Three generations in a jeep exploring most of Belize and Tikal, Guatemala.
  • 5 weeks from today

    February 5, 2020 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ -9 °C

    Taking my mother and daughter on a whirlwind tour of temples, jungle, beaches, caves, waterfalls and islands. Dialing down the luxury, and amping up the adventure.

    Cin Olah

    Another new bracelet?

    2/5/20Reply
    Veronique Duplantie

    You've been planing this for over 6 months. I bet your daughter is super exited!

    2/8/20Reply
    Sean Plamondon

    This trip has been about 15 months in the making. Yeah, Alexa is very excited. Me too! :)

    2/8/20Reply
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  • Day1

    Orange Walk - Day 1

    March 11, 2020 in Belize ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    And we're off!

    It was mostly a day of waiting. Got up at 4am (bleh!!) to catch our 6am flight. The connection in Toronto was delayed by 40 minutes. Then upon landing in belize city, had to wait over an hour to get through customs. And waited another hour for our car rental to be ready. And drove one hour north to Orange Walk in our Jeep Liberty.

    Our hotel is well outside the city, situated on a picturesque location by the "New River". Now it finally felt like the vacation had started. Sitting by the river, sipping some drinks, munching on some yummy belizean meals and enjoying the peaceful nature all around us. Alexa found a baby crocodile just below our balcony and named it Jerry. Exotic birds skimming over the water. Geckos scurrying around us looking for insects. This definitely wasn't Ottawa or Cornwall in March :)

    I booked our river/temple tour for the next day and settled in for some tasty stouts and some hard fought games of Blokus. Looking forward to our first real adventure starting tomorrow. Oh yeah, everyone is ridiculously nice and friendly. Very easy to feel at home already.
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    Suzanne Gadbois

    Sounds like heaven.....Enjoy!!!!

    3/12/20Reply

    Have a great trip

    3/12/20Reply
    Cin Olah

    Awesome

    3/12/20Reply
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  • Day2

    Orange Walk - Day 2

    March 12, 2020 in Belize ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Started our first adventure with an hour boat ride down the New River. We boarded a relatively small boat that seated about 12 people but it had some serious horsepower. The river had narrow, winding channels with jungle on both shores, and our boat flew through it, angling left and right, gliding around all the tight corners. It felt like a video game. Every now and then, our driver would notice a croc (martha, as per alexa) or exotic birds (ospreys and egrets) and stop for us to get a pic.

    Shortly after the river widening, we docked to start exploring the ancient mayan ruins of Lamanai. They are in the middle of a jungle and as far as i know, are inaccessible by car. Following the well cleared paths lead to several different temples built around 100 BC! Alexa and i climbed to the top of all of them while mom enjoyed the views from very low altitude :)

    A number of times we could hear or see monkeys moving through the trees above us. Our guide Carlos did his best howler monkey sound and amazingly got the monkeys in the trees to start their freaky monster noises. Its really impossible to describe them. Just think horror movie monster noises, or as carlos said "welcome to Jurassic park".

    Our guides provided us with a home cooked meal of chicken, rice and plantains, and shortly after we zipped back through the narrow river channels back to Orange Walk. Spent the rest of our day lounging at our hotel's serene riverside restaurant and enjoying more food and board games.
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    LOely pictures. I would not have climbed those steps. Nice picture of the three of you. 3 generations. Awesome. Myrna

    3/13/20Reply

    Lovely

    3/13/20Reply
    Suzanne Gadbois

    Sounded like a great adventure. Love the picture of you Sean and Alexa beside the BIG rock face....very cool....Diane, I would of stayed at the low altitude with you for sure...lol!!! Although I would of loved to hear the monkeys howl.

