Xunantunich - "Stone Woman"
Cayo District Travel Blog› entry 12 of 14 › view all entries
Sun 30 Nov 2008
Alissa, Alissaâ€™s mom, Nick and I headed to Xunantunich (pronounced Shoon-an-too-nich, means â€śstone womanâ€ť) for the morning. The ride there was short and cheap - $1pp each way (except Nick and I were overcharged the way there). Then, we boarded the hand crank ferry, and Nick brought us to the other side. On the river we spotted an orange iguana hanging out in a tree overhead. At the very beginning of our 2km walk to the entrance we were awed. There were several iguanas hanging out on the rockwall alongside the road. After an uphill walk, we came to the entrance and paid our $10 fare. We planned on walking through independently without a guide, but learned bits and pieces of interesting information as we ran into some tours.
The proximity of the ruins (1sq
mile) in Xunantunich is much closer than those in
I love the incriptions on the
temples. Before seeing any ruins in
From the top of Castillo, you can
see the bordering town of
Castillo takes the spotlight, but the surrounding temples and palaces are also brilliant and the different viewpoints are amazing. Alissa and her mom were a bit more quick-paced than Nick and I so they traveled back to the ranch around noon time. Nick and I stretched the visit out well into the afternoon.
Nick slipped in a tour and
learned about Pacaya palm.
One of the guides walked us to the pacaya trees and pick a stem for us. The pacaya were eaten by the Mayans, and used for their energizing properties. The Mayans would cook with it before setting off to war. It can be eaten raw or cooked â€“ traditionally they would have mixed it with an egg dish. The whole stem is edible, but youâ€™re supposed to peel off the outer husk. Inside, at the very bottom are slender strips of off-white veggie goodness. They are sort of like slender miniature ears of corn. The texture is rigid. If you run it between your lips or across the tongue itâ€™s very ticklish. Nick thinks it has a bit of a bitter taste, but I think itâ€™s pretty tasteless until the aftertaste. Iâ€™m not certain the plant gave me energy, but it was interesting to play with in my mouth.
One of the things that fascinated
Nick was the Cohune nut.
On an earlier tour, one of the guides had explained them. The nuts are incredibly difficult to break into. They have a thick husk and are hollow on the inside. They are used by local artisans to make jewelry for tourists. The ends may or may not have holes. The holes are what make the jewelry more unique. So Nick collected some Cohune nuts and we relaxed on some Mayan steps. Then, a random idea came to me. I was curious to know if they would work as massage tools. So I rolled them along Nickâ€™s back and before we knew it, I was giving a full back massage with Cohune nuts on a Mayan ruin. Nick returned the favor and we decided to take them back with us.