Once upon a time I went to Belize and Mexico for a month with my family.
I saw a ton of Mayan ruins, 26 new species of birds, got horrible food poisoning and became extremely tan.
It was awesome.
I bought a new camera specifically for the trip because I’m crazy like that. It was a cute little Canon G1x – not a DSLR, just a glorified compact camera. All of these photos were taken with it… so if they look a little different than my usual work, that’s why.
This is the view from our little hotel in Belize City the first night we arrived:
The next day we got up bright and early and went to the renowned Belize Zoo because it was on the way to Bullet Tree Falls. I’m not a huge fan of zoo photos, but here’s one of a friendly reptile just for kicks.
Bullet Tree Falls is a small village outside San Ignacio in the far western side of Belize that borders Guatemala. We stayed at a small resort called The Parrot Nest which was run by a Texan hippie who went barefoot everywhere. When I woke up in the morning I could see two different species of Toucans frolicking in the canopy overhead while we ate breakfast. I was ridiculously happy.
We hired a friendly guide and spent the next two days traveling through the mountains and jungles to see Mayan ruins. We encountered the worst roads I had ever seen in my life (worse than Costa Rica) and met all sorts of interesting people. The first day we visited a relatively unknown Mayan site named “El Pilar” which was not excavated and allowed us to see what ruins look like while still mostly underground. Following that we went to an unpronounceable site called Xunantunich and wandered around the city of San Ignacio afterward. On the second day we spent three hours driving to a place known as Caracol. On the way back we stopped and swam in a gorgeous mountain stream surrounded by pine trees. It looked almost like Oregon.
Awkward family swimming photos! Notice how pale we still are.
After having a blast in the western side of Belize, we hopped back in the car and drove to Crooked Tree, a town in the north along a lagoon. It’s known for having some of the best birdwatching in the entire country. Of course, this didn’t matter because on the first night there my stomach started hurting and I came down with the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had in my life. So for the entire three days we were there, I spent about 99% of my time sick in bed while my family went out and did fun things without me. I didn’t recover for almost 10 days.
I honestly really wish I had more photos from this part of the trip, but the whole food poisoning thing put a massive damper on that. So after three stupid days of doing nothing I had to leave this beautiful place and drive to Mexico. I felt so cheated.
Mexico was an entirely different ballgame. I was shocked how massively different the two countries were, even just driving over the bridge into Mexico was shocking. The population of Belize is under 400,000 people and the infrastructure is pretty minimal. This made Mexico look crazy crowded and developed in comparison.
We spent one night in Chetumal and then drove up into the Yucatan to spend three days at a GORGEOUS hotel called Casa Quetzal in Valladolid. It’s a city full of kindhearted Mayan people and I loved the time we spent there.
Of course, we had to go to Chichen-Itza for one day. We were smart and got there early before the crowds arrived.
At this point in the trip we were pretty exhausted from all the exploring. This was perfectly okay, because the second half of our trip took place in just one place: the beach. My dad rented a huge white house on the Costa Maya – a relatively untouched section of the Caribbean coastline just north of Majahaul. The house was a 45 minute drive from any civilization and it was totally off the grid. It was run entirely off solar and wind power with all our water coming from a rainwater collection system on the roof. The house was one room wide and hugged the beach in a nice curve, with massive windows in every room to fully maximize the cool ocean breezes. We each had our own bedroom and bathroom and it was basically amazing.
I took a lot of pictures, read a lot of books, and did a lot of snorkeling.
This is the view from the upper deck of the house:
Super tan at the end of the trip!
After two glorious weeks of relaxation, we drove back to Belize City, spent one last night in the same hotel that we stayed at the first night of the trip, and then flew home.
I had so much fun.