Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Visit to Belize

I recently returned from Ambergris Caye, an island off of the northern coast of Belize. It was a family vacation and a wonderful destination. Since I ride year-round, an annual trip to someplace hot and sunny with warm, blue water so that the hubby can enjoy scuba and other water sports only seems fair.

Belize is famous for its waters and protected underwater parks.
Also home to The Blue Hole which draws divers from around the world.

I wish I could tell you that I went horseback riding there (a popular activity), but we stayed mostly near the beach, and no complaints since I love the water, too. But I did see some horses—they are small and finely boned, similar to Paso Finos, which makes sense due to the Spanish influence there. 

A large ray coming to see if we had any fish scraps to share.
Belize is protected by 190 miles of reef, the largest coral reef in
the world, second only to Australia's Great Barrier reef.

If you travel inland, you will see horse farms here and there; many offer trail riding in the rain forest.  Often I saw a solitary horse with nothing but a rope around its neck and a foot-long chunk of wood at the end, a kind of tie down. The horse can move about, but not that freely. I guess it makes them easier to catch. It was not always clear where the owner lived or where the horse was usually kept. Most looked well cared for; I saw only a couple that looked thin. I wonder how they take the heat and humidity? Perhaps it is their breeding: fine, hot-blooded types, like Arabians, that have adapted.

Iguanas everywhere! They are shy. This guy was little.

The strangest sight was that of a lone horse standing in the middle of a cemetery. We were driving just outside Belize City which is semi-urban, by U.S. definitions. In that part of the country, the land is below sea level, so they bury their dead in above-ground caskets, just like in New Orleans. And there, among the crosses and cement crypts decorated with flowers and offerings, was a large horse very nonchalantly standing in the middle of it all. It was the oddest sight. The horse had a rope around its neck, so I assumed it had an owner. Maybe this person thought the grass was an economical way to feed it? Free grazing for the taking? Or maybe it was the caretaker’s way of keeping the grass mowed? I wish I had been able to take a photo. 

A few minutes later, I saw three horses in an empty, grassy lot. There was no fence, no ropes around their necks and people walking by as if nothing was unusual. Stray horses? In a city? With people driving cars around?

When I got home, I tried several internet searches about horses in Belize. Not a lot of information out there except for recreational riding. A small amount of horse racing takes place in Belize. It’s more of a hobby and activity at festivals than a profession or industry. Interestingly, there are several communities of Mennonites that still employ horse power for farming and transportation via buggies in lieu of automobiles. 

A Howler monkey. If you know how to imitate their call,
they will howl back at you. And they are loud.

Instead of horse photos, I am including photos from a few snorkel trips as well as some animals we visited at The Belize Zoo which is more of a sanctuary for native species than your typical zoo. Definitely worth a stop if you visit. The zoo features animals in their natural habitat so you really get a sense of how they live in the wild.

The Leopard at The Belize Zoo. Amazing creature.

A native deer.

The Margay. A jungle cat about the size of a house cat.

We felt honored to spend time with this turtle at the Hol Chan preserve.

--Belize is a wonderful place to visit. If you plan to visit, email me. I am happy to give you some recommendations and travel tips. English is the official language and their dollar is tied to the U.S. dollar, two to one, and only two hours from Miami by plane. So many things to do from scuba to cave tubing and zip-lining to hiking, snorkeling and sailing, and horseback riding. And the food, oh, yes, delicious! And the national beer, even better! Good thing since they do not import beer, they brew their own.

A Mayan temple at Altun Ha which was once a large marketplace back in the day, oh, several centuries ago.

 --Photo credits to my husband and daughter. Great job!

1 comment:

  1. Hi friends,

    The theme of your blog is very beautiful and the article is written very well. Belize is truly a spectacular vacation choice in Central America near Mexico. Belize is a naturist's delight, having many diverse types of sea life such as fishes and mammals bringing the existence in its waters. Thank you for give me this information.

    Belize Travel