Mama & Me Travel to Belize.

My mom and I used to do a yearly trip together, and it had been a while since our last one.  This summer, I’d been craving a little quality time with her, so when she forwarded me a Groupon email, which had a deal for a small resort out in Turneffe Atoll, a group of islands an hour off the coast, I was sold.   She’d been talking about Belize for some time, and I love Belize.  I knew she’d love Belize.  English is spoken widely.  It’s fairly safe, including the food.  She has always loved the ocean, and what could be better than spending some time in a hammock with a rum punch and a book in hand next to my mama.  So, I set off in planning.  It made my heart hurt a bit to think that my mom would visit Belize without spending any time on the mainland, which has a completely different feel than the islands.  Because it was the rainy season, aka “the hotter and muggier than hell” season, I imagined that 2 days, 3 nights would be more than enough.  My mom is up for a little adventure, but I knew that the heat and humidity would surely get the best of her if we stayed too long.  So, tactically, we planned this part of the trip at the start and peppered it with a little spa action for good measure, then followed it up with some island breeze.  There is so much to see in Belize, but with only 10 days and a strong urge to spend much of it on the ocean, this little taste of Belize would have to do.  So, early in June, we set off for Belize.  After my mom was plagued with flight delays, we met at the Belize City Airport.  After one glimpse at her relieved face, I could tell that she needed a drink, and I was not sure she really wanted to wait the 2 hours that it was going to take to get out to Bullet Tree Falls in Cayo.  Our driver (note that I did not make my mom ride the public bus!) stopped off at a grocery store for cervezas and snacks, and we were off.  Our first Belikins…and so our trip began…

Our first Belikins!  Welcome to Belize!

Our first Belikins! Welcome to Belize!

We based out of Bullet Tree Falls, a sleepy little village just outside of San Ignacio in the Cayo district.  Honestly, I chose this area due to familiarity.  I didn’t really want to experiment for my mom’s first trip out to the jungle of Belize.  We stayed at Parrots Nest Lodge, a simple but quaint group of cabanas situated in the midst of lush vegetation along a river and run by the most delightful hosts one could imagine.  The cabanas are small and simple.  Some have a private bathroom, and others use a centrally placed shared bathroom.   Some have a private deck with hammock, which ours did.  But, there is a great common area overlooking the river, where you can help yourself to a cold beverage and relax.  Here is also where you find the wifi and meals, if you choose to eat here.  At this time of year, it can be a little muggy, but it’s a great value for the dollar and served its purpose well.

Mom sitting in the common area, sipping on some coffee, and looking out on the river.

Mom sitting in the common area, sipping on some coffee, and looking out on the river.

Beautiful banana leaves outside of our simple, basic cabana.

Beautiful banana leaves outside of our simple, basic cabana.

Breakfast on day 1 -- yogurt, granola, toast and fresh fruit...and coffee.  I never miss my coffee.

Breakfast on day 1 — yogurt, granola, toast and fresh fruit…and coffee. I never miss my coffee…and Theo makes some mean granola.

Our first real day in Belize, we spent at Chaa Creek, enjoying a guided canoe trip, delicious food for lunch, spa treatments over looking the valley, and cocktails by the pool side.  It was truly a relaxing way to spend the day, and we both enjoyed our time there immensely.  A little taste of luxury in the middle of the jungle…

Canoeing down the Makal River with a swim stop to cool off.

Canoeing down the Makal River with a swim stop to cool off our overheated bodies.

Mom enjoying the view and peace from up front.

Mom enjoying the view and peace from up front.

Lizards every where you looked!  Birds and turtles too!

Lizards every where you looked! Birds and turtles too!

The best limeade ever...plus a little rum.  You can't drink limeade without rum!

The best limeade ever…plus a little rum. You can’t drink limeade without rum!

Looking out from the pool at all the birds flying about.  Wish I had a photo of the two of us, but somehow the waiter managed to take a video instead!

Looking out from the pool at all the birds flying about. Wish I had a photo of the two of us, but somehow the waiter managed to take a video instead!

Day 2 was our big journey.  I had enlisted the help of Max from Maximum Adventures (known to be reliable and fair from my own personal experience previously — a real good guy) to set us up with a reliable guide to take us out to Tikal, Guatemala to see the ruins.  He set us up with his brother, who was not only reliable and trustworthy, but highly entertaining.  How this works is that your guide takes you out to the border, assists you in crossing, then accompanies you to Tikal via private transportation set up with a Guatemalan driver.  Once you get to Tikal, you pick up a park guide who gives you a tour around the most important highlights of the park.  You make a few stops along the way to the park (one of which is for tamales!), and stop for lunch on the way back.  It’s a full day, but a rewarding one.

