2015 - PART 4 - BELIZE


When planning our big Canada and USA trip, I wanted to pick somewhere in the Caribbean to relax after the Orlando VT meet and before our big trip home to Perth, Australia.
I thought about a cruise and also looked at various islands including Jamaica because I love Reggae, Calipso music and Rasta looking fellas. 😜
Anyway, that was when I discovered Belize, down Mexico way but on the Caribbean side.  I also discovered that Belize had an awesome dive 'blue hole' that you can see from outer space, interesting Inca type historical ruins in the jungle along with unique monkeys that howl loudly, and that it was not too touristy but also has stunning islands!  Ok, this sounded like our kind of place. 



More investigation revealed that Belize had a Zoo that had all native animals.  Most of them are rescue animals and are well taken care of, being released back into the environment once rehabilitated.  All animals are kept in their natural environment.   Obviously they have electric wiring in some cases to prevent escape.
I also discovered that the signs in the Belize zoo are unique.  Signs throughout the zoo are written by locals, they rhyme and are often funny and cute. 
Anyway, this cute Zoo was immediately stuck on my 'must see' list.
Belize zoo is the best I have ever visited.  I am not a real animal person. I love flowers. But if you are in Belize then I totally recommend that you visit.





We were pleased with our choice of accommodation. If you always stay at the Hilton, then don't look any further. You probably also have never enjoyed an adventure with the locals.
The howler monkey resort is certainly an adventure that I totally recommend!  The reason is not because of mozzies, nor the killer ants, nor that slippery bank leading down to the boat.   But because of the following -
Our hosts Ed, Mel, Yusef and Josef were so nice!  They made us feel like family.  Included in the price was pickup and drop off, full breakfast and dinner every day and homely hospitality.  Plus the cabins were surrounded with lovely shady trees, gorgeous view of the river, nice swing bench seat on the cabin porch, and of course the main attraction.... Howler monkeys.
Now that is worth more than a couple of minor irritations.  We would come back again in a heart beat! Thank you guys for a fantastic stay!  And especially Yusef who is learning the hotel trade to take over one day.  You did an amazing job Yusef! 





Wherever we travel, it is nice to get a feel for how the other half live. I like local street scenes, markets and checking out houses.
Here in Belize the accommodation is simple and the houses and buildings are colourful.



Staying in the Belize jungle we saw animals that we have never seen before. Howler monkeys, huge iguanas and killer ants!
When you think of the wildlife here in the jungle, like the big cats in the zoo, you would never think of being afraid of an ant?
Yes.... I'm not kidding.... An ant!


Well let me tell you, Belize has killer ants!  Be warned!!  And you thought us Aussies had dangerous animals lol.
These cute little leaf cutter ants attacked various trees, cutting the leaves and taking them back to their holes. Their mounds are huge.
The activity would speed up in the evening and at night when they would march in line like an army and pitty help you if you stepped on that line....
So consequently when we finished the homemade dinner at the resort and had to head back to our cabin in the dark.  I was marching behind hubby, behind son Jesse who was holding the torch and telling us when to jump to avoid being devoured by these big monsters! 




I remember my son Dylan seeing his first Rhino at the Zoo and screaming "Dinosour" at the top of his voice.
This is how I felt when I saw an Iguana in Belize for the first time!  OMG, they look like dinosaurs from ancient time.
It was fun Iguana spotting on our river cruise with Yusef.

We spotted both male and female (green one). Female iguanas are difficult to spot.



When I discovered the Howler Monkey Resort on Google and heard the sound of Howler Monkeys for the first time I was really excited to learn something new and couldn't wait to see and hear these amazing animals.
The Howler Monkey Resort is located right next to the Baboon Sanctuary so there are plenty of monkeys in the vicinity.
We didn't see any from our cabin but we certainly heard them!  I will upload a video later.  If you have never heard of howler monkeys.... Then just Google the Howler Monkey Resort.
We saw plenty on our cruise with Yusef.

Belize jungle is a birders paradise.  I don't have a big enough lens to capture birds.



