Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ranjani, Praveen, Vishnu, Leela

Our Christmas guests were a family of four from Washington state, mom Ranjani, dad Praveen, 12-year old son Vishnu, and 10-year old daughter Leela. The entire family has traveled extensively around the world, and we were delighted that they decided to spend part of their Belize vacation with us. Ranjani and I had corresponded extensively via email prior to their trip to help them make the most of both their time and their money. Ranjani had told me that they were also spending time on Caye Caulker and in Hopkins, and they wanted to go to Tikal while they were here. They ended up beginning their trip on Caye Caulker, and they then took the water taxi to Belize City where they were able to get a Linea Dorada bus to Tikal. I had suggested this plan of action because the Linea Dorada bus is relatively inexpensive and travels direct from Belize City to Tikal, and although it is not able to stop anywhere in Belize, it was an ideal way for the family to avoid our expensive transfer, get to Tikal for a few days, and end up in the western part of Belize where it’s much easier and less expensive to get here. Hugo transferred them from the Jaguar Inn at Tikal to the border, and Tom picked them up there. They arrived here early enough to walk around the property and see some of our jungle before dark.

On the first day they were here, they went canoeing with Selmo and Becky. They started in San Ignacio and canoed up the Macal River. Ranjani had expected more of a jungle canoeing trip, but in addition to iguanas and other wildlife along the river, they also got to see life along the river – people washing their cars, women washing clothes, and children playing in the river. After their canoe trip, they visited the San Ignacio market and had lunch at Hode’s before returning to the farm.

Then they went to ATM with Gonzo. Being Christmas week, a very busy week for tourists, the cave was busy but the tour guides were able to spread out the groups enough that it didn’t feel like a Disney World attractiogpn line moving through the cave. They were impressed not only with the cave, but also with Gonzo’s knowledge.

On their final full day here, they took a full day hike to the base of a waterfall. Melvin wasn’t able to guide them that day because he had just been called as a fulltime horse guide at Blancaneaux, but he contacted his cousin as a substitute so there was no problem with hiking through his family’s private land behind the Village of 7 Miles. Everybody enjoyed the hike, although they said it was too chilly to swim in the pools at the bottom of the waterfall. And, they made good time – they were back and waiting for Tom to pick them up a half hour before the scheduled pickup time, despite the fact that they guide wasn’t sure how quickly they would move with the 10- and 12-year olds. Next time Boris will worry about keeping up with the kids, not with the kids keeping up with him!

The family had originally planned to return to Caye Caulker for a few days, but because they felt that they’d seen most of the caye during their stay there, they decided instead to go to Hopkins so they could mix some more jungle adventures with the seaside activities in Hopkins. So, on their departure day, Tom took them to Hopkins so they could mix some snorkeling with some more hiking in the Cockscomb Basin Park. They had considered getting a taxi from Belmopan to Hopkins, but since it was the day after Christmas, which is Boxing Day and is a holiday here, no taxis were available in Belmopan, so Tom got to get a quick glimpse of the sea as well.

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