Friday, January 21, 2011

Belize, Part 1

Ok, we've been home for about exactly 1 full day, and I guess everyone is curious about our trip. I think I could probably go on forever about Belize. I'm in love with that country (at least at this time of year: the weather was perfect!). Let me tell you a little bit about the place we stayed. The resort is called Hamanasi (pronounced Haw-man-aw-see), and is located in the District of Stann Creek (there are six Districts in Belize, kind of like our states) outside the village of Hopkins and close to the village of Sittee River.  It's pretty isolated: to get there we had to fly to Belize City, take a small plane (tiny) to Dangriga, and then a 45 minute car ride to the resort. The people who live in the area are diverse: descendants of ancient Mayans and other tribes, as well as Afro-Caribbean people descended from escaped slaves. The main language spoken is English, but you'll also hear Caribbean Creole', as well as three different Mayan languages and sometimes Spanish as well. The countryside is covered with orange trees. The harvest season runs from October to June, and so the fields were being hand-picked while we were there. Working in the citrus industry is a really difficult, back-breaking job. These guys work to fill up fertilizer bags (huge bags) of oranges and get about 35 cents US for each one they fill. Most of the oranges get made into juice or concentrate. I was told that the majority of the people working in the citrus industry come from Guatemala. Even at such low wages, they make more in Belize than they could at home.
The people in Belize are poor...but that doesn't mean they live great lives. In fact, one of the guides at the resort told me that even though the annual salary for the average Belizian in his area is around $200-$300 US, no one goes hungry. The jungle is abounding in food, and the money they make goes to paying for things they can't hunt or gather. So, everyone seems to do pretty well. I mean, they're surviving. They definitely don't have all the STUFF we have, but most of them have cell phones. (Think about it. It is much easier to put up a cell phone tower to service thousands of customers than to string telephone wire to thousands of homes. It makes sense :)

Ok, well, enough of that. I'll tell you about our first day, and show you some pictures. We had a bit of an adventure on our way to Belize. This was last Monday night, and storms were raging across the East and North East. We thought for sure we would avoid any travel delays, though. We had a direct flight from LAX to Miami. Surely southern Florida would escape the bad weather, right? Well, we made it as far as the Gulf of Mexico, when our captain informed us we would turn around and land in Dallas/Fort Worth, to take on more fuel. Something about fog in Miami, or something. No worries, though, the fog would clear once the sun came up. Well, we took off, headed for Miami again, and when we got there, we were put in a holding pattern because there was a ground-stop at Miami. The fog was so thick I think the visibility on the ground was 3 feet. So, we headed to Tampa, landed, took on more fuel, and this time got to leave the plane for breakfast. By this time, we had already missed the flight to Belize from Miami, but all flights had been canceled anyway. After a couple hours, they got us back on board, and the fog had lifted enough at Miami that we were able to take off and land no problem. Well, once in Miami, Matt worked his magic and got us on the last flight to Belize City. Whew! We had a little while, so we relaxed. By this time, it was around noon or so CA time Tuesday, and I had been up since Monday morning. I was getting tired! We took the flight to Belize City, and had to clear customs. Only, our bags did not arrive in Belize City when we did! So, clearing customs was pretty simple. We managed to get on the last Maya Island Air flight to Dangriga of the evening and after a short wait, took a 17 minute flight in a ridiculously tiny airplane. Thank goodness for motion sickness pills! That flight was a little bumpy. In Dangriga, the guy from the resort was waiting to pick us up, and he drove us to the resort. I felt so dirty and was STARVING by this point, but they gave us a tour and showed us our room and dinner was still being served. We signed up for a Caves and Jungle tour the next day, and sat down to a gourmet dinner. Three courses. Soup or Salad, then the main course, and then, my favorite-Dessert. I don't even remember what we ate that night, but it was sure good!

Of course, we went back to the room and fell asleep quickly, but we were up at first light with the birds. What we couldn't see the night before because it was dark was that we were basically in the jungle. The birds were calling and the sun was rising so beautifully! It was amazing!

Ok, so here are some pictures....

Me and Matt starting our journey, so fresh looking still! This is at LAX before our flight :)

I think this is part of the FL Keys, but it was definitely on our way to Belize.
 Through the cockpit window of the tiny plane we flew to Dangriga.
 My first dinner at Hamanasi. I was so hungry, I probably didn't even taste the meal...Look how tired I look!
 Matt, enjoying his dinner as well.
 Sunrise, from our balcony. The sky was so beautiful!
 The path to our tree house.
 The Hamanasi pier. We got to sit and enjoy the sea breeze.
 Me, waiting to go on our first tour, wearing the change of clothes I fortuitously packed in my carry-on.
 So beautiful!
Ok, well, that's about all. I've caught you up to Wednesday morning, before we took our first tour: the Caves and Jungle tour. The next post will continue from there. Any questions? :)



  1. more pictures! we want to see more pictures!
    can't wait to hear more of your adventure.

  2. I can't wait to hear more either! I've been checking your blog daily looking for an update! I'm on the edge of my seat! Did you get your luggage? I wanna see a picture of your treehouse!! The beach looks amazing! Glad you guys made it home safely! <3