Sunday, May 4, 2014

Belize and Guatemala - Part 1

Day 1-2: Belize City – March 21 - 22, 2014

On March 21, 2014 Mike and I , along with Mike’s Parents and friends Wendy and Richard, headed out for a 3 week  adventure in Belize and Guatemala. We left Vancouver on an evening flight and arrived in Belize City at 6am on Saturday morning.  After a short nap at our hotel we headed out to explore Belize City for the day.  

We had an ocean front lunch at Bird Isle Restaurant (Belize City’s most highly recommended eateries) and spent the rest of the day at the Belize Zoo checking out all of the local animals. I even got to hold a snake! Later that night we met up with our group from G-Adventures for a briefing about our tour for the next two weeks and we went for dinner together to get to know our new travel companions. 

Day 3 – 4: Flores and Tikal, Guatemala – March 23 – 24, 2014

The next morning we met our group at the bus station where we all boarded the Chicken Bus (i.e. public transit), bound for the Belize-Guatemala Border. The  chicken bus was packed with people jammed in everywhere and there were, thankfully,  no chickens on board but there was a box of puppies.

The bus ride took about 3 hours to get to San Ignacio, Belize where we got off for a great lunch at Hodes Bar and Grill. From there we took a private bus to the border and after the usual border shenanigans we drove for another 2 hours to Flores, Guatemala. 

We stayed at a place called “Hotel Peten”, which was right on the shores of Lake Peten.  We went for an evening swim on the warm waters of Lake Peten  enjoyed lake-side happy hour before going for a tasty dinner of Mayan dishes at “Casa Maya”. 

On Monday we had a 5:30am wake-up call to head out  to the archaeological site of Tikal. We arrived at the site of Central Americas largest Mayan ruins at 7am and after a quick breakfast set out to explore. 

Tikal is amazing with castles, plaza and massive pyramids everywhere amongst the jungle and its animals. We explored the temples, climbed the Pyramids, learned about Mayan History and enjoyed the site of monkeys, birds and Cotis among the ruins. 

We spent the afternoon having a leisurely lunch and swimming in Lake Peten and finished off our day with a traditional dinner of Tamales at our bus driver’s Mother’s house. 

Day 5-6, San Ignacio, Belize – March 25-26, 2014

 On Tuesday we had a leisurely morning with a sleep-in and breakfast at “Cool Beans” on the shores of Lake Peten, then headed back to Belize and to the town of San Ignacio. We checked into the Midas Resort and spent the afternoon enjoying the hotel pool and bar and exploring the town and markets of San Ignacio. 

We made a new friend at the hotel, a dog that we named “Mangey” who decided to follow our group everywhere we went.  That night we had traditional Belizean dishes in town at a very popular little dinner called “Ko-Ox Han nah”.

Our second day in San Ignacio was our caving adventure day. Mike went with a majority of the group and went caving at a place called “Crystal Caves” where they hiked, climbed and crawled their way through a cave system for the day and explored the cave formations and Mayan artifacts. 

I opted to join Anita and Deiber on a cave tubing adventure. We hiked about 30min up a trail and then rode inner tubes down a river that weaves its way underground through a series of caves. We saw bats, cave formations, crystals and Mayan artifacts. We also got out of the tubes at one point, hiked up an underground river to a cenote and hiked and swam along the river to get through to another cave chamber to explore some crystals. It was very cool! 

On the way back we stopped for lunch and then we all met up back at the Midas hotel where we took Belizean cooking lessons and helped the kitchen make our traditional Belizean meal for dinner. 

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