We went for a walk up the road to the Baboon Sanctuary.
The local cows were inquisitive.  We were not sure if they wanted to chase us or if they were just checking us out. We said G'day anyway.
But kept our distance and left them do the job of keeping the grass down at the local church.
This was so nice.   Walking along the side of the road in the jungle early in the morning with the smell of the dew and early morning birds chirping.   Love it! 



Belize has many Mayan ruins.  Maya civilisation stretched across much of what is now southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.
Mayan civilisation dates back to before the Aztecs which are also known for their large temples.
The Howler Resort arranged for a day trip for us to Lamanai which is the most popular of the Mayan ruins in Belize.
Lamanai is located in Orange Walk District.  To get there it is 1 hour by boat.



Lamanai is the Spanish historic name for lama' an/ayin, which means "submerged crocodile."   Many crocodile carvings have been found throughout the ruins which would indicate that this animal had a very important role in the Mayan Mythology.  
The river is home for many crocs.
Our guide arranged for us to be here early to enjoy the ruins all to ourselves before the people from the cruise ship turned up.  The guide was very knowledgeable, telling us stories of the Mayans and their culture.  
They had a distinct hirache with the affluent having a very comfortable life and the poor rarely lived to 30 and were small like pigmies because they weren’t allowed to eat well.

Here is the ball court where a ping pong like game was held with the opponents either side slamming the ball to and fro hitting this stone in the middle.
This wasn't a pleasant Sunday sport.  Underneath the stone was found a ceremonial vessel containing liquid mercury.

There are 2 versions of how the game went.  Guide says that the winner of the game was sacrificed because that paved the way past many layers in the afterlife to a position of importance.  I believe the guide.
His wife is a Mayan descendant so that is why he was so knowledgeable.
On the net it says that the looser was sacrificed with the winner gaining a position of importance.  Mayans believed that human sacrifice was necessary for the continued success of agriculture, trade and health.
The High Temple is the biggest in the area.  Hubbie and Jesse decided to make the climb to the top.  I stayed and enjoyed more Mayan stories told by our guide.

The Mayans inhabited this area for almost 2,000 years. They didn't have cart wheels or metal tools so these temples and pyramids are amazing structures.  They studied the stars and were mathematicians.  
No one knows exactly how the civilization was destroyed in the 9th century.  It is thought that either disease, warfare, over farming or drought was the cause.  
What is known is that the Mayans were a resourceful lot with an interesting culture.
Meanwhile, the boys had made it to the top, and obviously were a bit out of breath, giddy and thirsty.
From the peak they could see right over to the Caribbean Sea.

The Mask Temple had a 4m stone mask of an ancient Maya King.  Our guide explained that this mask was found intact behind another construction that had been built in front of it.  This was built by another King obviously to hide the past.
It was difficult to listen to our guide here because the howler monkeys decided to add their input.   They were so loud!  
Check out the Video.


What a great day we had!  We all helped with bringing the lunch esky up to the seated area so after our walk through the ruins.  We enjoyed home cooked local food prepared by our guide's wife along with a cool can of coke.
There were a couple of gift shops, one of which our guide's family owned so we bought a couple of trinkets.
A well recommended must do when visiting 



Taking a jungle river boat trip is mandatory when staying at the Howler Monkey Resort.  There's nothing better than sharing local experiences with the locals! 
Yusef took us out in their boat and we played spot the wildlife.  It was fun and entertaining.  The trip was so relaxing.  Hubby got to have a chance to play with his big birder photography lens and we both really enjoyed Yusef's company.    He is such a lovely lad.



This day wasn't without a minor hiccup.  Yusef was down the hill ready at the boat.  But when we opened the door to our cabin we were confronted with a sea of black ants.  These ants we learnt later are the jungle cleaners.  They swam through, clean up and disappear.

It just so happened that they were right outside our cabin when we wanted to go on the boat trip.  😝
No problem....
For hubby and Jesse.   They quickly tippy toed at fast speed over the black sea of obstruction and ran down the hill.
Me?   Not so agile.  Lol.
I ended up gate crashing through the sea of black ants spread everywhere. Ants ended up in places I don't want to remember!!!
I screamed and slid down the hill.  All the whilst blurting out a stack of colourful language that I am not repeating here. 
 And landed hard on my butt!  Luckily camera bag and camera survived!  Last minute rescue from the boys, still laughing their head off…… pulled me up and assisted me into the boat.  It was not a lady-like look, I can tell you that much.  😏
Tip..... Don't mess with little black Belize jungle cleaning ants!

