Wednesday, October 12, 2011
This past September, I traveled to Belize Central America. When I was planning my 30th Birthday celebration, I was originally looking into Brazil as my go to destination. There is something fundamentally inspiring and wholly spiritual in seeing the Christ the Redeemer statue.Photo By: Triggerpit.com
That sense, that pit in your stomach, can only be attained by being in the presence of something so great. But in doing my research for Brazil, I realized the plane tickets were incomprehensible in price. While surfing my favorite blog spots and reading my travel books, I came across Belize. This extremely diverse culture drew me in instantly. With it's rich history, astonishing scenery, and friendly locals, this is exactly what I needed to surround myself with for my big birthday bash!
My husband and I quickly started planning and saving and I decided to gear my whole trip around yoga, food, and relaxation. Most of the time when I travel, I have such a heavy agenda, and I want to see everything. This trip I just wanted to enjoy the people and images around me. Rent a Jeep and go where our thoughts lead us that day. I google searched Yoga and Belize and came across two spectrum's of the country. Yoga and exploration in the Jungle at Black Rock Lodge www.blackrocklodge.com. This place is an Eco tourists dream vacation. Located outside of San Ignacio, C.A., they pride themselves on being 100% off the grid. For Belizean's this is virtually impossible as I learned on the Eco Tour as both China and Canada have their hands in the Belizean government's pockets, monopolizing the energy sources and forcing communities to pay top dollar for their product. The locals could do so much better if they were able to produce their own resources and then get paid by the gov't as they do here in the states when they start providing energy back, but unfortunately it is not run that way in Belize. Black Rock also has all of their water provided from the local mountains and the Macal River. All of their restaurant and staff food is organically grown and re-fertilized by compost consisting of food scraps and waste. BUT the way that they do it, and the way that they use their man made wetland to re-fertilize, is pretty amazing and frankly humbling.
The other location we chose was Akbol Yoga Retreat, www.akbol.com. This beachfront sanctuary would leave any weary westerner in absolute bliss and peace. There is something to be said about finding a place where you could wake up each morning, look outside of your seafront cabana and see endless waters and unbounded futures with limitless time.
When we arrived in Belize I was instantly challenged by customs on my motives for arrival. "Had I undergone a change?", "Had I gone Rasta now?" You see my passport photo is before my natural dreadlock state, to which I learned in Belize, means I am an honorary rastafarian and could only be sung Bob Marley songs at my window at gas stations, and deep Creole conversations by little Mestizo boys. Surreal. The other crazy thing about the Rasta's is I really only saw Rasta men, while traveling around the western part of Belize and on the island. So I had a conversation with a very inspirational man who called himself the Rasta Ripper in San Pedro. He informed me that most of the Rasta wives and girlfriends stay in Dangriga, a little afro-carribean beach town in the Southern region of the country. Most Belizean men aren't known for being the most faithful or virtuous companions to their female counterparts. So the fact that they left them for months at a time to make money in the tourist beach towns, leaves a little more to my imagination than just financial stability for the family.
On our way down the Western Highway, I could see that sense of adventure and fear coming over the face of my husband as I explained to him that I had no map or clear directions to Black Rock Lodge. I told him to buckle up, this is what backpacking is all about. You will find your way. And in a country like Belize, the people were all to ready to help and not demand for pecuniary tributes in return.
We were not expecting to go up such an intense six mile dirt mountain road with rocks attacking you at every turn but once you saw those jungle palms and jesus lizards and sprawling Macal River....oh what a sight to behold.
Once arriving at Black Rock we were greeted by the most amazing staff. In those 5 days we were able to experience river tubing, horseback riding, vaca falls, caving, Eco tour, spider hunting, learning about medicines used by the Mayans, night hikes and Yoga in the Palapa.
We also ate some incredible vegetarian options. Fresh potato soups, beans and rice with chunks of some of the freshest organic vegetables. Handmade pasta with creme sauce and perfectly cooked flan. They even brought me a piece of cake with a candle in it to end my birthday night. A good place to be. In the middle of the jungle, under the stars, blowing out my candle, with a wish and good friends.
While in the Cayo District, we traveled to Mountain Pine Ridge. We got to visit some of the main attractions that drew my attention in my research. Caracol Ruins, Rio on the Pools, 1,000 foot falls, and Coppola's five star restaurant at Blancaneaux. We found the most lovely little town in San Antonio. My husband and I felt we could see ourselves living there years from now. It was the perfect blend of beautiful scenery. The houses featured every color of the rainbow. Kids running around playing soccer. Mothers and daughters walking back from the markets. The energy was really alive in San Antonio, and I got a great feeling in my heart every time we drove through that little town.
When we found out that we were going to be in the heart of the Jungle, trampsing around with jaguars, toucans, and howler monkeys, I had the most thrilling sensation in my heart. That sensation that makes your pulse race a little bit faster, your blood course through your veins more warmly, your eyes go a little hazy from glee and adrenaline. I was completely open to it, and I was not disappointed in my journey so far. But now after 5 glorious days, it was time to head to the coast. Travel back through Belize City, which is pretty much just a dumping ground for tourists off the cruise ships. It is not the "true" Belize that I know it to be now. San Pedro and Akbol were calling our names. And my tan was needing a little pick me up.
I would love to thank, Giovanni, Jessie, Elvis, David, Rogelio, Avrel, the cook staff, the German Sheperds, the tarantulas for sheer entertainment and consistency, all our new friends and fellow travelers we encountered and everyone else at Black Rock Lodge who made our stay absolutely unforgettable.