Off Season Adventures – Ka’ana Belize
The winter of 2014 in Colorado will be remembered by the never ending snowfall, even late May continued to bring more snow. I’m not complaining cause in my world snow is a treasured commodity, but we were ready to see the sun and feel its warmth. We were ready for some off season adventures. After a winter in ski boots, our feet were calling out to wear flip flops. So when friends invited us to come to Mexico we didn’t hesitate to say Si! We based ourselves in Playa del Carmen and spent our days on the beach and in the water. Our ghostly pallor faded quickly.
Seeing that we had a holiday weekend ahead of us, the temptation of further exploration in Central America was too much to ignore. We boarded a bus to Chetumal where a driver waited to whisk us off to our hotel in San Ignacio Belize near the border with Guatamala. We were planning to spend a few nights at the swank hotel Ka’ana. Our driver Daryl was one of the guides at the hotel and he told us about some of the adventures that were awaiting us. He was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and his love for native country was palpable. We began firing questions at him. Our first question was why is Belize the only country in Central America to speak English. He explained that Belize used to be part of British Honduras and only gained independence in 1980. We passed horse driven carriages and he told us about the Amish and the Mennonites in Belize. Belize, like America, is a huge melting pot of people.
We drove through the town of San Ignacio and out to the resort where we were met with a refreshing drink made with fresh ginger, limes grown on the property, and honey and ice. It hit the spot and we were taken to our room. The grounds were lush and impeccable. Our room had a large deck and was decorated with handcrafts from Belize. We dropped our bags and went to the bar to hear Wilbur, one of the guides speak about the world of the Mayans. The bar was open and inviting and evoked feelings of the Hemingway haunts in Havana. Don’t forget to pack your Guayabera and saddle up to the bar and order a mojito. We listened intently as Wilbur shared the secrets of the Mundo Maya. We dined on bar snacks and went to bed early; we had a big day planned and it started at 630 am!
Breakfast was amazing; Carlotta, with a smile that lit the room, brought my son Micah the Banana pancakes and I tried the Belizian breakfast of eggs, fly jacks (a lightly fried bread), bacon, and beans that had a touch of coconut oil to make them creamy delicious. Full and happy, we jumped in the van to begin our day of adventure. We started with Zip Lining to get our blood racing and have a birds eye view of the jungle.
Now it was time to go exploring, we grabbed a float tube and began our hike through the jungle to the mouth of the cave.Daryl taught us about the flora and fauna that is native toBelize. We came upon a large termite nest and Daryl opened it up a bit to expose the termites. He told us that they were actually quite tasty and a good source of protein. He offered me one, but trying to snack less, I declined. Ok, truth be told, I wimped out at the thought if putting a live termite in my mouth. Then to my surprise Micah reached into the nest grabbed one and popped it in his mouth. Now this is a kid I have to fight with at the dinner table to get him to eat certain things and now here he is eating a live termite!! When in Belize! We continued our jungle walk and made our way up to the second cave where we and dropped in and floated zen like into the darkness through the mouth of the cave. We used our headlamps to see the stalactites and we drifted into chambers used by the Mayans for sacrificial rituals. We searched for faces in the rock formations seeing anything from monsters to lions. We exited the cave, heading toward the site of our jungle zip lining. We spotted macaws flying in the trees above us. We came back to where we started and had a delicious traditional Belizian lunch of chicken, blank beans and plantains washed down with the national cerveza Belikin.
Now it was time to head to the Belize Zoo to see the animals we hadn’t yet spotted in the wild. This zoo has all the animals native to Belize in a natural un zoo-like setting. The highlight was seeing a jaguar called Junior Buddy. Looking this majestic beast in the eye was a moment I will not soon forget.
We made our way back to Ka’ana, tired from the day. I raced to the shower, enjoying the handmade cinnamon soaps they’d left for us and dressed for dinner.
The menu had way too many wonderful choices, but I settled on the Mayan Dukunu, which is a spicy pork sausage served with a habanero sauce, we were in the land of the Maya after all! We returned to our cabana to find a note on our pillow to find the homemade treats that were left for us out of the fridge. I had a glass of wine and we sat listening to the sounds of the jungle before slipping off to bed.
Tomorrow we were headed across the boarder to Guatamala which was just 15 minutes away. Our time at Ka’ana was way too short and we promised that next time we’d stay longer to visit the ruins by horseback, relish in the spa treatments, and try our hand at Mayan cooking. www.Kaanabelize.com
Marc Girardelli 5 time winner of the overall ski World Cup
Photos Courtesy of Red Bull Fresh from the Games in Sochi, Olympic Snowboarder Ty Walker was already back in full
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