AdventureBelizeCentral AmericaScubaSightseeing

3/12/10 – Cayo District

Advance warning: I accidentally left my camera at the lodge this morning, so this entry is sadly picture-free except for a few I’ve pilfered from the Internet. This is especially sad since we had so many “firsts” – not to mention a gorgeous light all day long. But if you stick with it – despite the lack of photos – you might read about someone eating termites. That’s all I’m going to give away.

Calico Jacks
We started our morning at Calico Jacks, a new adventure spot near our lodge. (“Near” is a relative term, since it took us 30 minutes to get there) We were there for the canopy tour (aka zip line) that flew from one tree to the next. We were the only customers there that day, so Diego and his crew were entirely at our disposal. We harnessed up and flew from one tree to another, then to another, then climbed a ladder to get from the top of one tree to the next. And *then* (and this is the cool part) because the third line landed us on the top of a ravine, we walked down some steps and over to a “jungle lift” – an open-air elevator that took us to the top of our last tree.

It was high. Really high.


Not my pic, but this is the jungle lift
Our last and final zip line would take us 500 feet across the ravine and back to where we started. It was truly amazing. And what I really loved about it was that Diego our guide knew so much about the flora and fauna of the area, so we got to learn a lot while we were at it. The entire excursion ended with freshly-squeezed lemonade from Calico Jack’s lemon trees. Delicious.

Blue Frog Inn
We had loads more planned for the day so we hopped in the truck and continued down Chiquibul Road to get to the town of Belmopan for lunch. We also needed fuel. Turns out that true gas stations are few and far between in Belize, and for some ungodly reason Budget imported a Suzuki that requires premium gas. (Think about that: for a rental, would you care? Would you spend the money to fill a rental with premium or would you just put whatever into it? Needless to say, we’re glad we’re the first people to rent Jimmy, because I’m sure people don’t really care about such things.)

Anyway, as with everything in Belize it takes twice as long to get anywhere, even though the country is only 67 miles wide. We didn’t get to Belmopan or find the Blue Frog Inn (random place that sounded best in Lonely Planet) until 2PM. We were worried that we wouldn’t have time to do our cave-tubing trip so we inhaled our chicken lunch and were on our way.

Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw
The best place for cave tubing is at a place called Jaguar Paw. When looking at the map I joked to Mike “That’s halfway across the country!” – though that’s not saying much for a narrow little country like this. Still, we didn’t get there until after 3:00 but the guide who met us in the parking lot – Edwin – said in his Caribbean accent, “Nah mahn we have planty o time.” And he was right.

We started with a hike through the rain forest in the afternoon light (SO sad I forgot my camera) with Edwin pointing out various trees and telling stories along the way. He’s a local Belizean “jungle boy” who has a drive to start his own eco-travel company. He’s done cave-tubing tours for almost 7 years and knows all the ins and outs of the country – and with his drive he might just pull it off. He made us remember his email “junglebookecoadventures@yahoo.com”. Apparently his website will be up in a few months.

After our jungle walk we came to the cave, settled into our tubes, and were on our way.


Not my pic, but this is what it looked like. Without the other people
The caves were long, wide, and dark, but we had headlamps to light the way. Edwin kept us entertained with information about cave formations, bats, and Maya rituals, and at one point had us turn off our headlamps so we could enjoy the true *darkness* of the cave. It really was impressive. And fun!

When we emerged from the cave Mike and I were ready for a liesurely float down a sunny river, but somehow clouds and wind had moved in so the weather was less than ideal. The scenery still lovely, but it wasn’t the warm, relaxing float we’d anticipated.

Back on land, however, the tour continued through a small rocky outcropping and then to a tree where Edwin pointed out a termite nest. “See dis?” He said in his Caribbean accent, “Dis is termites. Dey full of protein and taste like mint.” He poked his finger into it a few times and waited for some little termites to emerge. Then he ate one and grinned at us. Mike, not to turn down an opportunity, tried one too and agreed that it had an odd minty taste. Well, this I had to try. I have to say, the whole eating-a-live-termite wasn’t quite as terrible as I thought it would be. And it definitely did have an interesting, licorice-like flavor. I was very proud of myself.

Since we were the last people in the parking lot Edwin asked us for a ride back to Belmopan, which wasn’t an issue since we were headed that way as well. And he entertained us with funny stories from his childhood, like when he’d use $2.00 to buy cocoa beans, make chocolate, and sell it on the street for $6.00. Turning 3 times a profit isn’t a bad way to make a living.

Driving Home
On the way back to the Lodge we passed a field that showed a gorgeous view of a huge red sun. Mike, who constantly pushed my cameraless buttons today, said “Wouldn’t that make a great picture?” I pouted.

We navigated the bumpy, dark roads like experts and even put the truck into 4WD just for fun. We stopped off at “Inn the Bush” – next door to the Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge. We’d met Rob the owner and Ryan the bartender the night before when they stopped by Ron and Al’s, and we just wanted to see what their place looked like. Inn the Bush is only partially built, and they had just put in the concrete for a pool today which we could barely make out in the dark landscape. Instead of straining our eyes to see it we instead went to the bar for a few cold beers.

Back at the Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge we feasted on Ron’s wonderful butterfly shrimp and laughed with Dan and Ann about their birding escapades for the day. Later in the evening Ron, his wife Rowena, and Ryan showed up with Rowena’s daughter Regina in tow. We spent some time handing out, drinking, and laughing – until it was time to shower and turn in.


Howler Monkey Dinner Decor
The end of vacations are no fun.