After we begrudgingly saw Mexico fade away in our rear view mirror, we headed south into Belize. Belize is a country whose beauty is only matched by its price tag. Tom and I stayed a week in Belize, but financially spent a good quarter of what we spent during our two months in Mexico. We started our journey in Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary; a beautiful reserve with crocodiles, monkeys, and nearly 200 species of birds. Tom and I camped for 2 nights in a gorgeous field, spending our days kayaking, hiking, and we even went on our first official birding tour. It was simply wonderful. The only other time we had gone “birding” was in Kenya for my sister’s wedding, but we were far more interested in the lions and other fabulous safari creatures than the birds… much to the birders dismay. This time around, having few distractions helped us to get far more excited about the birds.
After Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, we headed towards Belmopan. On our way we stopped at the Belize Zoo, a conservation institute where they help injured animals and reintroduce them to the wild. We saw some amazing animals at this zoo, including my favorite… the Harpy Eagle. A beautiful creature, ¾’s my size. She was stunning. She truly seemed like an animal from Lord of the Rings. She was born into captivity and after they had tried to release her to the wild, she kept flying back to the zoo.
After the Zoo, we found our way to the outskirts of Belmopan where we rented a room for 2 nights so that I could prepare my work. The place we stayed was surrounded by gorgeous waterfalls, old Mayan ruins, and a huge river. We would spend the mornings exploring our surroundings, hiking, and swimming. Lika continues to have the time of her life swimming everywhere we stop, especially this place.
I presented at the George Price Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Belmopan. We had a smaller turn out, but a very effective presentation/meeting none-the-less. Belize is plagued with domestic violence and many people are looking for resources and tools to serve families affected by violence. They have just started a huge awareness program in Belize that will hopefully also lead to prevention.
After the presentation, Tom and I headed towards the Caribbean Coast. We stopped at yet another beautiful cave. You are only allowed to hike into the caves for about a ½ mile without a guide. Of course, Tom and I wanted to explore even further. We kept saying a few more feet, a few more feet until we were deep into the cave. It was really awesome. Tommy wanted to go even further, but I chickened out, envisioning Tommy and I stuck deep in a cave… The batteries of our headlamp slowly fading out… No food… No water… You get the picture. Anyways, I turned back and Tom followed in suit pouting the whole way.
When we arrived on the coast, we decided to explore a town called Hopkins. We camped next to an awesome hippy lady living in a school bus selling natural bug repellent for an outrages price. It happened to be her birthday. Tom and I brought over a beer to share with her since it was her birthday and we were in a friendly mood. We chatted with her for a few hours and learned about her adventures south.
While in Hopkins we went scuba diving. We heard scuba diving in the Cayes was supposed to be some of the best diving in the world. We were happy to say we were not disappointed. We saw amazing fish, coral life, huge lobsters, conch shells and a gigantic turtle. The turtle was missing a fin, most likely from a shark attack, but was still cruising around the ocean just fine.
After diving, we tried some traditional Belizean Garfundi cuisine, Hudut. A pan fried fish, served in a bowl of spicy coconut gravy sauce. Albeit heavy, this dish was divine.
Next we headed towards San Ignacio. Our campground was beautiful and the owner grew delicious fruit trees and shared some star fruit and other local fruits with us. There were spider monkeys jumping through the trees and a huge river running through the back. Tom was able to enjoy more Belizian “fast food,” Salbutes. Salbutes are a deep fried, puffed tortilla, with a variety of different ingredients served on top. They were fatty, yet delicious.
Our short visit in Belize was a lot of fun. While Tommy and I were both sad to leave, we were also excited about the end of the Mayan calendar and our upcoming visit to Guatemala!