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Belize: The Beginning

April 25, 2012

Our own travel guru Amy Ochoa just returned from an epic dive trip to Belize. Here she chronicles her trip in a three-week blog installment. Check out the biggest surprise from her first night spent in Belize.

After 4 months of planning and 6 weeks of scuba certification my boyfriend, Dan, and I finally arrived at Belize International Airport. Once we made it through immigration we headed across a small parking lot to pick up our car at Crystal Car Rental. Crystal was the only car company we could find that allowed us to take our vehicle over the Guatemala border where we hoped to visit the largest Mayan Ruin in the world, Tekal.

Welcome to Belize!

We picked up our 2-wheel drive ford truck and headed to San Ignacio where we would be spending the next 3 nights. San Ignacio is located about 2 hours from Belize City and about 20 minutes from the Guatemala border. There are only a few highways in Belize and locating the Western Highway was easy. We stopped at a grocery store on our way out of the city. I had to laugh when Dad attempted to talk to the cashier in Spanish and found out that the young woman did not speak Spanish, only English. We realized that every sign was in English. Later we found that Belize citizens speak many languages, but English is their first language and they are part of the British Commonwealth. The Queen of England was even on the Belizean dollar.

As we headed on the Western highway towards San Ignacio we did not see many cars along the way. However, we did almost crush a turtle that was slowly making its way across the road. We also passed the Belize Zoo, which famously houses many rare jungle animals found in Belize. We chose to pass up the small Zoo so that we could make it to San Ignacio before it was dark.

Along the way we passed through many small villages with only a speed bump to slow us down. Soon we arrived in Santa Elena the town bordering San Ignacio and separated by a small river running through the two towns. Our hotel, Maya Mountain Lodge was located on the jungle side of Santa Elena about a block from the main road that ran through the small town.

Our cottage at the Maya Mountain Lodge. Hammocks are essential for any Central America vacation.

We arrived at our lodge just as guests were eating dinner, which is provided by the lodge for a fee of about $30 USD per person. We were escorted to our cottage by a young man also named Dan who became a great tour guide during our stay. The lodge consisted of 8 small studio style cottages and a lodge containing 10 rooms. The accommodations were moderate, but exactly what Dan and I were looking for.

After unloading our bags we grabbed the truck and headed into town for dinner. We quickly realized that Santa Elaina and San Ignacio were much smaller than we had thought with a much quieter nightlife than we expected. We stopped at the largest restaurant we could find called Hode’s Place. We ate fish and chips and drank a few “Panty Rippers”, which would soon become our favorite drink in Belize. The food was good and eating outdoors on the patio was the perfect way to end our first night in Central America!

- Amy Ochoa, Marketing Team

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