After a restful night's sleep for the group's first night at the Nazareth Retreat Center, the group headed out for a highly anticipated day of exploring the ancient Maya ruins. The first stop on the Southern Highway was to the village of San Miguel. After several miles of extremely bumpy roads, the van arrived at the Maya site of Lubaantun. This major Late Classic city was inhabited for a short time, from around 730 AD to about 880 AD. The site included two large ball courts, where ceremonial games were played. Numerous pyramid-like structures surrounded the site. Its name, "place of the fallen stones" proved accurate since most of the stones from the buildings had crumbled. However, some structures had endured the years and the group was able to climb to the tops of some stairs to get a fantastic view of the overall site. What was particularly different about Lubaantun was that many of its buildings had rounded corners, which added a sense of elegance to the structures.
Nearby, in the village of Indian Creek, lie another Maya ruin called Nim Li Punit. This was the first time a Mount group had the chance to visit the site. Nim Li Punit is home to the largest and one of the best-preserved stelea in Belize. What was so amazing about the stelea was that the ancient Maya had carved records of rulers, offerings, festivities, and other important events that took place in the villages. The largest stelea stands 30 feet high, which made trip participant Brian Houdek look significantly shorter. Along with a dozen stelea, the group also uncovered several tombs of Maya rulers built with large stones underneath the ground. The group was able to capture the beauty of the ruins with a group picture that overlooked the wild jungle and Nim Li Punit. After a long day of searching and climbing, the group enjoyed ice cold slushy juice, humbly provided by the sisters of the Nazareth Center.
Maureen Howard, Class of 2014