Every year my girlfriends and I plan a trip somewhere. We’ve found ourselves lost in wonderful places like Spain, Morocco,
Paris, Tunisia and India. Since a few of the gals were on a bit of a budget (me with my start-up and another friend just out of Dental School), we were looking for places where our frequent flier miles could take us. This year, the lucky destination ended up being Belize. I remember when I told my brother, he asked me, “Where the hell is Belize”? Apparently a lot of people wonder this, as I found a magnet in Belize with that question posted!
Anyway, I had been working extremely long hours between our Boston Pop-up store launch and other exciting developments within Sikara, so this trip was well deserved and long awaited! I actually didn’t have much time to do research prior to boarding my flight so I didn’t know what to expect. We had decided that this trip would be a combination of active sports and relaxing at the beach. All I knew is that I was excited about adventuring somewhere new!
Day 1: Belize City
So Belize is in Central America bordering Mexico and Guatemala and on the Caribbean Sea. We landed at the tiny Belize City airport and quickly found our way to our car rental place. The trip to San Ignacio (southwest Belize) was a three hour drive. The roads were bumpy and the land largely undeveloped. When we pulled up to our new home for the next 3 days, we were all pleasantly surprised. We stayed at the Mystic River Resort which was built only 2 years ago by this wonderful French woman, Nadege and her American Fiance Tom. They had discovered this amazing land along the river and had a team machete through the bush to build this from scratch. They were the most hospitable couple and made our stay in Belize so memorable.
We were welcomed by yummy drinks, amazing food and a resort largely to ourselves. We had hit up Belize during low season so aside from one honeymooning couple from Europe we had the place to just us.
Day 2: We started the morning watching the iguana’s and colorful carrie-carrie birds eat breakfast alongside us. We had a
yummy breakfast before we headed out to Calico Jack’s for our zip-lining adventures. I have to admit zip-lining out in Monteverde in Costa Rica takes the cake, but this was still really fun. The crew at Calico Jack’s actually trained with the Costa Rican team so I felt really safe. I think this place will be amazing in another 2 years as they will be doubling the number of lines they have going through the jungle.
Afterwards, we decided to venture around and ended up at this cute little inn where we had lunch. I had accidently left our money back at our pad so we had to see how much food we could buy on $10 USD! We ended up playing jenga and enjoyed our chicken and plantain dish that we shared 5 ways! I guess the people on Survivor had it worse
In the afternoon, we walked around Mystic River resort and met some of the animals they had. A few horses, a rescued baby cow and a bunch of dogs. Tom the owner took us out on his fun Polaris and let my friend Apara drive it. We drove about 20 minutes out and went tubing down the river which was a blast.
That evening we discovered we were the only guest remaining at the resort so the five of us gals turned up the music and hosted our own dance party with the owners. We taught them how to dance Indian Bhangra and of course ended with some Madonna and her Isla Bonita (since the song referred to San Pedro – where our next destination would be).
Day 3: This was our big adventure day as we were going to accomplish going to the famous ATM ( not the banking machine) where the Mayan’s had built a cathedral where they made sacrifices to the Gods. But this was no ordinary cathedral, it was hidden away in a cave in the middle of a jungle. The whole 6 hour expedition reminded me of something out of Indian Jones. We drove with our guides for about an hour where we then hiked through the jungle for an hour and crossed three rivers by foot. We had a quick meal before heading near the mouth of the cave. We had to swim across. The following 1.5 hours was spent bouldering and rock-climbing through this cave. It was pitch black inside so we had to wear hard hats with lights attached. At points in the cave we would be in water neck-deep.
I was thinking to myself these Mayan people were really adventurous! Or the landscape had changed a lot. We don’t know if they had to deal with the water back then or if the cave entrance was more inviting and open. Eventually an hour and a half later, we climbed a ladder to the official “cathedral”. There we saw several skeletons of individuals who had been sacrificed. There was broken pottery for offerings. We had to carry socks and t-shirts with us so when we reached this point we could not wear our shoes and be covered in order to pay our respect.
This was one of the coolest adventures I had on this trip. It was exhausting and scary at some points. I left with a few bruises but overall, I’d highly recommend it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up closing this site in a few years as there are so many pieces of historical significance out in the open.
We were all exhausted by the end and starving so when we came back to downtown San Ignacio, we went to this amazing restaurant for dinner. No better way to end the day than with some traditional chicken, plantains, and beans and some yummy shrimp!
Day 4: The next morning we went for a hike but our friend Apara, the super athlete, decided to run down the hill and unfortuantley sprained her ankle. Our host, Tom, came to our rescue and picked us up in the Polaris. He ended up driving us around and giving us a tour of the next phase he plans to develop for Mystic River. Apparently there are a few caves that he plans on excavating on his grounds. He’ll partner with the Belizian government so others can see these historic places.
We had our final breakfast and sadly bid farewell to Nadege and Tom. We were off to the island of San Pedro. It took us a 3 hour drive, 1.5 hour ferry ride, before we eventually arrived at our final destination: Coco Beach Resort! We had to take a smaller boat to our hotel. It was really funny to see the man get our bags in a wheel barrow!
That evening , we went to the little market store and ended up cooking a nice meal in our new home for the rest of our stay.
Day 4: We were picked up early in the morning by a boat to take us to go snorkeling and diving! The fish were absolutely amazing. After our trip we explored the main city center of San Pedro. We rented a golf cart (there are too many cars driving around the island). It was great exploring the little bakeries, fresh fruit carts and stores around the little island. The best part for me was photographing all the kids getting out of school. So much energy and love for life on the island!
Day 5: The next morning two of the gang headed home early as they had family obligations. This was the first day we finally relaxed and did absolutely nothing. I started reading Three Cups of Tea and checked in on work in between little stints in the pool. My friend and I took out this massive Aqua Cycle in the sea but it didn’t make it out very far.
Day 6: Our final day was spent renting bicycles as we explored the island territory around us. My friend Vandna and I rode up the pier to this little island bar and had some lunch. It was absolutely breathtaking. Later that night we saved up our energy to head into San Pedro for the famous “ladies night” at Wet Willy’s! We had some delicious Lobster (yes, official Lobster season started that week with an official Miss Lobster Beauty Contest – for girls not lobsters!) in this ally-way hole in the wall restaurant. My lobster burrito was delicious! It was good that we went dancing after as I needed to boogy the burrito off. We were some of the first girls at Wet Willy’s so we just created our own dance party (seems to be our theme on this trip). It was fun but we retired early catching the 10pm water taxi home!
Day 7: Ahh…got to love the journey home! We started our day a bit stranded as no one came to pick up our bags, no water taxi was ready to pick us up as promised, and we had no reservations for the tiny little plane that was supposed to take us from San Pedro to Belize City. However, we were rescued by some friends of the resort. A handsome Bolivian man with Arabic tattoos picked up in his boat. When we landed in San Pedro, a random family with 2 kids heading to school, loaded us up in their mini-van and dropped us at the tiny airport. Being on a small 14 passenger plane reinforced my desire for a future adventure…learning how to fly!