There is always the love, insight and learning that comes from taking a leap and trekking out on your own when travelling; and travelling with others and sharing memories, adds a different dimension and level of sweetness to new experiences. By embracing these new experiences, allow you to enjoy to the fullest, traveling with friends and family through all the adventures that it may bring!
This February that happened for us! (a wee late on the blog post, but as we were enjoying the moments, we disconnected a bit from the computer… it happened!)
It all started in Belmopan, at the bus station, where we thought we would reunite with Terry as easy as can be. Terry’s flight was arriving in Belize City, and Kel and I would bus up from Punta Gorda (four hours of singing to the Belizean bus tunes), and we would be reunited! A perfect little plan, but as living in the south, and as life in general teaches us from time to time, things do not always go as planned, and joy can be found in just going with the flow as well.
We arrived, as planned, on time at the Belmopan bus station to a man hollering, “Conch Fritters, get your Conch, hot fritters”… Kelly was on it! Two fritters down, with a smiling face! Waiting, Terry’s bus didn’t arrive, and the next one didn’t either… hmmm. We decided to enjoy our dinner across the street, and get connected to the Internet, connected to our brother! It turns out his flight was delayed and he may not even make it to Belmopan that night… plan B, let’s rock it out!
After finishing our delicious dinner (chicken soup with corn tortillas: a personal comfort of Belize), we decided to walk to the nearest hotel to spend the night… trekking with our backpacks, chatting with friends on the street along the way, and sharing our mission to find our brother.
We were almost nearing the hotel, down a dark road, when a black car swerved in front of us… and Terry jumped out, yelling “Brother!”…. What!?! Terry? In Belmopan, Already! It turns out he caught a taxi and drove around, and found us… classic…we ran, with excitement! In slow motion, just like in the movies, to hug Terry with open arms! Welcome to Belize! What a fantastic start to the trip.
Terry was here for the week, and it was the most perfect, refreshing excuse to indulge in being a tourist and explore explore explore! Even areas that we had been were exciting seeing them with new eyes.
We started our trip in San Ignacio, and drove there that night, laughing all along the way… you know the connection with family that cracks you up and makes you laugh? Without saying too much, it’s just their presence, like an overwhelming sense of joy, to be with them again, that makes you giddy and happy? So hilarious and lovely.
(*Picture of Terry and Kelly in Gas station, overjoyed to be choosing a soft drink…together!)
Late that night, we stumbled upon Martha’s Guest House (an incredibly sweet lady, with a beautiful demeanor and a beautiful guest house, welcomed us into our room)… A king size bed for all three of us! Yes, and not only that, a bathroom with a built in window, looking over the bedroom, so we could see each other! Even in the bathroom! Hallelujah, sleep over party time! Let the family vacation continue.
We were all pretty sleepy and just crashed into bed, in anticipation for our week together.
We spent the weekend exploring in San Ignacio… Saturday morning breakfast of tamales and tacos at the market (Tamales are heaven here), and a nice fresh papaya with limejuice to start the day! That afternoon, our buddy for the day (a local tour company operator man), set us up to go tubing down the river. The morning was so hot! And we didn’t want to be doing anything else but cruising down the river.
There we were, floating along in a slow pace, when I heard “shhhhhhhh” coming from the bottom of my tube… uh oh a leak…. of course, Kelly and Terry burst into laughter. We all linked tubes together, just in case! Just as we were settled into our new man made boat, I tilted my head to the sky to enjoy the view, and welcomed surprise number two…. Dark dark clouds, that were moving in, at rapid speed. The river did not pick up pace, and it felt that our tubes were moving slower; as we watched the clouds roll in faster. “Ahhhh” sang the sky in a heavenly song as it opened up, and the rain came pouring down! Bathing suits and all, the sensation of a soft southern rain, hitting our skin… it wasn’t as glamorous or romantic as I thought being caught in the rain like that would be, to be honest, it was cold!
Luckily, the clouds past as fast as they came in, and we were out of the cold in no time, I sang, “here comes the sun” with the warm hot sun shining down on our faces!
The next day, we ventured out to the “Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre) a truly sacred and beautiful treasure in Belize… only certain guides are trained to navigate through the peaceful, quiet, dark, and crystalline cave of sacred discoveries. Under the depths of the forest, within the cave, remnants of ceremonial Mayan offerings of ceramics, and stoneware lay hidden to be discovered.
To enter the cave, after a luscious rainy season, there was a small pool to be crossed. We immersed ourselves and jumped into the water, with our runners and headlamps on! Swimming to the other side, we were able to walk through the water now, into the deep darkness that twists and turns and shrinks and expands. Feeling so grateful to be trekking with two strong guys and a guide, we reach ground, and climb out of the water…for a moment, just with enough space to squeeze our head bodies sideways through rock structures. Within the cave, one can truly feel their strength (both internal and external); as we proceed deeper into the serenity of the darkness, we are rewarded by exquisite crystal rock formation extending up and over the walls of the cave… shining our headlamps creates a glittering display.
Our tour guide, instructs us to turn off our lamps, and to enjoy the sensations for a moment… opening and closing my eyes makes no difference… wow, what a humbling experience, to trust. There definitely is a sense of peace and tranquility within the cave at first, but near the end of our trek, it becomes a bit unnerving.
Climbing, twisting, sliding, swimming, feeling and shining our way through the maze, we make our way upwards, out of the water and onto a platform… we are instructed to remove our shoes, an attempt to preserve the grounds around us… we walk on, tip toeing and stepping with care, towards the gem of the cave; a fully intact skeleton of the “Crystal Maiden”; the remains of a teenage women.
Absolutely incredible is the experience and sensations through the cave, that it feels almost surreal, and makes me wonder how much longer this delicate cave will be explored-a treasure in time!
San Ignacio was fantastic, spending the night and enjoying delicious dinners with friends from San Ignacio, really warmed our hearts!
The rest of the week we spent exploring the south of Belize, Punta Gorda, and the luscious jungle. Giving Terry a taste of the Spice Farm, fresh cinnamon, spicy pepper, and sweet vanilla… Dining at the local restaurant by the ocean, “Ashes”, where the sea slaps against the dock and the best Conch fish and fresh caught snapper is served. It was so lovely… it almost felt like we were being “tourists in our own town”.
Terry’s final weekend here was warmed with the sun, sand, and hospitality of the beach town, Placencia. The sweetest little peninsula, that really makes you feel that you are getting away… even though it only takes a short bus ride, and a little, sweet, ten-minute boat ride from Punta Gorda. We rented an apartment from, Jacki, at Casa Placencia, a vibrant, artist, who warmed our stay with homemade cake!
To our surprise, the Annual Art Show, was happening in Placencia, and the streets were filled with color, paints, canvas, woodwork, pottery, soaps, crafts, music, and fine street food and home baking, that filled the air with a sweet aroma, and lifted the spirits of all who walked in it’s midst. Such a pleasant surprise to stumble on! A few pieces caught our eye, of vibrant fish swimming by. We eased into the warm day, allowing the sun to soak us up, as we drifted into our books… “The Life of Julia Child’s” for me, and some action packed adventures for Kel and Terry. That night, under the full moon and shining stars, we danced the night away to Top 40 with a little “punta punta” dance, celebrating family and memories!