Thursday, May 23, 2013

We've Tortured Belize Enough---For Now

Wow, 6 months has just flown by!

We have thoroughly enjoyed our research trip in Belize. But we have not finished yet. Even 6 months does not give us enough time to explore this tiny country with so much to offer.

The approach to living like a local has proved a good move, staying in one place for several months has given us the real perspective of day to day living in Belize. An experience we would not change for the world. We have had the pleasure of making many good friends and look forward to seeing them again in a few months. 

Perhaps we will continue to live the nomadic lifestyle while in Belize. Life is too short and this little country has so much to offer, why limit ourselves?

We will take a vacation from our vacation and pause for family time, returning in early 2014 for more. There are too many things happening in our lives right now: daughter returning from her 2nd deployment, son just published his 1st book, weddings, things we don't want to miss. We will be leaving Belize shortly, driving back to the states.

While we're away, here are links to a couple of informative forums with current expats contributing (if you haven't found them already):

Belize Expats has a group page on Facebook

You may PM me at any time, I check my email daily!

Thank you for joining our adventure--see you soon!
Larry & Babs

Monday, May 20, 2013

Caitlin's Bakery

The hand painted "Bakery" sign on Center Road promises whole grain bread, banana bread, muffins, smoothies and veggie burgers...cannot resist a bakery!

We turned off the village center dirt road onto another more rutty dirt road following signs to the bakery. Pulling in to the driveway, we were adjacent to 2 unpainted wooden homes perched atop 8ft pilings with a separate ground floor kitchen.

We were immediately greeted by a vivacious, energetic young N. American woman. Caitlin came to Central America on a college internship program about 16 years ago, her tropical ecosystems studies took her to Costa Rica and Belize. After graduation, she returned to Belize and, mistaken for a volunteer, found herself teaching in Maya Center's school. She lived with a local family and began to bake banana bread. She then spent time in Sta Familia with a local Mayan woman, a healer, who taught her many things about local plants, healing, massage techniques and foods. Soon enough, Caitlin found herself in Hopkins, purchased some land and began to build a home, with a separate kitchen--perfect to keep the heat out of the main house--

Caitlin and Today's Selection of Goodies!
Caitlin bakes every day, sweet things in the mornings and by about 4p.m. she has breads and rolls. Also on the menu can be found: banana bread, banana chocolate chip bread/muffins, chocolate zucchini muffins, pumpkin almond bread/muffins, banana pecan bread/muffins, marble brownies, fruit smoothies, veggie burgers and salads. Don't see what you want? She'll even take your special order!

Fresh Baked Goodness!

Caitlin's Bakery has been awarded a TripAdvisor Award for Excellence in 2012! 

What's not to love??

Thursday, May 16, 2013

All Seasons Guesthouse

Located south of the main junction in Hopkins, a few blocks past the end of the paved road, stands a hot pink bougainvillea-laden trellis welcoming you to All Seasons Guesthouse. Just past the white picket fence lies a well-manicured tropical garden complete with intimate sitting areas in an immaculately kept space. The 2 story guesthouse is tropically inviting with thatch covered porches and patios and wisteria covered trellises.

After leaving Germany (twice) and chancing it in CuraƧao, Ingrid found herself seeking warmth and an English speaking country. The shores of the Caribbean Sea in little Hopkins, Belize beckoned her. Gazing at property that was purely bush, her idea to create a space where family and friends would come and enjoy the warm weather too, began to take shape. Little by little she expanded the property and with her combined business sense and imagination she has created what is now All Seasons Guesthouse. Today, 12 years later, stands a thriving and expanding business poised and ready for her guests!

All Seasons Guesthouse offers a stress-free solution to your vacation accommodation needs. 

The guesthouse offers 4 theme decorated rooms downstairs: Orchid Room, Butterfly Room, Jungle Room and Bamboo Room. All guesthouse rooms have a/c!!! fridge, coffeemaker, fan and private bath (with hot water).

Orchid Room
Bamboo Room
Butterfly Room
Jungle Room

Immediately next door to the guesthouse are two, 2 bedroom cabanas-both with seating areas and full kitchen. They are named for Stann Creek District's Nature Reserves: Bocawina and Mayflower. A 3rd cabana, Blue Hole, will be built in 2013-it will have 1 bedroom and a kitchen.

Bocawina (yellow) and Mayflower (green)

Livingroom and 1st Bedroom (Bocawina)

Dining area and kitchen (Bocawina)

2nd Bedroom (Bocawina)

If you prefer to have the option of preparing your own meals and waking to the sound of the Caribbean Sea every morning, you may choose from the beachfront apartments or offsite cabanas. Some of the offsite properties are privately owned but managed by All Seasons Guesthouse.

Almond, Beya and Cocoplum are the beachfront apartments. Almond and Beya are both upstairs, 1 bedroom (2 Queen beds) with apartment sized fridge, 1 burner, and microwave. 

Almond Apartment

View of Private Beach from Almond's balcony

Cocoplum can be either 1 or 2 bedroom, 1 or 2 bath, full kitchen, dining and living room areas-sleeps 9.

Cocoplum kitchen and dining area
2nd bedroom (can be locked out)
Main bedroom

The offsite cabanas are Sittee Point, Hibiscus and Buttonwood Beach House (the tallest structure in Hopkins), offering 4 separate suite configurations.

We chose the Sittee Point cabana, it's 2 miles south of the village--so a vehicle is definitely needed. But to have the sea immediately outside your door and an almost constant breeze...we could not have chosen a better location!

Sittee Cabana, beachside view

You might want to consider having your wedding on the beach!

