Friday, December 24, 2010

Discovering the Cayo District, Belize

It was Christmas eve on the morning of our departure from Hopkins. A troupe of local children sporting hand made masks and costumes came by the villa for a performance to collect some Christmas money. I was excited about our kids getting to watch the local talent but sadly the resort security did not allow the troupe to perform.While a bunch of us went to breakfast, the rest stayed back to relax and soak in the views one last time. Talinn and I spent some time painting and capturing our memories of Hopkins. We were kissing the Caribbean goodbye for this trip.We cannot leave Hopkins without talking about Cassava bread and true love. Cassava bread is a traditional part of the Garifuna life. The previous night, I had asked one of the chefs at Driftwood pizza about the recipe. It's quite a laborious process. Cassava is a yuca root (potato like) that needs to be first soaked in water, then mashed using a special implement, and then left overnight. The bread is made early next morning. A local women run bakery in Hopkins sells cassava bread but was shut when we stopped by on our way out. It was Christmas eve and when no one in Hopkins works on regular days, why on earth would anyone be working today? Anyway, I was dissapointed to be leaving without a taste. Next thing we know, Nana jumped out of the van, asks a few people, and finds the chef's house from the pizza place. She had invited us over for a taste last night. Nana actually showed up at her door and got us all some cassava bread. I'm convinced he can make anything happen and I'm floored with his gesture that spells love so loudly. Unfortunately, the bread itself tasted much like a bark of wood and was hastily abandoned after a quick taste. I suppose it's acquired taste.Off we went towards inland Belize to explore the jungles of the Cayo district. Imagine our excitement when we found the Hot Mama factory along the way. If you remember my note about Marie, you will remember our love for Belizean hot sauces. Hot Mama is of the same caliber as Marie Sharp, both apparently started by women who home grow the most amazing habanero peppers in this land.On our way to San Ignacio, the largest town near our jungle resort, we had a bit of drama with the driver who decided to help himself to beer during a pit stop. We fired him and Nana drove most of the way. Nathan anna was complaining of ear ache and still recovering from an ear infection. We stopped at a hospital and pharmacy in Belmopan and got good help. The Indian restaurant owner in Hopkins had mentioned a south Indian restaurant in San Ignacio. We worked up an appetite for dosa as we neared the town, which was big and bustling compared to poor old Hopkins. The restaurant was a bit of a disaster but what did I tell you about anticipating food for hours. Everything tasted fine in the end, the kids enjoyed their dosas and we were on our way.Chaa Creek is the most amazing resort I've ever been to. Every bit of it lived up to the expectations. The lodge was totally sold out for all of December by the time we booked, so they offered us accommodations in the Camp Casitas. Nana had wanted to stay in a tree house and with the casitas we came pretty close. The campsite was a bit removed from the main lodge but all its facilities were available to us. And the campsite provide the perfect setting for a true jungle adventure for the kids.After check-in, we rolled into a Jurassic park-like jeep to head to our camps. There is no electricity here, so the kids had immense fun walking around with flashlights. Oil lamps illuminated our elevated cabins which were open on all sides - just covered with netting. The kids could call out for each other from adjacent cabins. Outside on the patio hung hammocks to relax and soak in the natural wonders around.All meals were included in our stay and lovingly prepared from the heart at the local kitchen. Every single meal was unique and so very delicious. The kids typically received a mini portion minus the adult ingredients. I think we all asked for seconds at one time or another. Every dinner ended with the lighting of the bonfire outside the dining hall. We would take our desserts to enjoy around the fire. Talinn was totally reminded of his summer camping trips and falling asleep in my lap while toasting ourselves around the fire. He wanted to do this every night and remembers his experience vividly. This being Christmas eve, we punctuated our time around the campfire with carols that gave way to other favorites. It was a bit warm for Christmas but it was merry all the way.

2 comments:

come to christ said...

hello dear kavitha & nagesh, it is good to see your Banjara baby website. i was born and brought from Banjara tribe . pleas write me back. i am from Hyderabad city , india

come to christ said...

hello dear kavitha & nagesh, it is good to see your Banjara baby website. i was born and brought from Banjara tribe . pleas write me back. i am from Hyderabad city , india