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While we were at Crooked Tree, we had opportunities to tour some Mayan archaeological sites. They were generally referred to as ‘ruins’ but that doesn’t seem like a good way to describe them. Remains of a lost civilization? They were hardly ruined.

Lamani was once a major city of the Mayan civilization, occupied as early as the 16th century, BC. It continued to be occupied up til the 17th century AD. The word Lamani means submerged crocodile. It sits on the edge of a large lagoon of the New River in northern Belize. The amount of labor that went into these structures is nearly inconceivable. Before the building began, the jungle would be cleared and the land flattened and covered with a limestone surface and then the towering structures were created. The Mayan civilization was very divided. Most of the people were poor and did the building and produced the food for the powerful leaders. According to our guides, the powerful people were also differentiated by being tall and healthy and long-lived. The workers were very short and malnourished and died young.

Most archaeological work at Lamani began in the 1970’s. Only a small section of the site has been unearthed. It is estimated that there are around 800 more structures hidden in the jungle. We saw three major pyramids and a ball court.

To get there, we were driven west from Crooked Tree to a dock on the New River where we met our guide, Emir and got on a boat that took us to Lamini. Emir is of Mayan descent and proved to be an excellent boat handler and knowledgeable guide. It was a good two hours to get to the site with frequent stops along the way to study birds that he found for us.


  1. Wow. Great post. Thank you. Looks amazing. xo

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