Sunday, February 21, 2016

Belize It-Food and Finds

Chicken with Rice and Beans
Some destinations are food fantasies come true.

The selection in Belize was just good overall.

Fry Jacks and Fresh Juice

We had some of the local fare, a staple of Chicken with Rice & Beans, for breakfast Johnny Cakes and Fry Jacks along with the best fresh squeezed juices. From watermelon, orange, melon, grapefruit and pineapple they were all delicious.
Grilled Lobster

We arrived towards the end of the lobster season and picked up some grilled for lunch. It's a warm water lobster and not quite as delicious as Maine Lobster, softer texture and less sweet.

Chimichurri Beef Steak Burger

New Orleans Shrimp Panini

 We found two restaurants with especially great dishes. In San Ignacio (thanks to Richard's referral) Guava Limb Cafe, the most yummy hamburger ever (even ordered it medium rare) and a shrimp sandwich.


Steamed whole Snapper
On Caye Caulker at Vic's we devoured a whole steamed Red Snapper which was smothered in

Some destinations are about the people you meet.

It began with our wonderful hosts, then meeting others on their vacation and the locals. Just visiting a place and seeing the sites wouldn't be enough for us without the interaction of fellow travelers.

We met the loveliest group of people from Canada. They have returned to Caye Caulker several times and now enrich their experience by giving back to the island community by teaching short classes at the high school. From bicycle repair, creative arts, and drumming lessons, passing on their expertise as they enjoy their retirement years.
They invited us to join them for their daily happy hour gathering. A special time to share the days adventures and get hints for the next.

Arman and Karen, some of the caring Canadians
Among our discussions was the idea of "Packing It Forward". Including items in your luggage for donating to the needs of places you're visiting. Since many countries have extreme education and health deficiencies, bringing along a little something to gift is just the right thing to do. Maybe it's pencils and art supplies for the schools. Bicycle and auto parts. Even common medical supplies like aspirin, antiseptics and bandages.
Just think if you bring it down and leave it, you'll have room to bring back your souvenirs. So be sure to check with the community, schools or clinics at your next travel destination. See what's on their wish list and have them email you a letter certifying any more valuable items are a gift to pass any snags at customs.

Happy Hour Spot
Some refreshments.
Besides fresh fruit juices, the local beer was Belikin. Of  course we paired it with our usual Bloody Mary.
Another local flavor was Cashew Wine, not my favorite but had to give it a try, since it was made in Belize.

Spicy Bloody and a Belikin Beer

Local Wine

Local Flora

Other Favorite Finds.

The local flowers are a delight.

Local Flora

Howler Monkeys


You never forget the sound of Howler Monkeys.

Swinging Stop

Shopping with Yadi

Some unique bars and restaurants.

Souvenir shopping.

Modern Influences

Sometimes you just wonder.


Belize It-People & Places Part Two

View from Cabana

Second Stop - Colinda's Cabanas

On the laid back island of Caye Caulker, where the theme is "Go Slow" we stayed in a beach front property called Colinda's Cabanas.  We felt fortunate getting reservations since they are booked a year in advance, but lucky for us we found a cancelation.

Well deserving of all the reviews, they provided everything you would want on the island. Our stay included free use of bicycles, kayaks, snorkeling gear, a kitchenette in our room and fresh ground Belizean coffee. There are no personal cars on the island, instead you can rent golf carts or hire one as a taxi.

Cabana #8

The colorful cabanas with private bathrooms were a delight, with deck, clothes line and of course a personal hammock. With only about 10 cabanas you got to meet your neighboring visitors.

Barrier Reef

Boats lined up at Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Snorkeling the Reef

Caye Caulker is one of many islands off shore of Belize and a great launching point for the barrier reef. The waters are calmer since the reef (only a mile away) reduces the amount of waves.

We snorkeled several times visiting Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley and Coral Gardens. There were so many different fish to see, plus nurse sharks and sting rays.

We also  partook of a night dive which at first seemed very creepy, but well worth it since you get to see many other creatures including Octopus, Crabs, Lobsters and see how fish sleep at night.

