05 November 2012

it's a good night for...

homemade chicken noodle soup! Saturday I made chicken stock using a whole chicken and so I will have enough chicken and soup to last me far longer than I can handle. The soup turned out really well, actually-I used carrots, onions, and celery and added mushrooms for the veggies, then I added some shredded chicken and whole wheat noodles, and the "gelantinized" broth and water and let it simmer for over an hour. I'm not a huge fan of soup, but I really want to avoid getting sick (again) and I need the nutrients chicken broth provides-just thinking about how many times a kid sneezes or sniffles right next to me makes me shiver.

I hope you were able to watch the video Tyler made from our trip to Belize-it is so fun to relive the memories and share them with you. We loved seeing a part of the world we have never seen before and while we would love to go back, it only reminded me how much of the world we have yet to explore!

Like I said before, we only packed backpacks for our trip, simply because we had made few plans and less hotel reservations. I suitcase with wheels and a carry-on was just not conducive to trip we had schemed up. As it turns out, our backpacks went on our laps for the 3 hour bus ride from one side of the country to the other, so it didn't take long for just having a backpack to come in handy. It was so fascinating and a cultural experience in itself to ride the school bus, their only form of public transportation. We saw the landscape turn from flat and balmy to hilly and laden with beautiful foliage.

An overriding theme of the trip was the fascination I/we had with the way Belizeans live. The road (there is only one paved road and it is the main highway from one end of the country to the other) we took was speckled with boards built into box-shaped rooms, constructed on stilts, and functioned as homes for the people. I say "functioned" because coming from my worldview (you know, with electricity and running water), I would not deem their structures more than anything but 4 walls, at best. I also say homes, not only because these boards barely resembled houses, but we know they provided (mostly) adequate shelter and a form of comfort and safety to those calling it home. With the many places we will live over the years, each building will surely look different, but all will be home to us. My fascination with this poor country came when I started to feel sad and sorry for the people and culture of Belize. After meeting many native Belizeans, if only for a short time, I quickly realized that feeling sorry or pity for these people would be doing them a great disservice and I would never wish to do that, whether consciously or subconsciously. So I looked at their way of life as beautiful and meaningful; simple and full of purpose. They are proud of their country (although their littered streets reflect an embarrassing lack of infrastructure and not pride) and what it means to Central America. They are proud of their heritage, families, and what they contribute to their nation's future.  

We stayed in a new city/guesthouse every two days while inland. We immediately went East to San Ignacio (see map), almost a border town to Guatemala, and explored the town, two Mayan ruins, and a historic cave. We then traveled Southwest to Dangriga and stayed overnight, awaiting a trip to Tobacco Caye (known as a "budget" island)--we were disappointed in Tobacco Caye, possibly because we were the only tourists but also because since it was the "off" season, the island must have been "off" it's game. Littered, dirty and unfriendly are three good words to describe it. But I tried conch, baracuda, and lobster (that Tyler caught) for the first time, so it wasn't a complete wash. We then traveled (in a downpour) back to Dangriga via water taxi and thankfully caught the bus before it left to head back to "better" civilization. (towards Belmopan, the capital). We had no clue where we were going to stay that night but had looked up this "Caves Branch" place in the jungle. We got dropped off at the end of the road and walked for 15 minutes until we came across heaven on earth in jungle form. We got a good deal for a room (with an upgrade) and of course stayed two nights before heading back up north to the northern cayes. From Belize City we took a water taxi to Caye Caulker, which has a reputation for being the laid-back, backpacker island, which apparently, in our dirty dry-fit clothes, water hiking boots and backpacks, we fit the profile. We enjoyed the last four nights on Caye Caulker, relaxing and enjoying the clear skies and turquoise water.

We loved our Belize vacation and upon further reflection, it was a great place for an "adventure" trip-we really got more out of the beauty of the country by visiting the inland than we would have missed by just staying at the islands, not that visiting the islands isn't worth the trip in itself, because it is.

And a few no particular order...

fresh produce. if only we had this in North Texas!
 view from our guesthouse balcony in San Ignacio
first or second meal in Belize...the best chicken nachos!
banana pancakes were a lot different in Belize than Thailand!
coming back from Xunantunich, the Mayan ruin, was a wooden crank ferry that could fit two cars and a bunch of people over the river. Yikes!
stingrays right off our deck in Tobacco Caye
ready to brave the rainstorm for the trip back to Dangriga! (unfortunately this was taken at 9am when we were supposed to leave but didn't until the rain subsided enough at 1pm)
our jungle getaway in the Mayan mountains!
last day sailing trip in Caye Caulker, where we line and spear fished (and also ate fresh snapper right on the boat)
Instagram picture-not happy we have to leave, apparently.
our first night in Belize (do we look like we got up at 2am to catch a 5am flight to land in Belize at 11am and drive across the country and find a place to stay and hike up to a ruin all before sunset?!) 
this town's best kept secret...
one of the better looking schools in alongside the road.
mahogany trees (or the trees used to build rifles, I'm not sure) 
fortunately NOT our ride to the Mayan cave along the bumpy road!
I felt like we were in the Truman show on our ride out to Tobacco Caye (this glorious view lasted only a few more hours)
more stingray
lemongrass herbal plant to cure Tyler's cough in the botanical garden at the jungle resort. also included in the garden were over 80 types of orchids, a cheese factory and countless Mayan medicinal plants.
the plant in our video that "hides" when touched (looks like a fern leaf at the beginning)
our garden tour guide shimmied up a coconut tree to get us a fresh coconut!

the "blue" hole national park, a muddy mess after a rainstorm, apparently...
tarantula #3 of the trip, all spotted in the wild, all spotted by me. this was on the banks of the river at our jungle resort
we took a mini detour to the Belize zoo and saw this beauty...
our view from the terrace of our Caye Caulker guesthouse
our friends from Denmark-we had a great time getting to know them on the last few days of our trip!  they are great inspiration for us to keep traveling...maybe someday to Copenhagen!

Thanks for enduring the long process of rehashing our trip to Belize.  It is fun to relive those memories, not made long ago, but I will be back to our regular scheduled programming before you even notice.  Have a great week!  


Courtney said...

More amazing pictures! Looks like so much fun!

Anonymous said...