Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finally, it's time to take off for Belize!

We went to Belize in August, which is their rainy season.  However, we were lucky and it really didn't rain much while we were there.  The nice part about the rainy season is that prices are generally lower and crowds are typically down!  We flew Continental, which was great.  No charge for the first bag and the Belize departure tax is already included in the price of the ticket, which saves some hassles and money leaving the country at the end of the trip as well.  We arrived in Belize City around 10:30 am ready to go, customs was smooth and we were out the door of the airport quickly and immediately greeted by Miguel from Chaa Creek.  Our package included a stop at the Belize Zoo so we decided to stop on our way to Chaa Creek rather on our way to the second resort after our stay at Chaa Creek.  At first, I thought, ok - why stop at a zoo?  How strange that everyone makes such a fuss about this zoo and why is it such a destination in Belize?  Haven't I been to enough zoos?  But we went with it and stopped at the zoo.  Our driver, Miguel took us into the zoo and acted as our guide. 

When they say that it's the "Best Little Zoo in the World", maybe it's true!  It's a totally natural environment zoo.  There are no cement enclosures, you honestly barely notice the cages at all.  The animals are native to Belize and all come as orphaned, rehabilated, donated from other zoos or were born at the zoo.  They have several conservation programs to restore endangered animals back to their environments as well.   Miguel took us through the winding paths which were set in a jungle setting and told us about each of the animals and their habitats.  It was quite a nice learning experience and a great introduction to the country!  The zoo has hand painted, quite humorous signs, often written from the perspective of the animals they describe.

After leaving the zoo, we had about another hour drive before arriving at Chaa Creek. The closer we got, the more we began to get into some beautiful mountain and jungle countryside. Miguel would point out everytime the geography would change and what it was that made it different. As we drove over the Macal River he became very passionate about the Chalillo Dam which has recently caused much political controversy and apparently has caused the Macal River to turn brown. We heard much talk while we were near San Ignacio of how this dam has caused pollution and the brown is not simply mud. It's quite the topic among the locals.

We arrived at Chaa Creek after turing off the Western Highway and onto what is one of many, many very bumpy roads.  This one is several miles, but leads to possibly the most perfect eco-lodge in Belize!  At least we thought so!  Our first impressions of Chaa Creek were simply "stunning".  K looked at me and says "where did you find this place"?  After a very simple check in we were given a tour of the grounds and taken to our standard cottage.  It was beautiful.  Hardwood floors, huge bathroom with double sinks, double shower and a wonderful outdoor shower.  Super high thatched roof and powerful ceiling fans as there's no air conditioning.  As many of the jungle lodges seem to be, the doors don't lock when you're not in your cottage.  You have no room key.  Just keep your valuables in the safe and shut the door when you leave.  When you're in the room, you can lock the door for privacy.

Once we were settled in we had some lunch and then spent the afternoon at the pool.  Chaa Creek has just recently added their pool, which is awesome.  I can't imagine staying there without it!  No matter what time we got back from our day's activities we always were ready to relax by the pool for a bit before heading to dinner.  It was a great hang out place and incredibly relaxing.
All in all our first day in Belize was pretty fantastic!

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