Daily Temple Running Through Lamanai Reserve
Everyday, “cuidado para el tigre!”my host mother would shout from the kitchen as I frolicked from the backyard to the road towards the jungle. My village hugged the border of the Lamanai Archeological Reserve, a Mayan civilization that technically covered a span of dozens of miles. Since the 1970’s archeologists have mustered enough money to uncover less than a dozen of the more notable temples out of the hundreds that encompass the park. The gravel loop that runs between the ruins is about a half a mile in length which made an excellent circle to trail run through.
Running through the jungle is different from the Northern woods of New England. The rich soil creates a warm musky smell. The incredibly diverse, lush tropical landscape makes for a deeply humid air. Flowers, berries and grasses give off a different sweet aroma every ten steps or so. A heavy scatter in the bush rushes your adrenaline at the thought of running upon a jaguar. Animals that you never knew existed before that moment, run across the path in terror because they’ve never seen a human. Howler monkeys stop your sprint in an instant to shout at you with their dinosaur roar. Spider monkeys stare at you in curiosity. The “sam-poh-poh” leaf cutter ants march by the millions creating giant grooves through the gravel. Dozens of kill billed toucans hopping tree to tree make you realize that you’re far from home.
I love running up hills (I know), so running up the stairs of a temple felt like I was perfectly placed in my village. Coming up upon a 100 foot stone structure built in 600 AD never, ever failed to amaze me. Even up until my last day in the park, I stared at it in adornment. Sitting at the top, looking across and over the tops of the palms and mahogany miles away at the horizon was invigorating. It was one of the few places around the village with a breeze so my quick breaks always lasted too long.