Hanging out in Cahal Pech, The ‘Place of Ticks’, San Ignacio, Belize

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Our first morning in San Ignacio was set out to find the local street market. We slowly took a path in the general direction, enjoying the unimpressive city with its trash, beggars, crazy people, stray dogs, and appreciate it nonetheless. Rain suddenly began dripping in numbers, encouraging us to hurry up and find some food and shelter. We run along the streets covering our heads until we find the market.

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A plethora of fruit and vegetables, cheap clothes, little bags and other random items were being sold. We get tempted to buy a bundle of 10 bananas for $1 BZ ($0.50 USD) and do. We think about buying a watermelon… and then carry on with the task of getting breakfast.

One of my favorite foods, a meal I would often get on special days back in my hometown at a Mexican/El Salvadorian restaurant, is Pupusas. We find a table with women (presumably a mother and her daughters) patting balls of dough and filling them with beans and cheese. We watch them grill some fresh pupusas and stand there salivating.

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We order, the girls seem to giggle at how hunger we look and how polite we are, “Muy bien, por favor, siéntese” We sit at the picnic table under their tarp shelter, and wait for our food to cook. They serve us and we immediately top up with the delicious homemade Curtido, a mix of cabbage, onions, carrots, lime juice fermented to a coleslaw-like side, and salsa that sat on the table. They inform us they ran out of rice and beans…I cannot stand this news and go down a few tables and order this classic Belizean accompaniment as a side. The heat of the pupusas steam off and tickle our happy faces, filling our taste buds with delight.

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Our next mission of the day is to visit some ruins. Although San Ignacio is great for tour options to the larger more impressive ruins, we chose the closest and cheapest ruins to visit, Cahal Pech, which is about a 20 minute walk out. Up the hills we go, happy the rain has stopped.

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We smile at how cool the ruins look. Stones upon stones, built up in pyramid formations reaching towards the sky. The steps are large and are meant to be, so that when they are climbed, one takes a humble, dignified and respective stature. Only important individuals of the Mayans would climb these since they believed they could communicate with their gods. Blood sacrifices were common as well; some would pass a thorn thread through their tongue, others would cut off the tips of their fingers.

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We climb the steps and look out into the forest that hugs ruins. Java acts as our mosquito magnet, constantly slapping his arms in pain. We sit and watch the tour guides operating below us.

Running around the ruins literally sparked the kids in us. It was liberating to play on these grounds. We admired the moss growing on the stones, the shadows shaped by the trees, the odd plants growing off stones and the leaf cutting ants going to work. We laughed and teased each other while we explored the ruins and pretended to know what it was like to live here all those years ago.

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Weaved leaves!

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All the running and jumping caused our appetites to increase again. We climbed a secluded ruined and pulled out our fresh bananas.

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We had such a beautiful time at the ruins. Not only does it give you a sense of ancestry but being so close to the forest is refreshing as well. When I think about this day, I remember all the smiles we produced 🙂

Walking back, we pass a house with a table of colorful juices out. We ask what they are, and they are fermented fruit wines! The host gladly lets us sample her favorites. It is her son who has an intense hobby of making these wines. We are unable to resist. We buy a bottle of homemade mango wine and stash it in our bags for later that night.

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We make another visit to our favorite restaurant Erva’s and eat up. We are still in shock how good Belizean food is.

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We get some delicious ice cream as a desert. We stand under the street lights of restaurants that seem to be lulling tourists to eat at their expensive joints.  We think about going to a night club in San Ignacio, but after hearing about common stabbings, as well as a group of VERY shady looking people standing outside the doors…we decide to head back to our motel for the night. We pop open our mango wine, play our ipod music, and enjoy about 4 hours of card games.

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Rum & Raisins and Coffee. Recommend.

Another happy, successful day in Belize.

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