Who said a honeymoon had to be taken immediately after the wedding? Jim and I just took ours, two and a half years after the fact, and it could not have been sweeter. We stayed at the Hamanasi Resort in Belize and loved it. Yes, it’s expensive and not all that easy to get to (three planes, the last so small I thought it might be easier to carry it to our destination), but hey: It was our honeymoon, so it was worth it. Hamanasi is committed to eco-tourism and sustainable practices, and that was clear from, for example, the extensive composting (which brought in great birds, including tons of warblers), careful snorkeling guidelines (“Please do not touch the coral or feed the fish.”) and wooden, multiple-use containers for shampoo and conditioner. The staff is sincerely friendly and accomodating, the country is a fascinating amalgam of cultures and races, and the food rocked.
But for me, nothing was as wonderful as the animals. (Of course, Jim is my all-time favorite animal, but you all already knew that…). Hamanasi settles between the extensive rain forests of the Maya Mountains and the Southern Barrier Reef, which is perhaps the healthiest reef in the western hemisphere. Because of the range of habitats, there were fascinating and beautiful animals everywhere. Here is the male Iguana who sat just a few feet from our dining table every day, courting a smaller female in the branches below. He was one big lizard, perhaps three feet long. We loved having him eat breakfast with us every morning.
This Disneyesque bird is the Keel-billed toucan, who looks to be straight out of a movie or some wonderful, bizarre dream you had after eating too much coconut-marinated roast chicken with rice and beans. But no, it’s the national bird of Belize and we got to see it twice; first a large group of them flashing their beaks in the sun, and then this single, perched right over the highway as we drove back from a hike in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve. I wish he’d (she?) had been in the sun, but hey, what a ridiculously beautiful animal!
This sweetheart is an Olive-throated Parakeet, nibbling in a tree on the grounds of Hamanasi, right outside of our room.
After an amazing hike in the rainforest and a swim in a tropical pool (complete with romantic waterfall), we sat at picnic tables in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and ate yummy roast chicken, rice and beans. This Red-throated Ant Tanager appeared to be fascinated by us, and spent a good ten minutes investigating us from the surrounding bushes.
We snorkeled twice on the Southern Reef, and although it was a bit choppy and usually cloudy, the reef is gorgeous–full of a huge range of corals, sponges and marine life. This Spotted Eagle Ray swam right underneath me. It’s not a great photo, but still… it’s a great animal, so I couldn’t leave it out.
Jim took the best of our underwater photos, of this Queen Angel fish. Amazing.
Another one of my favorites: A Queen Tiggerfish.
Last but not least, my favorite signs of the trip (many of you know I like to collect strange signs). Jim and I biked two (very bumpy) miles to this bar, situated on the Sittee River. Great bar, great view of the river.
The bar has my favorite restroom signs ever, no language necessary:
MEANWHILE, back at the farm: It was ten below our first morning back, but who cared? Maggie is all better! Whew! I was so relieved. No idea what was wrong–did she feel punky cuz she was in heat? Did the antibiotics we put her on in case she had lepto have an effect? Or the acupuncture and Chinese herbs? (Thank you Dr. Carrie!) I’ll never know, but I am SO happy that she is back to her playful, exuberant and flirty self. Willie and Tootsie are good too, and the sheep seemed to have weathered the brutally cold weather. It’s supposed to warm up some this week, and there’s not much snow so we can go back to working sheep. Oh boy.