Where in the world are we?

Where in the World are We?

02 January 2008

Christmas on the Beach

Our version of a white Christmas

We visited the beach village of Placencia over the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays for some rest and relaxation. It was a nice place to get away and just sit on the beach, read, relax, and enjoy a lot of quiet time. Placencia is located in the south of the Stann Creek District at the tip of a peninsula and is primarily a fishing village. Many people stop through Placencia in their travels in Belize and it has many guesthouses and hotels. When staying in Placencia, it is easy to see many other sites, such as the Cockscomb Wildlife Basin and snorkeling and diving out on the reef.

Birds enjoying the holidays

Christmas on the beach was quite a change from the past several years in New England, but we're not complaining. It was a gorgeous day. We celebrated the holiday with our friends Mica and John and had a wonderful four-course special meal at The Secret Garden. This relaxing Christmas may start a trend – we saw many families celebrating the holidays together and think it’s a great idea to spend Christmas in a beautiful tropical locale!

Check out the star falling to the right side of the tree!

Christmas morning; Ginnie by the tree, Anthony enjoying a slow breakfast he didn't have to cook

Traveling to Placencia is quite an adventure – we got on a bus in Belize City at 7am and finally reached Placencia just before 1pm! It’s a long day, and 26 miles are traveled on an unpaved road – that part took a good hour and a half. Our bus was fairly empty leaving the city, and we thought it would be a nice quiet ride since it was Christmas Eve, but as we traveled along, we picked up many more passengers. From the city to Belmopan we listened to some country Christmas music – but not the mainstream stuff, we thought we’d have to hear it over and over, however when we left Belmopan the driver turned on reggae and that was the repeated music for the rest of the trip. We were fortunate to have it accompanied by the passenger sitting diagonally across from us who had a little too much to drink that morning.

A pretty flower on the beach

We drove through a few small villages and this insane development of huge houses that must be for resorts and wealthy people buying land in Belize. It seemed really out of place in the midst of two villages with board houses and the struggles of village life.
Omar's Guesthouse and Restaurant

After so many hours on a bus, we were starving when we checked into Omar’s Guesthouse, our home for the holidays. We had a delicious burrito at Omar’s and then made our way down the beach and met up with Mica and John for the rest of the day. We had a great dinner at the Pickled Parrot. Christmas Day was dedicated to the beach and reading – and it was very nice. The following day is Boxing Day in Belize so that was another holiday that was quite quiet in Placencia. Many people headed out that morning so the village was pretty peaceful. In fact, more places were closed on Boxing Day than on Christmas Day. We walked through the village a few times and took lots of pictures of the beautiful beach scenery. We also stumbled upon a big party near the Purple Space Monkey where children received presents from Santa by the Christmas tree. It looked like a fun afternoon for the lee pikni.

Christmas Dinner with John and Mica at the Secret Garden. We started with the tomato soup, a salad, the main course (which we chose the Mango Tango Chicken shown here) and dessert (this is Anthony's caramelized fruit and ice cream in a tortilla)

Our beach vacation came to an end on the morning of the 27th when we took the Hokey Pokey water taxi to Independence so we could catch a bus back up north. This was a much more appealing option than another ride through the unpaved roads – it was nice to do that trip once, but we probably won't head that way again anytime soon. There was a bit of scheduling error though, so the 10:45 bus we expected to catch actually left around 10 or 10:15, only minutes before we came off the water taxi. As we waited for the next bus (to come at noon) we had a lovely conversation with a man and his two grandchildren who were heading down south to a village in Toledo. The children, Alma and Leonard, were 8 and 9 and very curious. We all talked about where we were from and our favorite “sweets.” The grandfather asked if we knew a man he met from the states, but we didn’t know him. It’s probably hard for someone from such a small country where it seems everyone knows everyone to understand how many people are in the states and that it's pretty rare to happen to know a random person. Their bus came and there was a lot of commotion as some young people kept looking in our direction, then when one young man waved and greeted me, I recognized a high school volunteer who worked at Trinity the week before schools closed for Christmas break. Yet another example of this small world where everyone knows everyone – what are the chances to randomly see someone so far from the city? Well, actually, pretty good I guess.

Just lounging around on Boxing Day, enjoying the scenery

Our wait was looking to be a long one until a 15-passenger van with a Dangriga sign kept riding around and finally came by the bus stop and took everyone who wanted to hop in. Moving forward is better than sitting at a stop, so we jumped in (and the chances were the van would be faster than the bus). We paid less for the ride than we did heading in from Dangriga – what a bargain. We did end up detouring through the village of Georgetown, but we still made it to Dangriga in an hour! We had to wait there for the same bus we would have caught, but it gave us a little adventure. We also picked up a passenger along the road who we ended up seeing all the way through our travels to Tikal and even on our tour of Tikal! It’s a small world with travelers, too. We met three young travelers from Denmark at Omar’s who also appeared in Tikal with us, as well as a PCV from Honduras who we saw again as we returned on the bus from Cayo.

This was Anthony's favorite sign in Placencia. It was posted along the "world-reknowned sidewalk" that is 24-inches wide in spots and is said in Guinness Book of World Records to be "the world's most narrow street"; Omar's is just along
the sidewalk, as are many hotels, shops, and eateries

After all the traveling, we headed to San Ignacio for the night so we could get an early start to the border and into Guatemala. We love Cayo! There are so many amazing places to eat – Ginnie had a delicious soy burger and Ant had a really yummy, awesome quesadilla at CafĂ© Sol, where it was so hard to decide what to get from their great menu. If only Belize City had such options – we have a lot of restaurants that serve rice and beans, beans and rice, or garnaches, salbutes, tacos, etc. Otherwise, alternative options are minimal and costly. Yeah, not much variety, people like what they like. At any rate, Cayo is a great place for eating!

Our first Christmas away from “home” was really nice and we enjoyed it a great deal. Of course we missed spending time with family and friends, but it was a wonderful Christmas nonetheless and has inspired us to consider the next Christmas vacation!

1 comment:

Maggie Lubash said...

Dear Ginnie and Anthony,

I just finished reading your Christmas blog. Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. As always, I am proud of what you are doing and pleased that you are using this experience to learn about and visit many parts of the country that you are working so hard to help. I loved Anthony's favorite sign. We should have those on every street corner in every zip code in America! I loved the story about the man who asked you if you knew someone he knew here. Maybe you will meet that person someday! I see that you read Dispatches from the Edge. I just finished that myself, what a wonderful book. Thank you for all of your blogs, they are so informative and help me understand where you are and what life is like outside of our "comfort" zone. Have a wonderful 2008, and I look forward to many more blogs.

I love you,