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Snake Caye

It took a total of nine trips to Belize in all until I finally looked passed the advice from the guide book travellers and their collective recommendations to stay way clear of the unknown remoteness found in the far southern region of Belize. For a host of reasons that all added up to me falling victim like so many others, until just recently I too had never ventured south of Monkey River Town.


Punta Gorda
Flying over Punta Gorda, Toledo

Punta Gorda
View of Punta Gorda, Toledo
from the Ocean
For the most part I had considered myself lucky just as most travellers do if during their first visit to the Central American country they get a chance to fall in love with the culturally diverse people and the landscapes and the simplicity of the Belizean way of facing every day life.

If first time travellers to Belize are really fortunate, they hopefully find the time to see the Cayes and the Cayo, as well as an ancient Maya city or two, maybe even squeeze in a fishing trip or cave tubing expedition or a trip to the Belize Zoo.

Of course, it's generally the subsequent return visits to a place that allows me to truly get to know something about getting off that elusive guidebook beaten path. And so that's what it took for me, indeed, countless arrivals and departures over the years running the Cancun to Orange Walk to San Ignacio to Placencia to Caye Caulker to Ambergris route until I realized one day as I wallowed in the hammock there in the shade of the champa palapa at the Wende Bryan's Pickled Parrot in Placencia, it was time to head south.

It wasn't that the palm trees all left with the fury of Iris, because with the aggressive reforestation program the Placencia villagers have implemented, the palm trees will surly grow back taller. I don't know what it was exactly that hit me that day swaying away my life, maybe it has something to do with the arrival of Italian ice cream parlours and the speed bumps in Placencia, maybe it's the fact the road is now paved in the first place or that you too can create curves that go the way you want them to, I really can't say for sure.

What I do know is that before I could pay Miss Wende for my afternoon tab, I was airborne, a solo passenger on a one way flight to the land of the Maya. As I searched my memory banks for where in the world I had left my last Belikin, it really didn't matter if I found it or not, for I was now gazing down from my window seat vantage point, smiling out loud suddenly realizing, all that I'd been overlooking all these years.

The Lodge at Big Falls
From Monkey River Town south as far as the eye could reach below me, a pristine bright green rainforest sparkled, an obvious lingering reminder of a passing morning shower. Below me miles and miles of seemingly endless white sand beach twisted its way southward, occasionally split in two by rivers curling their way back into the jungle and towards the hillsides of the western Mayan Mountains. The freshwater flows its way down eventually draining out into the emerald waters of the Bay of Honduras.

No doubt it was a flight to another point in time. And then just as suddenly as I had decided to take the simple fifteen minute Maya Air flight from the Placencia Airport, the pilot was now looking back over his shoulder winking an eye as he took the plane into a banked left turn and down onto the tarmac servicing the seaside village of Punta Gorda.

Without a reservation or a map or any idea of what PG had to offer much less what I had come looking for, moments after the plane landed into Punta Gorda, I observed my surroundings and focused my attention upon finding some immediate shelter as well as cool libation to protect me from the possibility of an unlikely storm. The option that first presented itself was just across the pavement some 10 meters from where the plane had just rumbled to a stop. And so without a cab ride or even breaking a sweat, I negotiated myself into the Airport Hotel.

After settling in to a room complete with a hot shower, air conditioning and cable television for under BZ$50 per night, I decided to take the advise of the hotel manager and head down towards the waterfront in search of a place called Emery's. There I was told would be my best chances for fresh fish and cold beverage to wipe away the trail dust from that fifteen minute flight south.

Thirty minutes later I was leaning over a hardy plate of fresh red snapper, tomatoes, slaw, rice and beans and home made hot salsa, listening intently to Carl the owner of Emery's explaining the adventure options that are readily available for the adventure traveller assuming your base camp perspective is the town of PG.

From Carl to me to you, the inside story in PG, if you are looking for archaeological wonders, the Toledo District offers many sites including the Maya city of Nim Li Punit, Lubaantun, and Uxbentun. For the truly adventuresome, the remote site of Pusilha lies a mile or so shy of the Guatemalan border on the upper Moho River. It should also be noted that there are three sites to date in all of Belize where pictographs that have been reportedly found. One of these locations is known as Roberto's Cave, accessible from the village of Laguna.

For fishing, Permit, Snook, and Tarpon are abundant. Flats to the rivers to the cayes, some of the best fishing in Belize can be found offshore Toledo. For natural beauty, canoeing and kayaking the Moho, the Rio Grande and the Golden Stream puts you deep in the Belizean bush country. The Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Moho Caye and the Snake Cayes to the Sapodilla Cayes at the southern end of the barrier reef, Southern Belize is paradise found. Don't wait to hear about it in a guidebook, adventure now or never.



Punta Gorda
Walking towards Lubaantun
The North end of Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda
Punta Negra
A small stretch of beach in Punta Gorda
Flying over Punta Negra, south of Monkey River town
Toledo, Belize
Mennonite Farmers
Oranges on their way north on the Southern Highway
Mennonite Farmers near San Pedro Columbia
On the Golden Stream
Maya Lady
On the Golden Stream
Maya lady washing clothes
Maya Lady
Children in Big Falls
Maya lady selling handcrafted baskets
Children at a store in Big Falls
Toledo, Belize
View from Nim Li Punit looking East towards the Ocean

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