This is part 2 of our unbelizeable adventures in Belize. You can read part 1 here . No tropical vacation is complete without a few days...

Unbelizeable Part 2: Beach Life in Sittee Point

This is part 2 of our unbelizeable adventures in Belize. You can read part 1 here.

No tropical vacation is complete without a few days relaxing on a beautiful beach. With that in mind, we scheduled in a few days in Sittee Point, a few miles outside Hopkins, Belize. We arrived in Hopkins after dark after a 3 hour drive straight from the dock outside Orange Walk where our Lamanai boat tour ended. We stopped at a store for a few necessities (water, tea, and oats so I didn't have to eat out for breakfast) and a small restaurant to grab some dinner, which ended up being a not as good version of what we had for lunch that day (coconut rice & beans and chicken stew). I don't usually eat a lot of meat, so I was sick of chicken by then having eaten it every meal since we'd arrived in Belize. Thankfully the rest of our trip I was able to fill my belly with delicious seafood. Our short drive through Hopkins showed lots of bars, live music, and fun people. We'd fully intended on making it back into town at some point to catch more music, but sadly we did not make time.

The road from Hopkins to Sittee Point had patches that looked like someone had paved it once, long, long ago. Then even that little bit of pavement ended and it was basically washboard the rest of the way. We were thankful it hadn't rained, as I can only image what a mess that drive would've been if it had. We arrived at our little cabana and met our host. Again we had an awesome host, adorable and clean house with a working A.C. (yes!), and this one had a complete kitchen. We headed to bed and enjoyed a wonderful nights sleep knowing we didn't have to wake up early for any reason.

Sand crabs building nests under the trees
Every parent knows what I mean when I say a dream vacation includes sleeping in and days with absolutely no schedule at all. That is what we thoroughly enjoyed for the next 2 days. We relaxed on the beach and read or just stared at the gorgeous surroundings, went for swims in the way too warm ocean (it's still off-putting to me after years of swimming on the Oregon coast!), went for short bike rides or walks down the road (we weren't far from the resort area) to restaurants and bars, and soaked up all the sun we could. This also included a few patches of sunburns (my legs are still peeling) and way more bug bites than we saw bugs. Still trying to figure that one out. Chiggers or clever mosquitoes? Who knows. Oh well, was totally worth it. Lunch even included some karaoke. Because of course there was a Filipino karaoke bar in Belize called "Bahay Fiesta". I seriously love how multi-cultural that country is.

Being near the equator is always a little weird to adjust to the fact that sunset is pretty early year round (6:15pm compared to 8:30pm or later in Oregon this time of year). We opted to walk to dinner that night since we didn't want to ride bikes in the dark, and there was a restaurant a short walk away. Dinner was great, but that meant by the time we finished it was very dark. Our walk back was a little spooky. Our host had warned us not to go wandering into the jungle as there are crocodiles there. Yep, that's right, crocodiles. The jungle comes right to the beach in Belize, so the road we were walking on had jungle on both sides, except where there's a house. I won't lie, I was more than a little afraid of not only crocodiles, but all the awesome, poisonous snakes I read live in Belize. They have no less than 8 very poisonous snakes, several of which are deadly, and one that's aggressive and even sneaks up behind you to attack! I may have turned the flashlight on my phone on to scan the road for creatures before each step. Thankfully, the walk was uneventful, besides the amazing full moon.

Creepy, moonlit walks on the beach anyone?
The next day was more of the same wonderful relaxation on the beach and bike rides to excellent food. For lunch we ate at a place called The Paddle House. I'd never had yucca fries before but oh man were they good! Especially since they came with avocado dip instead of ketchup, and I frickin' love avocados. I also enjoyed delicious seafood and amazing tropical drinks. Seriously best piña colada of my life, hands down. I will be attempting to recreate that as well, although I'm positive it was the fresh pineapple juice and coconut milk that made it so good, so I probably won't come close. But I will still try. Or I'll move somewhere tropical. Seriously, how bad could it be living somewhere that naturally grows amazing food? More than once while we were there we said to each other, "so why don't we live here?!"

