Experiments in … Travel: Belize!!

Hello dear readers!  I’m finally getting around to posting about my recent trip to the Placencia peninsula in Belize.  It was a beautiful experience with beautiful scenery and beautiful people.  If you ever get a chance to go … do it!

Here’s my travel journal entries for my trip, along with some photos.  I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do on this trip.  I was too busy enjoying the experience to document it much.  But I hope you can get at least an idea about the good stuff that this magickal place has to offer.

Have you ever been to Plancencia?  Or elsewhere in Belize?  Feel welcomed to share your stories in the comments below.  I’d love to hear your perspective.

TRAVEL JOURNAL:  BELIZE

IMG_3781
The view from our room – oceanside.

This is my first morning waking up in Placencia (Belize). I got out of bed, did my morning routine, made some tea, and walked out onto the terrace for a view of the ocean framed by palms, hibiscus and other tropical plants. Birds of varying shapes, sizes and colors were busy doing the day’s work all around. It’s absolutely lovely here. We are staying in the Belize Ocean Club Resort, thanks to Hector’s friend, Anna.  It’s at Maya Beach, about a 15-minute drive from Placencia town.  The first few days were in an oceanside room, then we were transferred to a lagoonside room.  It was a treat to get to experience both breathtaking views!

This first day was spent on the beach – where else?!  I had my first experience paddle-boarding, which was great fun.  I found the paddle boarding relatively easy, but when I attempted a few yoga poses on the board … well … that was another story entirely.  The only pose I could effectively create on the board was Down Dog.  But, hey!  That counts, right?!

Belize Ocean Club
Belize Ocean Club

Later in the day, Hector and I drove into town for a delicious dinner at Rumfish restaurant. Rumfish is a really sweet place with some beautifully and lovingly prepared food.  I am afraid I gave into temptation during this trip and did not stick to my normal dietary path.  But, I’m not afraid to make occasional exceptions so long as they remain occasional exceptions.  I also splurged and had a dragonfruit caiparihna cocktail. It was tasty. I think I could get used to this life here in Placencia.

This first day was followed by several like it:  relaxing on the beach, in the pool, or at the pool bar; paddle boarding, kayaking, lounging; taking occasional excursions into town.  We also had the pleasure of joining new friends for dinners during the week/end.  A casual dinner and Anna and Marcus’.  A slightly more raucus group dinner at Rumfish with Sonia, Chris, Stephanie, Tom, and Martin – where we got to meet the lovely owners of the restaurant, Pam and John.  Group happy hour at Maya Beach Bistro.  Aaahh … this is the life!

It’s Monday already.  I’ve not written much as I go, mostly because I’ve not been thinking about documentation of my experiences, but, rather, I’ve just been enjoying my experiences. Belize is a really beautiful country from what I’ve seen so far. And Placencia is a sweet little town with some friendly inhabitants. I’ve met a lovely (and diverse) group of people: Tom (English) and Stephanie (Guatemalan), Martin (Dutch), Sonia (Mexican) and Chris (Canadian), Anna (Swedish) and Marcus (English), and their cute daughter, Freya. They are all residents, and have shown such hospitality and kindness.  This is what travel is really about:  Meeting new and interesting people.  Sonia’s even been gracious enough to invite me to stay with her in Playa del Carmen!  (She’s relocating there in a couple weeks.)  I’m hoping to make that happen nearer year’s end maybe.

Hector
Hector
Sonia and Stephanie
Sonia and Stephanie

On Saturday, Hector and I went to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s a jaguar reserve that also houses a wide array of indigenous wildlife, waterfalls and gorgeous rainforest. We embarked on the popular Tiger Fern hike. It’s a round trip 4k hike up a mountain to two waterfalls, each giving way to sweet little swimming holes. To get to the second waterfall, you have to cross the first and climb a little further. It is well worth it!  Water so cool and fresh and clean.  And the pool is surrounded by stone cliffs and tropical flora. It was absolutely gorgeous – all peace and quiet excepting the rush of the falls. While on the hike we met a Dutch couple who’d been traveling for a couple months through Central America. They’d been living in Bolivia for six years, and were on their way home to figure out what the next adventure would be. (They just recently found out they are pregnant, so I imagine that will be a pretty adventurous experience.) I am sad to say I cannot remember their names, but they were lovely. We had a chat at the top of the mountain – overlooking an incredible vista of the Mayan Mountains – and then went on our separate ways. After our hike, Hector and I continued on to nearby Sittee Marina for lunch. He’d been told by a friend that the food there was phenomenal. (He was right. It was the best food I’ve eaten on this trip.) We sat down at The Curve Bar, an open-air structure overlooking the river, and made our orders. The wait staff was eager to introduce us to the restaurant’s pet crocodile, Junior. He lives in a little pen in the river by the bank and comes out regularly for feedings from the kitchen. He was definitely well fed, this guy. And I understood why he hangs around, once I got a taste of what that kitchen can do. I ordered a simple green salad and some tostones with avocado and tomato, and it was incredible. Fresh produce, bursting with flavor, the tostones cooked just right, not too greasy. Delicioso! While we were awaiting our food, our Dutch friends wandered in to eat, too. We had a nice time chatting with them through lunch. This is one of the things I love most about traveling: You can meet such wonderful people and become instant friends. Even though the relationship is temporary, it still feels very connected and nourishing. Inspiring, really.  All in all, it was a wonderful day.

Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve
Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve
Me at The Curve Bar
Me at The Curve Bar
Dutch friends at The Curve Bar
Dutch friends at The Curve Bar

Speaking of friends, we happened to see Sonia and Chris the next morning at the hotel pool. They were getting ready to take a kayak trip out to a mangrove island off the beach for some snorkeling, and they invited us to go along. We accepted, of course! Little did we know it was going to be  a very long and grueling excursion. Apparently, they had done the trip several times before, but from a pushing off point much further down the beach. Leaving from Belize Ocean Club (BOC) was a different story altogether. It took us about 40 minutes of paddling to get to the island. Sonia and Chris were in individual kayaks and Hector and I shared what the couple hilariously calls the “divorcee”, or two-person, kayak. I agree with them that the two-person kayaks are a much more challenging experience for all but the most closely aligned partners. Still, I think Hector and I did a great job of rallying together. We tied up our boats to the mangrove roots and waded and snorkeled in the clear turquoise Caribbean waters. It was fantastic. Before our big return paddle, we made a quick detour through a mangrove channel. I always love paddling through the mangroves. It always feels so eerie and mysterious and magical. During the paddle back to the beach, the wind had picked up and there were some pretty swoopy waves on the ocean. We realized that – aside from Hector – we were all pretty intensely sunburned. Also, Hector and I neglected to eat breakfast before going out. The effects of the burn, the fatigue from the sun and the efforts at paddling, the emptiness of my belly, and the incessant rocking of the waves made me feel super nauseas. Not my finest hour, but I kept focusing on the beach, and we made it back – finally!! – without my producing any fish food, if you catch my drift. *pun kind of intended … sorry* A big thank you to Hector who picked up the slack on the return paddle.  Once back at the beach, we unloaded our kayaks and spent the rest of the day – and much of the evening – hanging out at the pool bar with Sonia and Chris. All things considered, it was a really fun day!

This morning, I was greeted with a rude awakening when I realized that my legs are still bright red, hot as lava, and feel as tight and scaly as the iguanas that reside here. I’ve been applying lotion practically every ten minutes in the hopes that I can recover enough to make it back out to the pool. Or, at least to the shady part of the pool bar. But, for now, I’m trying to be smart and taking a little break in the hotel room. I can still enjoy the view of the lagoon from the patio, so it’s not a super hardship.

View from our room - lagoonside.
View from our room – lagoonside.

So … yesterday …. unfortunately my legs were so badly burned that I spent almost the entire day in the room. I tried one of the pool cabanas for about an hour – in the shade – but it was just a little too uncomfortable. The up side is that I got to spend some time catching up on one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Watching You Tube videos. Though, to be frank, I would much rather have been able to spend the day pool- and beachside. Oh well.

We had another dinner last night with Anna and Marcus and their adorable daughter, Freya. It was nice, casual. We picked up pizzas in town (a salad for me) and shared them over a bottle of wine. Another early evening, which is fine by me.

Today’s our last day here. As always, I’ve mixed emotions on the last day of a trip. On the one hand, it will be nice to sleep in my own bed and snuggle with little bunny Anisette and see friends, and even work again. (And I’m really ready to get back to eating LFHRV.) On the other hand, I am really sad to leave this tropical paradise and the new friends I’ve made. Hopefully we can keep in touch. Hopefully, too, I can manage that trip to Playa del Carmen to visit Sonia sometime soon. There’re dinner plans in the works, though I don’t know the details yet. I suppose I’ll have to write about that later. But, I’m sure it’s going to be a good time. I’ll likely need to take a nap this afternoon to keep up with everyone. Sun, sea, and sunburned legs can take a lot out of a girl!

I leave this morning! My goodness, how time flies when you’re in paradise! Yesterday morning we had a nice visit into town. We started at Stephanie’s house for some delicious mango. (Bonus: We had a little more time with the amazing 3-legged dog, Hugo.) Then the three of us spent some time at the coffee cafe, Above Grounds, where I had a really delicious green juice. Following that, we walked over to The Shak for lunch. I had a smoothie and a salad. Then we dropped Stephanie off where her dad, who had just arrived in Placencia from Livingston, was waiting. Lovely man. The afternoon was nap time, followed by an attempt at poolside relaxing, but it was just too windy to manage it for more than 5 minutes. So … I came back to the room where I proceeded to catch up on some more YouTube videos.

The gorgeous view from the pier of Placencia town.
The gorgeous view from the pier of Placencia town.
Baby octupus spotted in the shallows of Placencia town!
Baby octupus spotted in the shallows of Placencia town!
I love this sign on the Placencia town walking path!
I love this sign on the Placencia town walking path!
The Curve Bar's pet alligator, Junior.
The Curve Bar’s pet alligator, Junior.

Dinner last night was fun. We all met up at Maya Beach Bistro: Hector, me, Sonia, Chris, Anna, Marcus, Freya and Ben. (Ben is the owner of the Belize Ocean Resort, and a really nice fellow.) It was a very relaxed evening with new friends, and a nice send-off for Hector and me. This morning I’ll be meeting Ben to take the shuttle over to the airport. Apparently, he’s going to be on the same puddle jumper flight as I am this morning. Then after a flight from Belize City to Houston, an almost 6-hour layover in the Houston airport, then another flight to Raleigh, I’ll arrive back in NC at midnight tonight. Thankfully I have tomorrow free to re-acclimate to my NC life before jumping back into the routine of work and such on Friday. Thank goodness my new apartment has a pool. At least while I’m laying by the pool, I can close my eyes and imagine that I am back here in Placencia.

AFTERWORD:  My flight from Houston to Raleigh-Durham ended up being delayed several times and was almost canceled.  I didn’t arrive home until 4:30am.  Still … it was worth it.  I had a fantastic trip.  Thanks to everyone who made this such a memorable trip!

xoxo,

melanie

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Experiments in … Travel: Belize!!

Make yourself heard ... er ... read!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s