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MidWinter Break 2014: Belize, C.A.

24 Feb

How could we out-do Iceland and the MidWinter adventure of 2013?

It simply wasn’t possible and my “mid-winter-crabby-Seattle-got-me-no-more-vitamin-D-mood” was getting the best of me.

We tried so hard to go back to Iceland, but, alas! it wasn’t in the cards.

OK.. How about Hawaii? Bora Bora?

No Way! Those places are ridiculously expensive and totally not for last minute adventures.

So, after Greg returned from his annual ski trip, he stumbled upon this Belize deal and 5 days later we were off on our next midwinter adventure.

And what should one expect in Belize, the British Hondouras?

“Huh? What? Hondouras?” I said!

Friends from work said it’d be great….they told me not to worry, that our “Brit cousins” left the place with a solid infrastructure, clean water, and decent food.

But, it is Central America and my world was about to change….

Our plan was a simple one: sign up for high-end resort with last minute deal and enjoy first class service at a fraction of the price….. and just get some sun…relax…be warm….

Not so fast, Sister!

When we got to the airport after a red eye flight and our car wasn’t reserved for us, I should have known right away that an adventure awaited.

As the time ticked by and I awaited Greg to negotiate with the rental car place, I realized I needed to get on Island time.

I need to sloooow down. Tic Toc..what is taking so long? It’s so hot and I still have on my Seattle clothes (black hiking pants, black shirt, of course)….ug! And! What are those crazy birds? They look like crows with super long tails, but they sound like me squealing when I step on a pinecone. I hate crows. Hm. Ok. Focus.

Yay! We got a car. And, we’re off…

Here’s how our week’s map turned out!

The perspective here doesn’t do our trip justice…so if you want to zoom out to see where we were in relation to Seattle, check it out here

Itinerary

Sat-Sun

Red Eye flight from Seattle thru Atlanta to Belize City

Monday

Hopkins Bay Resort-Sun-Pool-walk to town; walk on beach, hammock

Tuesday

Xunantunich Maya ruins. All day adventure.

Wednesday

Bike to South Hopkins. Back to resort…Sea kayack…

Thursday

Drive to Placencia; Walk around. Hot….Stop at cool pub…Walk…Hot….back to resort…hang out on swing in bar, play cards

Friday

Snorkeling in South Water Caye via Hamanasi. Hang out in cute tree house hostel. Nap in beach hammock.

Saturday

Travel home and end the day at our normal: the Celtic Bayou

 

The Drive

From the airport, we traveled thru pot-holed roads that had these funky and tricky speed bumps. It’s no wonder the rental car sounded like the wheels would fall off. You really have to pay attention to see the bumps in the roads…In driving more than 700 miles this week, we saw exactly one stop light, two stop signs, and maybe 20 feet of sidewalk. But many of these speed bumps: some with these signs and many without them…and miles and miles of jungle…..

Hopkins Bay Resort

Our home base for the week is about 120 miles from the airport. The resort is settled just north of the town of Hopkins, home to the largest Garifuna tribe. It’s a beautiful resort. Fresh flowers and fresh fruit in the room. Water is filtered and we had no problem with food or water issues. To top it off, the resort was, at times, empty and it seemed like we had the place to ourselves.

Xunatunich

Our second day weather called for rain so we decided to head West to see the Mayan ruins and we chose Xunatunich.

I had no idea that the Belize territory was once home to the largest population of Mayans. There are many Mayan sites from which to choose, but I wanted to see this hand-cranked ferry. So, off we went, back through the pot-holed roads

 

It was easy to take the car onto the ferry. We hired a tour guide when we got there ($25 USD) and it was well worth it!. Thank you, Elvin. J

 

 

I am simply terrified of the heights, but we made it to the top. Check that off the list. Whew.

Then, as an added bonus…Monkeys! Take a listen to the howler monkey family up in the trees. As a side note, armed guards (complete with machine guns) were patrolling the area, which happens to be about 10 minutes walking distance to Guatemala.

 

Afterwards, we stopped in San Ignacio at Hode’s Place. Clearly this is a place that hosts the cruise-shippers. But, bottom line: the food was decent, service excellent, and the beer cold. BTW: the beer? Belikin: Stout and a Light (we think it’s a lager)

The Town of Hopkins, Stann Creek, Belize, C.A.

We stayed in North Hopkins, right next to the cemetary. Notice the tombstone: Sunrise Date and Sunset Date—seems to be so graceful. Touring the town by bike, to me, was the best!

The town is simple. In the mornings and evenings, folks gather to eat and converse. I’m not sure if many of them work.

While many of the shacks have electricity, many also have outhouses. However, there is no unsanitary smell. Folks were doing laundry daily and the school-going kids had clean uniforms and super-friendly manners.

Placencia

Of course, it’s hard to sit still, so we headed South to Placencia, which was about 1 ¼ hour drive. Really picturesque town. It reminded me a lot of Key West. Maybe a poor version of it, but really cute.

 

Back in Hopkins at the Funky DoDo and the treetop pub to chill for a few

Someday, I will get the courage up to stay at a hostel. This one looked really clean and fun.

Snorkeling at South Caye

One of our highlights was to snorkel (my first time!).

On the day we toured Hopkins on the bikes, we found Hamanasi Resort. Here, we found a very upscale resort with highly organized adventures. Highly, highly recommend this outfit for the snorkel tour!

 

Not a great picture, but I was freaking out at the barricuda. Yikes.

This crab was about 18-inches claw to claw.

The coral was amazing. We were bascially swimming in a giant fish tank.

We stopped at the Blue Marlin Resort on South Water Caye. Now, here is a place to totally check out. Really beautiful place. There is a little pub with a pool table, but it wasn’t clear to me if there was any restaurant. Definitely no shops. The shacks looked a little like igloos. Odd. I think if you like to fish, kayak, and not see anyone, this is the place for you.

 

So, I’ve been long-winded here so I’ll stop:

If I had only 3 words to describe a place what words would decribe our 2014 MidWinter Belize Adventure?

Well, knee-jerk reaction (poverty, jungle, “like-Mexico”) doesn’t fit at all…and the cruise-ship-like pictures do not do this place justice!

Belize is so different from the world of fast-paced and competitive work in which we normally operate.

I think these words fit nicely: Simple. Peaceful. Community.

I realize now that being poor doesn’t equate to poverty. And, that being rich doesn’t equate to success.

In Belize, we found excellence in simple foods, a friendly smile, and amazing landscape and adventure.

I feel so fortunate to have had the Belize experience. Amazing. Xo.

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1 Comment

Posted by on February 24, 2014 in 2014

 

One response to “MidWinter Break 2014: Belize, C.A.

  1. Lynn Reynolds

    February 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Beautiful blue water. Matt talks about wanting to go to Belize, but it always sounds a little too uncivilized for me. Maybe I’ll rethink that. And I loved that billboard about how to solve the worlds problems!

     

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