Confession: I, Pearl, have commitment issues. In pretty much every area of my life. Once, my aunt asked me if I wanted to buy season tickets to the off-Broadway theatre we frequently went to. I started to sweat. Heart palpitations. That meant staying in the Albany area for another year. Never mind the fact that I was still in school and was going to be living there for that. I couldn’t do it. I panicked. Told her I couldn’t do it. I know I’m crazy, you don’t have to tell me twice.
Anywho, my commitment issues cause me to be an extreme over-packer. The clothes are what used to trip me up. How am I supposed to commit to one outfit I will be wearing a week from now? What if the weather is bad? Or my shoes don’t match? I once brought 4 coats for a 4 day weekend home from college. Backpacking has certainly helped this because I’m limited to what I can carry on my back in addition to my toiletries, towel, first aid kit, and necessities like a knife, lighter and my lucky twine. Yes, I have lucky twine. I’ve had it since my junior year in college and I bring it on every trip with me. I have yet to actually need it but because it’s been on so many trips with me I’m terrified to go anywhere without it.
So this time when packing I tackled my commitment issues with clothes and supplies like a champ. Food required more thought. The nutrition scene in airports isn’t exactly on point these days and obviously just getting fast food is not an option for me (or anyone I travel with, haha). Before leaving I purchased two cans of Wild Planet, one salmon and one tuna. This company uses only sustainably-sourced poll & troll caught fish. I also bought some dried bananas made with only coconut oil and raw walnuts and cashews. I figured I could buy a simple salad at the airport on the trips to and from Belize and top it with my goodies. This worked out super well and there were plenty of bananas and nuts left to have as snacks on days we were walking all over the jungle.
Oh! And I made sure not to use traveling as an excuse not to get my exercise in. I ALWAYS took the stairs, never those weird fast moving belt thingys and did lunges in the waiting area before we boarded the plane. Yes, I did get awkward stares but whatever, ain’t nobody got time for sitting all day.
When we FINALLY got there I was of course SUPER excited to try all the Belizean food I could get my hands on and I was not disappointed. Our first two nights were spend on the island of Caye Caulker, off the northeastern coast of Belize. Being surrounded by water we, of course, had to eat fish. I’m honestly not even sure what it was, all I heard was fresh-caught and garlic butter and I immediately said yes.
Breakfast the next day was a veggie omelette with coffee followed by laying by the water and reading a book. The first book of vacation was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I have always loved reading but lately I find myself reading nothing but nutrition, fitness, and holistic lifestyle books. So, as a part of my self care goals for the new year I am making a point do some fun reading. On vacation this meant lots of hammock time! I read two other books, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and Deception Point by Dan Brown during our trip. All of them were great but I highly recommend Deception Point, it would make an awesome movie.
But back to the food. The next dinner in Caye Caulker was lobster (which I was too excited to eat to remember to take a picture) while sitting on a swing at a half outdoor restaurant/bar. So fun.
Breakfasts the whole trip were often the same, some sort of eggs typically served with beans, corn tortillas, and fruit salad. To be completely honest with you we actually skipped lunch quite a bit. We were usually eating a late breakfast and having a mid-day snack consisting of some combination of bananas, peanuts, carrots, and tomatoes so we just weren’t hungry for a full lunch. That being said, if we did have lunch it was along the same lines as dinners. They sure do love their rice and beans in Belize so we had a lot of that with stewed chicken or beef and veggies.
Are you wondering where I got my mid-day snacks of bananas, peanuts, carrots, and tomatoes from? The farmers market, of course! As you know I do most of my food shopping at the Public Market here in Rochester, NY and I kept that consistent by going to the Saturday farmers market in San Ignacio, Belize. It is HUGE. Best thing of all? ALL of their produce is organic.
The market is open everyday but Saturday is the biggest day with the most vendors. They also have food vendors there that are whipping up fresh goodies right in front of your eyes. I didn’t taste any of these amazing looking foods because we were there SUPER early (6:45 am) and the idea of having a burrito or a fried corn tortilla stuffed with pork, cheese, and veggies that early in the morning was not appealing to me. I bet you’re wondering why I would eat something fried like that at all, aren’t you? Another thing I loved about Belize is there are coconut trees EVERYWHERE so they use coconut oil for most of their cooking! That being said, coconut oil is still more expensive than vegetable oil (blech!) so for some of the bigger deep frying jobs they use vegetable oil #avoid. I wish I had more time to wander around the market but we were off to our most fun adventure of the trip- exploring the Mayan ruins of Caracol!
It was a terrifying 2 hour car ride on a dirt road into the heart of the jungle to get there but man, was it worth it! Because the road out there is so difficult there are barely any people that go to this site. There were only four of us in my group and we only ran into two other groups the whole time we were there both of which were about the size of our group. It made it so peaceful. I mean, look at this…
This is the view over the jungle from the top of the tallest structure at that site. They let you climb on the ruins, how cool is that?! The other thing I found wonderful about Belize is how much they care about environmental conservation. The majority of the ruins are actually still buried under trees and wildlife because they don’t want to cut them down and destroy part of the rain forest. We got so lucky with our guide, he used to do environmental conservation in the forest surrounding Caracol so he was super knowledgeable about the wild life and would point out different plants and describe what “jungle remedy” they were used for. For example…
St. John’s Wort to treat depression
And I forget what this one was called but when you squeeze it the liquid inside is used as a natural mosquito repellant. Cool, right?!
Best part? We finished a day of hard hiking by taking a dip in some natural spring water.
Stay tuned for next week when I recount my adventures in Guatemala and a few final nights in Belize!