Although today Tikal is an isolated site located deep within the jungles of Tikal National Park in Guatemala’s El Peten department, more than 1,400 years ago Tikal was a powerful city-state that dominated the Maya world.
Tikal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 in recognition of the superb public squares, palaces, and enormous temples that have survived intact for more than a millennia in the jungle. Probably the most famous building in Tikal are the five enormous temples that dominate the landscape. Temple IV (four) is the the largest pyramid ever built by the Maya and measures more than 230 feet (70 meters) tall. The adjacent Temple V (five) is nearly as tall, measuring 187 feet (57 meters) tall. All of the principal pyramids and temples were built to honor special dates in the Maya calendar and were used for special religious ceremonies.
Tikal was first founded in the Preclassic Period (around 800 BC) and grew to be one of the dominant city-states in the Maya Empire before it was abandoned around 900 A.D. The greater Tikal complex is a protected bio-reserve of more than 57,600 hectares (142,000 acres) of wetlands, forests, and jungle that harbor a wide spectrum of plants and animals including 300 species of birds, a half-dozen species of monkeys, and five great cat species, including the Jaguar and Puma.
Beyond the impressive temples and pyramids that have made Tikal such an iconic location, visitors can explore more than 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of roads, terraces, public squares, ball game courts, and residences, many of which are covered in elaborate stone carvings or painted with Maya hieroglyphics that describe the history of the city. One of the most popular attractions in Tikal is known as the “Lost World” complex (“Mundo Perdido” in Spanish) that sits just southwest of Temples I and II. Many of Tikal’s ruling elite were buried in the cemetery adjacent to the site.
During its long history, Tikal had an active relationship with such important sites as Teotihuacan (later the Aztec capital) and Calakmul in Mexico, Copan in Honduras, and Caracol in Belize. Tikal is widely recognized for its wealth of art, unparalleled architecture, and large-scale engineering that demonstrate the genius of the ancient Maya.
Sanctuary of the Nine Maya Gods
To experience Tikal and a Guatemala/Belize holiday at its finest, Chabil Mar offers a complete vacation package that includes seven nights at luxury resorts, transportation, and a boat trip across the fabulous Mystic Lake Peten Itza to the see Tikal and the surrounding area.
One of the most exciting fishing tournaments is set to begin in Placencia, Belize on September 10, 2016. The two-day Marelco Yamaha Fishing Tournament is a chance for anglers to compete in a number of different categories:
- Kingfish – 3 points per pound and a minimum of eight fish caught
- Barracuda – 1 point/lb and a minimum of 12
- Jack – 1 point/lb and a minimum of fishExtra points will be given on the following basis:
- Wahoo – 5 points/lb with a minimum of 15
- Dorado – 5 points/lb with a minimum of 7
- Tuna – 3 points/lb with a minimum of 5
All fish caught during the tournament must be weighed during the same day in order to qualify. All competing boats must leave the dock at the same time every day and return by the finish time on each day of the tournament. Only lures are allowed and no loose (bare) hooks, cast nets, or live bait is permitted. Registration for the competition closes Friday evening, September 9, 2016.
Although it is not necessary, all competitors are strongly encouraged to obtain a Sport Fishing License from the Placencia Tourism Center in Placencia Village or from the Coastal Zone Management Authority Institute on Princess Margaret Drive in Belize City.
For more information about the tournament, click here.
Chabil Mar is a multiple award-winning resort with its own private beach on the Placencia Peninsula. From a Maya term meaning “beautiful sea”, Chabil Mar is a boutique luxury resort that features its own lush tropical garden, a gourmet restaurant and bar on site, and a full-service spa. All guests of the resort have full use of the facilities, including a private seafront pier ideal for dining or relaxing, free high-speed wireless internet, and the complimentary use of bicycles, kayaks, and paddle boards.
Although Simon Biles is an American citizen competing in the Olympic Games for the American women’s gymnastics team, she had more than her fair share of fans in Belize cheering on her amazing success. In bars and cafes all over the small Central American nation, Belizeans gathered to watch Biles and the Final Five compete, erupting in happiness as they watched one of their own perform flawlessly to clinch the team gold medal.
Biles, who is a dual citizen of Belize, and whose grandmother still resides in the country, was a much-needed ray of good news after the country was pounded by Hurricane Earl the previous week. Even Kim Simplis Barrow, the first lady of Belize, was glued to the action unfolding 4,000 miles away in Rio de Janeiro, “Everyone here is talking about the huge stack of medals that Biles is going to win.”
Biles, whose story is now well-known around the world, began life 19 years ago in Columbus, Ohio, born to a single mother who struggled with substance abuse. A few years later, Biles’s mother lost custody of her four children. Biles and her sister were then adopted by her grandfather Ron, who is married to Nellie Cayetano Biles, a citizen of Belize. Although technically their grandparents, Ron and Nellie quickly became the mother and father figures that Simone and her sister desperately needed.
