Day2: Xuantunich Maya Ruins


After an exhausting first day on the drive from Placencia, we were ready to explore the ruins.

Our plan for the second day was Xuantunich. Only a short 10 drive from San Ignacio towards the Guatamela border, we arrived just in time to watch the group of riders from Hanna Stables cross the ferry. Don’t miss the local food vendors for a quick breakfast before crossing the ferry into the park. Amy’s Diner is across the street, with some of the best food you will find in Belize!

Since our last visit they have added several craft and souvenir booths at the entrance. If you are looking to buy…this is the place! Best prices I’ve seen anywhere in the country. We picked up two hammock chairs for $25US each!

After entering the park, make sure you check out the visitor center for a wonderful display and information on the layout of the site. Many people arrive with tour guides from resorts an hotels across the country for a more for a more detailed and informative tour of the site. (I think my explanation was…”this is it, an we are climbing to the top”) lol. We did make it to the top an the views were incredible!

All was going well on the second day of our adventure……UNTIL we noticed a guide walking ahead of us stop,lean over a hole in the ground, takes a stick and pulls a huge tarantula out of that hole just as we walked by.

Shit just got real….we are headed to the car! Well, I went with her because she was scared and she is my friend!! You know women stick together, or run together, whatever is necessary at the moment. In all honesty, it was quite cool how he let the kids hold it. We politely decline the offer and walk briskly to the car. We sacrificed our experience for the children!!

Lesson for the day…….kids always come first, especially when holding a tarantula is involved.

Lessons from Cayo: Can a friendship survive four days in the jungle?

Day 1

After living here in Belize for a few years, many of our friends an family have visited and we are always looking for new places to explore. So when our friends from Illinois planned a return trip, we decided to explore the Cayo District. Only a few hours drive from crystal blue beaches of Placencia to the lush jungle, Maya ruins, and farmland of Cayo.


Headed from Placencia, our first stop was Maya Sky waterfalls, thru Belmopan an into San Ignacio. Lots of great pictures, beautiful mountains, narrow roads, even more narrow bridges at times, but the perfect way to see all this country has to offer.

Arriving late afternoon just in time to catch the end of the Saturday market, still giving them an idea of what a bustling market this is on an early Saturday morning. Keep in mind the drive is breathtaking thru the mountains and we were constantly stopping for photos, at taco stands, waterfalls, gift shops, chocolate tours…get the picture? Constantly in an out of the car.  So, when we arrive at the market, we are close to exhaustion. Our friend….(she said I could not post this, sorry Laurie) gets out of the car with this mess of something all over her foot an leg.  I swear it looked like “dog dodo”!  When I finally stopped laughing and realized it was her melted chocolate bar….she is headed to the grass to wipe it off.  If I could have stopped laughing, I would have yelled…  “DO NOT go to the grass …..Belizean ants!”  We cut our time short at the market an headed to the hotel. 

A good friend should have given her that bit of advice earlier, but I seriously thought it was dog do!  


Lesson for the day…….Belizean Chocolate melts very quickly!

Taking the “back roads”…..

 

Growing up in a small southern farming community; I’ve always loved the backroads and “out of the way” places. As I’ve traveled over the last few years, I’m realizing my most enjoyable days are spent exploring the “back roads”. I love finding the local spots that are many times overlooked by tourist; here for only a few short days.
After moving to the island of Ambergris Caye off the coast of Belize; you would think living on an island would provide that calm peaceful environment you envision of an island in the Caribbean.  Of course, it does; the awesome colors of the ocean and breathtaking barrier reef are mesmerizing.  The peacefulness can easily be found in the quiet morning walks on the beach, or the calm,  serene stillness of the unbelievable sunsets.


As with every situation, there is always a balance, so the opposite is true as well. San Pedro has grown tremendously over the past few years and in turn shops, restaurants and beach bars have popped up to accommodate the influx of both tourists and expats. Elegant new homes, condo complexes, and beachside resorts are continually under construction. So whether you are looking for the peace and quiet or you want to experience the hustle and bustle of this colorful island, you will find that here on Ambergris Caye.

When tourists visit the island for a few days, most have an idea of which well-known bars, beaches, and restaurants they definitely want to try. With a limited amount of time, it’s often difficult to sample all this great little island has to offer.
My advice to allow at least one day and “take the back roads”. Explore the small mom and pop stands for the best local food you will find. Take time to shop the street vendors and local fruit stands. Visit backstreet on Tuesday mornings when the Mennonite farmers come from the mainland in boats filled with local produce. Visit Caye Coffee and observe their roasting process of the islands famous coffee.  Enjoy a Saturday morning Farmers Market at Mahogany Bay down south, or the Truck Stop on the north side of the island.
Rent a golf cart, rent a bicycle or better yet, spend the day walking and truly explore the all the unique little “back road” experiences here on Ambergris Caye Belize.

