After puffing into San Ignacio, we puffed our way out again 5km north to Bullet Tree Falls, a pleasant little village that lies lazily on the banks of the sparkling emerald Mopan River and just a spit away from Guatemala. It turns out that Marcus and Theo, our very generous CouchSurfing hosts, run the Parrot Nest Lodge. Imagine our giddy glee when we found out that we were to have our very own bungalow, a definitive upgrade from the floor space we were expecting! Vinko had been suppressing a cold and at the first sign of friendly faces and homey comforts he released the floodgates and we spent the next five days taking it easy, getting cruisy with the guests and locals, and generally just getting our shit together. 6 weeks on the road will leave you in a bit of a spin, mind the pun. We also found out that the memory stick containing all the photos of the trip thus far decided to keel over and die on us. So we needed a few days to mourn and drink away the pain of this loss. Trust me folks, I'm more disappointed than you that we don't have any glitzy images to keep you reading this post ;-P
But all is not play for this travelling duo... oh no sir, we also had to visit Chaa Creek Lodge as part of our research. Marcus and Theo are good friends with the owners of Chaa Creek, Mick and Lucy, who came to the property in the late 70s as crusty backpackers who survived on picking beans and taking their produce to the San Ignacio markets in a canoe. So there is hope for us yet! Despite the fact that the lodge was fully booked for Christmas and very busy, Mick carted us around in his little 4WD gold-buggy while doing his rounds and we got to learn so mush about the property and its evolution into the amazing place it is today. The number one thing that we learned at Chaa Creek was the importance of great staff - each person seemed proud of the place and happy to be there, and we felt special because they were so pleased to be of assistance. Spending time at the lodge was inspiring and it ignited us to start pedalling again to go seek our piece of paradise. Good thing too, since the looming hills towards the west was not a motivating thought even on the best of days! Onwards to Guatemala!
|Rio On pools and waterfall at Mountain Pine Ridge|
|The Croat Haka amidst the natural water park of Rio Pools|
|Danger mouse through slippery slide waterfalls|
Bullet Tree Falls and the surrounding area has so much to offer: multiple winding rivers, lush mountains, deep valleys, caves, Mayan sites, waterfalls, real cheese and whole wheat bread... Marcus - being wildly extroverted and always up for anything and everything - knows all the local hide-outs, which places has happy hour when and you can hardly walk half a block without loud greeting being swapped across the street. We spent mornings at the colourful market trying all the concoctions of fruit wine (carrot wine anyone?!?), happy afternoons floating down the river on tubes, and never-ending evenings downing super cheap cocktails at Meluchi's, a little bar operating from a 12 foot container overlooking the cemetery and blaring with either reggaeton or karaoke (great fun, especially considering the super cheap cocktails). We also got the chance to splash around in the Rio On Pools and Black Rock Falls at the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. The myriad of pools and waterfalls are freezing - what were we thinking?!?!?
|Black Rock Falls, home of the brave, Tarzan´s playground|
|Lady in red, just downstream from Black Rock Falls|
|Marcus and Owen showing off their Carrot and Craboo wines at Parrot Nest Lodge, Bullet Tree Falls|
|Betta is bigga, is greatta! Sign at Rio On Pools, Belize|
|Speed bump = sleeping policeman, literal is betta in Belize, Cristo Rey Village|