Guatemala!!!

Guatemala!!!  A stop to view a beautiful lake.

Another stop for tamales.  This was actually the home of our driver and his family.  The food was delicious!

Another stop for tamales. This was actually the home of our driver and his family. The food was delicious!  — La Cueva, Guatemala

Yeap, we are entering the reserve.  Watch for jaguars, huh?  Well, where the hell are they, then?!

Yeap, we are entering the reserve. Watch for jaguars, huh? Well, where the hell are they, then?!

At the top of Temple 4, just before we got drenched by a passing shower.

Tikal — At the top of Temple 4, just before we got drenched by a passing shower.

Before and after the rain!  Always an adventure!

Before, during, and after the rain! Always an adventure!

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Wandering.

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Always entertainment. Wearing my mom’s hat. Telling jokes. Calling for monkeys. Swinging from rope vines.

Day 3 – Having enough of the sweltering heat, we packed up and headed to Belize City with a stop at the Zoo and for a little picnic for lunch, a nice way to spend the morning before we boarded the boat taking us out to Turneffe.

A quick stop outside of San Ignacio to pick up some BBQ chicken for lunch.  Tasty treats!

A quick stop outside of San Ignacio to pick up some BBQ chicken for lunch. The people around here are really known for their delicious barbequed chicken.

A stop at the zoo to see the tapirs and the jaguars, then off to the harbor in Belize City for a quick picnic.

A stop at the zoo to see the tapirs and the jaguars.  This zoo is small, but a very pleasant, educational experience.  I really like supporting the work they do to try to educate about and conserve the species native to the area. —  Then off to the harbor in Belize City for a quick picnic of empanadas, BBQ chicken, and coconut water.  My iphone was overwhelmed by the humidity, but I think the deliciousness of the spread is obvious.

We spent the rest of the week out at Blackbird Caye, a remote island in Turneffe Atoll, an area where some of the best diving in the Belize Barrier Reef is located.  Blackbird Caye Resort is a small resort with a handful of bungalows, a bar, a dining room, a pool, and a dive center.  You really are in the middle of no where.  You can read more about this week in a previous post, here.  But, really, our week was mostly spent like this — Sleep.  Eat.  Dive.  Sleep.  Dive.  Eat.  Sleep.  Dive.  Drink.  Eat.  Sleep.  Repeat.  This was broken up by a skipped dive here, a snorkel there, or sadly, a storm or two, one which I think technically met criteria for a tropical depression.  Luckily, this didn’t affect us for more than a day or two…and we were safe.  Whew!  We met some cool people, had some good dives, and rested more than we could have imagined.

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Welcome to paradise! Our cabana from the office’s porch, and the view from our hammock!

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Our first dive, most notable for shark sucker nuisance and turtle sightings.

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These shark suckers were a real pain in the arse. I really don’t think any of us looked like sharks, but they just couldn’t leave us alone.

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Chris losing his temper and resorting to a strong message to the face.  I swear I filled my mask up with water laughing at this scene!  Photo taken by Julie Tavener.

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Sleep. Eat. Dive. Repeat. This barracuda shot was cool, because I caught him stealing a lionfish off the guide’s spear…nice chance photo!  I almost overlooked the sea cucumber on the bottom left as I glided by – camouflaged itself in the midst of the coral.

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The dive shop.

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It started to get rainy mid week…but that didn’t stop us from diving!

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Heading back to the caye after aborting a dive due to storms. Still in good spirits.  Photo taken by Derek Glover.

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Then the rain really came…  So, I hunkered down with some wifi in the office…

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…and then really got to know our bartenders!!

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When we were able to start diving again, we embraced it strongly, having had to stay inside for almost 2 days due to the storms. Group photo!

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Mom and I in the deep!

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Walking hand stand is so much easier down here.  Sometimes, I just can’t help but play…  Photo taken by Derek Glover.

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…or misbehave. Photo taken by Julie Tavener.

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Didn’t see this one until I was on top of him. Gave me quite a startle!

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I’ve been wanting to see an eagle ray forEVER. Last day, last dive…what do I see?  I’m floating around and I hear someone banging on a tank.  I look over and Cardinal is frantically waving me over.  I swim up to him at the crest of a formation, and I look over to where he is pointing — An eagle ray!!!

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I heart you too, beautiful coral. So pretty!

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Last night, pre dinner beers with our dive clique in our cabana! Photo taken by Julie Tavener.

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Cardinal, our head dive master.

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Happy hour on the bar deck with Efron, our other dive master.

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Every meal, we seemed to be drawn to the same group of table mates. Definitely a bit of a dive clique, minus a few players.

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