"The Split" dividing the island

The guide provided a flashlight or torch as they say. The reefs and water have bioluminesense features, FYI but you need no moon to see them.

Caye Caulker from the Airplane

We also enjoyed a dip at the split, a natural separation of the island after Hurricane Hattie.  The view from the plane shows the developed part of the island on the right, then the split, and the estuary area is on the left.

Mango Trees

The islands, like Caye Caulker, are the result of Mango Trees establishing themselves, then the sand builds up and begins to create an estuary for other plant life and animals.

Estuary Walk

Estuary Walk

We visited an protected estuary on the Caye (pronounced Key) to check out the birds and crocodiles.

Estuary Birds

Young Green Herons in Estuary

Beware there were quite a few spiders along the walkway. Golden Orbs to be exact (aka banana spiders), as you may recall I don't care for spiders, so it was very distressing.

Event at Sportsman Bar

Lionfish Derby

We arrived on the island just in time for a fun fishing event. In order to help eradicate the invasive "Lionfish". They held a derby, rewarding fishing teams for the largest, the smallest and the most caught.

Team Participants

After awards they cooked up samples of the Lionfish to promote their use on local menus, helping keep the populations under control. Tasted like fish.

Removing Lionfish Spines

Canadian Neighbors after successful Fishing Venture

Fishing Techniques

Eye Catching
Fishing is big on the island. Originally just a fishing village before the tourists arrived.

Here are our friendly neighbors after their expedition.

Line Fishing from piers
You'll see all sorts of fishing techniques, from casting out a single line, to net fishing, even the pelicans have their own technique.

Brown Pelicans

A short net fishing video. They were catching a small fish they used as bait. Enjoy

Belize It-Places & People

 First Stop - Savanna Guest House

We selected this unusual B&B property in La Democracia, Belize near the Zoo for the first leg of our trip.

Unusual not only for it's remote location in the savanna, it also offered a intimate view into the lifestyle of owners Richard and Carol Foster, who are both filmmakers.

They primarily produced and filmed nature segments, many for national geographic.

Richard gave us a personal tour of the studio sets where they filmed events staged to reveal everything from tarantula mating dances, hummingbirds secret lives and bat echolocation.

Capturing Rain Water

Their guest house is not only open to travelers but also scientists and biologist who use the convenient location while doing their work in Belize. The stories the Fosters have to share are truly amazing.

During our stay we got to chat with a primate specialist, zoo worker, film editor and artist.

A bit off the grid they need to collect their rain water, but it wasn't too remote not to have WIFI.

Also for a reasonable fee they offered airport pickup and transport to the local restaurant. This made it very convenient to stay in a more remote location.

Savanna Nature Walk

They've developed a wonderful nature walk around the property which was beautiful in the early mornings.

Not pictured but seen: Parrots, Vultures and Chachalacas

Local Flora

Local Flora

Savanna Nature Walk

Local Flora

Best Little Zoo in the World

Keel-Billed Toucan
Sometimes when visiting a country the best place to see more native animals is the local zoo. The Belize Zoo, a half a mile away, offers a close up view of native animals.

The residents of the zoo are rescued and rehabbed animals, saved from a variety of situations.

We had to go twice to visit, once for the night tour for the nocturnal natives and again during the day.

Tapir and Local Flora

Rare Jabiru Stork and Local Flora

Rescued Jaguar
During the night tour we got to feed and pet many of the  animals. From the countries national animal the Tapir and even gave a high five to Luck Boy, a rescued Black Jaguar.

Here's a video of Lucky Boy and a Margay Cat.


Green Iguana Conservation Project

We traveled by bus to San Ignacio and stopped by to see the Iguanas. They're protected here and released when pregnant to lay their eggs. New nests are found and eggs are retrieved and raised in captivity to ensure they grow to adulthood.
You can feed them and even handled them with a guide.

One word of caution-don't eat Bamboo Chicken, it's actually iguana.