Giant Iguana–on a Mission to Find a Mate–Found in Belize!

belize travel news

Before news of the dramatic find unearthed by a tourist staying at Chabil Mar leaks out, it is incumbent upon us to deliver a warning to anyone intending to investigate this story on their own. Don’t approach Chabil Mar on April 1st—even if someone dares you to do so—because you could put yourself into a serious and dangerous situation, especially if you’re female. 

It’s hard to miss this rather ugly, scaly creature since he’s about the same size as a contemporary crocodile and while he doesn’t speak English, he has made it clear that he is on a mission to bring his species back from extinction. In order to figure out exactly why he crawled up on the Chabil Mar beach, we hired a linguist specializing in Iquanise to find out how he intends to do that. 

The answer was unsettling: He has returned with reproduction on his mind and wants to show the scientific world that it’s possible to bring a species back that has disappeared off the face of the earth. This accomplishment would, if possible, make Belize the world’s capitol of species regeneration! 

The translator was astonished to discover that this giant reptile’s only goal is to find a mate quickly. Because this iguana’s mission is so specific, we’re asking all Chabil Mar guests to remain indoors on what he has declared to be his specific day to mate: April 1st. Once midnight passes, it will be safe to go out and all women are invited to come to the beach bar for free champagne and hors d’oeuvres. 

“We’re doing this for the safety of our guests,” said Marketing Manager Larry France. He plans to be on hand at midnight to pass platters of snacks and pour champagne. “We intend to celebrate having come through this nightmare and we will toast the fact that there will be no iguana babies come New Year’s Day when they would ordinarily be expected to hatch out.” 

“We’re also doing this as a prank!” adds France, who takes all of the credit for coming up with this far-out April Fool’s Day joke, so feel free to roam wherever you like at Chabil Mar on April 1st. Unless, of course, you run into an oversized iguana, at which point, Larry wants to hear from you!

The Best Birding in Southern Belize

bird watching vacations belize

Belize has long been a birder’s best-kept secret. In fact, some people say that if you’re not a birder when you arrive in Belize, you’ll be one by the time you leave. 

Almost half of the land in Belize is managed as reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and protected habitats. Many are managed by the Belize Audubon Society and these protected areas provide a rich diversity of natural ecosystems where birds thrive. 

Southern Belize is the primary location for bird lovers looking for keel-billed toucans, ringed and pygmy kingfishers, pale-billed woodpeckers, squirrel cuckoos, pygmy owls, hummingbirds, keel-billed motmots, scarlet macaws and every species of parrot and parakeet imaginable. And don’t forget our local chachalaca birds, purple gallinules, spotted sandpipers, black catbirds and the list goes on and on. 

What’s more, you’ll see all of these marvelous birds in settings that are breathtakingly beautiful. The following are some prime birding spots in southern Belize. 

birding in southern belize

Red Bank Village

Red Bank is a Maya village located near Placencia. The community is a favorite hangout of vivid, fast-flying scarlet macaws that flock here to find food. For the past 10 years, the village has cooperated with conservation groups to monitor and protect the macaws. Sadly, scarlet macaws are endangered, so this is a rare opportunity to spot these beautiful birds in their natural habitat. 

Aguacaliente

Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary protects more than 6000 acres of wetlands ecosystems. Getting there requires a two-hour hike from the village of Laguna in Toledo District. In the lagoons, you’ll see egrets, herons, wood storks, flycatchers, ibis and kingfishers. You might see jabiru storks, another rare and endangered species. It’s a good idea to visit Aguacaliente with a guide. 

belize birds

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the world’s first jaguar preserve and an important watershed conservation area. You’ll see a huge variety of animals, plants, and birds here, including white-collared manikins, crimson-collared and masked tanagers, bat falcons and more. 

Sir Thomas at Toucan Sittee

Sir Thomas at Toucan Sittee is located in southern Belize. It is s privately-owned bird sanctuary where one birder reported seeing 100 different species in an hour. The top birds you will encounter at this location include kingfishers, hummingbirds, toucans, and parakeets. 

