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Located by a GPS (Global Positioning System) at Longitude: 88.967 W, Latitude: 16.267 N, Uxbentun is not your typical Belize Maya archaeological site. There is no park ranger at a guide center welcoming you, there are no Maya women selling wood carvings and woven baskets, and the principle land owner/caretaker does not encourage people to come for a visit.
Proof of an ancient Mayan city at the unexcavated site Uxbentun in the Toledo district of Belize.
The waters of the Columbia River in the Toledo district at its source.
In fact, we agreed not to go into to much depth regarding just how to approach the site and who is the current owner of the property in order to keep from publicizing the whereabouts in light of the fact that the Belize government has not addressed the ruins in many years.

Indeed, to say Uxbentun is off the beaten path would be putting it lightly. To visit Uxbentun, I made contact with the property owner who was picking up supplies one day in Punta Gorda. When I first approached him in early November on the spot he extended an invitation for me to visit. He said he would be happy to tour me around the site the following March.

And so two weeks prior to the end of March I ran into him once again in Punta Gorda. He explained how to get to his place and said he would be looking forward to my arrival. The particular Wednesday we agreed upon was a gloriously beautiful day. I loaded a day pack with my camera, four bottles of water, two sandwiches and some fresh fruits and headed up the Southern Highway in my small truck. About a mile after the location known as 'the dump' I took the right hand turn towards the village of San Pedro Columbia.

After a few stops to ask a handful of questions, I found my way to the Columbia River. A few more questions to conveniently nearby locals and I was able to hire a man named Saul Garcia and his canoe. Mr Garcia has a farm on the river that is reportedly the standard by which all other agro forestry endeavours in the area are measured. He has the most amazing collection of plants, a veritable forest of edible plants, plus coffees, cacao, timber and medicinals. For BZ$25 dollars he provided me a safe spot to leave my truck, then alternating paddled and poled me and my daypack several miles up stream. Eventually we pulled over to the side of the river. In his broken English he pointed me up a hillside and into the bush.

Soon I was greeted by a young Brit that pointed me further up the hill. Once to the top I was met by the owner. At first glance he seemed a bit surprised, obviously he had forgotten that I was coming. He explained that he had to finish feeding his child breakfast and offered me a cup of coffee.

When the child was fed, he picked up a machete and we headed into the jungle. It was a steady climb up that required the man to chop and step, chop and then step, no doubt it was thick bush. The process took about a half hour or so until at last we were in the center of the location know as Uxbentun. Uxbentun was a suburb or satellite settlement of nearby Lubantuun, which is where the Crystal Skull was found.

For the most part there was little to see, much less to photograph. The site had not been cleared in years and in the Toledo District that means the jungle had literally taken it back. But there were vantage points where you could see the remnants of an ancient Belize Maya city, reflecting a time when the Maya culture thrived deep in the jungles along the Columbia River of Belize.

A local farmer is poling through the Columbia River with his dog.

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