Sunday, July 17, 2011

Belizean Honeymoon for the “Royal Couple”

Norma and George, our neighbors that we dubbed the “Royal Couple” were married back on April 30th, 2011. For their wedding gift, Marge and I offered them a night here with dinner, breakfast in the morning, and any tour that we offer. So, the evening of June 25th and then June 26th was determined to be the best time for them to come; a weekend for us with no other guests, and since Norma works in San Ignacio from Monday to Saturday every week, a Saturday evening and touring on Sunday worked well for them.

At first Norma and George were thinking about the day tour that we offer to Tikal. However, there were some security issues in Guatemala just after their wedding and the US Embassy issued a travel advisory for US citizens traveling to Guatemala. We informed the couple of this and they decided that they would stay in Belize. We told them about the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave tour but George is not a swimmer and Norma is not crazy about caves. After going through all the other tours that we offer, they opted to go to Old Belize to visit the museum and swim at the water park, eat lunch out, and go to the zoo.

On the evening of Saturday, June 25th, Norma and George arrived at around 7pm ready for dinner. Marge made them smoked pork chops with au gratin potatoes which they really enjoyed (and so did we, one of our favorite dishes). Flaming bananas for desert rounded out the meal. Over dinner we caught up on some of the local happenings, who was going on to which school next year, everyone’s jobs, etc.

In the morning, Marge and I were up early, like usual; I fed the horses and prepped the table while Marge made breakfast – banana pancakes. The honeymooners had a nice leisurely meal and we set off to Belize City with dark clouds on the eastern horizon. We drove through a couple of small showers and as the Western Highway twisted and turned, we were alternating between looking at bright sunny skies and dark heavy rain. “The rain must be north of Belize City” was all we kept saying (and hoping). Luck was with us when we arrived at Old Belize, the storms were just north of the city and we had sunshine for our visit to the museum and water park.

Marge and I visited Old Belize back in late 2007 or early 2008 so we looking forward to seeing how much it had changed in the past couple of years. Unfortunately the park has deteriorated over the years. The first time we visited, we had a guide in for the museum; this time it was a self guided stroll through the exhibits, which for us was not a problem since we have been on many tours here before and know most of the contents of most tours. But, if we were tourists coming in looking to learn about Belize and its history, this would not have been a good situation.

All four of us though had a lot of fun looking at and talking about the “old” items that were used by the Maya (like the comal used for cooking tortillas, brooms made from give and take palms, matates used for grinding corn, etc.) and some of the colonial items (like irons for clothes that you put the coals in the metal frame and shut the top, 78rpm records, bikes with little generators that spun as the wheel turned to light the headlamp, horse carriages, etc.). Most of these “old” items are used in our area still today, with the exception of the 78rpm records which have been replaced by MP4s and Ipods.

We then went out to the beach area which is a man-made salt water lagoon. Unfortunately the water slide was broken – no water running down it to keep it slick and the zip line has been taken down. The palapas in the beach area were pretty shabby and the swimming area just seemed a bit run down. It was good to take a dip, and this was George’s first time in salt water.

For lunch we decided to go to Cheers, which is owned by some horse friends of ours. The dark clouds and rain stayed north of us the entire time we were at Old Belize but we hit some rain during our drive west. When we stopped for lunch the rain clouds were moving our way and we got in just into the restaurant just in time, the heavens opened up just after we arrived. No problem though, we were dry while we ate our lunches, and it stayed dry after we were done so we could take a look at the boa, which had just eaten a grackle, in the fig tree at Cheers.

Just as we finished eating, the rain let up and we drove back to the zoo and got to see all the animals without getting rained on. When we arrived at the zoo, Sharon, the zoo director saw us, gave us all hugs, and added us to a personal tour she was giving to some other friends of hers – off to the jaguar area we went!

OK, after living here in the jungle for over four years now, we understand some of the tensions the Belizeans have regarding jaguars. For example, George has lost quite a number of dogs to jaguars since we have lived here and he really doesn’t like the “tigers”. While the locals do see their beauty, they also see them as pet, cattle, and livestock killers, which puts a huge dent in the locals’ pockets when they are trying to make a living.

George was a sport though, we did convince him to get up to see Field Master (who used to be a dog killer, probably because he has no lower teeth), made him roll over, then did a high five with the big guy.

We saw all the animals including the kinkajou (night walker)

and my favorite, the harpy eagle.

As we drove out the front gate, we stopped and picked up a couple of the zoo workers to take to Belmopan; a usual ritual for me when I visit the zoo with tourists at the end of the day.

On the way home we stopped in San Antonio at George’s older sister’s house (Antonia), which also happens to be Norma’s older brother’s house (John). We stopped for a party that Antonia and John were having for their son, Johan (as seen in the previous graduation posting) for his “graduation” from preschool. Marge and I just think that Antonia and John like to have parties for the kids because any excuse is a good excuse to have friends and family over to share food and play games.

Marge and I had a great day with the “Royal Couple” and were happy we were able to help them enjoy their honeymoon tour!

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