Travelogue Part I

In December, we took our honeymoon in the beautiful country of Belize, a small country in Central America that was previously a British colony. Over the course of the week, we explored a place that had a perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. Belize was a unique experience for both of us, and we truly appreciated the chance to grow together and kick off our marriage! We hope you enjoy reading about our trip, and be sure to click on each picture for a larger gallery.

The Adventure

Belize airport
Starting the adventure

Our trip began with four days of adventures as we resided in the thickly forested interior the country. Our journey started, however, at LAX in the dead of the night, hopping through the Atlanta airport. There we watched a cold rainstorm pass through, sampled some of the local craft beer, and generally felt the like it was a normal winter day. After we flew over the Gulf of Mexico, everything was different. Landing among the lush, green foliage and mangrove swamps surrounding the the tiny international airport at Belize City, we were greeted by the humid air of the tropics. The immediate change signaled the start of our adventure!

San Ignacio town mural
Roadside mural in San Ignacio

Our tour guide and local expert drove us several hours inland to the town of San Ignacio, the cultural hub of Belize's Cayo District, or province. It is an active city, with several outdoor markets, many interesting restaurants and stores, people driving through on the major highway, and a lot of people bustling about the walkways. We settled into the Midas Resort, and spent our first night surrounded by thick, mysterious jungle, listening to the strange birds and insects, and counting the geckos crawling about on the ceiling.

Full Belizean breakfast
Amazingly tasty food

During our time in San Ignacio, we explored the local businesses and eateries inside town, getting our first taste of Belizean food at the restaurant Hode's Place and our hotel's small kitchen. The cuisine there was flavorful and fresh, with good food grown in the agricultural interior or seafood from the coast. We enjoyed dishes like chicken and vegetable skewers or shrimp fajitas with a sweet sauce drizzle and a side of refried red beans, both accompanied by the delectable flour tortillas, made as thick as flatbread and served warm. All the food paired well with Belize's own beer, Belikin. Perhaps the most crave-able food we had was the full-Belizean breakfast, with English-style bacon, fresh eggs, red beans, and the unique fry jacks: light and doughy pastries with a puffed-up hollow center and gently crisp outside, complete with golden fig jam to dip. Unique and tasty food always gives us good memories!

Cahal Pech pyramid Mayan ruins at Cahal Pech
and baby iguanas! Keel-billed toucan
Wildlife in Belize

The first excursion to kick off our Belizean adventure took place just outside of the city, exploring the small Mayan ruins of Cahal Pech, climbing the excavated stone structures protruding from the wild jungle. It was a quiet place with few visitors, requiring a stroll through the thick trees, and that made for a peaceful experience that allowed us to explore the nooks and crannies of the ancient stones that made up the Mayan city. We also walked to the Iguana Conservatory, where Allison made some cute new friends! The wildlife in San Ignacio was everywhere, from our hotel's grounds to the jungles on the outskirts to the side of the road. We saw toucans, leafcutter ants (just like at the WAP!), wild iguanas green and black, anole, hummingbirds, scarlet tanagers, great-tailed grackles, a variety of frogs, and more that we can't even remember. (Make sure to click through the gallery to see a video clip of a swarm of ring-tailed coati!

Portrait in front of Templo V at Tikal
Templo V at Tikal

Our next adventure started early in the morning, when Fidelio, our very knowledgeable tour guide, drove us across the border into Guatemala. Journeying through the city and then jungle, we were off for an all-day tour of the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. This important archaeological site is a preserved national park and UNESCO World Heritage site. Our guide toured us through the many stone complexes in the sprawling city, comprised of temples, meeting places, and family homes. There was an incredible amount of wildlife, including howler monkeys, oscillated turkeys, pileated woodpeckers, and the raccoon-like coatimundi, which travel in fuzzy-tailed packs through the forest floor. The most impressive sight was the Temple of the Great Jaguar, the primary structure of the central city. It towers out of the jungle canopy and provides a profound sense of being dwarfed by the accomplishment of this ancient, advanced civilization. The whole day at Tikal was breathtaking, even the sudden torrential rain that hit as we hiked out! The final adventure of the day was enjoying a home-style Guatemalan supper, accompanied by a local beer, Gallo (not as good as Belikin). It was farm fresh and full of flavor—even the habanero salsa Andrew enjoyed burning his mouth on with our tour partners. We did a little shopping at the quintessential roadside tourist shop and were finally dropped off at our jungle home. Still vibrantly in awe of the sights of day, we relaxed in the hotel pool and poolside bar, trying a piña colada-like drink made with the craboo berry, a local fruit. So many things in Belize we will only be able to experience there!

Ali jumps off the zipline platform
Ali taking the plunge and gallery

Our final jungle adventure near San Ignacio was much more extreme. We challenged the limits of our daring and jumped off the highest branches of the tallest trees of the forest! Or, to be less dramatic, we went on a zipline tour in the jungle. It was a breathtaking experience, and really gave us a chance to trek through the deeper parts of the jungle as we hiked between the different zipline runs. And then, we flew at nearly 30 miles per hour, rushing past the huge trunks of giant trees and stopping short at the bottom of each cable run! It was a great finish to the "adventure" part of our vacation.

Continue the journey in Travelogue Part 2...