Couldn't get enough of that view
Our hosts beautiful yard
Nothing helped my recovery more than these days on the beach. I don't remember the last time I was so relaxed for so long. My appetite returned, I ate food that would normally make me sick without issue, I drank a little alcohol without any repercussions, and I spent ZERO time feeling stressed. I quit worrying at each meal and simply reminded myself I was on vacation... from everything included my illness and restrictive diets of late. Before I left home, my naturopath recommended I take Hydrozyme with every meal while on my trip, a digestive supplement that contains hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). This was to help kill any bugs (bacteria or parasites) that could be in food or drinks when you're traveling to new places and eating foreign food. Normally I would have just had a few extra immunizations before we went, but seeing as my immune system was already a wreck, we didn't want to bombard it with immunizations too. So the supplement was my fail-safe. There's a large percentage of people with SIBO and IBS that have low stomach acid, and it's one of the things that is worsened by stress as well. So taking this supplement may very well have added to my recovery. Either way, it didn't hurt, I didn't get sick once on my trip, and I still can't believe how much better I feel still.

The sun was so damn bright!
If you ever make it to Belize, definitely spend a few days on the beach. If you're in need of some serious stress relief like I was, there is no better place. It's so laid back, everyone we met was very friendly, and everywhere you looks is beautiful. Next time we'll make time to check out some of the over 200 islands off the coast of Belize. I feared the boat ride (motion sickness) but now I know it would be worth a groggy day from Dramamine to be snorkeling out there in that amazingly warm and clear water.

My new happy place

Read the rest of the trip here!

Part 1: Orange Walk & Lamanai
Part 3: Caracol
Part 4: San Ignacio, Xunantunich, & Cahal Pech


Ahhh vacation! It's been 5 long years since I had a vacation that relaxing. It was perfect, and exactly what I needed when I needed i...

Unbelizeable Part 1: Orange Walk & Lamanai

Ahhh vacation! It's been 5 long years since I had a vacation that relaxing. It was perfect, and exactly what I needed when I needed it most. I was honestly afraid of going because of how sick I've been. Thankfully, I finally started to feel a little better right before I left. And then wouldn't you know, relaxing helped me feel 100 times better! Stressing less is truly the answer for getting and staying in good health.

So our awesome trip started with a not-so-awesome beginning. We missed our first flight! It was an early morning flight so we tried cutting it close in the interest of sleep, and we cut it too close. Leaving late, a stop at the ATM, construction, and the then unknown-to-me fact that you have to check bags at least 1 hour before an international flight, meant that they would not even let us check our bags or try to make it to our gate. Lame town. Instead we spent our first day of vacation hanging out in the airport and flying to multiple cities, having an overnight layover, and finally making it to Belize a full day late. Luckily having to change all of our plans by a day didn't cost us much. Southwest never asked us for money for re-booking our flight (score!), the place we booked (we used Airbnb) was awesome enough to give us a refund for that night, and the tour we had scheduled hadn't asked for money in advance so they rescheduled for the next day without an problem. We quickly realized that this weird day was still mostly relaxing since everything worked out and we didn't have the kids with us! Whew! Huge thank yous to my amazing mother-in-law and our friend Lindsay who watched our kids for us and made it all possible!

So onto the rest of the trip and all the good stuff. We landed at the airport outside Belize City the afternoon of Sunday May 7th. We got through the tiny airport and customs without issue. We stepped outside to see the car rental place was exactly where they said they would be, a very short walk directly across the street. We even got the exact car we requested, a 4WD Jeep (you'll hear why later). And they exchanged some money for us for free! Don't waste your money paying to exchange it, most places you go in Belize will except U.S. dollars or Belize dollars (the exchange rate is always half of our dollar so super easy to remember). Just make sure you have small bills on you, no $50 or $100 U.S. bills as smaller businesses may not have enough cash to give you change. Then we checked our printed directions (no international phone bill for us, thank you very much), and headed out!

It didn't take much driving to realize everything we'd read about driving in Belize was totally true. The roads are terrible. Only the major roads are paved and even those are paved poorly with many, very large potholes, nobody follows any real traffic laws, there are very few posted speed limit signs, and even less marked road signs. There are random speed bumps in the highway, not all of which are clearly marked, and many will surprise you. They call them "sleeping policemen". Aha! Lucky for me, Brian loves that sort of chaos and he had a blast trying to drive like a local, except speeding. We never went over 55mph (the max speed limit) as we did not want to get pulled over. But we saw countless people hauling serious ass, even though we saw a surprising amount of police, considering how few people there are (population around 375,000).

