The Mayan Connection

Belize lays claim to Central America's earliest Mayan settlements (dating from 2000 B.C.), including Altun Ha, Xunantunich, and Lamanai. The last of these is considered the most important site in the northern part of the country because the Mayans occupied it continuously from 1500 B.C. until the 16th century. The Lamanai excursion, which leaves the TMM dock in San Pedro at 7 a.m., gave us a full day of sightseeing, including a nature and bird-watching tour by motorboat up the New River, where we had the chance sighting of the rare giant jabiru "turk" stork in its nest.

Consult TMM for cost and details about visiting Belize's ruins as well as those at Tikal, in Guatemala. Per-person cost for Lamanai, excluding tips, was $125 and included a delicious homemade lunch served on china.

If, aside from sailing, your interests tend more toward birds, hiking trails, and wildlife, check with TMM and Destination Belize, the publication of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (800-624-0686, e-mail btb@travelbelize.org or write Ulrich Communications Corp., 1995 N.E. 150th St., Suite 107, N. Miami, FL 33181, fax 305-947-6410, e-mail dbz@ulrichcom.net). E.L.