Where The H#&% Is Belize?
Located in Central America, tucked between Mexico & Guatemala, and embraced by the warm Caribbean sea. Not an island, but has many little islands dotting its shores. Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. Surprisingly, it was only a 2 hour, 20 minute flight from Ft. Lauderdale.
Colonized by the Brits, the official language of Belize is English. Belize is a cultural melting pot which includes the indigenous Maya, German Mennonites, Hondurans, Creole, Mestizo (latin/native mixed ancestry)… then you have the pirate influence, Mexicans, Chinese, and the British who ruled until 1981. Belize is a country of freedom-seekers, a haven for sheltering money, and a relatively easy place to establish foreign residency.
Woody decided not to rent a car this time – Belize is the size of Massachusetts – and there are different ways to get around. A short taxi ride from the airport got us to the bus station. Here we hopped on a chicken bus. Carli’s first time on one, so it was fun to share the experience.
Well, not really, but if you’ve been following us, you know we like to chill with like minded people. No walls dividing us, no lobbies syphoning the “riffraff”, no wristbands… In other words, we won’t be staying at the:
Our first days we chose to stay at Mana Kai Camping & Cabins. Without Thor, we had to opt for the “cabin” option, check it out!
I have to tell the whole story however. As you can see, the place did deliver our like-minded kinfolk, but it also included some unwelcomed guests. We captured and freed an extremely large spider – which jumped like nobody’s business. But, the scorpion wasn’t as lucky. Carli caught a slight glance of the fellow, when she jumped out of her shorts, and shouted “scorpion!” We didn’t quite believe it. But, when his pincers became visible from under the shower pan, our adrenaline kicked in, and Woody did quick work with a flip flop in hand. Once he was out, then SMASH.
We are staying in San Ignacio which is an inland village. Everything Belize, fans out from here. There are Mayan ruins walking distance called Cahal Pech, and they are reminiscent of the Yucatán Mayan culture. After reading the travel books, we weren’t expecting too much. That’s why it was a surprise once we got there. The ruins demonstrated rich culture, much larger than we anticipated, and a nice breeze cooled the lush hilltop ruins – a welcome treat after the uphill hike. Cahal Pech was once a palatial home for an elite Mayan family.
The Farmers’ market in San Ignacio is colorful, always bustling and fun to photograph.
There were several new foods to sample, and our favorite became the pupusas. A fare of Salvadorian origin (remember the “melting pot”..), which consists of a thick corn tortilla, made into a bowl shape then stuffed with refried beans & cheese, closed into a ball, then deftly flattened. You put two of these tortillas together and put more filling between them. The filling is anything from meat to vegetables, to more beans & cheese. On top, you add a spicy cabbage slaw, some tomato salsa and more hot sauce, if you can take it. Yum!
But there’s more
Another reason we chose to stay in San Ignacio is its proximity to one of the most powerful Mayan kingdoms ever uncovered, Tikal. Stay tuned next week as Woody shares his take on Tikal, the largest, ceremonial urban centers of Mayan civilization.