    3/13/20Reply
     
  • Day3

    San Ignacio - Day 1

    March 13, 2020 in Belize ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    This morning we hopped back into our jeep and headed southwest to the Nohoch Che'en caves reserve. There aren't many highways in Belize, but signage isn't great so i have been utilizing a cool offline app called Maps.Me to help with navigation. Plus my mom. Where this gets especially interesting is combining the map app with my mom as i drive. Lets just say its a work in progress, and leave it at that :) Definitely some kinks to work out of the system and some pretty funny moments, and no wrong turns yet haha.

    Once we arrived, we hired a guide, suited up with helmets and life jackets and some inner tubes for the river. After a 30 minute hike through some attractive jungle scenery, into the water we went with our tubes. This is the ultimate lazy river, floating down the river and into a massive cave. Our tubes were tied together and our guide maneuvered us through the pitch black cave for about 30 minutes. Thankfully, we were all wearing headlamps, so we could see the stalagtites and stalagmites plus a number of bats flying around. Some were vampire bats, according to the guide. Eventually came out the other side of the cave and peacefully floated our way back to the starting point.

    From there we were off to San Ignacio for the night. Our guide Richard lives there so we gave him a lift and treated him to lunch on the waý too. Then settled into our very comfortable new accomodations which are situated on top of a hill overlooking the city. Its mostly individual cute cabins with thatch rooves, plus a nice restaurant and 3 cascading swimming pools. Excellent spot to finish our day.
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    Sharyn Reus

    Trust Mom for directions! Vampire bats, glad you made it out.

    3/14/20Reply
    Suzanne Gadbois

    Sounds amazing.....

    3/15/20Reply
    Cin Olah

    Omg this looks like so much fun

    3/16/20Reply
     
  • Day4

    San Ignacio - Day 2

    March 14, 2020 in Belize ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    It was the first day that we didn't need to get up at any specific time so we lazily lounged around our cabana until about 10:30am. And then hopped in the jeep and drove to Xunantunich, another ancient mayan site.

    To get there, we had to take the world's shortest ferry ride (a statistic i just made up), which holds just 4 cars and crosses a small river and is propelled by a hand crank. And free.

    The actual site isn't as expansive as other locations i have visited, but the main temple was massive. Alexa and i made our way to the top, and on the way up, we noticed some people were focused on the nearby jungle trees. The back of the temple was against a hill so we wandered off to take some pictures of the spider monkeys and some large iguanas. And then continued to the top. It was so high, people at the bottom looked like ants. Mom was pretty knackered from the walk uphill to the site and relaxed in the shade as we climbed up and down the temple.

    When we got back to San ignacio, we stopped at a large market and had some tacos for lunch. As we were eating, we saw Alan and Sharron from Indiana who we met at Lamanai a few days ago.

    Then went back to our hotel and relaxed in the pool. We decided going to Tikal, Guatemala was no longer viable because the border was likely to close soon and we didn't want to get stuck on the Guatemala side. Which was disappointing as it was the whole reason this trip was booked. So i spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out a new plan and where to stay.

    For supper, we drove into town to a really cool restaurant that a few people recommended and ran into Alan and Sharron again. Funny how that happens sometimes.
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    Suzanne Gadbois

    Wow that was high. I like the iguana pic....cool. Enjoy and stay safe...

    3/15/20Reply
     
  • Day5

    Jaguar Creek

    March 15, 2020 in Belize ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    While people back home are making sacrifices like restricting their movement, no large gatherings and only purchasing one package of toilet paper at a time, we too were making sacrifices like not going to Guatemala and instead going to the Belize zoo and staying in a jungle lodge. Painful, i know :)

    I had heard the belize zoo was small but really well done. They were mostly right. Extremely well done and not small at all. It was a zoo for only animals found in belize and was basically set up in the jungle. For example, monkeys weren't in enclosures but in a forest area. And all the animals are rescues from the wild with the goal of setting them back into the wild once they are better and able. Animals include spider monkeys, howler monkeys, crocodiles, jaguars, jaguarundis, pumas, ocelots, tapir, coatis, vultures, harpy eagles, toucans, and deer. And more, but i forget now.

