At the same time as Beth and Jeff were here, our friends from New York Deb and Jim were here. All four of them had spent the week before in San Pedro, although Beth and Jeff were there for a veterinary conference and Deb and Jim were there on a dive vacation, and the fact that their vacation dates coincided and they planned to come here at the same time was completely coincidental. But it all worked out stunningly well, and the six of us had a great time for the four days Jeff and Beth were here, and the party continued for another few days for the remaining four of us after Beth and Jeff left.
We started the week with a trail ride to Sapodilla Falls. In addition to the ride being very pleasant, Deb was quite happy because we had Jim ride one of our neighbor Joe’s horses, Rocky, who is just about the perfect horse. Deb has always been a horse person – in fact, she and I met over 20 years ago through horses – and Jim has always gone along with her having horses, but hasn’t ever really been into them himself. Deb currently has one horse that she competes, but she’d like to get Jim a trail horse so they could ride together and so her competition horse would have some company. Jim hasn’t been unwilling to do this, but he hasn’t really had any incentive to make it happen – until this ride, where he was how enjoyable a trail ride on a good horse can be. Now we’re waiting to see how long it takes Deb to find a horse for Jim in New York. Strike while the iron is hot, Deb!
The next day, Tom dropped Deb and Jim off at the Guatemala border so they could go on an overnight trip to Tikal. Through all of our planning emails, Deb had asked if we thought it was worth the time and expense to make this trip, and Tom and I said nothing but “Yes!” We worked with them to line up a driver, sent Deb recommendations for lodging in the Park and let her make the reservations, and then Tom got them to the border and helped them through Immigration on the Belize side and handed them off to the driver in Guatemala. They stopped to zip line on the way in, and when they got to the park they got their tickets for the next day set up a sunrise tour. Their sunrise tour sounded very much like ours; it was overcast and the sun didn’t make a grand appearance, but just the experience of watching the jungle wake from the top of Temple IV is well worth the trip. After sunrise, they toured the rest of the site, and then caught their ride back to the Belize border, where Tom met them. They made a stop at the La Loma Luz hospital on the way home - see the entry about Beth and Jeff for the details on that, because it was another “Only in Belize” story.
On Wednesday, while Tom was taking Jeff and Beth to the airport, I went with Deb and Jim for a tour of Ka’ax Tun. This was a lot of fun for me, because I hadn’t been on an official tour before, although I had wandered through parts of the site with various members of Julio’s family. But, for our tourist friends, Julio did the real tour. In addition to sampling plants from the jungle, we went in a few small caves I hadn’t been in before, and I finally got to climb the limestone chimney. Neither I nor Deb and Jim are spring chickens, but we’re all fit and active, so we did a few activities that the less agile wouldn’t have attempted. We didn’t climb up the vines on the rock faces, but we found that after climbing up through the chimney, the vines were the easiest way down the rock faces. Then we went through a few caves that involved crawling through passages on our bellies, and then scrabbling up very slippery rocks with very cagey footholds to get through the passages. Julio declared Deb the oldest woman to do any of these things – except for his mother, who he says used to climb all over the site in her quest for picaya, a seasonal delicacy which grows on one of the palms found all over the site. We then went back to Julio’s for a delicious lunch of chicken, rice, and beans and a marvelous pumpkin pudding. Tom had returned from the airport in time to meet us on the path into Ka’ax Tun just as we were walking out, so he joined us for lunch.
After lunch, Tom wanted to run into Spanish Lookout to get two more water tanks. Jim and Deb took this opportunity to see a little more of Belize, and rode along. They not only got to go over on the hand-cranked ferry, but got to see where a lot of commerce happens in Belize. When they got home, Jim helped Tom get the water tanks hooked up, I fed the animals, and Deb took a bucket and scrub brush to get all the Ka’ax Tun mud from the caves off of everybody’s pants and shoes.
The next morning Jim and Deb were off to ATM. We picked them up that evening and went to Erva’s for dinner, where they were able to experience Erva’s amazing burritos. They also got to experience the true hospitality at Erva’s, where Germo, the waiter, greets us with hugs, and Erva and Landy, the owners, make a point to stop at the table and meet our friends while we catch up with them about what’s been happening since our list trip to town. At dinner, we discussed with Deb and Jim what they wanted to do on their last day of vacation, and they decided that a short hike in the jungle might be fun. So, we stopped at Angel’s house on the way home to see if he could guide them the next day. As we discussed routes, Angel told us that there was a hike of about 1.5 hours each way that goes to a 30 foot waterfall, or a hike of about 2.5 hours each way that goes to a waterfall of a couple of hundred feet. Tom, Jim, and Deb decided that the shorter hike to the smaller waterfall would be good, and we came home with a plan for the next day.
The next morning, I packed sandwiches, cookies, and fruit for everybody and Tom took off with Jim and Deb at about 9AM. They met Angel, and drove as far as they could on the trail, and then got out of the truck and started walking. After about 2 hours, they asked if they were there yet, and Angel told them no, they had another hour or so to go. When they finally got to the waterfall, they said it wasn’t 30 feet, but more like about 800 feet – somewhere along the line Angel had changed his mind and decided that they should take the longer walk to the taller waterfall, and since none of them knew where they were going, nobody realized the plan had changed until they were almost there! But, they said it was well worth it because the hike was pretty, the waterfall was beautiful, and the swimming hole at the bottom of the waterfall was amazing. Then they hiked out and came back to the farm to clean mud off their shoes and clothes again so they could pack to leave the next day. Which, sadly, they did.