Belize & Guatemala Part II

People and Places

People, The Group

Belize and Guatemala happened for me this past January because of adventurers Deb and Bob Stelton, through their mom and pop travel company Mexi-Mayan Travel.

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Deb and Bob Stelton climbing the ruins, Mexi-Mayan Travel

And they really are my mom and pop.

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At the Ruins of Tikal

Forever curious, an inspiration to countless students and seekers, hosts and trip organizers of expeditions since the 1960’s, they are only now at 88 and 91 years young just starting to slow down.

I’ll admit to a tug at the heartstrings.  Climbing around ruins and getting in and out of boats or beat up trucks is a challenge at their age.  I am an arm for my mother to lean on, (darn arthritic knees!) or a cheerleader as she navigates a high ledge, on her butt, backwards.  I am an ear for my dad’s failing hearing, and also sometimes a stabilizer for him also.  It’s not easy for them and sometimes I worry.  Well, enough of that.  You get the picture. We treasure each of these excursions.

It has been an honor and delight to accompany them and sometimes work as guide on many of their madcap journeys.

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Travelin’ in high style!

Talk about gratitude, my life has been rich with culture and experience.  They’ve modeled viewing the world with wonder and curiosity.

Follow their lead, my friends!  Pursue your passions, interests and loves as long as you can!  It keeps the mind, body spirit, strong and supple like a cheetah…

Other than the ‘rents and I there were 12 more adventurers.  All intelligent, mature, considerate, and often hilarious individuals, including 3 archeologists.  All curious about and considerate of the culture of Belizeans and Guatemalans.   Many archeology passionistas who appreciate a cold local beer at lunch.

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The group at the Mayan ruins of Tikal

More People, Local People

A few words about the people of Belize. They are funny, kind, patient, and generous.  Names of businesses and street signs reflect their humor and generally easy-going nature.

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More good natured monkey bizness…

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Out in the jungle some funny guys transformed this tree stump into cigar smokin’ creatures with pebbles as eyes and sticks for cigars, can you see?  Oh, and the tree moss as hair.

Our local guides took care of us like family.  Once even ingeniously packing a home cooked lunch feast (made by one of their sisters in the wee hours of the dawn) which we enjoyed at a ruin in the open air replete with china plates!

I was touched to see a young taxi driver holding my mom’s hand and slowly walk her to his old cab with the cracked windshield and peeling window darkeners.

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A verdant house with a red sofa in San Ignacio?   Yes, please!

In San Ignacio the dogs are plump and adored.  They wander the streets freely and bark all night. All night.  They bark all night!  All.  Night.  Yawn.  Supposedly they are watch dogs, but I think they are more just party animals.

I’ve been to Guatemala about 6 times.  Here too I find the people are kind.  Traditional Mayan spirituality is intriguing and very alive in Guatemala.  If you can experience a Mayan shaman ceremony or visit a Maximon shrine, go for it!.  The shamans will speak directly to the gods on your behalf, building a sacred ritual fire.  Maximon is the saint of drunkards and whores.  He can be bought off with offerings of cash, booze, and cigarettes.  I mean just do it!  Can’t hurt, right?

Places

In San Ignacio we stayed at the Rolsen Hotel.  The Rolsen sits atop a hill a bit out of the hustle and bustle of downtown.  Modest and clean accommodations, very kind and helpful staff.  Nice Pool.  Although the coffee was dreadful, the breakfasts were hearty and the fruit plate was super fresh.  Best thing on the menu – Pork Pibil.  There is a lovely view of the city from the dining room.  And it’s easy to get a cab or tour company and take excursions from here.  We used the dependable and friendly family-run local tour company,

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Restaurant at the Rolsen Hotel (See the green house over there?)

BTW  – we about fainted over the food at San Ignacio’s restaurant The Crave.  So yummy!

Also the Belize Zoo is lovely place, small in size with lush flora.  I am not keen on zoos but this zoo is more of a rescue center.  I petted a rescued jaguar!

