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Belize y Guatemala

posted 17 September 2016

Buenos Dias

Last Sunday (the 11th) we got to rest in our own bed again, after an 11 day trip to countries we never planned to visit.

Of course based on the title, you smart folk can identify that it was Belize and Guatemala.

Reasoning

There were two points to our trip:

  1. My wife and I got married legally in a courthouse in July, but we wanted to have an intimate wedding ceremony with our immediate family. This trip was to do that AND vacation (see point #2 below).

  2. Vacation. We emphatically love jumping into other cultures and areas of the world to better understand things, people, and those we travel with.

So how did Belize come into the picture?

We’re both green people. That is, we’d prefer green trees and surroundings to beach fronts. Researching our dreamy place to have a small ceremony and vacation, somewhere in a rainforest perked up to both our ears.

Initially Costa Rica was the spot, but after a few emails to places we wanted to stay, it was determined we were unable to find a spot that had enough lodging for all of us, sad but true. In our rush, we geographically went upward. After some more emails for lodging, Belize had an initial launch pad and place for ceremony. Game on.

The schedule, yielding what we think is maximum coverage and immersion: - Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize (Gaia Riverlodge) - 4 nights - Tikal, Guatemala (Tikal Inn) - 1 night - San Ignacio, Belize (AirBnB - Yarl Villa*) - 2 nights - Crooked Tree, Belize (Birds Eye View Lodge) - 1 night - Caye Caulker (AirBnB - Princesa Angienelle*) - 2 nights

* Links navigate to my referral page, search for Yarl Villa or Princesa Angienelle for the specific properties. There is no way to recommend specific locations currently with AirBnB.

Packing

Per my post, Ultralight Travel, mobility is key when traveling. Making packing a cinch, leaves you more time to spend on the vacation. I seriously packed to leave Belize, in 10 minutes, after 7 Belikins. The target climates were tropical jungle, or tropical beach for the most part.

The following image is what I took for this particular vacation. Note there are two backpacks here, one Chrome bag is used as the luggage for air/ground travel. The JanSport is for day trips holding water bottles or jackets.

The trip

Amazing and unique as can be.

Belize is a very diverse country. Surrounded by Mexico, Guatemala and in close proximity to Caribbean countries, there are 3 notable languages spoken: English, Spanish, and Kriol. Historically Belize had ancient Mayan groups, and there are many Mayan dialects spoken as well.

Guatemala was also mixed with Spanish being the most dominant, and regional specific Mayan.

Speaking for both my wife and I , a good trip is a blend of historical digging, cultural sampling, and non-typical activities. Waking up at 3:30AM to hike up a Mayan ruin and watch the sunrise and jungle awake (Tikal National Park), spelunking through pitch black caves with lighted helmets and neck deep waters to see Mayan ceremonial artifacts and skeletons (Actun Tunichil Muknal aka ATM), or snorkeling among the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world (Caye Caulker) this trip embodied everything we prize.

On top of all of this, we brought our family. So most everything we did we had our parents in tow. Shoutout to my mother (61) and my wife’s parents (him 64, her 65) who navigated the unknown with us on the Actun Tunichil Muknal tour and all of its obstacles.

Notes/Recommendations

  • Visiting Belize, you do NOT have to convert currency. Every place we visited accepted US dollars.
  • Credit card use was RARE. Only in Caye Caulker was it used heavily, otherwise cash was the most accepted means of paying.
  • If you visit San Ignacio, and are able bodied, not claustrophobic, you HAVE to do the ATM tour. Honestly this was one of the most unique experiences we’ve had.
  • If you want isolated beauty, visit the wonderful location at Gaia Riverlodge. A very special shoutout and thanks to Nigel and Lucely who were amazing at making us feel welcomed.

  • Do bring bug spray as you are in a hot, wet/moist climate. Mosquitoes are a thing.

Choose your own adventure

Want to relax by the lakeside and watch birds?
Go to Crooked Tree

Want to drink Belikin (national beer of Belize) by the ocean wearing board shorts?
Go to Caye Caulker

Want to bask in the sun atop the jungle canopy, listening to Howler monkeys like an old king?
Go to Tikal

Want to live like a local, and run away for the day into the darkness?
Go to San Ignacio

Want to cliff jump into 45 foot deep river basins?
Go to Mountain Pine Ridge.