It's a big part of the culture in Belize for people to hitch-hike. Cars and gas are super expensive (over $5 USD per gallon!) so not a lot of people have cars, and the public transportation system is not very good or offered everywhere. So mostly people walk, ride a bike, or hitch-hike! After not even an hour in the country, Brian made friends with some guys where we stopped to buy water and one guy asked for a ride a few miles down the road. He seemed cool, so we gave him one. He was super nice and we just talked about our kids and made small talk. Plus he lived in Crooked Tree which is in the midst of wildlife sanctuary. There were a ton of birds all over (hard to tell in the picture since they were far away, but every black or white spot you see is a bird). It was really beautiful. Since it was the end of the dry season, the water level of the lagoon was low, but during the wet season it rises over 7 feet and floods the road. They have to use a boat to get out! It was a great detour we wouldn't have taken otherwise.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
So after about an hour drive, we made it to Orange Walk town in Northern Belize. We got checked into our first ever Airbnb place, and simply loved the little house we had booked. Our hosts were super friendly and helpful, the place was clean, and the AC worked very well (it's frickin' hot in Belize dudes). Their yard even had mango trees! As you can imagine, they smell and look so much better than anything we've ever seen in a grocery store in the US. The town of Orange Walk is small but quite lively. It seemed everyone was very active at night. My guess was because that's the only time it's not sweltering hot. Sunday night dinner wasn't very good since the only places open were Chinese restaurants (yep, so weird). But breakfast the next morning was so great. One of our tour guides, Antonio (who happened to be next door neighbors to our hosts) took us to a little tiny restaurant a short walk away where we had Fry Jack's. It's like what we would call Indian Fry Bread, with refried beans, cheese, and shredded chicken in some sort of amazing sauce. I've been craving them ever since and will be attempting to make these bad boys very soon.

Our main purpose in this part of Belize was to see the nearby Mayan ruin called Lamanai. So we'd signed up for a tour with a company called Jungle River Tours. Antonio road with us to the dock where we joined a larger group. The tour included a boat ride down the New River, about an hour one-way to the ruins. It was filled with more birds than you can imagine, gorgeous views of the surrounding jungle, enormous termite nests, giant snake cacti, teeny tiny bats, and one adorable monkey. Antonio's brother, Hilberto, was our guide and he was very knowledgeable about all the plants and wildlife along the river.

Snack Cactus
This rehabilitated spider monkey is by himself and out of his natural environment,
so all the guides feed him bananas.
Brian even got to feed him!
The river suddenly gets miles wide right before you get to Lamanai
Once we arrived, they fed us lunch of more delicious homemade, local fare. Coconut rice & beans, chicken stew (Hilberto called it "mystery meat" as a joke, but it was actually really good), fried plantains, and a Belizean coca-cola. That's right, I drank a soda for the first time in about 4 years. I had no tea or coffee that day which meant I had a raging caffeine headache. So I had a sip of Brian's coke and was shocked! It was so delicious I drank a whole one myself. Must've been the fact that it was made with real, probably fresh, sugar (considering all the sugar cane we saw growing in Belize) instead of high-fructose corn syrup! Seriously, wish we had that version here in the US. During lunch we heard our first Howler monkeys of the trip. So glad we were with a guide to tell us what that scary ass sound was. Would have been truly terrifying to hear that for the first time if you were alone in the jungle!

Next was a quick pass through the small museum there and then a short walk through the jungle to Lamanai. We saw some Howler monkeys way up in the trees in a few places, but none of the pictures turned out well. They're good at blending. Hilberto reminded us all to not look up at the trees with our mouths open, especially when passing under monkeys, as they like to throw unwrapped snickers bars at tourists. 😆

It was monkey nap time
The first ruin I saw in person, and many others after as well, literally took my breath away. I had never been in the presence of anything that old before. It was truly awe-inspiring. We learned a ton of information about Lamanai and the Mayans in general. The most interesting thing was how little of the site (and all the sites we saw on our trip) have actually been excavated. As you walk around these places, you realize every mound you see, even every place you walk, has history underneath it. It's best to show you the rest with pictures instead of words.

Mask Temple
Close-up of one of the Masks
High Temple, 108ft tall
Panorama from High Temple
On top of High Temple
I don't like heights, but I forced myself to climb all the ruins.
Totally worth it
Jaguar Temple
Close-up of one of the Jaguar faces

Stay tuned for 3 more posts about the rest of our trip, coming soon!

Part 2: Beach Life in Sittee Point
Part 3: Caracol
Part 4: San Ignacio, Xunantunich, & Cahal Pech