Grandmother, now Mother Nellie, is the daughter of Evarista Cayetano, a member of the Garifuna people who had a long career as a teacher and owner of a small supermarket in Belize. Nellie’s mother, Silas Cayetano, also originally began his career as a teacher but then left to serve as an official in a fishing and agricultural cooperative in Belize. Later, Silas served several terms as a senator in Belize’s parliament.
When Ron and Nellie Biles agreed to adopt Simone and her sister Adria, they already had two grown sons who were in their last years of high school and college. Although the couple had planned on retiring and doing some traveling, they realized that family duty called and the two girls needed a stable environment in which to grow up, so they happily decided to adopt Simone and Adria.
Simone has regularly visited her second homeland to be with family and enjoy fishing and snorkeling vacations. Simone last visited Belize in 2015 when she was on the island of Ambergris Caye to join the rest of her family in celebrating her brother Ronald’s nuptials. After winning the gold medal, Biles tweeted that she intends to vacation in Belize to relax after all of the excitement of competing in the Rio Games.
The management and staff of Chabil Mar congratulate Simone Biles and all of the Final Five for their outstanding performance at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and look forward to joining the rest of Belize in welcoming the young woman who proudly represented Belize on the world stage.
Photo courtesy of USA Today
At the recent International Marine Conservation Congress held in Canada, experts discussed how the waters of Belize may soon be able to offer new opportunities for locals to make money. The topic being discussed by Julianne Robinson of The Nature Conservancy was seaweed mariculture.
Fishing has been an integral component of the Belizean economy for centuries. Even today, many locals in coastal communities of Belize depend on fishing both for their livelihoods and as a source of food. Climate change, overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and other factors have resulted in the recent decline in fisheries in Belize that many local communities depend on. As fisheries decline, local fishermen have been seeking new avenues of income.
Ms. Robinson spoke about how The Nature Conservancy has been working jointly with the Placencia Fishermen Cooperative in Belize in order to conduct pilot tests on mariculture farms. While many options are being currently explored, the most promising result so far has been growing red seaweed with the Latin name Euchemia isiforme.
See also: Belize Is An Angler’s Paradise
Growing seaweed is beneficial for a number of reasons. For one, the harvesting process is not dissimilar from fishing. Many of Belize’s local fishermen already include seaweed harvesting as a byproduct of fishing for queen conch and spiny lobster that like to cluster where seaweed grows. The collected seaweed is already being sold in local markets. Seaweed is used in Belize as a food item (including in the popular seaweed “shakes” drinks) but the challenge is to find additional uses for the seaweed such as a cooking thickener (similar to starch) or as an ingredient in soap making.
Growing seaweed has a number of benefits for the marine environment, including the restoration of nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the water. The seaweed also serves as a preferred habitat for the valuable queen conch and spiny lobster.
“We welcome this exciting development,” said Larry France, marketing manager of Chabil Mar. “We believe this is a really special opportunity to diversify income opportunities for traditional fishing communities while also helping to preserve fishing stocks, something that will benefit both tourists and locals alike.”
Local demand for red seaweed is high and expected to grow. Beyond the local economy, global demand for seaweed is increasing at about 10% per year, potentially opening lucrative and sustainable jobs for Belizean fishermen. The challenge moving forward will be to scale up production of the seaweed and to better develop overseas markets.
The popular low-cost carrier WestJet has announced that they will be offering non-stop service from Toronto Pearson International Airport to the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City beginning October 29, 2016. The announcement marks the first time that Canada will enjoy non-stop service to the popular vacation destination in Central America. The new WestJet flights will be offered twice a week departing at 9:15 AM and arriving in Belize City at 11:59 AM. Introductory fares are set to start as low as $267 CAD one-way from Toronto to Belize.
The Belize Tourism Board reacted favorably to the WestJet announcement. “Canada is one of the strongest source markets for visitors coming into Belize, so we are thrilled by the announcement of the new non-stop service,” said Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism for Belize. “We warmly welcome this new entry into the increasingly popular market. With more international carriers that add routes into Belize, more opportunities will open up to allow international visitors to experience the charm, beauty, and laid-back friendly vibe that makes Belize so special.”
WestJet’s announcement comes on the back of similar announcements from Southwest about new non-stop service from Denver to Belize City and American about direct service from London (UK) to Belize City beginning next year.
Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula offers guests the chance to experience one of the most beautiful locations in Belize. With well-appointed villas, an infinity pool, a lush tropical garden, and one of the finest restaurants in the country on site, Chabil Mar is an oasis of luxurious tranquility with an unforgettable beachside view of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Just minutes’ away by foot from Placencia Village, Chabil Mar is ideally situated for excursions to the most popular destinations in Belize, including the Maya ruins of Xunantunich, the Cockscomb Basin Nature Reserve, eco-tours up the Monkey River, and the lovely Belize Barrier Reef that is world-renowned for its snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, swimming, and fishing opportunities.
The management of Chabil Mar welcomes the recent announcement by WestJet and looks forward to welcoming Canadians to experience the many wonders that Belize has to offer.