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It was time to begin planning our summer vacation…….the vacation just Ron and I would take. This vacation we referred to as our honeymoon (yes – even after 3 years). We really didn’t have a destination in mind – which often makes it more difficult. Ron had said he really liked the Hawaiian vacation because of the fact that we were able to see the various climates (rainforest and beach). With that in mind I began searching. 

How did we find Belize? Up until about 2 years ago I had never heard anything about Belize – in fact – I couldn’t have told you even where it was. In the past 2 years, however I began to hear more and more about Belize – people at work had mentioned it and when looking for our cruise I noticed it was a destination on some of the ships. So I decided to do some research. 

After reading about the country we decided --- Belize it was. The plans came together fairly quickly and easily. I did everything over the internet. We decided we would spend 4 days inland (mountains/forest/jungle) and then would spend 4 days on the island of Ambergris Caye (tropical beach). This itinerary seems to satisfy both of us – inland for Ron --- island for me. 

DSC02489.JPG (64006 bytes)We left Miami airport on Friday, July 18th. The neat thing about our flight was we left at 11:20 am and arrived in Belize at 11:20 am (2 hour flight --- 2 hour time difference). Once we arrived we picked up our rental car. I had reserved a mid-size 4 wheel drive SUV, automatic with GPS system. What we got was a small SUV with 4 wheels all right, a stick shift and a paper map. It was all they had! When Ron “inspected” the truck prior to taking it he originally didn’t want the truck --- it had about 140,000 miles, DSC02414.JPG (24035 bytes) the windshield had at least 5 cracks and the back had a dent. Not what you’d expect from an Avis office. The Avis rep convinced Ron to take this particular truck. Quote – “the guy before you already paid for the window – why take a good vehicle only to bring it back damaged”. We took the truck and set out on our 75-mile journey to our first stop. First stop – the gas station. The truck was empty!!! Boy were we surprised. To fill up this little truck with 10 gallons of gas cost $70.00 (Belize) or $35.00 (U.S.). 

DSC02417.JPG (40017 bytes)We had instructions to get on the Western Highway (only to find out later that this highway is only one of 3 paved roads outside of the cities) and head West. We only had 75 miles to go but we were prepared in advance for what would turn out to be a 4-hour drive. This road was only 2 lanes and is the main road connecting the Western part of Belize to Belize City. Initially we were really surprised by the countryside. There were no neighborhoods like we are used to seeing. There were houses periodically along the road. Most houses were on stilts and most looked to be in terrible disrepair. All of the houses were very small – no air conditioning and lots of garbage just thrown in the yard. DSC02718.JPG (40000 bytes) As we drove the Western Highway we say a tremendous amount of dogs just walking around and small children who seemed to be unattended by parents. Needless to say – we were little afraid. The further we went the closer the mountains appeared. By the time we would reach our destination we would be in the mountains. As we continued our drive I began to get very nervous. It didn’t matter how far west we drove – the housing didn’t seem to change. I had seen pictures of the place we were going to stay at on the internet but I began to question whether they were real or not. The pictures I had seen were really beautiful and I could not conceive of anything that pretty based on where were driving. We finally arrived at the spot where we needed to turn off the Western Highway. My heart began to sink. We finally arrived at our first destination – Chaa Creek. As we pulled up we were incredibly and pleasantly surprised. This really was a real resort and spa! 

Chaa Creek is a family owned resort and spa on 650 acres which has 21 rooms available for rent. This is not like your typical resort. The rooms were all in huts. Yes, real thatched roof huts. July is out of season for Belize so the resort was not that full while we were there. That was fine by us. Our room turned out to be fabulous. It was a one bedroom suite. We had our own screened in porch as well as our own hammock on the outside porch. We had electricity but no air conditioning. The room even came equipped with it’s own bat(s) for eating the bugs. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were available in the dining “hut”. Drinks were available in the bar and there was a conference center with games and a computer for all guests to share. There were many activities to do at Chaa Creek – some of which we took advantage of.

DSC02720.JPG (62661 bytes)Our first night we met 2 other couples (Cindy & Jim and Maryann & David). All were very nice and had recommendations for us of things to do as they had been there before. 

DSC02424.JPG (35942 bytes)Our first night after dinner we went for a “Creatures of the Night Walk”. We were fitted with our head lights and ready to search our all the creatures we could find. We did end up seeing many different animals (creatures). On our walk we saw a scorpion, tarantula, possum, thousands of spiders, a bird and it’s babies, and these amazing ants called “leaf cutter” ants. They were diligently working thru the night bringing food back to their nest. They feed off the fungus that grows on a particular leaf. You wouldn’t have guessed we were on vacation to relax as we were up the very next morning at 6:30 – binoculars in hand – to go bird watching. It was ok. We saw a few very interesting birds but it didn’t keep Ron’s or my attention for long.

DSC02456.JPG (74158 bytes)We set off in our little truck to go find the hidden jewels of Belize. If we followed our directions correctly we would find a 1,000 foot waterfall (Hidden Valley Falls) and a cave (Rio Frio). Little did we know we would spend the better part of the day finding these 2 spots and little did we know how difficult of a drive it would be. None of the roads we drove on to get to either of these places were paved. They were all gravel roads with more pot holes than you can imagine. Driving on these roads made us realize why the Avis rep insisted we keep the damaged car – and boy were we glad we did. Fortunately for us it didn’t rain – I can’t imaging how we would have made it back. It took us about 2 hours to get to the waterfall. It was exactly what you’d imagine – a pretty waterfall. Surprisingly enough there was nothing around it – no housing or development of any kind. Very much a Hidden waterfall! 

DSC02471.JPG (78106 bytes)DSC02470.JPG (78020 bytes)We stopped along the way at another lodge to have lunch. It was an interesting place --- no electricity at all (everything ran on generators) and no indoor plumbing. The people that worked there told us they had to bring ice in to work every 3 days so they could keep the food cold. The people were incredibly friendly and the lunch we ate was one of the best we had the entire trip. One of the cheapest too! The breads were baked fresh and the juice was freshly squeezed. I think lunch totaled $8.00 (US) and included fresh juice and a beer. We spent time in the hammocks just talking to the lodge workers and relaxing. Now we’re off to the cave.

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