back in time.
Flourishing in the southern Yucatan Peninsula is a deep-rooted culture steeped in the legacy and lore of the Maya. Their legends are sculpted all around us and scattered across the sky. At the same time that Egyptian pharaohs and Greco-Roman architects erected pyramids and obelisks around the Mediterranean and Cambodian kings built Angkor Wat across the Pacific to mark the sun’s advance and retreat, the Guatemalan Maya established Tikal, a ceremonial and commercial center.
Trekking through the rainforest reserve, we pulled back vines to reveal monoliths piercing the clouds. A vast city and temple complex comprised of plazas, reservoirs, ball courts, and thousands of structures, Tikal spans over 200 square miles. Approaching the city limits, we felt like explorers discovering the virgin ruins for ourselves then, walking through the complex toward those pyramid temples, awestruck worshippers beholding our god kings.
As Maya high society lived like kings, their lifetimes spanned three commoners’ generations, imbuing them with perceived immortality. The well-nourished elite towered above their subjects, so the doorways of central buildings, even now, can accommodate our contemporary western proportions. Strolling effortlessly through pyramids surrounded by deities in stone relief, we felt larger than life, descending a heavenward staircase to our own dominion.
We headed to The Family Coppola Resorts La Lancha to savor an al fresco lunch and cool off in the rejuvenating Lago Petén Itzá, Guatemala’s second largest lake, whose waters—according to locals—contain healing powers. We enjoyed our dip off of the boutique resort’s stunning dock and lounged in the cabana, hammocks, Adirondack chairs, and inner tubes, while sipping cold drinks and watching the howler monkeys play and groom each other onshore.
La Lancha is laid out with ten newly renovated casitas, adorned in artisanal décor, cascading down a mountain toward the shore, so staying in each feels like you have the lake to yourself. Served in the resort’s open-air restaurant, our hearty meal of seasoned pork and steak with a sampling of dipping sauces was most welcome between jungle excursions.
The Guatemalan-Belizean border is rife with marvelous Maya ruins. In Actun Tunichil Muknal, we encountered no distance between observer and object. Swimming into the yawning mouth of the western Belizean cave’s riverhead entrance, we were met with stelae depicting native sacrificial weapons. A chilling thrill coursed through our veins.
The cave’s interior is studded with stoneware pottery and contains preserved human sacrificial remains. Its most famous inhabitant is the Crystal Maiden, the skeleton of an adolescent—now thought to be a teenage boy—whose bones were calcified by mineral-rich stalactite deposits dripping on them for hundreds of years.
So as not to disturb the ceramic antiquities embedded in the floor, we removed our shoes in the inner chambers like acolytes on hallowed ground. Spelunking between chambers was rigorous, requiring squeezing through ancient passageways, finding footholds and grips between artifacts, and free rock climbing throughout the three-hour expedition.
We emerged to find our driver swapping cave tales with his colleagues. After some begging, he cautiously shared a few of their stories. Allegedly, visitors of all ages have visions, ranging from children claiming to see apparitions acting out rituals to adult reports of out-of-body experiences. The most recent encounter occurred just a couple weeks prior to our visit.
Driving through the jungle, the stars of the Pleiades dazzled overhead, as they have for millennia, lighting the night sky through the dense canopy. Back at Blancaneaux, we caught a cool breeze and reflected on our elegant adventure that was, simply, divine.
Looking to plan an unforgettable travel experience? Contact The Accomplished Traveler today at 212.586.2020.
From Our Blog
The Colors of Bermuda
From New York to Bermuda in just 90 minutes, wheels up, wheels down. From concrete jungle to cascades of greens and blues, pink sand horizons, curative sun, just… read more
Los Angeles, Leisurely
There is no place like Los Angeles, and there are ways to experience the area’s signature glam without sacrificing repose. We travel to L.A. frequently, but we always look forward to prioritizing relaxation… read more
Antigua: Relax and Recharge in Luxury
Hermitage Bay redefines the all-inclusive experience with its 5-star cuisine, pristine views, and understated yet effective approach to high-end service. Nestled amongst beachfront tropical gardens on a secluded hill… read more
A One-of-a-kind Wedding Celebration in San Antonio, Part II
The wedding day proves magnificent, and guests enjoy a series of post-wedding celebrations that highlight San Antonio culture. Tucked away in the botanical courtyard under the setting sun, the… read more
A One-of-a-kind Wedding Celebration in San Antonio
An unforgettable five-day wedding celebration delights guests and encapsulates an extraordinary couple. We were honored to help a beloved couple and their guests enjoy a unique wedding celebration in… read more
Trending Travel Destinations for 2016
New year, new travel goals! From wineries in New Zealand to beaches in Uruguay, here are some of our hot travel destinations to explore in 2016! If these spots… read more
You have to see it to Belize it, Part II
Unspoiled Maya ruins encrusted with tangible artifacts transport us back in time. Flourishing in the southern Yucatan Peninsula is a deep-rooted culture steeped in the legacy and lore of… read more
You have to see it to Belize it, Part I
This sophisticated Central American experience feeds our adventurous spirit and rustic soul. Nestled next to the small beach town of Placencia is The Family Coppola Resorts Turtle Inn, with… read more
Orlando’s Wild Side
When you think Orlando, you probably picture its iconic theme parks, but there’s more to the area than Disney. We packed our days with outdoor adventures, relaxing excursions and exquisite… read more
Universal & Disney Magic
A VIP take on a classic vacation experience that will make you feel like a kid again. We skipped the lines and slept in style to create a memorable… read more