A figure strode deliberately down the hill toward us, the machete hanging from his belt to his shins swinging ominously back and forth. We were deep into the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve west of San Ignacio, Belize. I handed Ken the hand-drawn map we had used to navigate to this private property on the river. This was our inadequate indication that we were in fact permitted to be here. The thing was, we were not sure that the caretaker of the property had gotten the message. And from the way he marched towards us, it seemed that he hadn’t. But what was that flanking his heels, bobbing and wobbling as fast as possible after the machete wearing man? It looked like a tiny, floppy-eared brown and white puppy.
Thus was our first introduction to Senor Lopez and his fierce guard puppy, Spicy. Over the next few days as we relaxed by the river, cleaning and maintaining the truck, rejuvenating ourselves with intermittent slides into the refreshing river, Senor Lopez kept a close eye on us, teaching us as much as he could about surviving in the bush of Belize all the while lamenting in his broken spanish/creole/english that the attention we were lavishing on his erstwhile guard puppy, Spicy, were surely ruining her for good. “All Spicy do is eat, play, sleep!” “An then people, they pet Spicy, and it is no good.”
He clearly has either overlanded or traveled extensively and knows the high value those commodities hold. We are still amazed every day we are on the road as we meet incredible people who are willing to share so much with us, and it inspires us to return that generosity as often as we can.
After a day of relaxing, reading, truck and camper cleaning and maintenance as well as a few rounds of competitive hearts, we hit the road for some jungle adventures. First stop, Rio On Pools. A beautiful series of pools cascading over granite rocks down the valley.
As refreshing as the water was, the tiny leeches clinging to our legs and slimy rocks threatening total body destruction with one misstep, prompted us to continue on to our next destination the Rio Frio Cave. The Rio Frio Cave has the largest cave opening in Belize, its huge. Inside a river carved through the middle of the cave and mineral deposits flowed like lava down the walls.
On the drive back to our campsite, we decided to take a “shortcut” described to us by Senor Lopez.
Lesson number 985 of overlanding was learned, do not take your rig aka home down “shortcuts” that are not on maps, especially when there are absolutely no signs of any previous traffic on them.
We reluctantly left the beautiful Pine Ridge to return to San Ignacio in preparation to cross into Guatemala. We ate one final meal with patagoniaorbust, even finding the ingredients to make two belated Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, baked in a wood-fired oven.
After over a month of overloading adventures together we are parting ways this morning. They are headed to Guatemala and we are holed up in San Ignacio, Belize waiting for my contact lenses to arrive (the gift that keeps on giving thanks to the Oaxacan thief) and catching up on blogging, podcast downloading, book reading, and hammock swinging.