Our first full day in Belize did not disappoint.
We awoke this morning in our tents fully rested and covered in insect kissed that we had accumulated through the night. The insects are so loving here.
But in all seriousness, our lodging at Monkey Bay Sanctuary is a unique area that we are lucky to have the opportunity to experience. It is a primitive camp that provides a good balance between established hospitality and a first hand rain forest experience. We were able to sleep comfortably in the warm Belize climate with only a tent and thin mattress, and awake to the sight of colorful parrots flying overhead. And then we head over to the dining hall for a delicious hearty breakfast. An authentic rainforest forest experience with enough 'luxury' to be comfortable. We got the best of both worlds.
After breakfast, we were off to Nohoch Che'en park. We strapped up in zipline attire and began our ascent to the first zipline after our main guide said, "We'll see how things go."
We proceeded to zip from tree top to tree top; the guides were fast and ran a tight ship. There were 8 consecutive zip lines, the longest of which was a thousand feet in length, each one inducing a slight raise in heart rate although some of us won't admit it, including me. Hundreds of feet above the broad leaf forest floor and over rivers, we cheated death via wire, on our way to our afternoon excursion through Hell.
Contrary to most, we willingly marched to Hell, and we enjoyed it. We stopped to visit Fertility Cave and witnessed some memorable stalagmite and stalagtite structures, and for a quick snack of fresh termites harvested from a tree trunk. They tasted like 'wood', 'peppermint' or 'gamey', depending on who you ask.
When we arrived at the gates of Hell, or rather the mouth of the cave Nohoch Che'en, the guides explained to us that the name in Mayan stood for "The Dark Hole". On a raft crafted from 22 tubes roped together, we floated through the Mayan underworld fighting the nine dark lords, purging ourselves on our way to the heavenly light on the other side. We saw natural rock formations in the cave of the Celestial Bird, Serpent, Eagle, and Crocodile as the purge came to a close.
We survived "The Dark Hole" and from now on, if any one tells us to "Go to Hell", we can tell them we've been there...and it wasn't that bad.