A Very Cockscomb Christmas to you


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Hello family! I'm doing my best to keep the stories coming, but I have been just too busy living them to document! Although its a few months later, I hope you still enjoy them! 😊

A few days after returning from our adventures up North, Megan arrived for a Holiday Extravaganza! She was our first visitor to the tiny peninsula we call home, and also my first time being able to meet my friend out on the jetway! 😊 It was an amazing sunny Christmas Eve, and Megan showered us with first world novelties for the entire first day! She brought anti-itch sprays, books, lotions, obama t-shirts, new magazines (whoa!), stickers (YES!), tahini, glitter pens and markers! I can't even begin to tell you how the stickers and markers have changed my life! Finally I can personalize!

Christmas Eve was a Thursday night, and the first of many, many ..... MANY more Karaoke Nights at the Tipsy Tuna! The Barefoot Beach bar is our favorite sandy outdoor beach spot, and they also have live reggae bands there often. On Christmas Eve, the Coolie Rebels were jamming the scene and everyone was dancing and having a great time! Then at about 11pm, we wandered into the Tipsy Tuna, which shares a deck, only to find everyone in the bar singing along with the karaoke star on a small stage in the corner! Wooohooo, we need to get in on this! By the second or third time on stage, we noticed that there were people behind the windows of the wooden box in the corner, and maybe...strobe lights? Just as soon as the thought hit me, a local came over and asked, would we like to check out the Aquarium? Would I ever! I opened the door and the 20x20foot room was pounding with beats and sweaty people jumping and dancing and the lights were spinning, fog blowing, AWESOME! We finally found our dance box! 😊 And I know now the Aquarium is aptly named - I've spent many a song dancing on up on that window and pointing to the karaoke star outside and vice versa! Its actually quite impressive how sound proof that dance box can be - i think I need to ask Salva about its construction so I can have one in my next house! Speaking of the owner of the Tipsy Tuna - apparently there is an old broken foosball table stored in a crazy cabinet 6 feet above the bar! I'm campaigning to a) bring it down, b) fix it (i'm an engineer!), and c) have tournaments OF COURSE! I'll keep you posted!

On Christmas Day, we joined our list of characters from Thanksgiving again at Steve and Kathy's and indulged in many courses of coconut breads, pineapple casseroles, overnight fire roasted turkey, and mango cheesecake - just like home with tropical modifications! After a great meal, Megan and I went for a bike ride up to the airstrip, and spent some time lounging on the beach enjoying the positive ions! 😊 Megs was telling me that the crashing of waves supposedly causes an abundance of positive ions, and that's why people living near the beach are so happy! Match that up with our tropical climate that fuels a laid back pace of life and you've got our Happy Paradise of a Village!

After Christmas, we packed up the team and started on our adventure to Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve...YEAH! We went for an overnight trip, and would be staying in a primitive cabin, so we had to pack food and provisions for two days of hiking and jungle river fun! Lucky for everyone, we had recently mastered the picinic/party on the go when we went up North, so it was a snap! We took the water taxi next door, the Hokey Pokey, over to the mainland (cutting an hour off the road trip) and then caught the bus north to the park. It was by FAR, the most uneventful bus ride we've had in Belize - we got seats and everything! The bus dropped us off at the entrance road, but it was still a 6 mile hike into the park...unless you hire a taxi of course! Well, the guides tell you its a taxi, but really its just a 2 seater pick up truck and everyone else gets in the back - with the cab on! We wrestle down the typical Belizian dirt road in the typical fashion-which means a road with tons of mud, pot holes, and in a car with no shocks! The visitors center and cabins were in a cleared out area, but the rest of the park was layers of the Mayan Mountains (including one of the tallest peaks in belize) covered in lush thick jungle and rivers! The park has 90km of hiking trails, but the only map they have is the one that is hand painted on a board at the visitors center (take a picture!) Our first adventure, was a great jungle hike to Ben's Bluff! The last 20 minutes of it was straight up the side of the mountain, and the terrain started to change into the pine forest, so we were looking through 50 foot pine trees over to hundreds of rolling mounds stretching at least seven layers back of lush green mountains, including our favorite peak, the Cockscomb Peak! It's the perfect sillouhette that we admire from the lagoon views in Placencia, so it was just AWESOME to be up there right next to it!! On the way back down the trail, we stopped at the amazing waterfall and had a well deserved swim! When we got back to the cabin, we were famished, and took our food and drink down to the kitchen cabin and made our veggie wraps, enjoyed peanut butter and crackers, chips, and even ICE for our drinks! We played a few games of Uno and CatchPhrase and at about 8pm we were ready for bed! 😊

We woke up at dawn and were all determined to get out early to see some wildlife action, even though it was raining. We strapped on our rain gear and headed down the road to the plane crash site and Tiger Fern trail. The crash was cool, and we continued up the path into the mountain at a super steep rate! It was an INTENSE hike - about 90 minutes straight up, and we were wondering if there would ever be any reprieve! When we finally rounded the corner to the summit, there was a sign directing us back DOWN the other side of the mountain which said WaterFall 15 minute strenuous hike --> !!! We had already come this far, so we took a 10 minute break to enjoy the A-Maz-Ing view, and then started down the incredibley steep, tree root twisted path. We were finally going downhill, so we scampered really quickly, but kept commenting how we were going down, down, down and would have to go back up eventually! We could hear the waterfalls before we could see them, and of course that made us run downhill faster! There were three different waterfalls in the narrow ravine, each of them very different in size and character! Just awesome! We only hung out for a few minutes, because we still had a full schedule for the rest of the day! The hike back up was no problem, but the hike down the other side of the mountain seemed to go on forevvvveeerr...I couldn't believe I had hiked up this far!! We took a different loop trail back to our cabin, and on the way Zach spotted a strange animal about the size of a medium dog climbing down a tree trunk with no effort! Later identified as an anteater, Aly did her best to get as clost as possible to take a picture. As she approached, the anteater stood up on his hind legs, through his arms in the air, and gave Aly his best "Don't Mess With ME!" pose! Twice! It was so cute!!!

We got back to the visitors center late morning, and had just enough time to grab a couple of the black intertubes and hit the trail to the jungle river tubing launch. It had been raining on and off all weekend, so it was no surprise that this most used pathway was super slippery and muddy! We had to take our flips off to try and keep better footing, and about 30 seconds later Z spotted a tarantula in the grass! GREAT! (Actually, our neighbor boys Logan and Adamus - both 6 years old - brought a 5 gallon bucket to our door today with 2 huge furry taranutlas that they found in our yard! EEEEUUUWWWW!) We finally got to the river, jumped on our tubes, and let the current carry us through the thick jungle! The cool water felt absolutely divine on our aching feet - we had hiked up 2 mountains and to 2 different waterfalls in just 2 days!

One of the most impressive and enjoyable things about Cockscomb - and Belize in general - is that we got to do all of these amazing things without barely seeing another person! With a population of 250,000 it is one of the least densley populated countries in the world, and is barely noticed by tourists for some unknown reason. This paradise is one of the world's best kept secrets! 😉


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23rd February 2009

Wandke- Please keep the stories coming. It is a welcome escape from everyday life. Glad the adventure continues. Higgins

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