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A walk through the Zoo.
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Junior, a rescued jaguar.

In the Peten area of Guatemala we stayed three nights at the remote  El Sombrero Lodge.  Run by an Italian woman who came to visit as a young lady then fell in love with the land (and a man) and never left.  She is assisted by her adult sons.  This lodge was my favorite on the trip.  Outstanding service and delicious home cooked meals (they baked me a birthday cake with only an afternoon’s notice, and served it warm for desert!)  The lodge is tucked in the jungle on a crocodile filled lake (no swimming).  I found the rooms utterly charming – screened-in thatched roof structures.  You will hear the howler monkeys!  Some rooms are more “communal” then others.  You may hear your neighbors!  The lodge generates their own power (which goes off at night unless you make other arrangements), keep their own bees, and serve the honey with homemade pancakes.  Excellent coffee.  The owners are highly knowledgeable about Mayan archeology and offer excursions to nearby ruins by boat, horse, or car.  The road to this place was exceedingly bumpy, but worth it!

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El Sombrero dining room
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Walkway at El Sombrero
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My lodgings at El Sombrero
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The bar at El Sombrero
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The lake at El Sombrero
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The boat we took to see ruins at El Sombrero
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Happy horses

 

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Tree roots in Guatemala

Deb had the brilliant idea to finish our trip at the most luxurious of the three “hotels.”  So we were off by a scenic boat ride to, The Lamanai Outpost Lodge.  Private, quiet rooms, service, food and cultural and ecotourism activities here were first rate.  Hot showers, air conditioning, comfy beds, beautiful landscaping, hummingbirds everywhere.  24 hour coffee is forever in the communal room. Our hosts mysteriously and repeatedly offered drinks on the house.  Was it something about us?  Or is it the norm?  Hard to say…  Regardless, cheers!

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View from the restaurant at Lamanai Outpost Lodge
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Restaurant at Lamanai Outpost Lodge
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Lamanai Outpost Lodge
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Lamanai Outpost Lodge
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Lamanai Outpost Lodge
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Lamanai Outpost Lodge
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Lovely view from my cabin…
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The river ride to Lamanai Outpost Lodge
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The river ride to Lamanai Outpost Lodge

Beautiful Ruins

Finally, we visited many ruins…  I’m sorry the names escape me (there were so many!) but here are a few favorite pictures…

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My feet on the top of a ruin
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Me

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear about your adventures – please comment!

More Links

Here’s the itinerary for the trip:
Belize and Guatemala – A Mayan Ecological Adventure

Belize & Guatemala Part I

If you’ve more interest in Mayan culture, and scent here’s a little Mayan Story I wrote:
Sex and Scent – A Cautionary Mayan Tale

And here’s another blog about Guatemala and coffee from a previous trip:
Smelling the Coffee, Generosity of Spirit

 

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Me again…
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8 thoughts on “Belize & Guatemala Part II

  1. I want to be just like your parents when I grow up. What a blessed union your three have. A loving daughter to accompany them, parents who want to experience the world and keep having adventures long into their lives… I am in awe. ❤ I hope my girls will want to join Adam and I one day. You are so beautiful inside and out Doreen. Much love to you and yours.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kindnesses! My parents are quite inspiring. I am so grateful to them for all the wonders they have dragged me off to. And the freedom and support. I wanted to write this blog focussing on them to honor them. It never seems quite enough…

      I’m sure your girls will always treasure the opportunity of time with you. You are creating an inspiring loving home…

      What an adventure parenting is! I think I gained a huge amount of appreciation for my parents when I became a parent.

      Peace and love to you , beautiful soul!

      Like

    1. Yes – this blog was a homage to my parents. So their long time traveler/friends can share. I wonder if they know how spectacular they are.
      I love Guatemala, and had never really spent time in Belize before. I loved it more than I thought I woulda…

      Liked by 1 person

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