And you thought those killer leaf cutting ants were dangerous!!! 
Sadly our jungle adventure came to an end and we headed out to Belize boat dock for our ferry to Cay Caulker - our final destination.



No shoes, no shirt, no problem.   Caye Caulker is well known for its go slow slogan.
I discovered Caye Caulker on virtualtourist.com.  Sadly that site does not exist anymore.  I was a member for 16 years.  Tripadvisor bought it out and then destroyed the competition!
It was a similar picture to this one by a member called vulindlela that attracted me to Caye Caulker.

If you come across my blog here Jeremy.  Thanks mate.

Caye Caulker and the relaxed time that we had here certainly was the best way to end our 6 week holiday.  Here we just laid back, chilled with the locals over a few very cheap rum cocktails and had lots of fresh seafood.
What a view to chill to! 

Our Hotel was right near the spit inlet and the lazy lizard beach bar.  We also had our own pier on the beach here where we could swim with the fish.


Giving back to the island.

Not only was this hotel in a fabulous location on a quiet street close to the spit, not only did it have a lovely private beach pontoon, rooftop bar with great views and yummy home style cooked breakfast every day. 
What is so good about this Hotel is that the owners started up the high school on Caye Caulker and they help fund it.  By staying here, a small portion of our accommodation money is given to the high school.  How very nice is that!! 
We had a very nice 2 bedroom ground unit, very clean and spacious.  They also have bikes that you can use to ride around the island.  I totally recommend the Seadreams Hotel for your stay here.

Caye Caulker is located a 40min ferry ride from Belize City.  The island is about 5 miles long and 1.2m wide.  If you want white sandy beaches then this place is not for you.  What Caye Caulker does have is culture, an abundance of fresh seafood, fishing, reef snorkeling, diving and a fantastic social atmosphere.



Speaking of social atmosphere, this is the place to hang out.
The lazy lizard beach bar was our local. The view over the spit inlet is gorgeous, the rum cocktails yummy, seafood divine, island music and people watching is the order of the day.
Especially the gorgeous local fellas.


We also played a game like coits where you had to toss a small rice sack into the hole on a bit of board. There was a local that no one could beat but we all had fun trying.
Meanwhile others were either jumping off a high rock into the water on the other side of the spit or chilling with cool drink right in the water under a shade sale with tables in the water.



Speaking of the above, there are a few beach bars like this right in the water. Perfect way to cool off.

You'll be pleased to know that there is one ATM on Caye Caulker.  It is located inside the Atlantic Bank on the street parallel to the main street, back one.
I heard that on the weekend the ATM may run out of money so get in early.



If you are a sports fan like hubby, you'll be pleased to know that there is a sports bar here located right at the pier where the boats come into the island.
We arrived at happy hour.  Cocktails all round.  Hubby could watch the football and I was happy people watching.

Nice walk back to our hotel along the beachfront.



Yes, no dress code on Caye Caulker. Most restaurants have big wooden benches and swings for seats.   That was fun, swinging whilst sipping a cool drink and watching the stunning view over the Caribbean Sea.
Like in New Orleans, you can also ask for a drink to go.  One restaurant we even got a free rum punch to take away.


There are no cars here.  They have golf buggies and bicycles.  We enjoyed our daily wander around the sandy streets.



Hubbie and Jesse had already tried float and fly salmon fishing in Vancouver Canada.
  Here with Mojos Fishing they went deep sea fishing and caught barracuda, mackerel and reef bream.  After we were able to eat some of the fish caught.

The Lazy Lizard Beach Bar cooked it 3 different ways for us along with some nice salad.... Yuuuum! 

Last photo taken by Jesse.


We were sad to leave this idealic destination.   From here we headed back to Australia via Houston to LA, staying there for 1 night at Portofino Hotel, Redondo Beach.  Then headed back home via Hong Kong for a few days to adjust back to Perth time.

Thanks for dropping by.  I hope I have given you a few ideas for your next trip. Please leave a comment.


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