Some of the activities we have enjoyed in Punta Gorda require a guide but many don't, including heading into town on bikes as previously noted, and the subject of this post, taking a local San Miguel Village bus from Punta Gorda, hopping off just before the village at the access road to the Lubaantún Maya Site, and hiking 3/4 of a mile into the site.
Long time Lubaantún caretaker Santiago is a gem, graciously showing us some of the latest archaeological finds. The site is known for masked figures that archaeologists believe represent boxers; they hypothesize that what appear to be ball courts at the site were actually boxing venues.
This headless figure exhibits unusual textile detail.
Many of the figures are whistles that still work.
Santiago and his wife and grown kids use the ancient clay deposits to create their own beautiful whistles based on Lubaantún designs.
Lubaantún means "Fallen Stones".
After a nice picnic lunch that included delicious casava treats we purchased on the bus...
Mike took a little nap in the shade while I continued to explore the site and surrounding jungly areas.
At a designated time we were picked up in the Lubaantún parking area by Fubu, an employee at Hickatee. He drove us up and over the hill to the Fallen Stones Butterfly Farm. The farm isn't open to the public, but if you happen to be staying at Hickatee Cottages on a Friday, you can either ride there and back or they'll meet you at Lubaantún; the organization is impressive and the tour was fantastic.
The food for the butterflies is grown on the property. A former resort site, the grounds are beautiful.
Hickatee's owner, Ian, is the head manager of the ranch. The onsite manager, Sebastian, has worked there for more than 20 years and gave us a private tour. Here he is with Mike in the owl butterfly enclosure, pointing out a butterfly laying eggs on a leaf.
The butterflies here have become domesticated; they don't fear people and seek salt.
Blue Morphos, outside and inside; we were blessed to see several in the wild on our trip, too.
The eggs are collected and counted and placed into boxes; they take careful care and detailed counts of the caterpillars as they emerge and grow.
When the caterpillars are nearing their time to change to pupal form, they are carefully encouraged to attach to racks.
The pupae are carefully sorted for size and quality; some are prepared for shipping...
and others are glued to racks in the butterfly houses to replace breeding stock.
The pupal phase lasts 1-2 weeks, varying between species; they must be shipped to the wholesaler in England and then shipped from there to collectors, zoos, etc. around the world before they need to emerge. They are shipped in wooden crates in these foam forms: