On Christmas Eve, when we drove into San Ignacio to pick Lisa, Steve, and Steven up from their trip to Tikal, we also picked up Virginie and Catherine. After traveling from Montreal earlier in the week, Virginie and Catherine had spent a couple of days in Belmopan, and then took a morning bus to San Ignacio where they met up with Link, who took them kayaking in the Mopan River. Virginie and Catherine are our first guests to go kayaking, and they gave the kayak trip rave reviews.
Both biology students in Montreal, this was Virginie and Catherine’s first Christmas not spent with their families. They were okay with that – they were taking a trip to a great eco-tourism destination – but they still missed their families, and their families still missed them. In fact, Virginie’s mother sent us a note to give to Virginie when they arrived on Christmas Eve. Unable to read French, Tom and I don’t know what it said, but it brought tears to Virginie’s and Catherine’s eyes, and thus to ours too, knowing too well how it feels to spend the holidays away from family and friends. But, they quickly joined the house party with us and Steven, Steve, and Lisa, so it did become a holiday spent with friends, just new rather than old.
On Christmas Day, they went with Selwyn on a full-day horseback ride to Sapodilla Falls. Catherine grew up on a farm with horses, so she was very comfortable on Esmerelda, and while Virginie hasn’t ridden much, she’s very athletic and had absolutely no problems on Nessa. Poor Tony was ridden by Selwyn, who kicked and whipped and kept him marching for the entire day – probably not such a great thing from Tony’s point of view, but from our point of view just what he needed after getting lazy being the packer before the holidays.
On Saturday, Catherine and Virginie were scheduled to visit the archeological sites of Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. However, we had a little bit of a communications problem and weren’t able to determine a time and a place for them to meet a guide, so Tom ended up just taking them into San Ignacio when he was on the way to the water taxi with Lisa, Steve, and Steven. They didn’t find a guide we knew, but it all worked out for the best and Tom dropped them off at Cahal Pech, which is right in San Ignacio, and after touring that site they took a taxi to Xunantunich. They walked from Xunantunich to get lunch at Benny’s in Succotz, and then caught a cab back to San Ignacio to meet Tom in the afternoon. If we had known how adventurous they are, we probably would have suggested the do-it-yourself tour in the beginning for them, since they ended up having more fun with the freedom and flexibility they had without a guide, and it cut their costs significantly – and they still saw everything they wanted to see and were quite happy with how things worked out. As we always say, it always works out in Belize!
The next day they had a relaxing morning, wandering around the property looking at birds and logging all the birds, animals, and flora they saw during their stay here. In the late morning, Tom drove them to the end of the road and left them at the bus stop on the Western Highway in Georgeville to they could catch the bus to the water taxi in Belize City. Tom left them with lots of advice – we both quickly decided we would happily adopt both of them as daughters, even though we apologized for acting like their parents! – as they headed west towards the Caribbean.