Page 7 - Revisiting a Mayan Temple in Belize
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to bottom and from side to side [see Figure 3], but the whole site has been cleared.
Later archaeologists, in the act of clearing the jungle-covered “hills” and “mounds” on the site, found four other buildings and two ball courts. In 1950 none of us knew that any of these other structures existed, so completely had the jungle reclaimed them. Although Xunantunich is one of the smaller and more compact Mayan sites, to me it seemed huge indeed in compari- son with the tiny piece of it that I remembered from my earlier visit.
In 1950 there was no one around the site except me, my parents, my three sisters, a Mayan named Jacinto Cunil, whom my father had hired to help him with the excavation, and a couple of Mayan laborers. Now, in addition to the steady stream of tourists, a dozen men work year-round to guard and maintain the site. Rightfully proud of their historic city, they mow the plaza areas, rake the leaves, pull the weeds and moss from crevasses in the ancient stone walls, and generally keep the site safe and beautiful for all of us.
To get to the site in 1950, we at irst had to cross the Mopan River by dugout canoe [see Figure 4], then walk a mile to the excavation site. Once a small ferry had been completed [see Figure 5], we were able to drive closer to the dig. The ferry was really little more than a small raft built especially for our jeep. This raft was moved across the river by hand. Some of us tugged on a cable, while others assisted by pushing on long poles against the river bottom.
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