    After the zoo, we drove to the jungle lodge "Jaguar Creek" i booked the evening before. It was in a very isolated location in a heavily forested area of jungle. We had an entire 2 bedroom cabin to ourselves. Alexa and i hiked the 30 minute loop trail through the jungle and then hopped into the creek's natural pool by a small waterfall to cool off, while mom relaxed at the cabin. This place has no A/C, no tv and no wifi, which i didn't realize when i booked it, but its really nice to be out in nature. Mom was perhaps less enthusiastic as it took me a while to convince her there were no snakes inside her mattress.

    Disappointingly, we didn't spot any wildlife here, but we did hear the ferocious roar of the howler monkeys as we went to bed. Hopefully tomorrow we will reach the coast.
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    Suzanne Gadbois

    I love Zoo's. That one looked really interesting. The crocodile that you guys watched being fed, he has to be the ugliest big crocodile I ever saw. He looked really old...lol!! Love the leopard though. You guys seem to be a lot safer where you are then here. Take Care.....

    3/18/20Reply
     
  • Day6

    Hopkins - Day 1

    March 16, 2020 in Belize ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Thank the good lord no snakes were in my mom's mattress last night, because i don't think there's enough wine in this country to make things ok.

    After breakfast we headed to St. Herman's National park which had a self guided cave to venture into. So Alexa and I put on our headlamps and i outfitted mom with a flashlight. On the jungle hike there, Alexa twice saw a lizard "Alfred" that runs upright on two feet! I really wish i saw that. She has a weird knack for spotting all creatures.

    We finally reached the opening of the cave and started descending down into it. And mom suddenly had a moment where it looked like she was thinking "i have seen this movie and it didn't work out so well for the tourists" and she announced she would not be going any further, which quickly progressed to "i will see you back at the car", and off she went. So Alexa and i descended deep into the pitch black cave. It was pretty eerie and cool at the same time.

    After collecting mom in the parking lot, we drove to a jungle swimming hole called the blue hole. We all jumped in and cooled off. Alexa and i noticed a small cave downstream and waded over to it. The echo as we approached was awesome, so i walked into the cave yelling silly things and a flood of bats flew out and scared the crap out of me.

    From the swimming hole, we drove a bit further down the hummingbird highway to Billy Barquedier National Park, and hiked through a dense jungle trail to a waterfall and swimming hole. Alexa and i had fun climbing the rocks at the waterfall and mom decided a nearby boulder needed some company and watched us splash around.

    On the walk back, Alexa was leading the way maybe 15 steps ahead when she turned around terrified and started running towards us. And then ran right past us. Mom and i looked at eachother wondering what she had seen, so we stopped dead in our tracks. Alexa was hysterical and we could barely understand a word she said for quite a while. Finally we understood she saw a huge black snake with yellow spots curled up on the trail. I went over but there was nothing there. It probably took off the other way just as fast.

    Hopping back in the car, we drove to Hopkins, which is a authentic garifuna community (jamaican) with gorgeous beaches. So we settled in quick and altered between hopping waves in the ridiculously warm waters, and lounging back in beachside hammocks. Topped off by an awesome beachside meal. Great day.
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    Snakes you say??? I’m with your daughter...I’d be out of there!!!!

    3/17/20Reply
    Cin Olah

    Amazing

    3/17/20Reply
    Cin Olah

    Nice view

    3/17/20Reply
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  • Day7

    Hopkins - Day 2

    March 17, 2020 in Belize ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    The plan today was to have zero plans. I think we executed it beautifully. Slept in late and then found a tiny (one table!) breakfast place around 10:30 and had the worlds best grilled cheese sandwich, with turkey and ham and peppers and onions and mayo. Mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    Then spent a few hours splashing in and out of the water, watching pelicans dive bomb fish in the ocean in front of us, swaying in hammocks and playing with neighborhood dogs that begged for our attention.

