Today we set out to tour Bacalar Chico, the area making up the extreme northern boundary between Belize and Mexico, which follows the route of the ancient Mayan hand-dug canal from Chetumal Bay to the Caribbean Sea, cutting about 56 or so miles off the journey around Ambergris Caye for canoes hauling trade goods to the coast.
I had looked on Google Earth several years ago, seeing the Canal de Zaragoza, and wrongly assumed that to be the ancient Mayan canal.
What happened was that in 1897, a treaty was signed between Mexico and British Honduras (now Belize) establishing the boundary between the two countries and using the centerline of the ancient Mayan canal, dug in 65 CE, as that boundary. This apparently created a problem for the Mexican government, as they had to obtain permission from the British Honduran government to move Naval vessels into Chetumal Bay from the coast.
This embarrassing situation was fixed with the dredging of a new canal in 1899, the Canal de Zaragoza, thus giving Mexico free access by their Navy to Chetumal Bay.
|Google Earth Map of Bacalar Chico Area|
Our journey took us from Debbie's Beach on the eastern side of Ambergris Caye, through the cut at San Pedro to the western side of the island, then north to Bacalar Chico, which we transited at the same time as we were hoping to see manatees. The Mayan canal meanders from lagoon to lagoon across the northern end of the Ambergris peninsula, creating the island.
While we were waiting for our tour guide, Dianna spent time with Ralf talking about his experiences over the past 16 years on Ambergris Caye.
|Dianna Talking With Ralf Before Departure|
|Captain Felix and His Assistant, Edgar|
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He's a very good, conscientious and entertaining guide. We all highly recommend him.
|Our Boat Has Arrived|
|Captain Felix Explaining the Game Plan|
|Departing From Debbie's Beach|
|Edgar Stocking the Cooler|
|Ambergris Divers - Picking Up Snorkel Gear|
|Checking Out Our Gear|
|Through San Pedro Cut|
|Under the Bridge|
|Hand-Made and Hand-Powered Ferry|
|Along the San Pedro Cut|
We pulled alongside a dock there, to pick up some bait fish and and tackle from a friend of Felix's who worked on the island.
|Approaching Cayo Espanto - Private Island|
|Coming Into Cayo Espanto For Supplies|
|San Juan Station Boss Cat - In Charge|
|At the San Juan Station Museum|
|Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve|
|Bacalar Chico Palms|
|About the Canal|
|Manatee Skeleton In the Museum|
|About the Traders|
|Departing San Juan Station|
|Fishing in the Canal|
|Some Barracuda For Supper|
|Start of a Nice Meal|
|Boardwalk Moorage Chaac Balam Site|
|Boardwalk to the Chaac Balam Excavations|
|A Buggy Walk at Chaac Balam|
|Exploring the Excavations|
|Trench Excavations at Chaac Balam|
|Chaac Balam Excavation Pit|
|Small Excavation at Chaac Balam|
|Mayan Excavations Chaac Balam Site|
|Explaining Burial Platforms|
|Chaac Balam Excavations Burial Site|
We did find an abandoned boat, which didn't look to me to be in that bad a condition.
|Abandoned Boat In Canal|
|Exploring a Narrow Channel|
|Roy Watching for Fish|
|National Park Landing|
|Edgar Bringing Drinks Ashore|
|Dean Heading to the Cooler|
|Ceviche time On the Tour|
Some wag immortalized our group in sand graffiti. Well, at least till the next rainfall.
|E8 in the Sand|
|Felix Unveiling Lunch|
|Felix Dishing Out BBQ Lunch|
|George and Judy Enjoying the Day|
|Lori Enjoying Lunch Break|
|Hunting Manatee in the Canal|
|Exploring the Canal|
|Watching for Manatee|
|Anchored At the Reef|
|Judy Ready to Snorkel|
|Judy In the Water|
|Nearing the End of the Day|
|Returning Under the Bridge|