On our first night in the Cayo region of Belize we spent the night in San Ignacio. At our hotel (Rumors Resort) we ate a nice dinner of rice and beans followed by fried plantains for dessert as we sat on the patio watching the sunset behind the mountains in the distance. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Belize and would spend the next couple of days in the jungle area searching through Mayan ruins and relaxing before heading over to Guatemala to visit Tikal.
The recent news of murder in this same region of a local Chicago woman brought alot of negative attention to the area – and for good reason – but during our entire two weeks in Belize we never felt unsafe so I do hope this is just an isolated incident that they’ll be able to solve and attribute to a single and random act of violence that can happen anywhere you visit.
Sunset in the Jungle (San Ignacio, Belize)
The past few days in Chicago have been cold and grey…a preview of what the next five to six months have in store I’m sure as winter is coming soon. It has me thinking of better days – the sun, the pool, the hiking through the ruins, the heat, etc… in Tikal, Guatemala.
We spent a decent part of our two days in Tikal sitting poolside here as it was really hot when we were there (mid-90s) and since they are on generator power for the three hotels/lodges that are there it is a real challenge to get cool. The good news was they’d kick the generator on during the day really quick if you needed your poolside drink blended! Thus, it was our own little version of paradise amongst the Tikal ruins.
Paradise near Tikal (Tikal, Guatemala)
As we head into the (US) holiday weekend I hope that everyone can take a few minutes to relax and enjoy the freedoms that those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country have granted us. As I look around at the oppression brought against people in other areas of the world I cannot feel more blessed that I have the freedoms that I do. So as you sit back and “find your beach” somewhere this weekend – just make sure you remember why you have the ability to do the things you do and thank a soldier.
Dock to Nowhere (Caye Caulker, Belize)
During our vacation last year in Caye Caulker, Belize we went snorkeling and came across this assortment of shells in the Caribbean waters. I thought it was appropriate for a post-Valentine’s Day post since I was unable to get much service while out west doing some hiking/photographing.
Rocks of Love – Caye Caulker, Belize
I walked the beach in Belize to catch the sunrise a few mornings that we were in Caye Caulker. Unfortunately, this was the only morning the clouds allowed the sunrise to actually be photographed – but it was a really nice sunrise.
No Fishing (Caye Caulker, Belize)
The infinity pool at the resort that we stayed at in Belize was where we spent a good chunk of the second half of our trip. The first five days were spent in the jungle – hiking, climbing ruins and chasing iguanas – so heading to the resort and visiting the swim bar was a nice change of pace (until we got the bar bill of course – yikes! Apparently frozen drinks go down EASY when it is 95 degrees out!).
Infinity Pool at Belize Resort
I’m heading off to Banff next weekend and it according to weather.com it snowed three inches there last night and they are expected to get a few more inches this week. I am not ready for snow yet so I’m not looking forward to this trip too much. Maybe I’ll get lucky with a little warmer weekend and some epic sunrises over Lake Moraine. I’m playing the travel plans ‘by ear’ as I still haven’t booked a hotel. Originally I was planning on driving to Jasper National Park but that is a few hours further north so I expect the snow will be deeper up north and like I said I’m not quite ready so maybe I’ll just bum around Lake Moraine/Yoho National Park for the majority of the trip.
We went snorkeling during our last vacation in Belize. During the trip we were approached by a school of sharks (nurse sharks – but still sharks!) who swam with us for a bit. I think they were interested in possibly getting some food as some tourists will bring something to chum the water with. We didn’t do that….for the most part nurse sharks are harmless so it isn’t like we were going to be approached by a great white or anything.
Sharkweek – Belize
It’s been a really busy week getting ready to spend the end of August in Alaska….It is really hard to pack for Alaska in the summer. It’s supposed to be near 80 in Seattle where we will spend the first few days and then it will be in the 40s up in Alaska at night. No complaints though – looking forward to a good time spent with the family.
During our trip to Belize we headed to Guatemala for a few days to check out the ruins in Tikal. One of the highlights from those two days was taking a sunrise tour in the morning (out of bed at 3:30 AM) and a sunset tour in the evening. For sunset we climbed one of the largest temples in the Grand Plaza to watch the sunset over the rest of the historic ruins (the building in the distance is Temple IV I believe where we climbed to watch sunrise about twelve hours earlier).
Magical Sunset over Tikal
There were a bunch of people up here with us and I hated being that annoying person with a camera but I was moving all over, setting up for a shot and then moving again. I’m sure the others up on the ruins were annoyed with me but I wanted to make sure I got all the magical colors of the sky. This certainly made up for sunrise (I’ll post a picture of the grey fog one day) where visibility was limited to maybe thirty/forty feet in front of our face because of the heavy fog coming off the jungle floor.
We went to dinner last night in Chicago – Mexique – which is run by Chef Carlos Gaytan and was once days away from closing due to a lack of business. Now, two years later you need a reservation to get in and it is one of the few (only sixteen of them) restaurants in Chicago to have a one-star Michelin rating. The chef was also featured on the TV Show ‘Top Chef‘ and that has certainly launched the restaurant into one of the trendiest places in Chicago. The food certainly did not disappoint as we started with Tuna Ceviche (delicious as it was laid on a bed of fennel) before I moved onto the main course – Skate Wing – which was the highlight of the night. I first off should say that I’m not a ‘foodie’ by any means but you just know ‘delicious’ when you taste it and the very first bite told me that I was in for a treat. Skate wing for those that may not know (I didn’t before coming in) is the fin/flipper of a stingray and the way they prepared it was to pan sear it and place it over a habanero buerre blanc sauce and a small amount of refried beans (although I’m sure they had a fancier name on the menu). If you are ever in Chicago and are looking to eat at one of the cities top restaurants I’d try Mexique and get the Skate Wing. You are unlikely to be disappointed!
Stingray in the Reefs of Belize
Doesn’t this guy just look delicious?! We went snorkeling during one of our days on the coast of Belize to a location called the Mexico Rocks. It wasn’t one of the ‘prettier’ places to snorkel but there was certainly a lot of active sealife – including this stingray who seemed to follow us wherever we went. Apparently, he was trained to know that tour guides tended to provide a little snack for fish that ‘participated’ in their shows with tour groups like ours.