Tag Archives: Cayo

Belize 2012: Day Three – Adventurin’!

8 Mar

Finally! It’s climbin’ ruins day! Time to clamber over history…in a good way. We got up at a reasonable hour so we could have some breakfast. After a rather large breakfast the day before, I thought I’d go for something a little lighter. I had a look at the menu and decided on the continental breakfast: a fruit plate with toast, butter & jam. Seeing as I don’t generally eat all that much in the morning, especially earlier in the morning, this sounded about right. The waiter explained that each breakfast came with a fruit bowl – even the continental option. Did I still want the continental, he asked. Sure, I responded. No one else at the table was going to have as much fruit as I would, so I figured we could just share.

Our small fruit plates arrived, with pineapple, orange segments and bananas. Lovely way to start. As we sipped our coffee, the larger plates arrived one after the other: eggs with refried beans, pancakes and then mine. This was, without hyperbole, the largest plate of fruit for one in existence. Ever. None will be larger. It was filled with papaya, bananas, pineapple, kiwi, starfruit, oranges, apple slices, grapes…it was endless. I wish I had thought to bring my camera to breakfast so I could take a picture of the absurdly portioned plate; alas, my brain does not engage until I’ve had some coffee. By the time everyone was finished their breakfast, I was only halfway through. Don’t get me wrong: the fruit was fresh and delicious. No human could eat it all, though. Maybe a little less fruit, a little more toast. Live and learn.

My in-laws dropped us off at the hand-cranked ferry that takes you the short distance across the river and we began our long, steep, hot climb that would take us to Xunantunich. We were under the impression (okay..I was. J was totally right on this one) that you had to walk up the hill to get there – an impression that was shattered as several cars whizzed past us in all their air conditioned glory.

Just the beginning.

Fortunately for us, we have young legs and a lot of determination. We paused briefly to pay the inexpensive entrance fee and were mildly horrified to find out there was more hill to climb before reaching our final destination. The man in the booth looked amused at our horror and clarified that we only had a few more minutes of walking to do and sent us on our way. As unexpectedly tough as that initial walk was, it was completely worth it when we came around a corner and saw this:

Temple at Xunantunich.

Folks, it is a long way up there. Once you reach the summit, however, the view is absolutely breathtaking. It feels like you can see the entire country. It’s nothing but rolling green hills dotted with the occasional house. Spectacular.

The view from on high.

We hung out at the top of the temple for quite some time, soaking in the view and imagining what it would have been like to have lived as the Mayans had (what if you were a Mayan ruler afraid of heights?), we decided to make the trip back down. My friends, the descent was far more frightening than the ascent, I must tell you. Deciding that my life was more important than my dignity, I took a few of the steps on my butt. I think J found this a little ridiculous considering I’d been swinging my legs over the ledge at the top a few moments earlier…

We spent the rest of the day scrounging up some lunch of tamales stuffed with chicken, swimming at the infinity pool…and eating dinner. It’s a tough life on vacation. J and I both opted to have the black lentil soup with sausage and fry jack and the shrimp & fish combo served with a jalapeno cream sauce. To. Die. For:

After a long day of climbin’ and eatin’ we headed off to bed to dream of ancient civilizations and their fish. My dreams are a little weird.

Belize 2012 – Day Two: We’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain…

5 Mar

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.

Nice view, eh?

And one of my fave things about Windy Hill? This.

Oh, hello, infinity pool.

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!

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