Wednesday, July 29, 2020

7-29-2020 Yes, More of Cara's Cooking and an Update on Belize

One beautiful Sunday we drove down to Mango's Beachfront Bar so Eric could have their Sunday
special of a $6 burger.

We ran into several friends who had arrived by boat - smart and fun!

It's not unusual to see a horse in the village, but on this day we saw four! Three adult horses and a
foal, all hanging out at the playground in front of the school.

I, Cara, attended a virtual Yelp event via Zoom and learned how to make a sugar body scrub from
simple household ingredients. Easy to make and nice - even Eric likes and uses it.

Black bean burgers - my first attempt, and they were pretty good. The recipe made a decent amount,
so I froze some for later. They were easy and tasty, so I will make these again.

Tostadas - Homemade corn tortillas topped with caramelized corn and black beans, pepperjack cheese
and fresh, homemade guacamole. Yippee, it's avocado season!!!  While I normally make guacamole
with avocados, a friend introduced me to the way they eat avocados in Guam, and it's eye-and taste
bud-opening! Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Fill the center of the avocado (where the pit was)
with a mixture of soy sauce and black pepper. Spoon out bites of avocado, making sure to get some
sauce with it and eat. Wow, is it good!

Zucchini fritters - these are yummy, and I make them fairly regularly.

My second attempt at gluten free banana bread. The first one turned out gooey, but this one, while
slightly overcooked, turned out the right texture. Yay, I'm improving! And I had several leftover
overripe bananas, so I mashed them and froze them to make another loaf at a later time.

I processed my first breadfruit (messy) and made it two ways: pan fried (on top) and spicy baked
breadfruit fries (on bottom). Eric is not a fan of breadfruit, but I like it. Both ways were good.
I don't know if I would make it again, though, since it would just be for me, and it was fairly labor
intensive. It's worth it to get it when we go out and someone else makes it.

Hash browns

A new friend, Dwayne, recently moved to Hopkins from Corozal (in the north of Belize). This is
his dog, Blue, who was huge but super sweet. Sadly, he recently passed from tick fever.

Every new repatriation flight brings in at least a couple new people infected with the virus.
Plus, illegal border jumpers who visit Mexico or Guatemala then return to Belize keep
bringing in the virus as well. So, we are now up to 48 total cases (only 19 active, as most
recover, thankfully).  

The State of Emergency ended at the end of June, though we still have to wear masks in public and social distance.  Now every businesses can open if they want to. Many have not, though, because there are no tourists here to sustain them. People in the country are traveling around some, but it's not enough. 

The land borders will remain closed for a good while since Mexico and Guatemala have a ton of coronavirus cases. However, for several reasons, the government decided to open the international airport on August 15th.  (The wisdom of this is a matter of great debate in the country right now.)  In any case, tourists that do come have several requirements.  They must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test from within 72 hours of travel, or they must submit to a rapid test at the airport (at their own expense).  They must also download an app to their phone that tracks their movement and allows the government to check in with them on any symptoms.  Plus, they are only allowed to stay at approved "gold star" all-inclusive resorts that have their own restaurants and tour operations.  These tourists are not supposed to leave the resorts and wander around the villages, but we'll see how many actually adhere to the rules. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

7-23 to 7-26-2020 Friends Trip to Sarteneja

We figure that now (before the international airport opens) is the time to do some traveling within
Belize, so we went with a bunch of our friends up north to Sarteneja in the Corozal District. An
electronic music DJ owns Backpackers Paradise (hostel and cabanas) up there, so we rented several
cabanas and had a fantastic long weekend.

Backpackers Paradise is a cute place with a very relaxed vibe.

It's away from the seafront, though, so it can get very buggy (mostly mosquitoes, though we did
have some other wild visitors).

It's also quite the drive to get up there.  We carpooled with several friends, and we had some stops
to make along the way, which added to the travel time - what should have taken us about 5 hours
took us about 8 hours.  The last couple of hours were on a rough, rocky road that never let us go
faster than about 25 miles per hour.

This is the communal room where we hung out most of the time, chilling, talking, playing games,
cooking and eating. It's a nice, large, screened-in room with tables and chairs, hammocks, and a
kitchen. Everyone brought tons of food, and we cooked almost all our own meals.

There are several horses that roam freely on the property. You can go horseback riding (for a fee),
but none of us did.

We shared the white cabana with another couple.

The screened-in porch with hammock was nice.

This mural was on the wall of the porch.

This mural was in our bathroom. It basically says (in Spanish), "give me your hand and let's go
around the world".

This hearty plant was trying to make a home in a crack in the wall inside
the communal room.

A gecko in the communal room. Eat up those mosquitoes, little buddy!

Hmmm...what could be coming out of this hole in the corner of the communal room?

Yep, it's a tarantula! And yes, we left him/her alone after taking some photos.

To show some scale of our little visitor.

This praying mantis lived in our shower and wouldn't even give us any
privacy when we showered. I guess he's a voyeur.

On two afternoons we went into the village to check it out. It's known for boat building. It's also, apparently, one of the few places in Belize where you can see the sun set over the water (instead
of the sun rising over the water).

The seafront is pretty, but there is no beach. Sarteneja is a quiet, Hispanic fishing village.

They do have lots of nice trash cans along the seafront to keep their waters clean.

There is one place that has some beach, so we walked down there both days. These are some
views along the way.

This concrete groin wall and palapa trap the sand on the one side to create a beach.

We did swim, but we learned that the sea floor here is very mucky/muddy.
And it was stinky if you stirred up the mud - a very sulfurous odor. It was
shallow, and you had to swim out a ways before you could find a rocky
bottom to stand on (and not sink into). 

Everyone agreed that Hopkins has a way better seafront.

Here is Luckie cracking open a coconut for the kids to eat the meat (after he had already drunk the
coconut water with some rum).

Some of our group enjoying the shade of the palapa.

Amon playing coconut keep-away with Khaya.

Walking back from our swimming spot.

Twice we ate lunch at Raquel's Kitchen - good food, and very reasonably priced.

Friday night we stayed up super late dancing to electronic music.

This is DJ Lou Ann, who is one half of Under The Moon.

This is DJ Nati (Nathalie), the other half of Under The Moon, and the owner
of Backpackers Paradise.

Nati offered to take the kids on a short buggy ride before we left on Sunday. Pam was ready to go
without her, lol.

They went around the property, then into the village and back.

On the way back to Hopkins we decided to take a different route. We wanted to see something new,
and we wanted to avoid the long, rocky, bumpy road. The new route involved taking two short
ferry rides. This is the first one at Laguna Seca.

It's a hand cranked ferry, and Luckie and Amon decided to relieve the worker of his job and take
over at the crank.

This is the second hand-cranked ferry crossing at New River.

Though it was a slightly longer drive, the roads were MUCH better going the new way, and Amon
and Pam got in a nice, long nap.