Bridal Path

Ceremony Arch

Bridal Bouquet

Apartment Decorations

Honeymoon Suite

From reception to housekeeping, the staff is extremely helpful, friendly and welcoming. Much of the staff speaks German, Dutch as well as English! For those wishing to explore the village, bicycles are free and at your disposal. The districtwide activities that are offered from the guesthouse are limited only by your imagination and amount of time you have to spend in Stann Creek, Belize!

Emmie and Ingrid
Emmie is Ingrid's shadow and property protect-ress. She is always by Ingrid's side and is the friendliest tri-lingual cocker spaniel we've ever met!

When you visit Hopkins, stay with Ingrid!

It is with profound sadness that I must write this addendum. 
Ingrid and Emmie were involved in a single-car fatal accident, October 16, 2013.
She will be sorely missed.
RIP Ingrid.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Frog's Point Restaurant

Peer and Regina had been told not to visit Belize by their travel agent in Germany. They had virtually traveled the world on their annual 6 week vacations, from Fiji to Thailand to Cuba and all throughout Europe-even cross country on motorbikes while camping! World travelers, they had a difficult time finding information about Belize in printed material, but did find a copy of "Lonely Planet" that inspired them to not take heed of the travel agent's naysaying. They had read about Ingrid, proprieter of All Seasons Guesthouse, contacted her and actually met with her near Cologne, Germany and were convinced that Belize was the place for them.
"You don't want to go there"
About 15 months ago, after selling off all their household goods, Peer and Regina made their way from Germany to Hopkins, Belize. Finding a place to live proved to be a bit more work than expected, they moved 3 times until settling in their current apartment! Ingrid hired them for maintenance, guest services and as the all round "go to" staff, they are constantly busy at the guesthouse during the day.

Regina In Reception Cabana-Hard At Work
Peer-Having Too Much Fun At Work

5 p.m. finds them both in different roles, at Frog's Point Cafe/Restaurant. With a restaurant/hospitality background Peer finds himself "at home" in the kitchen each evening creating some of the most delectable dishes in Hopkins. And Regina, with her contagious smile and people skills, runs the front of the house. Together, they make the perfect team...good food and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere.

Peer "At Home"
Regina, Sonny and Cher

"When I was about 6 years old, my uncle gave me a green frog as a pet," explains Regina, "I have been collecting frogs for many years." So, naming the restaurant was an easy decision. Frog decor and painted stenciled frogs dot the outdoor venue. "Paula" is my personal favorite, she sits about 2 feet tall sporting sunglasses and pearl necklaces. Sonny and Cher, as frogs, might be brought to the table for an impromptu "I've Got You Babe" concert!

Tante Paula

Check out the daily specials! When the sandwich board reads, "Fresh Fish"--that means it was caught today and on your plate for dinner--it can be snapper, snook or whatever fish lands in the nets or on the lines of the local fishermen.

Today's Special-Mixed Green Salad with Beef Loin!

Their hard work is paying off...beginning June 1st, 2013, Frog's Point Restaurant will move to the south end of the village, across the street from All Seasons Guesthouse, into what is now Love On The Rocks Restaurant. The building has begun it's facelift and is slowly transitioning into a larger version of itself with better exposure to the tourist flow in the village.

The Transition Has Begun!
In just a few days, the photos in this post can be considered "old news" or just historical data!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Miss Emma's Garden and Restaurant

At mile 16.8 off Southern Highway turn onto All Pines Road (also the turn off for Sanctuary Belize/Bay), a couple of miles down the road on the right side the scenery changes to Royal Palm trees interspersed with colorful shrubs and flowering trees all lining the mango orchard immediately behind them. Make a right onto a road with signs that read, "Private Way". "Haney Farms." It's ok, you're on the correct road! Keep going and the STOP gate should be raised (if you made reservations) so you may pass under and continue to the large wooden building on the right. Park here. 

All Pines Road, Before the Right Into Miss Emma's
"Haney Farm" "Private Way"

Miss Emma is a petite dynamo! This 71 year old Filipino, was brought to Belize in 1992 by the Ambassador to Taiwan as the embassy chef. Her restaurant wall is filled with photos of her time at the embassy and several images of dignitary attended events. In 1999, she was hired by Mr. Haney to manage this 2000+ acre property. Since then, she has added to the garden, orchard and created the restaurant. Her list of orchard trees is long and exotic: mango, papaya, macadamia nut, noni, moringa, calabash, jack fruit, star fruit, 3 types of coconut, passion fruit, finger lemon, wax apple, cashew - just to name a few!

Moringa the "Miracle" Plant
Moringa Leaves Drying
Moringa Pods and Leaves
Moringa Tree

Jack Fruit
Open the Jack Fruit
Eat the Soft Fibrous Seed Covering

Enjoy the stroll through her flower garden-her green thumb makes everything bloom!

Hope you brought your appetite!
We were served a 4 course lunch! 
Everything fresh and most is straight from the garden!

Salad: mango, pine nuts, cucumber, lettuce 
Appetizer: 4 Spring Rolls with a sweet and spicy sauce 
Main Course: baked chicken, cauliflower casserole, eggplant parmesan, mashed potatoes with gravy
Dessert: Warm Banana Nut Bread
Fresh Passion Fruit Juice

After lunch we were treated to a personal tour of the orchard!
Expect to be laden with fresh picked fruits--bring a bag (or two)!

Leonard (farm hand), Miss Emma, Zarita (cook)
Miss Emma's 
What a delightful afternoon spent at her garden and restaurant!

Call ahead for reservations - (501)669-2524 
 she does not have a website or facebook!