San Ignacio 2005 Trip

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Tikal Ruin


Belize SchoolThis is a continuation of our trip to Belize in February, 2005.  We moved closer to San Ignacio so we could base the rest of our trip from there.  We left Caye Caulker by water taxi and headed to Belize City.  After being accosted by people offering to "help" with our bags, Luis from Crystal Paradise Resort picked us up andCrystal Paradise Office we were off.  Well not really.  My wife saw some material on Caye Caulker and wanted to look for it in Belize City.  Luis was kind enough to drop her off at a store and go around the block.  They had exactly what she wanted plus others.  We now have the fabric but I'm still waiting to see what she does with it.

The ride to Crystal Paradise was pleasant.  We stopped for lunch on the way and enjoyed the scenery.  When we arrived, Luis said this is your home.  Enjoy it.

Valley View CabanaWe had a Valley View Cabana.  Couldn't see the valley but it was nice in any event.  Couple of chairs out front and a hammock.  There are 2 cabanas in each building and they could be noisy if your neighbor snored.  It was quiet, though, and I think our neighbors were too tired to be noisy.  We didn't have any problem with bugs except for one morning.  We had a parade on ants going into the suit case where the almonds were stashed.  I guess that one was our fault.

Meals were interesting.  The dining area had an open bar with an honor system.  They usually had enough Belikin andThe restaurant. rum to make things OK.  I even tried the Cashew Wine.  Interesting but you have to like sweet wines.  The meals were served community style.  You sit with whoever you want and they bring the bowls of food around.  The food wasn't special but I didn't leave hungry.  Breakfast was interesting because we learned a few things.  You can roll scrambled eggs up in a tortilla rather than eating them like we normally do.  You can also do peanut butter and jelly tortillas just as easy as regular bread.  We still do both at home.  We also found that Marie Sharp's Habanera sauce won't kill you (in moderation anyway).  The main thing about meals, though, is the people.  We met a lot of nice people there and that made it even better.

We didn't see as many birds as we heard.  When the sun came up, so did the birds.  Very noisy and you don't sleep through them.  We did see some parrots and that was cool.

Caracol ruinsWe scheduled our tours through Crystal Paradise.  The first day we went to Caracol to see the Mayan ruins.  I believe these are the largest in Belize.  There are still archaeologists working there.  We saw a toucan and howler monkeys before we saw a ruin.  That was pretty cool.  There are several pictures of the ruins if you want to see them.  I don't have enough information to explain them though. 

We stopped at Francis Ford Coppolla's Blancaneaux Lodge on the way.  I was impressed.  Wouldn't mind trying itBlancaneaux Resort some time.  Is elegantly rustic a real expression?  If you go to Caracol, stop or ask your guide to stop so you can look around.

On the way back we stopped at Rio Frio cave and Rio On for swimming.  It was OK but not special.  I think most of the tours stop there on the way back.

Our second day took us to Tikal for a day trip.  Victor from CP took us to the border and introduced us to our driver. Guatemala border He told us to not exchange for Guatemalan currency since everyone took US dollars where we would be.  We paid our exit fee ($35 or so) to leave Belize.  We then left with Hugo for Tikal.  The drive was interesting.  Many more horses than I expected.  Also that part of the country seemed to be more poor than Belize.  I was kind of amazed watching the young girls carrying water on their heads.

When we arrived at Tikal, Hugo introduced us to our guide Hugo (not a typo).  He showed us around and had goodTemple of the Jaguar knowledge of the ruins.  I wish I could remember more.  The Temple of the Jaguar is the big one.  Very tall but not real wide like the Belize temples.  We climbed the wooden steps to go up temples 2 and 4.  Nice view from both.  I don't remember the number of the temple but we climbed one up the stone stairs.  You have to kind of go  up sideways. Great view though.

We saw howler monkeys, spider monkeys and another toucan on the way to lunch.  We had the local Gallo beer with lunch.  In spite of what our Caracol guide told us, it was pretty good. 

Our third day wasn't planned.  We decided on a canoe trip down the Macal River.  I think it was about 11 miles to San Ignacio but I'm not sure.  It was easy paddling all the way.  We saw a couple of herons I wish I could have photographed.  One was a light iridescent blue and the other was kind of a patchwork.  Cool to see.

We dropped the canoe in San Ignacio and wandered around.  We went to the open air market but it was mainly foodSan Ignacio and that wouldn't do us much good.  We had lunch at Nefry's and enjoyed that.  Their patio is beside Maya Walk tours and across from Eva's.  I don't hear them mentioned much but I liked them.  We looked in some of the stores expecting to see local products.  A lot of them, though, were American imports.  Too much like shopping at home.

The next day was leaving for home.  We stopped at the Belize zoo on the way out.  I was impressed at how nice it is to be no bigger than it is.  I'd recommend it.  Luis from Crystal Paradise took us to Belize City and stopped at the zoo for us.

When we got home to the land of no Belikin, it snowed.  That's a rough transition.