First stop: Caye Caulker, a small island with a laid-back vibe. Bicycles, golf carts, and your own two feet are the only ways to get around on land. A local saw me in my sun-defying hat and shirt and called out, "Good morning, school teacher!"
Bright colors, bright sand, bright sun.
Dogs with distinct personalities roamed the streets, trotting around with such purpose that you thought they must be late for an appointment somewhere. This mama dog had her own flowered pillow under a palm tree.
Some pets were a little more unusual, like this baby raccoon.
The "Rasta" boat, and a para-sailor. Para-surfer?
Mennonites can too have fun!
But lest ye forget, Beware of Scrumpy.
Boats are everywhere; it's an active fishing community.
And then we went inland, into the mountains and jungle. These are the ruins of Caracol, a Maya city near the Guatemala border.
The smaller ruins across from the big pyramid. I particularly like how the pyramid is set at the edge of the jungle -- such tasteful landscaping! -- but Luis told us that when this city was in existence, it was completely made of stone. There was so much stone, for so many miles, that they changed their local climate and ended up with a drought that killed the city.
They grow some big trees in the jungle. This is a ceiba tree; our guide -- the super-fabulous Luis Godoy - said that he and his father used to camp between the buttress roots of trees like this.
Wild impatiens, growing next to one of the reservoirs at Caracol.
A kiskadee, which was the only bird I managed to get a photo of. We also saw parrots, toucans, a pygmy owl, a great curassow...
A picturesque farm with picturesque grey cattle, next to our friends' plot of land.
We took a hand-crank car ferry across the river. Talk about good exercise! This young man is going to end up with Popeye arms.
A rooster and tomatoes, both for sale (I assume), at the Saturday market in San Ignacio.
I bought a couple things from this woman at the market. She, and most other people, speak fluent English. Belize used to be British Honduras.
Drawing some of the flowers at our jungle lodge.
If you have any interest in seeing Maya ruins, exploring caves, or viewing wildlife in Belize or even Guatemala, I can’t recommend Luis Godoy highly enough. He’ll tell you stories that will make you sorry the van ride is over and you’ve arrived at the pyramids! And while he’s talking and driving he’ll suddenly hit the brakes to point out tapir tracks, pygmy owls, and the spot where he helped tranquilize a wild jaguar.
While in the San Ignacio area, we stayed at the truly delightful Table Rock Jungle Lodge. We drank gin & tonics on a deck overlooking the Macal River, with howler monkeys roaring in the jungle, and toucans eating berries overhead.