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On the other side was a cavern with ledges along both sides. Up ahead was the boy, waiting for me. A little farther inside the cave, I was able to stand up. The boy, now upright, too, led me on, from the first cavern to a second one and then a third. All along the sides were ledges littered with clay pots, most in pieces but some whole. I confirmed with Mick later that these pots were Mayan artifacts.

"The country is lousy with them," he told me. "The Smithsonian and others come down and catalog as many as they can, but there are just too many. They're everywhere in the caves."

In the third room, the biggest, the ceiling of the cavern reached what seemed like cathedral height. In the center of the circular area was a big, round, table-shaped rock. The boy and I stood in silence staring up and all around, then he said we should go before it got too late.

I followed him back to the first cavern and then watched as he hoisted himself up and pulled himself through the small opening. If he can do it, I guess I can do it, I thought to myself and hoisted and pulled until my arms were through and then the boy helped pull through the rest of me.

Back out above ground, the rain had stopped, but the hillside was wet and slippery. We slid and scrambled back down toward the boy's family's home, arriving just in time for dinner.

The boy's family was seated around a homemade wooden table situated outside, alongside the door to the house. The mother was serving when we approached but stopped when she saw me. I was head to toe red mud. The lady went inside her house and returned with a small bar of soap. She handed the soap to me and pointed down the hill in the direction of the river.

I walked down the hill to the river and waded in to my knees. I bent over and splashed water on my arms and legs then used the soap to scrub off the worst of it. Rinsed and a little more presentable, I returned to the family dinner table.

After dinner, the boy walked me to the room next-door and said good night. I slept on the floor, on a straw mat, with the windows open to the breeze and the night sounds.

I fell immediately asleep. The next morning, after breakfast, Mick's man returned to take me back to Chaa Creek.

Arriving in Belize City last night for this two-week visit, Lief, Jack, and I walked out from the international airport and headed in the direction of the one-room rental car shop on the other side of the parking lot. As we approached, a friendly lady approached.

"Hello, I'm Marilyn. This is my husband Eddie."

I looked over to Lief for help. Had this couple been sent by local friends to greet us? Were we supposed to give them a ride somewhere? Who were Marilyn and Eddie?

"Here, let me help load your bags into the back of the SUV," Eddie offered.

"Then you can come inside with me to fill out the paperwork," Marilyn added.

Ah, these were the rental car agents. They'd been standing in the parking lot with our rental car waiting for us to show...even though our plane had been two hours delayed. Marilyn and Eddie had walked across the parking lot to check in with TACA to confirm our arrival time...then they'd brought the car out front and hung out around it until we appeared on the scene.

Welcome to Belize.

"I wonder if they stand out in the parking lot waiting to greet every customer," I said to Lief later.

"Maybe. Best I could tell from their website, I think their rental fleet consists of a half-dozen cars," he said.

We set out from the airport along one of the country's three paved highways. When the paving ran out, we bumped and jostled over a rutted thoroughfare of exposed limestone that I think takes the prize for the worst road I've ever traveled.

Turns out, our lodge wasn't at the end of that road, as Lief had thought. So we got to drive the worst road I've ever seen twice last night, 30 minutes in and then 30 minutes back out to the main highway.

Going in and then coming back out, we had to cross a plank bridge.

"Do you think that bridge can accommodate this vehicle?" I asked the first time we approached it.

"Where's your spirit of adventure?" Lief replied.

Belize is Belize. A land for the intrepid. I've got two weeks to remember what that feels like.

Can't wait.

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor's Note: Belize is one of the top places in the world right now to retire and live the adventure of your lifetime. If you're considering this part of the world, don't miss our upcoming Live and Invest in Belize Conference.

We'll be opening registration for the Live and Invest in Belize Conference in a few weeks. However, today you can get your name on the event's Hot List for special discounts and VIP perks. Do that here now.

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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