27 Days In Belize

Five years ago I took a vacation to Belize with my good friend Eric.  Along with having a damn good time, we met some amazing people that in some ways ended up shaping who, and where I am today.

As Eric and I talked with other travelers we’d hear things like “I’ve been kitesurfing for the past 4 months in Central America.” “In Germany we get at least six weeks of holiday per year.”  “In Sweden we work 4 hours per week, have unlimited vacation, and I got 5 years of paternity leave when my 2nd cousin had a baby.”  Ok maybe I exaggerated a bit on the last one.  Regardless, we realized we had received the short straw when it came to our vacation “allowance”.

Over and over our 10 day bro-adventure was turned into a weekend trip to Miami when compared with other traveler’s stories.  As you can imagine, I had questions.  I didn’t personally know anyone travelling so extensively yet here were people from all over the world casually living out what I could only dream of doing.

That little seed, planted by late night conversations, and fed with future travels, has become the roots on which I now base a lot of my decisions.  It’s certainly part of the reason we’re on this trip.  Needless to say, skipping Belize on our Pan-American adventure, as many do, was not an option for us.

After our faux wedding in Orchid Bay we decided to drive all the way to southern Belize and work our way north.  The massive drive from top to bottom took less than a ½ day considering the New Jersey-ish size of the country.

Placencia, Belize

In Placencia a traveling couple has opened up their property, and more importantly their pool, to overlanders.  The beginning of rainy season had thus far produced no rain so we welcomed the opportunity to escape the heat and bugs while lounging in their pool for a few days.  We also found a gelateria selling the best gelato we’ve had since Italy!

Bocawina National Park

Our next stop included both our sweatiest hike and worst shower to date.  We entered Bocawina National Park and camped in a field across from the on-site resort.  The next morning we set out on a jungle hike.  The trail was awesome and included large sections comprised entirely of tree roots, but the heat was plain stupid.  We were so sweaty we could’ve sloshed down a bone dry slip-n-slide.  Luckily there was a waterfall and pool at the top!

Even with a waterfall rinse, we were pretty gross when we arrived back at camp.  Our hot weather strategy is generally to sweat out the day for as long as we can and then take a cold shower before bed.  We waited until the last minute and then walked to the resort lobby to use one of the showers.  The bad news was that the water was out.  The worse news was that it wasn’t coming back on and they were actually relocating all their guests.  Our only option was to walk to the main entrance guard shack “shower.”

It was already dark and the entrance was a good distance away but we agreed that a chance to cool off was worth the trek.  In summary, we took cold showers and went to bed.  BUT, we also walked a long jungle road in jaguar country, heard lots of strange noises, saw glowing eyes, and fought off giant shower attack bugs in a nasty concrete box while the other person simultaneously stood guard and danced to avoid being bitten.  Think of us the next time you’re barefoot in your warm, bug-free, clean shower…it’s the little things.

As we continued north we…

Camped next to a river and tried to wash some of the mud off the truck.

Spanish Lookout

Here we declined an invite from a Mennonite man – We were camping by a lake when we got to talking with a nice fellow.  I was exhausted but I somehow nodded my head through our chat about dinner back on “the land,” and talk about a night of sitting in a circle and singing and dancing.  After the guy left to go ask his wife about dinner Jenna turned to me and said, “Do you know you just signed us up for some sort of Fellowship Friday???”  It could have been amazing or incredibly awkward; and while I usually love sitting in circles with random strangers, I was dog-tired, had a headache and just couldn’t do it.  We ended up moving camp to find an electrical outlet so I’m not sure if he came back, and I don’t know much about the Mennonites, but I’m sure it would have been a story to tell.  What’s a Mennonite? More info HERE.

Went to the Belize Zoo – It’s a rescue and rehabilitation center so we felt ok with the whole animals in cages thing here.

Ambergris Caye

And finally…ditched our rig at the Belize marina and took a ferry to the Cayes! – With friends and family set to arrive in a couple days we opted to get on that Caribbean water a little early.  We checked into our awesome hostel, ordered a rum punch and took it sloooow…until a golf cart almost ran us over.  Seriously San Pedro, your golf cart traffic is killing the vibe!

