After a solid 10 hours of sleep, we were up and ready to get this vacation started! From prior experience, we knew that our hotel put on a really nice breakfast buffet with local food and baked goods made on premise. We tucked into johnny cakes (think Belizean scones), papaya, pineapple, local bacon and sausage, French toast, refried beans, eggs and fried/fry jacks. A light breakfast? Certainly not. But who cares? We’re on vacation!
J’s folks, along with his aunt, came to collect us around 10am for our trip up to Cayo, the mountainous district in Belize. Cayo his home to a number of Mayan ruins, beautiful wildlife and dense forests. It’s a roughly 2.5-3 hour journey along the Western Highway, depending on how you’re travelling and how many stops you make. Along the way, you can go through Belize’s capital city, Belmopan. We have family friends living there and they invited us for lunch – who are we to turn down such hospitality?
The lovely Nelly cooked up a traditional dish called “black dinner” or chimole. This soup, made with two kinds of local spice called recado, garlic, cloves, oregano, cumin, tomatoes and onion, is served along with chicken, a hard-boiled egg and tortillas. You can eat the soup, chicken, egg and tortilla separately but it was much more fun – and tasty – to cut off a piece of the chicken, a piece of egg, wrap them in the tortilla and dunk the whole thing in the soup. There is a good chance I will be attempting to make this at home, assuming I can find all I need!
As truly delicious as this was, dessert was over-the-top, only-had-it-in-Belize good. Ice box cake was it’s name and it had to have weighed 15 pounds – plus the giant serving dish. Filled with condensed milk, Cool Whip, sugar and canned fruit, it had kind of a custard texture and was refreshing and surprisingly light. Despite the ingredients, it wasn’t overly sweet and if I hadn’t been so full from the two helpings of chimole, I would’ve had a second helping of dessert, too, when it was inevitably offered.
Back on our journey, the roads started to get narrower and the scenery changed from flat, wide open spaces to verdant hills. We wound our way through the bottom of the mountains until we finally arrived at our destination: Windy Hill.
And one of my fave things about Windy Hill? This.
Not only are the grounds stunning, but the food is unfailingly delicious and clearly made from scratch. The flour tortillas were especially good here, reminiscent of Indian naan: soft and light on the inside, a little bit of char on the outside. The fruit is fresh and plentiful and the service is always friendly. You really get to know them and they you, which makes for an easy and pleasant dining experience. J and I opted for curry and creole shrimp dishes our first night there, respectively, and within 20 minutes GIANT plates of seafood arrived in front of us. Needless to say, very little remained by the time we were done.
After a starlit walk around the grounds, we headed back to our cabin to rest up for the next day’s adventure: climbing the largest ruins in Belize!