They have ATM's in the jungle?

Actun Tunichil Muknal is the ATM in the jungles of Belize.  Actun Tunichil Muknal translates into "Cave of the Stone Sepulcher". I had to look up sepulcher. It's a $2 word. 

sep·ul·cher  (spl-kr)
1. A burial vault.
2. A receptacle for sacred relics, especially in an altar

Yep, a cave with a burial vault and sacred relics! We went there! We were totally Indiana Jones minus the bad nazi people chasing us. And we had a guide with us so someone else walked into the cobwebs first. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's start over.

When we first started researching our trip to Belize I ran across a blog someone had written about a crystal maiden. Intrigued I did some more reading and learned about the cave outside of San Ignacio that had been discovered in 1992. Only specifically trained guides are allowed to take visitors into this cave and it's quite the experience. You can't just walk right in and have a little hike. This is much more of an adventure.  

We knew we only had the time and money for one adventure while we were staying in the Cayo District and we decided this was  going to be it. We'd really wanted to visit Tikal in Guatemala but ultimately decided that we should do the physical excursion while we were still young enough to do it, plus it sounded so amazing it was hard to resist even if the physical challenge made me a bit nervous. 

Our Friday morning began with six strangers in a van driven by Oscar who worked for Pacz tours. Oscar was a friendly guy and really good about pointing out things along the long, bumpy road out to the park area where the hike begins. We made introductions with the other travelers in our party as we bounced along in the van.  We made a quick stop at a little store out in the middle of no where. It's the last spot to use a flushing toilet and grab a snack. There were chickens and dogs all over and locals just hanging out. Kind of an odd set up but I had to go so I paid my $1BZD ($.50USD) to use the potty. I had to walk up a little concrete incline that was surrounded by some cinder blocks. I recognized the area immediately from the description the guy at the pool had given us. This is where he fell. Yikes, he didn't even make it to the park entrance?!?! 

After we piled back into the van we were on our way to parking area where all the tours embark on the hike. Oscar made sure we had the right footwear on and asked a few questions, like "does everyone here know how to swim?".  Scott and I are good swimmers and we had out trusty Keen sandals on so we were ready to go. We left our dry clothes in the van, grabbed our helmets and followed along behind Oscar and his trusty machete. 

The hike is fairly easy in that it's flat. It's only about 1.3 miles long so very manageable. The difficulty lies in the mud you are walking on. It's slippery. You can put your foot down and think it's going to slide one way and it will go the complete opposite. You can't reach out to catch your balance because you might just grab onto the bamboo with three inch thorns on it. I was able to keep up by trying to watch where Oscar was putting his feet and looking for the most compact ground. It wasn't terrible, just a little tricky.  We also had to cross the river three times. the first time you go across it's waist deep in fairly slow water, the second is knee deep in swifter water and the third is knee deep again in even swifter water. It wasn't too cold, in fact it's refreshing after walking in the hot humid day.

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