Hurricane Earl….nearly a year later….. San Pedro bounces back

 

On August 4th, 2016, Hurricane Earl landed a devastating blow to the island of Ambergris Caye. Thankfully there were no deaths or major injuries, but nearly every dock, dive shop and restaurant located over the water was damaged or completely destroyed.  I had been in Placencia when Hurricane Earl hit.  Having been on the southern peninsula, we were fortunate to have lost only one small dive shop and dock with virtually very little additional damage.

Arriving in San Pedro the following morning, here was the incredible reality the residents of San Pedro would be facing.   These shots were taken from Banyan Bay area towards downtown.

hurricane earl damage
Beaches near Ramons

hurricane earl belize

Nearly a year later, as we walk these beaches, it’s amazing to see the transformation since the damage from Hurricane Earl.  Docks have been rebuilt, beaches have been reclaimed with beautiful white sand and seawalls that protect the beaches from erosion.  Ramon’s Resort has rebuilt their dive shop and beautiful walkway along the beach.  Xanadu Resort has added  palapas and extended their beach.   At the time, it was very difficult to imaging this little island would recover after the extensive damage.  Thanks to the unbelievable hard work of everyone involved…….here are a few shots of the morning walk……even better than before!

ambergris caye belizebeaches ambergris caye belize

belize beachesbeaches belize

belize beaches

The Office Bar & Grill San Pedro, Belize

san pedro bar

The Office!

When you tell a friend your favorite place to go is “The Office”, you typically get some awkward stares. Yes, I live on an island in Belize and my favorite place to go is “The Office”.

Tucked away on the lagoon side, just a block or so behind the airport is a quaint little bar and restaurant on the edge of the water.  A great place to catch the game, with drink specials every night.   You can relax,  meet some awesome people, listen to music, watch fishing boats leave for the day and catch some awesome sunsets.  However, the best of all is the unbelievable food and coldest beer I have found on the island.  Obviously, you will find bar food that goes great with a cold beer, but you can also get some unique items you wouldn’t expect at a local bar and grill.

Miss Sarita!

 

Offering a wide variety of food from burgers, burritos, and pasta, to appetizers and Lobster dishes, you will not be disappointed. Having tried several items, my favorite are the wings and quesadillas! With Miss Sarita in the kitchen, you are guaranteed to get one of the best meals on the island. Her coconut pie reminds you of your childhood days at grandma’s house. Unbelievable!

 

With a recent new menu, daily lunch specials and free delivery, it’s always a great decision to go to “The Office!”

Hours: Bar: 11am- 12am
Kitchen 11:30-11pm
Closed on Tuesdays!

Tel: 226-4655 or 623-5018

Check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Trip Advisor!

“Building My Nest” in Belize

I lost both parents several years ago to cancer, within a short few months, they were both gone. This loss created a painful empty space in my life.  Yes, they say time heals all wounds and things will get easier.  Well, it’s been 13 years and it doesn’t get easier, but  I’ve learned to cherish their memory, learn from their advice and live a full and happy life.

Growing up in the farm country of rural Arkansas, we lived a simple life.  Now that I’m older, I reflect on that simple country life and realize how fortunate we were.  As kids, we played outside all day and even after dark.  We weren’t consumed with video games.  We went fishing…hunting ….and chased lightening bugs at night.  On hot summer days, the garden hose was our sprinkler and an old tarp was our “slip an slide”.  We bailed hay, chopped cotton and rode down the old dusty farm roads on the tail gate of my daddys Ford pickup.  We were the luckiest kids in the world.

 

As most people from the south will agree, parents had favorite little sayings.  My mom always referred to getting settled as “building your nest”.  Whether we were cuddling on the couch watching TV, tucking us in at night, or searching for our own homes later in life.  “Building your nest” was her way of saying, get settled, get comfortable and relax.  Be happy with where you are and what you have.  It’s taken me a long time to truly understand what she was trying to instill in us as children.

Being in Belize I’m seeing a reflection of my simple country life as a child.  Although it’s a world away, the values and characteristics are so similar.  Kids walk home from school, they play in the park, ride their bikes and walk to the store.  They are happy with what they have and enjoy each day as it comes.  I’m loving this opportunity to experience this simple, calm lifestyle and feel “settled.”

I hope my mom would be proud, I think I have finally “built my nest” in Belize!

 

Blessings in Belize …….

There’s something about the cool ocean breeze, the sand in your toes and a long walk on the beach that put’s life into perspective. A “time-out” of sorts to reevaluate where you’ve been, where you’re going and to sincerely be thankful for these opportunities.  Counting my blessings is a top priority at this stage in my life. I’m thankful for my children, my grandchildren and the love of my life who shares this journey.

When you reach this  “third” stage in life there seems to be a shift in perspective. The days are calmer, the worries are fading and “passing the torch” of parenting and responsibility have slowly eased into the background. It isn’t until we observe our adult children dealing with the challenges and obstacles, just as we did at that stage, do we truly realize and appreciate this cycle called life. We can now enjoy our children as the strong, capable young adults they are becoming.

