Belize Journals

South of the (Mexico) Border

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A September 2006 trip to Belize by eviet

Mask Temple Photo, Belize, Central America More Photos
Quote: Belize, sometimes considered an extension of Mexico, has the culture, nature, and spirit to stand on its own two tropical feet.

South of the (Mexico) Border

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Overview

A Long Walk Photo, Toledo, Belize
Quote:
Belize is on the Caribbean, but it’s far from being a part of it. Typical Caribbean destinations do not mix jungle and sea; embrace a myriad of cultures, from Maya to Creole; or eschew mass tourism for the preservation of tradition and ecosystems. Even off the coast of popular island destination Ambergris Caye, reefs and the sea creatures that populate them are regarded with intense pride and protected with utmost zeal. And in the off season, the beach around tourist-town San Pedro is quiet, subdued, hibernating during the summer heat and September rains. The southern jungle district of Toledo, particularly Punta Gorda, is the country’s draw for those seeking a different kind of getaway. Isl...Read More

Xanadu Island Resort

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Hotel

Xanadu Island Resort Photo, San Pedro, Belize
Quote:
Two women chat as they cool down from their power walk, and a middle-aged man strides by. A bike and another man, this time younger. If looking down, you would see a thumbnail-size snail clacking its way towards the sand. These were the views, bordered by the occasional boat, turquoise Caribbean, and lengthy docks, from a beachside hammock at Xanadu. Xanadu, on the outskirts of San Pedro, is a resort of suites with a timeshare vibe. As such, there is no on-site restaurant, but personal kitchens and a food store out front. Or, if cooking on vacation isn’t your thing, you can walk along the calm, lapping Caribbean waters to nearby Rico’s. After Victoria and I were led to our two-be...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 21, 2006

Xanadu Island Resort
Sea Grape Drive, Ambergris Caye 109
San Pedro, Belize
+501 226-2814

Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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Hotel

Quote:
Rain torrents beat down around us, dry under the open-air shelter. A goofy, bright-eyed stray dog circled, rib cage protruding through his skin. Outside, Lamanai guides Arturo and George paid no attention to our upstart game of charades, intent on transferring suitcases from the bus to the speedboat as dry as possible. They strode through the afternoon downpour as though the rain would slide off them, even if their clothes, hair, and skin were soaked. Finally, Arturo conceded that we might have to make our final arrival at Lamanai Outpost Lodge by bus instead of boat. But there was another option: take the bus to a midway point and board the boat there. Hopefully, the rain would prove to be of the fas...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 21, 2006

Lamanai Outpost Lodge
Orange Walk
Belize City, Belize
(888) 733-7864

Ramon's Village

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Restaurant

Ramon's Village Photo, San Pedro, Belize
Quote:
Walking into Ramon’s Village, I was transported to ‘90s reality-show Temptation Island, the first season of which was coincidentally filmed right here on Ambergris Caye. A pseudo-Mayan head greeted above the archway, and neon lights lined the pathway to the resort’s restaurant. The farther we went, the louder the live island music became, and once inside, a peek at the indoor dining area revealed a mock jungle landscape atop a wall, a second towering head as its centerpiece.What would be a nauseating, gimmicky atmosphere in New York was a fun, lively one in San Pedro. Even at our table, Mayan tiki heads appeared by way of salt and pepper shakers, while pale-pink wood and ocean-blue cushions ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 21, 2006

Ramon's Village
San Pedro
San Pedro, Belize

Rico's Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Rico's"

Rico's Restaurant Photo, Belize, Central America
Quote:
"Could I have the fruit plate with just watermelon, orange, and banana?""Instead of a meat, I’d like orange slices for my side.""Oh, I’ll have a coffee, too."Over six meals in 3 days, orders peppered with individual requests, the staff at Rico’s presented our plates without error: no missing side orders, no mistaken drinks, no extra entrees. One waiter returned from the kitchen to confirm the order for eight, even though there was no need for correction. Every Diet Coke was accounted for, as were the multitude of sandwiches (BLT and lobster) and salads (chicken and, again, lobster).Beachside behind The Villas at Banyan Bay, Rico’s attracts a tourist crowd, hence the...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 21, 2006