If you’re already packing your bags and binoculars, make sure you book your stay at Chabil Mar. Our resort offers luxury accommodations in Placencia Village and our “Treasures of the Sky” Belize birding package provides guided tours led by local experts to top birding spots in the country.

The Mestizo Culture of Belize

Mestizo Culture of Belize

In Spanish, the term “Mestizo” means “mixed” as in mixed race, but this is not a very apt description for the Mestizo people of Belize. In reality, the Mestizos were originally immigrants that began arriving in Belize after fleeing from a race-based civil war in neighboring Mexico in the 19th century called the Caste War.

Initially, the Mestizos brought much of their original culture with them, including the Catholic faith and the Spanish language. Over time, however, the Mestizos have integrated into the wider Belizean society, many having adopted other Christian faiths as well as being bilingual in both English and Spanish.

Today, the Mestizos are primarily located in the two northernmost districts of Belize, Corozal and Orange Walk, as these border regions were largely uninhabited in the mid-19th century. The Mestizos were instrumental in Belize’s burgeoning agricultural sector, especially sugarcane production. The Mestizos now form the second-largest cultural group in Belize after the Creoles.

Mestizo culture is rich with a blend of Catholic and indigenous traditions. Perhaps their most well-known story tells a tale of Xtabai (pronounced ish-ta-buy) who was a powerful spirit that lives in the jungle. According to legend, the Xtabai waits at night on the edge of town for an intoxicated or lost man to wander by. The Xtabai then lures the man into the jungle, sometimes just to taunt them, but sometimes to hurt or even kill them. During the day, however, the Xtabai takes the form of a tree or a snake.

Mestizo music is heavily influenced by Spanish traditions. No Mestizo gathering would be complete without some guitar music, especially a song called the Serenata (Serenade) that was traditionally sung by young men outside the bedroom window of their beloved. Mestizo music often recalls the rollicking rhythms of flamenco, rumbia, and salsa with lyrics that tell stories of rural life, love, and death. Other typical Mestizo musical instruments include harps, trumpets, and violins.

Mestizo cooking is similar but distinctly different than Mexican food. Mestizo villages often have a large communal kitchen where tasty treats are made such as tortillas, tacos, and tamales. Mestizos are also renowned for their textile work and handicrafts that feature simple yet elegant floral designs.

The lovely beach resort of Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize is a great place to stay for visitors who want to learn more about Belizean culture and people, including the Mestizos.

Belize Points of Interest

belize-map

Where to go in Belize

Just a few hours flying time from the United States, Belize is a lovely tropical destination with gorgeous beaches, exotic wildlife, a stunning coral reef, jungles, ancient Mayan cities, and a friendly Caribbean atmosphere.

Below are some of our favorite places and points of interest in Belize.

placencia peninsula belizePlacencia Peninsula – A sparkling 16-mile long expanse of beach along the Caribbean, the peninsula is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belize. The mangrove-lined lagoon on the mainland side is an ideal spot to enjoy fishing.

placencia village Belize

Placencia Village – A laid-back fishing village, Placencia is a great place to get a drink in a cafe or bar, enjoy a delicious meal in a restaurant, or find an outfitter for a trip to the Belize Barrier Reef. The village is famous for holding the Guinness Book of World Records title for smallest main street in the world, a 4,000-foot long sidewalk too narrow to admit cars.

san ignacio belize

San Ignacio Town – The cultural and entertainment capital of the west, San Ignacio is close to many of the country’s finest Maya ruins. The resort of Chabil Mar offers comprehensive jungle and sea packages that combine the best of Placencia Peninsula with an expedition to San Ignacio and its environs.

hopkins belize

Hopkins – A small village in the southeast, Hopkins is the cultural heart of the unique Garifuna culture.

