Christmas Central American Style

Warm, hot even, is what it is down here for Christmas.  It is strange to see Christmas trees  decorated to the hilt while sweat is beading up on your brow, but that is the way it is here. 

PHOTO Album Link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/henderbalz/TripToCorozalBelizeForChristmas08#

First we were introduced or re-acquainted to all the holiday hosts, Aunt Audrey, cousin Laith, little cousin Seth and let me not forget, Flex and Tyson their trusty and very friendly pit-bull companions.  After we got settled in, we took a tour of the house and property.  The house is great, not on the huge side, but perfect for Audrey and Seth.  With Audrey’s great sense of design and the treasures she has picked up along the way through her life and travels, the place looked so internationally shabby chic.  Looove it!  Audrey made the tropical, normally bamboo only furniture, type place into a home anyone would feel comforted.  To top it all, there was a 10 foot Christmas tree  dripping  in what looked like hundreds of meaningful ornaments of years gone by.    That was not the end of it, around the house there were touches of holiday surprises to keep the spirit going!  

Beyond the house there is a large backyard right on the water with palm tree swaying in the breeze and birds swooping on by.  There is a greenhouse t00, loaded down with blooming orchids.  There is also a big garage with all the toys in it, a small motor boat, a jeep, a ATV, a couple of kayaks and even a boa constrictor snake Laith found in the yard.  Fortunately, the snake was in a cage.  Above the garage is Laith’s one bedroom fisherman bachelor pad.  And no tour of the grounds would be complete without mentioning not only, Seth’s biggest sand box in the world complete with a whole set of tonka construction trucks, but also Laith’s new toy, a nice fishing boat, much much bigger than the one in the garage!

Our Christmas eve started with a great breakfast and then errands to run.  Jim and Laith took off for town first and then later Audrey, Seth and I went as well.  Last minute gifts to buy and veggies to pick up.  Got a good feel of the small town of Corozal, nice place to live near, but a place only for a stopover going in or out of Belize / Mexico for serious travelers.   After our trip to town, Seth, Audrey and I had a baloney sandwich lunch on the back patio.  I have not had baloney in years and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the pickles that came along as a condiment.  Although you can get pickled veggies in Honduras, the pickle itself is not a hot commodity here.  I love the pickle, especially a good New York Kosher Dill, but at this point, I will take a pickle of any kind.  

After playing with Seth and the dogs, all quite entertaining, for most of the afternoon we all went to Tony’s place, a nice restaurant and resort near town for a special Christmas Eve dinner.  The place was lighted up, well, like a Christmas tree.  Christmas lights everywhere, yes, even in the Palm trees!  Although it was still on the warm side and we ate on an open deck, all the lights did make the evening feel that much more Christmasy!  After dinner we watched an animated movie, Disney’s Kung Fu Panda.  We loved it!   After the movie, we laid out cookies for Santa and all snuggled ourselves into bed for the night. 

Santa did find us down here!   Early Christmas morning, six year old Seth did not get us up too early, we started to open presents.  It was so festive, the dogs even wanted to join in.  They were christened with bows around their necks after getting in the middle of everything.    Breakfast came next and then the big plan for the day, a trip to Altun Ha Mayan Ruins.  Seth decided the ride would be too much and he wanted to play with his new Christmas presents, so Audrey stayed home with him.  It was just us three on this Christmas Mayan  adventure.  Laith decided to take the back “scenic” way loop, which was fine with us.  I am not sure if it was all the talking going in the car or that the sign was just way too small, but we seemed to miss the Ruins completely, by the time the loop made it back to the highway, it was getting late, too late to go back to actually find the ruins, so we headed back to Corozal!   We laughed about it and like we say, “The adventure is getting there…and sometimes not getting there!”  

We made it back to the house in time  for the awesome lamb leg holiday dinner!  We all sat around the dinning room table, it was so nice to be with family for the holidays.  And it was really nice for me to get to know Laith better, and to meeet Audrey and Seth.  All very nice, smart and super interesting people.  What a Christmas treat.

Boxing day, the day after Christmas, we decided to take another try at the Mayan Ruins, but this time something smaller and closer to home, the Cerros Ruins.  It was a nice drive and we had to take this quaint hand cranked barge across the river to get there.  First, Laith gave a hand to the hard working crankers and then Jim got the other side. The  boys cranked us on across the river.    The Cerros Ruins are small, but very nice.   There was some climbing, but nothing too bad.  They are right on the bay and the grounds were quite nice, many mounds were not even uncovered.  After that we went to the Purple Tucan for lunch, Audrey, Laith and Seth’s favorite spot in town.  We had yummy ceviche and lots of it!    Back to the house for hammock and dog play time.  Never knew pitbulls were such swimmers, but they sure do like to swim out into the bay to get the ball Seth can throw  to them over and over and over again.  My favorite dog watching activity was when Tyson would completely and whole-heartedly tear up a coconut, even eating the meat!  After a few days, old Flex, decided to try it himself, but he went only for either Tyson’s leftovers or tiny little baby coconuts. 

The next day was monumental for me, I not only had my first ATV ride, I drove one too.  On top of all that, we had High Tea at a neighbors house as well.  Driving on the back of the ATV, behind Jim, was fun.  I directed  him down overgrown passage ways and paths along sugarcane fields , and he…well…uhh…took me to the dump.  The man knows how to impress the ladies!   I got to drive it when were back on the road, not as exciting as paths, but it was still exhilarating.  After the ATV hoopla, we headed over for a civilized tea at, if I recall correctly, Beverly and Bob’s place.  We had tea on the front deck over looking their big garden front yard.  Beverly, with her quiet and proper accent pushed a cart filled with goodies and teapots out to the already set table.  Bob strolled out in a button up shirt, slacks and a pipe, making us all look like work-hands in our casual clothing.    Bob is English and moved to Belize when it was still an English colony many many years ago, met Beverly, a Belizian, and off they went traveling the world together.   The scene seemed to me from back in the colonial days, the proper English accent, the proper dress, the fancy tea complete with plum pudding and all in a tropical setting.  It was awesome, and learning about Bob and Beverly’s life was very enjoyable.  They are soon off to Columbia to help some big company look for oil, so much for retirement!

The day was here, not the day to leave, but the day to christen Liath’s new boat on her first maiden voyage!   Jim, Seth and Laith put her into the water and came around to the dock to pick up Audrey and me.  We set off across the some-what choppy bay.  It was not a smooth ride, but nothing like the ride we had on Christine, the hell boat.  Jim and I sat up front, Seth, First Mate, sat next to the Laith, the captain and Audrey, Social Director, sat in the smooth seat at the back.  We headed for the Cerros Ruins, took a couple of pictures and then went to a quiet smooth river for the rest of the trip.  The water was like glass, with mangroves dripping into the water on both sides.  Several times during the ride a bird would fly along side as if he was racing us, Laith would speed up and the bird would speed up.  We saw parrots and some wonderful large pink birds, no they were not flamingos.   Then we saw a tug boat pulling barges filled with molasses from the sugar can factory.    We had a wonderful time with gthe wind in our hair, the water under us and the sun in our eyes. 

Our last day was low key, so low key, we did some fishing.  Yes, I even fished.  We did not catch anything, but I got the hang of casting out.  More fun, was driving Seth around on the ATV discovering the wooded area and dodging spider webs. 

We had more of our share of good times, good food, and good people which led us to stay much longer than we had planned.    Thanks to Audrey, Laith, and Seth for their hospitality, we hope to see them again and soon!

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~ by HenderBalz on January 14, 2009.

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