“It’s sad because something beautiful was destroyed”: Bus stop story


I heard this while waiting for a bus on the Western Highway. I let two buses pass talking to this guy. Paraphrased, names/locations removed, etc. of course. A story from day one of fieldwork in Belize.

My friends and I were diving in a creek {1}. It isn’t a tourist place, no one else would know about what was under there. My friend’s aren’t like me, I am the curious one. I saw a round hole and I went down to see what was there. I went down there and came up through it under the creek {2}. There were big pots there with big openings [makes a big circle with his arms] there. It was amazing to see them like that. I didn’t want to take them out because I would have to take them through the water. Because they are earthen the water would have probably damaged them. I left them there, I thought that is where they should be. But my friends saw.

Later, I took someone to the creek to show them the pots but when we got there they were all gone. I think my friends took them out. They probably didn’t even make it out of the creek. My friends wouldn’t tell me what happened. They probably fell apart in the water {3}. It’s sad because something beautiful was destroyed.

{1} Belize and, indeed, much of Central America is tropical and carstic. There are seemingly infinite waterways, some quite big and deep, that seem to be called creeks even if they are more river-y. Creek canoeing, tubing, swimming, etc is a big tourist draw here, but Belizeans take part as well, exploring areas that tourists usually don’t get to.

{2} He is talking about a small cave under the creek with a dry area accessible under the water. This is a pretty normal thing in Belize, the carstic landscape creates caves like mad. The Maya considered these caves as connection points between this world and the underworld, thus Belizean caves are often filled with beautifully preserved Maya offerings. Caves are one of the few places where you find Maya wood items…and there is always hope that one day a preserved Maya book may be found in one.

{3} Any archaeologist will tell you that they almost certainly didn’t fall apart in the water.