Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Land Trip Belize Part II

After our visit to Cahal Pech we walked down to the Iguana Sanctuary at the St. Ignacio Hotel. Iguana eggs and meat are highly prized here in Belize (and fairly easy to come by). This facility provides education to the Belize people and tourists re iguanas. They have numerous females and two lucky males (kept separate) that provide lots of baby iguanas to release into the wild safely. Our guide showed us around the facility and we got to get as close to the iguanas as we wished.
Next, we walked down to Ko-Ox Han Nah restaurant in "downtown" San Ignacio to meet Jim and Renate for lunch. They have meat raised on their own farm and all four of us opted for lamb - lamb liver for Scott and Renate and lamb burgers for Jim and me - all excellent.
The rest of the day we spent relaxing at our Maya Mountain Resort. Scott and I enjoyed the pool and we all enjoyed our dinner with new friends we met there who were celebrating a birthday.
The next morning we were off for our cave tubing adventure. Scott and I did this with Sean & Will last year and were able to find the facility without having to go through a secondary agency. Our guide was fun and there was more water than last year. The three-hour trip was over all too quickly! But it was time to eat again. We stopped at the same local place for lunch as last year and again, enjoyed it. Afterward, it was only a short half-hour to the Belize Zoo and then on to our rooms at the Tropical Education Center nearby. We stayed in the Pine Cabin with 5 rooms with private baths and a shared veranda - very comfortable. The rate of $100 US per couple per night included dinner and breakfast. We had booked in advance for the night tour at the Zoo and that rate was $100 US for 1 to 5 persons. After a typical Belizean dinner of stewed chicken, rice & beans and coleslaw, we were shuttled over to the Zoo and met our guide. We spent about 1 and 1/2 hours wandering around the Zoo at night meeting and feeding the nocturnal animals - which included all the 5 big wild cats here in Belize. They are jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarundi, and margay. The Belize Zoo only has rescue animals that are native to Belize. The zoo was founded in 1983 by Sharon Motola (we saw her several times during our stay). The excellent book "The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, written by Bruce Barcott, documents her fight to save this beautiful bird's only habitat it Belize. Unfortunately, she lost and the Chalillo Dam was built.
Our last morning after a good breakfast we paid a daytime visit to the Zoo before driving back on the Hummingbird Highway to Dangriga. Every month if you are not a resident, you need to recheck with Customs, Immigration and the Port Captain and pay various fees to stay another 30 days. The maximum stay is 3 months. This was accomplished as well as various stops shopping for provisions and hardware, along with an excellent lunch at the beachfront Pelican Resort. We met the taxi driver who rented us the car and he drove us back to the Sanctuary Resort and our waiting boats. Great land trip!
You can get up close and personal at the Iguana Reserve

One of the iguanas climbed up our guide to get
some tasty chaya leaves.

Scott opted for a more distant approach.

The baby iguanas huddle together

Heather kept a bit more distance

Our veranda at the Mayan Mountain Resort

They have a beautiful garden where they grow many of the vegetables for the restaurant next to the pool.

Scott, Jim, Heather and Renate before we start out on our hike up to the place where we begin our tube adventure.

Our guide posing with our tubes.

We crossed the river several times on our hike

We opted for the longer hike which brough us through
a dry cave system.

There were pretty glimpses of the river along the way
and our guide was very knowledgeable about the
vegetation and history of this area.

Our tubes are tied together for the trip

Jim had a waterproof camera so managed a few shots
along the way.

A camera flash briefly illuminated the cave. We all had flashlights attached to our helmets and sometimes we could see the twinkling lights far behind us of another group. It was fun to shut them off at times and experience the total dark.

A coral snake crossed our path during our night tour at the
Zoo. It was not in a cage! They are deadly poisonous and
 there is no known antidote but our guide assured us that
because of their small head, it is difficult to get bitten
by them. Still, it gave us shivers!
All the cats come right up to the edge of their
habitats to visit with us and get fed.
We were able to feed the tapirs but no one
wanted to get real close to the cats.
But they are such beautiful animals.
And so are the birds. We saw wild toucans at the Iguana
They had tons of parrots of all kinds...
But I'd never seen a turkey vulture and they are
fascinating. The mission of the Zoo is to educate
Belizeans about these native birds and animals
as in the past they were killed due to superstition.

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