    Mom was content to stay by the beach near our cabana while Alexa and I walked up and down the coast both directions. It was almost entirely local resident homes in both directions with the odd cabana rental and a huge resort that seemed too pristine compared to our amazing natural and secluded slice of heaven. Seriously, this is idyllic.

    Later we all went to a nearby (hmmm) restaurant/pub/shack called Driftwood for supper and also for st paddys AND to watch the garifuna drumming performance Hopkins is famous for. Stayed for a few hours of drumming and then off to bed early as we have a big day tomorrow...
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    Cin Olah

    Alexa looks gorgeous. That is a perfect dress for your holiday. 💓👌

    3/18/20Reply
    Suzanne Gadbois

    Now that's what I call a holiday. Those hammock are so inviting. That pic with Alexa and the dog is so cute.

    3/18/20Reply
    Veronique Duplantie

    Its the Laos dress. 😍

    3/18/20Reply
     
  • Day8

    Hopkins - Day 3

    March 18, 2020 in Belize ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    Was hoping to leave early today but Alexa was sound asleep until 9am so i was content to get a late start instead. By the time we had breakfast and got groceries, it was well after 11. Mom decided she's had enough jungle and opted for another beach day.

    Thank god we have a jeep. The road to Mayflower Bocawina National Park was an uneven and bumpy dirt road. Got some good information from the park warden and started our hike up to 1000ft antelope falls through the dense jungle. Took about 30 mins to reach the base of the falls and it felt amazing to stick our feet in the cold water as it was really humid and a relatively steep walk.

    Then it got harder. To get to the top of the falls, it was much steeper and there were ropes to haul yourself up the trail. Another 30 minutes later, we reached the top and jumped into a natural swimming hole. There were a few more cascading falls just above the swimming hole that i climbed while alexa wrote in her journal.

    After descending, we drove a bit deeper into the park and hiked the much easier Bocawina Falls trail which also had a nice swimming hole at its base. We cooled off there and horsed around on a natural waterslide i found and headed back. There was an upper bocawina falls above that one, but we were tired.

    We grabbed a relaxing drink at the park's jungle lodge and headed back to Hopkins. Didn't see much wildlife. I saw one of those upright running lizards on the way in, tons of leaf cutter ants and we could hear the roar of the howler monkeys at the jungle lodge.

    Got back and found mom relaxing on the seaside front porch, reading a book. Had another great meal at a local spot and we all were in bed early.
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    Suzanne Gadbois

    Wow what an adventure. Beautiful scenery. That's funny having so may pelicans at once. Another great day for you guys.

    3/20/20Reply
     
  • Day9

    Placencia - Day 1

    March 19, 2020 in Belize ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Felt sad checking out of our dream cabana in hopkins and alexa was especially sad to leave all the doggies that she spent time with everyday.

    Had breakfast at a tiny mom and pop place. While sitting there, there must have been at least 20 different locals who walked in for one reason or another and every single person gave us a friendly hello. This country is over the top friendly everywhere we go, and especially Hopkins. Everyone walking by on the street says hi. While driving, everyone on the sidewalk waves. Even guys doing roadwork will stop, smile and wave.

    The drive to Placencia is only an hour and a lot of the drive is along some pretty coastline and through some pretty swank neighbourhoods. I had an apartment rented which took us a long time to find. My mapping app and booking.com had its location incorrectly mapped.

    While asking for directions, the person referred to my mom as my wife. Thats twice that has happened! I'm not sure how to feel about that lol.

    Spent the afternoon at the beach, sipping beers and jumping in and out of the ocean. The beach is very pretty but we cant help but compare everything to hopkins. Man, we are so spoiled haha.

    And its so quiet everywhere. This place is wall to wall resorts and hotels and its mostly empty at every turn.
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    Cin Olah

    Bahaha

    3/20/20Reply
    Suzanne Gadbois

    So have you guys tried "Big Titty Rum". That is too funny and I love the "Alcohol doesn't make you fat" sign....LOL!!

    3/20/20Reply