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Caye Caulker – A small, unspoiled island, Caye Caulker is the picture postcard definition of a tropical island, complete with sparkling blue water, white sands, and palm trees.

toledo belize

Toledo District – The heart of Belize’s cacao (chocolate) growing region, Toledo is the gateway to the unspoiled south of the country.

ambergris caye belize

Ambergris Caye – The largest island in Belize, Ambergris Caye is an easygoing mix of beaches, bars and some of the best food in the country.

belize barrier reef

Belize Barrier Reef – The second largest coral reef system in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef offers spectacular diving, swimming, snorkeling and sailing opportunities.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – Perfect for day trips or longer hiking expeditions, the sanctuary provides a protected habitat for tapirs, monkeys, jaguars and hundreds of species of birds.

great-blue-hole-belize

Great Blue Hole – Regularly voted as one of the top natural wonders in the world, the Blue Hole offers experienced divers a unique opportunity to explore a system of underwater caverns.

Visit our website chabilmarvillas.com for more information on Belize, and don’t hesitate to send us an email, or call US/CAN Toll Free: 1-866-417-2377, Local: (011-501) 523-3606, if you have questions or need help in planning a Belize vacation.

 

Easter in Belize: Everything a Spring Holiday Should be–and More

easter in Belize

When spring arrives, the faithful eagerly await Easter, a holiday filled with pageantry and fun. Should you decide to celebrate the holy season here in Belize, make it the kind of vacation that suits your religious needs and sensibilities while enjoying weather that’s heavenly. As a Christian, you’ll celebrate in a nation where 80-percent of the populace shares your faith; if you’re not Christian you’ll have an equally fabulous time of it since Belize serves up some of the most beautiful sights, sounds and tastes in the Caribbean at this time of year.

What sets Belize apart from other Central American nations when Easter rolls around? As a society that takes the season of Jesus’s resurrection very seriously, your visit will coincide with a four-day celebration that’s a non-stop ride through parties, events and religious rituals. The nation shuts down in deference to the pious nature of the season, but you won’t care if you visit because you are in Belize to slow down and relax, right?

If you’ve limited time in Belize and wish to see the best of the best, we urge you to attend this Good Friday tradition: evening mass followed by a moving re-enactment of The Way of the Cross staged in the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen in western Belize. Other re-enactments of the Via Crucis will also be held in the Districts of Orange Walk and Corozal, in case one of these locations is more convenient for you.

If you think a suitcase filled with fancy Easter duds is necessary for your holiday trip, re-think your packing strategy. Bring one nice outfit to attend services at any of Belize’s churches on Good Friday, but because the weather’s hot and lots of activities surrounding Easter are more secular than sacred, lightweight shorts, shirts, skirts and traditional resort wear plus swimsuits will have you covered in the fashion department.

Be forewarned that alcohol is not served in Belize on Good Friday, so if you can’t imagine a day that doesn’t include the cocktail hour, follow the lead of tourists and stockpile your bubbly before this 24-hour period begins. Some visitors say that the parties, church services, water sports and visits to attractions keep them so busy, they don’t even miss having alcoholic beverages on this holy day.

Change up the pace of your Belize Easter visit by attending the annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycle Race. The antithesis of religious pageantry, this cycling race is an excitement-filled, 140-mile-long event that takes cyclists from Belize City to San Ignacio/Santa Elena and back. This wildly popular competition attracts big crowds, but if you’ve no interest in the sport, your resort host can help you find things to do for this short period of time that are away from the race route along the Western Highway.

Once you’ve experienced Good Friday and Holy Saturday Belize style, you can expect a more familiar day on Easter Sunday. Churches throughout the nation proclaim the Resurrection of Christ during services and then, in fairly typical fashion, families get together for meals as do tourists in country for the holiday. By afternoon, athletic events, fairs other secular events liven up the third day of this holiday—leaving Easter Monday to be observed. On this day, the last of the fairs, athletic events, dances and parties wrap up this four day celebration!

If reading about Easter in Belize whets your appetite, we recommend accommodations at Chabil Mar in Placencia. The recipient of myriad hospitality and media awards–plus recommendations from travelers who keep coming back–this luxury resort offers gracious surroundings, superior accommodations and service. Staff is delighted to help guests find and attend celebrations held during the Easter holiday season, but to see the full extent of what awaits at Chabil Mar, take a peek at the resort’s website.


For more information about visiting Belize or Chabil Mar for Easter, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at:reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

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