Adventures of Belize

by Marjan

Belize and 2012! For those of us inquisitive of “Mayan calendar’s assumed predications of the world coming to an end December 2012”, it was natural for me to do my own investigation and journey to the land of the Mayas. Many years ago, I traveled to Chichinitxia and Tulum Mexico fascinated with the great pyramids. Now that we are swiftly approaching what some consider ‘the end of times’, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to visit the pyramids of Belize. Today, I don’t think anyone can really predict what will happen December 2012, however, after my informal research with locals and shamans in Belize, I have unofficially concluded that the world is not coming to an end as we predict it! Rather, in order for there to be a true change in humanity, the order of life as we know it must go through a polarizing change to bring a heightened level of consciousness for all those who live on earth. If that is the case, I can’t wait.
Until then, let’s eat, love, and enjoy this moment.

On a less serious note, did you really think all of my investigations centered on Mayans, Pyramids, and 2012? Really! Of course not! Prior to my trip, my life was chaotically busy, and therefore I had very little time to research what to do and where to go in Belize. To make my search easy, I did what you would expect from a savorychick: I researched the best places to eat while in Belize and planed our stay and activities conveniently close to those areas.

It was my destiny to find Chef Rob! I recall reading on the web: “Chef Rob is the best well known chef in Belize”. Further research concluded Chef Rob owns two restaurants in Hopkins Village: Love on the Rocks and Chef Rob’s Gourmet Café. Also, I discovered the Café to be conveniently located at the Parrot Cove Lodge. And this is how I planned: we will travel to Hopkins Village, reside at the Parrot Cove Lodge , and have at least two places set for our dining experience! No need to read the Lonely Planet and research Zagat or Micheline ratings.

Belize is a fairly small country; the mainland is 180 miles long and about 68 miles wide with over 200 cayes (islands). I really did not want to go to the islands (as breathtakingly beautiful as they are) and preferred to experience the mainland where most locals live. Hopkins Village was approximately 2 hours drive south of the capital Belize City, on the east coast of the country. Our hotel was conveniently located right on the beach with hamaks, kayaks, and bikes placed for our use. The water was warm and clear Caribbean blue, gently gliding to shore on the banks of white sandy beaches! By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was late and the front desk was closed. We knocked on the door, and a young teen by the name Tyrell (we later discovered he was Rob’s son) told us to check in at the restaurant with Chef Rob!? A sweet young lady by the name of Cheryl greeted us and introduced us to Corrie- Chef Rob’s wife. She showed us our room; gave us our keys, and asked us to check in tomorrow at the front desk…Easy! Little did I know Chef Rob, Corrie, Cheryl and the Gourmet Café would become the most memorable part of my trip!

We swam in the ‘blue hole’, went diving and snorkeling, zipped the longest zip line in Belize, discovered cave tubing, explored jungles and pyramids; yet, my experience of Belize will forever be memorable and endearing because of the people we encountered. The people of Belize are so relaxed, sincere, and welcoming that they make even the tourists conform to their ways. It is easy to connect with locals and experience the hassle free lifestyles. I was mesmerized and able to forget about all the troubles of the world while in Belize!

How good was Chef Rob? Let’s just say, we dined at his restaurant every night while in Belize and recommended him to all tourists- which we later would encounter at the Gourmet Café and they would with gratitude thank us for our recommendation. They also concluded dinning at Chef Rob’s was the best dining experience they had while in Belize!

Everything we had was made to perfection: fresh organic ingredients, just the right balance of herbs, spices and seasonings, exotic yet familiar dishes to anyone who has experimented with world cuisine. The menu would change every night and Chef Rob was in the kitchen creating one spectacular dish after another! What an honor. By the end of our trip, Corrie, Cheryl, and Chef Rob became our friends and it was more difficult to say goodbye to them than it was to part from Belize.

Chef Rob’s restaurants were closed for lunch, so we experimented with local establishments. One of our favorites was Thong Café for breakfast and lunch. The owner Tania made us feel at home. Even when she had closed her restaurant for lunch, she saw the desperation in my eyes to eat. Graciously, she opened her kitchen for me and prepared the most tasty drink (I believe it was a Lacee?) made from yogurt, lime juice, and fruit and a local chicken sandwich in which I licked my fingers clean!

We discovered a bakery where a sweet lady from Ohio named Caitlin pursued her passion and made the best bread, muffins, cookies, and brownies in Belize. She inspired me! With the most basic means, she was able to create the most amazing baking goods and facilitated the income to support herself and children. Should you ever find yourself in Hopkins Village, visit Caitlin and her bakery; and for lunch and breakfast, you will not get a better cup of coffee and meal anywhere else than Thong Café!

Our last day in Belize, we decided to make a quick stop at San Ignacio before heading out to the airport. As luck would have it, our flight was cancelled and we were stumped as to what to do, where to stay, and of course, where to dine! Our amazing tour guide, Edgar Avila generously made himself available to us! Using his cell phone, he called multiple hotels and negotiated on our behalf. He took us to our hotel, and recommended the best local dining experience: Benny’s Kitchen. We were able to experience the most delicious authentic local cuisine! Every dish was simple yet full of flavor! Unforgettable; it was definitely worth missing our flight! When we offered to pay for Edgar’s lunch and time, he proudly refused! He expressed his desire to show us a good time in his homeland and that compensation was not necessary! Well Edgar, thanks to your hospitality, our disappointing flight cancellation turned out to be a great lesson in hospitality, compassion, and grace! Thank you!

Our unexpected last night stay at Benque City was unforgettable. We were warmly greeted by the owners of Benque Resort and Spa , Evan and Laine. They offered us a clean room with a balcony view of the Mopan River. This sweet husband and wife team, originally from Canada, sold their home, packed their lives and moved to Belize to live their dream. They offer healthy vegetarian meals to their guests and have message and yoga classes available at the resort. We quickly became friends and they joined us for a swim down the Mopan River- which is conveniently across the street from the resort! Cool and refreshing, the swim down the river turned into a local experience, leaving me memories of happy children jumping and swimming in the river, little fish nibbling on my flesh (I kid you not!) and calm waters quickly turning into a small rapids leaving me with bodily scars! All worth the experience and would not have it any other way!

The Land of the Mayas inspired me: Whether the world ends in December or thousands of years from now, acts of kindness, generosity and love will transcend forever! I am eternally changed.

Thank you for allowing me to share my journey of Belize with you!

From our partner: LO+JUNE

From our partner: LO+JUNE
Artisanal French products in our Swiss fine food boutique