I’m realizing on the island, I count my blessings more and my worries less. I’m certain that whatever issue comes my way, it will pass. Be it a challenge or obstacle, “this too shall pass.” I watch more sunrises and sunsets. I ride my bike and take more walks. I try to see the good in people and understand that everyone is dealing with their own issues so a smile and a kind word can make a small difference in a strangers day.

I have found my peace near the ocean and I’m certain this is the place I was meant to be.
Thank You Belize!

Brooklyn Brother Bagel Shop San Pedro’s Finest

We all seem to gravitate to those places that make us feel welcome and comfortable. So whether you’re traveling for a few days, snowbirding for a few months or you call this wonderful little island home; I think I have found that place.  When you are in San Pedro and want great food, and relaxing atmosphere ….just follow the signs to this awesome little jewel….    “Brooklyn Brothers Bagel Shop”

Arriving today to see the recent completion of their new expansion was a great surprise.  The new air-conditioned area with large windows, bar stools and counters were the perfect addition to this quaint island bagel shop.

 Plenty of room to grab breakfast or lunch, relax with a book, or “people watch” as you enjoy some of the best bagels I have ever had.  My 4lb Chihuahua “Floyd” typically goes most places with me and being an avid carb lover as well……this has quickly become his favorite breakfast stop!

restaurants belize
                                  Floyd loves Brooklyn Brothers Bagels!

I go there quite often, as the combination of bagels, an assortment of gourmet cream cheese spreads and a variety of drink options….you are guaranteed to find a favorite quite easily!  Fresh fruit smoothies, coffee, lattes,  juice, and sandwiches, easily make this place a perfect destination for breakfast or lunch.

One of my new favorites are the bags of bagel chips…..perfect for that late    night…” I really want a snack……oh yes, I have bagel chips………thank you Jesus moments!”   For the spicy lovers…..the spicy bagel chips are perfect with a cold Beliken Beer!

 

Whole Wheat w/Cranberry Walnut Cream Cheese!

Brooklyn Brothers Bagel Shop is located just south of town in San Pedro in the old Sausage Factory building. Just next to the island famous Caye Coffee.

So glad both of these great businesses are in our neighborhood!

Hours:  8-2  Mon-Sat.

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Five awesome Belize experiences with your grandkids….

Five awesome Belize experiences to share with your grandkids


One of my favorite things about Belize is the lack of “cookie cutter” resorts.  Belize is unique, less commercialized and more adventurous than the all-inclusive resorts you find with most vacation options.  Yes, I have traveled with my grandkids to the carefree resorts with tons of food options, huge pools and daily activities for the kids.   Granted, we have made lifelong memories on these trips, but I soon realized the experiences were the same. Eat, swim…repeat…

belize vacation with kids
Grandkids Love Belize!

However, Belize seems to offer those moments where you slow down and realize why you choose to travel with your grandkids.  You want them to experience the beauty of this unique little country and the kindness of the Belizean people.  Experience their culture, sample their traditional foods and respect their challenge to protect the “second largest barrier reef in the world” and their little piece of paradise.

As I continue to explore Belize; I’m making a list of favorite things to do when traveling with grandkids!

1.   Belize Zoo

belize zoo

 

Harpy Eagle Belize Zoo
Harpy Eagle

Howler Monkey

2.  ACES  Crocodile Sanctuary

 http://americancrocodilesanctuary.org/

This is an evening trip kids and adults of all ages will love.  Get an up close experience of how this great organization is working to protect the crocodile on the island of Ambergris Caye and throughout the country of Belize.  After having nurtured this baby croc back to health, my grandson was given the opportunity to release him back into the wild.  What an awesome experience!

ACES crocodile sanctuary
             Releasing a baby croc back into the wild.

Hol Chan, San Pedro, Belize

3.  Snorkeling in Ambergris Caye

 

Belize offers some of the best snorkeling and diving options in the world.  There are numerous tour operators who offer a combination of full day fishing, snorkeling, beach BBQ’s, sunset cruises and catamaran party boat trips.  The choices are endless and it’s easy to find one to fit all ages and abilities.

 

4.  Volunteering at SAGA Humane Society…..

SAGA San Pedro, Belize

SAGA Humane society
Volunteer dog walking on the beach!

What turned out to be a favorite was the trip to the local humane society. This group provides a priceless service to the community and the volunteers work tirelessly to assist in finding homes for these rescued animals.  So when visiting, take the time to stop by SAGA.  Volunteer to walk the dogs, assist at the center, provide a donation for much-needed supplies, or go that extra step and make plans to provide a forever home for one of them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Maya Ruins in San Ignacio

http://mayanruins.info/belize/xunantunich-mayan-ruins/

maya ruins belize
Xuantunich Maya Ruins

So add Belize to that Bucket List with your kids/grandkids!  Rent a car and explore the ruins,  take the water taxi to Caye Caulker, fly the “puddle-jumper” to Ambergris Caye.  Visit the local schools and establish “pen-pals” with the students, swim with the sharks, walk the beaches and watch the sunsets……memories that will last a lifetime!