Feasting with Friends – San Ignacio

This was our last town in Belize and we definitely packed it all in. San Ignacio is one the western edge of Belize and is a hotspot for more adventure sport driven backpackers. This resulted in us hanging out with loads of different couples having dinner, drinks and doing local activities.

The afternoon we arrived we went rum tasting with an American couple from our hostel. Belizean rum is world renowned and is dangerously drinkable. My favourite of the day was the 3/5 Barrel Rum. We were so tired from travelling that the addition of neat alcohol knocked us for six so we went straight to bed after!

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We amazingly had a curry at a real Indian restaurant one evening. Matt got a chicken balti and I got saag paneer. It was a great taste of home! I didn’t realise how much I was going to miss a good Indian and how much I actually eat itback in East London. You can get varying degrees of pizza anywhere in the world, but a good curry is scarce!

One morning we went the wrong way to an iguana sanctuary and ended up in an iguana park instead. We walked along a picturesque path that had iguanas hidden everywhere. They would suddenly scuttle into the undergrowth as we wakked passed and we spotted many hanging lazily from trees. One was so large and was hiding so close to the path that when it bolted we jumped clean out our skin. I could have sworn it was crocodile! As we approached the river and the end of the iguana park we accidentally interupted a lovers secret meeting. Matt went on a rope swing and we watched the river go by before we turned back in the right direction. Finally walking up the steep hill the in the refreshing rain we eventually made it to the iguana sanctuary.

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We spent an amazing hour meeting, holding and feeding green iguanas. They are vegetarian which is why they are called Green iguanas. Because they are veggie they don’t need to learn to hunt and so they can be rehabilitated at any point in their lives, even if they’ve been bred in captivity. The sanctuary releases all iguanas after a few years except for any with serious deformities (one had a bone disease which made it all bent out of shape) They also have a breeding programme and an education programme. Its an old Belizean belief that the meat of the female iguana is an aphrodisiac, so there is now a large surplus of males but few females in the wild. But the best fact about them is that they have a third eye on their forehead that just looks like a nobbly scale. It sees in black and white helping them spot overhead predators such as birds.

We also did chocolate making with Markie and Cookie from our hostel. It’s an important part to the Mayan community, who use it in big important ceremonies such as weddings. The bean is fermented in a jar for 2 weeks, then sun dried, then roasted and then the shell’s are taken off. They are chopped roughly and ground on a volcanic slab several times till the natural oils start to come out and you get liquid chocolate. We mixed it with water and then tried it with honey, chilli, cinnamon and all spice (which tasted like christmas!) We also went to the ATM caves with Przem and Joanna from our hostel, but more on that later.

None of the towns cash points would accept our card and the only shop that had a card reader was all the way at the top of a steap hill which we walked every evening to get drinking water. They had never taken a card with chip and pin before, the locals all use the swipe and sign method, so we had to teach the owner’s daughter how to do it. She then got to show off to her parents every night by knowing how to do this different payment. Further up from the shop was a hotel eith a pool, whcih for a small fee outsiders can use. We spent a great afternoon having lunch, drying off from the rain before diving in and getting wet again.

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Our hostel room, though bssic, had a balcony with it. Every evening at dusk we would sit outside either reading, listening to music, or just watching the birds flock together above the town. Just on our room lived a family of bats who would rush out every evening and join the birds in saying goodnight to the setting sun. It was a really lovely way to end our days here.

Oh and we made friends with one last couple just before we left our hostel. From Sheffield on their honeymoon!

Wildlife Notes:

 White collared seedeater

Squirrels

Green Iguanas

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