Finally mi prima arrives!!!  My cousin Amanda is the shiznit so when she mentioned setting up a trip to meet us in Belize we were all for it.  She had booked the lodging and festivities for the group so all we had to do was check out of our hostel and meet our friends at the dock.  I could tell ya allll about how we had an amazing time but I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

I think the view from the rental cured everyone’s jet lag.

Sunsets are better with friends and family, and beer, and puppies.  There weren’t any puppies here but I really wish there were.

Dinna!  The power went out so the staff lit some candles and moved on with service until the lights came back on.  You better Belize it!

Shark Ray Alley & Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Snorkeled with some big fishies.

Jenna working on her dreadlocks.

Caye Caulker

Going sloooow-er on Caye Caulker.  Much more our speed than Ambergris but it’s growing every year soooo don’t go there…It smells like poo and you’ll get robbed 😉

Jump off a slippery tree without health insurance? Sounds like a good idea to me!

ATM Cave Tour – Actun Tunichil Muknal

Since cameras are banned, we have no pictures of this tour and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  After a brief hike and a plunge into the chill water we spend hours wading, swimming, climbing and squeezing into the light-less womb of the earth.  Our headlamps dance on the insane looking stalactites, stalagmites and formations as we try not to step on the pottery and bones just inches from our feet.  Our trained guide explains and interprets the sacrifices, rituals and artifacts before us and we wonder why we, as silly tourists, are allowed in such a delicate site.  There’s no selfie sticks, no GoPros, no posing and no flash to ruin the experience.  An amazing tour and a welcome departure from technology, all thanks to a clumsy tourist who dropped their camera through a skull years ago.

Rio on Pools

Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve

Big Rock Falls

Cahal Pech Ruins

Cahal Pech Resort

Oscar the bartender is still there and remembered me from years ago.  Hooray for cheap drinks!  Love this place.

As much as Jenna and I love sharing this adventure together, it’s even sweeter when we can share it with friends and family.  A huge thank you to my cousin, Amanda, and our unbelizeable friends for making the trip and our trip that much better.  Looking forward to the next time!

After a sad goodbye we moved back into the camper and set out to explore the town of San Ignacio.  We grabbed some produce and $3 sunglasses from the market and stopped into a little food shack full of locals.  While waiting in line I caught a rainbow of smells and colors as it passed me by and asked the quickly escaping lady what she ordered.  She turned and answered slowly, holding that plastic basket of food with both hands to the sky as if it were Simba over the pride lands, “This my boy, is an Indian Taco.”

It didn’t look like any taco I’d seen and it didn’t smell like Indian food but I didn’t care; I was putting one in my face pronto!  I slammed my fists on the counter and demanded two Indian tacos and two large watermelon waters in the best Spanish I could muster.  She looked at me oddly, since they speak English in Belize, but nevertheless my point had been made.  When they arrived I found myself holding the perfect food.  A beautiful fry jack topped with refried beans, stewed & shredded Belizian chicken, tomatoes, cheese, cabbage, avocado, bacon, two types of salsa picante and a dash of unicorn tears.  When it was all over I leaned back, elbows on the picnic table, sipping on the last of my watermelon water and somehow knew, life would never be the same.  At least that’s how I remember it 😉

Over the next few days we indulged on Indian Tacos, prepped for the Guatemala border crossing, hung out with our friends John & Mandi, and finally met fellow overlanders Beat & Betty, and Amy & Guy.

Long gone are the days of our naiveté whilst sharing Belikins with such good friends.  If I only knew that mere days into our future I’d be running barefoot and screaming at a cow truck, I’d have stayed a little longer, and relished in the surety of that cold beer and friendly conversation.

Next on Travel Amateurs…Guata-friggin-Mala!

By |2017-09-01T13:02:34-06:00November 24th, 2016|Belize, Central America, The Trip|0 Comments

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