15 December 2008

Belize: Pook's Hill

(This is part 2 of a 6-part description of a trip I took to Belize with friends just after Thanksgiving 2008. I put my pictures a flickr.)

David introduced us to his co-manager (and wife) Kat and the owner (Ray) and took our bags to our cabanas (I'd never seen a thatched roof up close before). We took it easy that afternoon, and it got dark around 6PM. After the amazing sunsets, we mostly hung out at the main cabana, which has hammocks, chairs, a well-stocked bar, and a few sugar-water dispensers that were very popular with the local hummingbirds. This gave us an opportunity to get acquainted with some of the other guests: at one point I got to have a fun visit with a self-described "petrol head" from Britain, and we talked about Steve McQueen movies. After a few drinks, dinner was served downstairs, and we were treated to a delicious buffet-style meal. After some after-dinner coffee and tea (and maybe a few more cocktails), we retired to our cabanas for the night. I found that I really enjoyed falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle.

Pook's Hill sunset

American oil palm

main cabana

The next morning (Saturday), my companions went on the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) adventure tour. I picked up a charming sinus infection around the time we began this trip, so I stayed at Pook's. My friends said that it was a great experience, in which they hiked, explored some caverns, and visited Mayan ruins. The hike to the ATM cave requires four river crossings each way, and there are no bridges: you swim across. So, although they said it was lots of fun, my friends told me that I'd made a good decision to skip it. So I had a quiet morning at Pook's, and by afternoon I felt perked up enough to do part of one of the hiking trails. By the time I got back to the lodge, my friends had returned from the ATM trip, and we enjoyed another evening at the main cabana.

Americal oil palm

Sunday morning we finished out the hiking trail I'd started the previous afternoon. That route took us across a large meadow and along several well-kept jungle trails. That afternoon we had a real treat: we went inner-tubing down the Roaring River. It was surprisingly fun and relaxing. The water was cool but not cold, and it was amazingly clear. There was a great swimming hole in a bend of the river, and we had a high time hanging around there for about an hour. We saw some sleeping bats hanging from a tree, some fresh footprints (probably a tapir) on the riverbank, and we got a kick out of watching the smaller fish nibbling at the skin of our feet (that tickled a bit).

canopy entry

River Trail bush

looking across the Roaring River

standing in the Roaring River

Sunday evening's pre-dinner drinking was on the roof of the owner's house, which is up at the top of the hill and afforded a breathtaking view of the valley. We saw several egret flocks fly to their nighttime nesting areas, and we were up high enough to see the hills.

flight of egrets

Monday morning we spent a little time on one of the other hiking trails near Pook's, this one through the jungle above the owner's house. At one point we all heard something moving around to our left, but we never saw what it was. And then we took the monstrously-bumpy road back to Teakettle Village, the Western Highway back to Belize City and its municipal airport, and a Tropic Air prop to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. That was a really cool flight out over the water. It offered a great view of the clear waters of the Carribean and the barrier reef. A short cab ride got us to our home for the next four days: Xanadu Resort.


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