Rico's Restaurant
The Villas At Banyan Bay
Ambergris Caye, Belize
(866) 466-2179

Victoria House

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Restaurant

Quote:
Spending your honeymoon in the Caribbean is like an aging New Yorker transplanting to Florida: for most, it’s a given. Victoria House on Ambergris Caye, the popular island of Belize, lures enraptured couples with strings of lights hugging palm trunks, tropical flowers adorning the path, and grounds that encourage a quiet privacy. But we were not here to romance; we were here to eat.The first hint that you’re dining in an upscale island abode comes from the virginal white walls, chairs, and tablecloths. (P. Diddy would approve.) Apart from the attentive service, evident in the constant refilling of half-empty water glasses, the second giveaway, perhaps disappointingly, is the menu price in US d...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 21, 2006

Victoria House
San Pedro
San Pedro, Belize
+501-26-2067

Biking in San Pedro

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Attraction

Quote:
I swung around in a hesitant attempt to regain my balance. Straight ahead, okay; turns and circles, not so much. In addition to feeling like a beach-bum Mary Poppins with my bike’s front basket, I had regressed to the days when I required training wheels. I had to break by pedal, and it was disturbing my delicate equilibrium.Finally adjusted, I followed the others in a lemming line out of Xanadu. Rocks and sand formed the road, and I imagined a tire faltering, ramming my body into a passing commercial truck. After a few jerks, though, my grasp of the handlebars loosened. I could ride this contraption, rusted by salty sea air, without a steady hazard perusal of the ground below.As we ap...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 21, 2006

Biking in San Pedro
San Pedro
San Pedro, Belize

Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley

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Attraction | "Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley"

Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley Photo, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Quote:
I was surrounded: needlenose in front and a variety of fish all around. A massive grouper chilled in the shadow of the boat. When I dove under, reaching out to him, he backed away. Could he smell last night’s grouper entrée digesting in my stomach? A docile nurse shark wandered by, and a stingray glided along the bottom. Feeling a bit shy, the ray blew sand out its sides for concealment while its sea compadres swam undisturbed—and I hadn’t moved more than a foot from the boat. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a short sail from San Pedro. Once in the water, we adjusted our gear. Jennifer went under, snorkel and all, to inspect the seafloor creatures. I emulated, initially holding my breath and the...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 21, 2006

Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley
Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker
Ambergris Caye, Belize

Crocodile Hunt at Lamanai

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Story/Tip

Croc! Photo,
Quote:
We had two choices: a crocodile hunt where we’d peruse marshes for those nocturnal reptiles or a spotlight viewing of the river growth for an animal or two. I said aye to the croc venture, and most followed suit. After boarding two airfoils at Lamanai Lodge, we sped across the lagoon towards the marsh reeds. Airfoils being open-sided boats, as we approached, Victoria and I instinctively edged towards the middle of our seat. They’re are also loud, necessitating the noise-reducing headphones the guides hand you. Since it’s night, a spotlight helps search for potential crocs, their red eyes gleaming in the white circle. The combination of this blinding light and roaring motor should deter thes...Read More

Lamanai

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Story/Tip

Mask Temple Photo, Belize, Central America
Quote:
One of the most renowned Mayan archeological sites in Belize, Lamanai is a 5-minute boat ride from the eponymous next-door lodge. A day trip from Belize City is another possibility, one often taken by cruise passengers. A museum detailing the archeological work and Mayan history of Lamanai exists steps from the dock, but it was closed when we arrived at 4pm in off-season September. We would have to rely on our guide, Ruben, and signs marking the Mask, High, and Jaguar Temples for historical tidbits. On the winding rock paths to the first, Mask Temple, Ruben bent to extract a chunk of pottery. The container it belonged to would have been used to store water, he tells us, obser...Read More