First, our guide for the trip was Dr. Jaime Awe. Dr. Awe is the head of archaeology in Belize and he quite literally discovered the Mayan artifacts in this cave. In the early 1990s, he was doing a documentary for the Discovery Channel and showing them a few caves. They wanted to film him exploring a cave he hadn't been to before and a friend suggest Actun Tunichil Muknal. As they explored the cave, they found more and more artifacts. It was one of the biggest cave discoveries in Belize.
The amazing thing for those of us who are not archeologists is that they did not take everything out of the cave. With the exception of a few pots close to the entrance of the cave, everything has been left in situ. This includes hundreds of pieces of pottery and several sets of human remains. Much of what you see is out in the open in the large dry chamber. But Dr. Awe also took us to a few out of the way places that the other guides are not allowed to go to show us how the Maya left some of these pots in the nooks and crannies of the cave.
As amazing as the Mayan artifacts were, my favorite part of the day was simply climbing in and around the cave. This is no cave tubing cave as we had to climb over boulders and up waterfalls, squeeze through narrow crevices and swim through the river. I really couldn't have had a better time.
|The entrance of the cave|
|Skull not red - fancy lighting used to make it look creepier|
|The Crystal Maiden|
|Not everyone got this muddy|
|I can't resist playing in waterfalls|