Belize 2004, Part 1 – Arrival in Central America

Ten years ago this month I traveled to Belize, Central America

I am always reflecting, “What was I doing a year ago?” I have a habit of looking back and measuring time in blocks. My mother got me onto this when I was a little. I watched a lot of TV so she taught me to measure time in television shows.

We had 2 channels out in the country. CTV was Channel 2 on the VHF dial (and I mean an actual dial) and Channel 3 was CBC New Brunswick. Because of our proximity, we also got Channel 13 which was just CBC from Prince Edward Island and the French CBC on Channel 11 as New Brunswick is bilingual, but it was all CBC – free over the airwaves!

I’d say to Mom, “When are we leaving for town?” as “town” meant chips or chocolate bar. Not gum, ’cause I would always swallow it and it “ruined your teeth”. I got caught shoplifting Rainbow Chiclets when I was 3. Nothing is so desirable as that which you cannot have! I also couldn’t have toy guns but my best friend’s parents didn’t care and he literally had a huge chest full of guns. We’d play guns all day in the woods and in the abandoned farm house next door. One time we even tied up the neighbour kid and left him in there all afternoon. Ahh, country living. I can almost hear the duelling banjos from Deliverance. When I was home I’d get my gun fix by drawing cartoons of huge gun battles full of carnage and bloodshed, inspired by the A-Team. I must remember these lessons in parenting when I have children.

So yeah, I’d say to Mom, “When are we leaving for town?” and she’d reply “in one Sesame Street plus a Mr. Dressup.” Then I knew we were leaving in an hour and a half!

I remember finishing 4 years of high school and thinking, “4 years was a long time” but then a quick 4 years later I was like, “Wow! I just finished the equivalent of a high school career!” Then there was the ten year high school reunion, which nobody from my apathetic grad class bothered to organize.

So here I am looking back and realizing it was ten years ago (February 2004) that I joined my mother on a trip she organized to explore Belize in Central America.

Welcome to Belize

Mom has a unique sense of adventure and ability to organize unique vacation experiences. She really knows how to plan a trip. She avoids the usual tourist traps and finds the hidden gems and places off the grid! This was one of the best vacations I have ever been on.

At the time, I had gone through a long, busy period without travel, fuelled by a long stint as a student and recent grad with a low entry level wage, so it was even more special. Plus, hey, Mom is a cool lady and fun to travel with!

Maya Mountain Eco-Adventure Lodge & Tours, Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins, Thousand Foot Falls & Rio On Pools
Maya Mountain Eco-Adventure Lodge & Tours

She split our trip into two main destinations: first, the mountain jungles of Belize, then a tropical island. For the mountain jungle part, we stayed at an eco-resort called Maya Mountain Lodge & Tours. It is a friendly, family run jungle lodge with cottages and apartments plus a Belize tour operation located near San Ignacio in Belize’s Cayo District, Belize’s most visited eco tourism vacation destination.

The lodge is surrounded by beautiful Belizean tropical rain forest, toucans, and other rain forest treasures. They have a beautiful outdoor dining area with “delicious ethnic food, comfortable accommodations and exciting adventure tours.”

Maya Mountain Outdoor Jungle Dining(Mom enjoys the outdoor dining area of Maya Mountain while planning some adventures)

Freshly Squeezed Juices

(I forget this dude’s name, but he was really friendly and prepared different freshly squeezed juices each day)

We visited the catacomb-like Mayan ruins of Cahal Pech right at the edge of the nearby San Ignacio town. Cahal Pech was home to Mayan royalty. There is a small museum at the site showing how the Mayans lived.

I remember learning how they bound their heads to squeeze and deform their skulls, since it was considered sexy to be a cone-head in Mayan times. Reminds me of modern day deformations caused by Botox and ass implants (*cough* Nicki Minaj).

Aside from the incredible ancient ruins, what I loved about visiting this place was the friendly native tour guide. It was a very homey place and everyone seemed like family. There were random kids just hanging out at the ruins. They all loved our guide and followed him around and joined us for the tour as you can see below.


Another thing I learned on this trip was that the spanish term “cojones,” which I knew to mean “balls”, or “testicles” is actually something that grows on the Cojones tree! You can see this below and everything will make sense.

Cojones tree

Later, our guide took us along dirt roads winding through Mayan villages into the countryside to Thousand Foot Falls also known as Hidden Valley Falls. Nestled inside the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Thousand Foot Falls actually drops roughly 1,600 feet, making it the highest waterfall in Central America. Up high on a cliff, the long thin plume of spray descends over the edge of a rock face deep into the gorge below.


We parked on the hill opposite the falls near the viewing area, with a shelter and some benches. If you want to get really close there is a trail down the side of the mountain but it would take several hours.

Daman Beatty at Thousand Foot Falls, Belize

Here I am above, ten years ago. Quite skinny. As you see from the guestbook below, the date was February 22, 2004.

Signed the guestbook at Thousand Foot Falls, Belize

Rio On Pools, Belize

On our way back from the falls, we stopped for a swim at Rio On Pools. It was a low key, but fun natural water slide where you could sit under waterfalls, and be swept into a variety of pools. We also stopped by the Mayan village of San Antonio, at a place called the Garcia Sisters Museum which sells carvings.

All these photos were taken on the enormous brick of a 5 Megapixel digital Canon camera I bought in the year 2000. It cost $1,200! It was my first digital. Digital cameras were still in their commercial infancy back then. I bought a professional Canon EOS 20D SLR for the same amount in 2005 and didn’t upgrade until last month – nearly 10 years later. Canon rocks.

Watch [VIDEO] Belize Vacation Ten Year Anniversary

I also recorded most of these adventures on a huge clunky Digital-8 Cassette Video Camcorder which I carried around back then (I bought that at a pawn shop in 2003). You can see me wearing it in some of my pics. I have edited the footage into the compilation below. The soundtrack includes popular songs from 2004, which played a lot on the radio in Belize.

I found the video below on YouTube when I was looking up some of those old songs. I had forgotten about most of them. Check it out for a trip down memory lane. I still can’t believe that was ten years ago! What else happened ten years ago? Facebook was launched that year! Check out what else was popular in 2004 on Mashable.

Nostalgia [VIDEO] The BEST Songs of 2004

Belize Vacation Ten Year Anniversary Series

Belize 2004, Part 1 – Arrival in Central America
Belize 2004, Part 2 – Underground Mayan Waterways: The Caves of Barton Creek
Belize 2004, Part 3 – San Ignacio, Cayo District
Belize 2004, Part 4 – Maya Pyramids, Tikal, Guatemala
Belize 2004, Part 5 – The Coral Island of Caye Caulker
Belize 2004, Part 6 – Juni’s Sail & Snorkel Trips in Caye Caulker
Belize 2004, Part 7 – Lazy Lizard Bar & Grill at the Split, Caye Caulker

Next – Read Part 2:
Underground Mayan Waterways: The Caves of Barton Creek

Originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Dad.

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