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Spring Brides! Top 2015 Wedding Tip, is still the Key to a Successful Wedding.

Well it’s another year and for our Spring Brides! Top 2015 Wedding Tip  tip is…

Last wedding season, Romantic Travel Belize was asked to provide our top wedding tips for brides preparing their budget. The inquiry was for the Bible of Brides, Bridal Guide Magazine. The article, 30 Unexpected Wedding Costs Brides Forget to Budget For.  We’ve re posted this article because the information is still fresh and valuable for the upcoming 2015 Wedding Season.

The list of tips is very detailed, but our tip was the very last one listed, and frankly we think it’s the most important of all: The Ubiquitous “OTHER”

Okay our Spring Brides! Top 2015 Wedding Tip …

We also tell our brides to add 20% to the budget for “Other”.

What could this”Other” possibly entail?

– “Other” is when the flower delivery got stuck in a storm, and you have
to hire a local florist to use local flowers.
– “Other” is when the power suddenly goes out and you have to go
buy 200 candles.
– “Other” is the ‘dear friend’ who cried that she and her new
boyfriend weren’t invited, and you have to lie and say her invitation got
lost in the mail.
– “Other” is the broken nail that broke so low you have to get a
full set of acrylics at the last minute so your hands don’t look like a
ditch diggers. :)

Planning a destination wedding?  The Spring Brides! Top 2015 Wedding Tip,  the “Other” is a definite and the list of “other” is even longer…

“Your shipment of special decor fell off the barge on the way to the island, or
your musician decided that he wanted to play with a circus in Playa Del
Carmen, or there’s a storm, or or or or…

At Romantic Travel Belize we appreciate the power of a good budget, so when we are asked to create a budget, we
always, *always* include 20% for the ubiquitous “Other”!  Our Spring Brides! Top 2015 Wedding Tip is the magic that will create a spectacular affair.

Looking forward to Planning the most Perfect 2015 Wedding for you!

Posted on March 26, 2015

Destination Weddings Belize

In Service to Love…

Where is the most spectacular place to get married? Destination Weddings Belize! A lush oasis to celebrate your anniversary or renew your vows.  As Valentines Day is cresting on the next wave.  Choose Belize, a special getaway place.  Maybe a proposal?  We bring lux and style to your adventure.

Destination Weddings Belize, Romantic Travel

Brielle and Colleen July 2014

Say Hello to Brielle and Colleen…

“On July 4, 2014 I was truly honored to produce the wedding of Brielle and Colleen”, Lara said.   Here’s a little taster of the magic these beautiful Brides shared.  As the magicians, we were for literally pulling it all together.

The brides were gorgeous as they stood on the boulders by Lara’s “personal-favorite-in-all-the-world waterfall”.  The Officiant was in her robe, the Mayan Shaman in typical wear.

Here’s a link for experiencing “your own personal waterfall”.  What a great Valentines Day idea!  click here for romantic tips

(more…)

Posted on January 22, 2015

LGBT Ceremonies In Belize: An inquiry from the BTB

It is an honor when the Belize Tourism Board calls me, as they often do, for wedding related advice and guidance.  So, it was an even bigger honor when they reached out to ask me about LGBT (lesbian gay bi-sexual transgendered) ceremonies for an international Caribbean Tourism Association.  The CTA asked for general information about such events, and I wrote a small overview for them.  In re-reading, it’s actually some pretty useful information, so I thought I’d share it here for those looking.

LGBT Wedding Ceremonies:

While LGBT ceremonies are not recognized by the Government of Belize, a beautiful ceremony can be arranged.  Those living in countries/states where Gay marriages are recognized would still need to have the ceremony legalized in their home state in order to receive the benefits of their home country.
LGBT ceremonies in Belize can be absolutely stunning and a wonderful way to celebrate love.  A Mayan Shaman can officiate a Commitment Ceremony using the practices from the Ancient Mayans which have been passed down to this direct descendent Shaman.  The spiritual ceremony is beautiful, symbolic, and authentic.  Those wishing for a more traditional ceremony can chose a  Justice of the Peace or a Reverend to Officiate the ceremony.
Overall, the LGBT community will find Belize to be a most hospitable destination for their vacation, wedding or honeymoon, however, a local Destination Management Specialist should be consulted to avoid social or political gaffs.
To read more about the legalities of a Same Sex Ceremony, please see my blog “Same Sex Wedding Legal in Belize?

Posted on October 15, 2014

Wedding Guest Testimonial

Lara, I just want to thank you for all the coordination you did for our
Belize trip. It was absolutely amazing and effortless on our part. It’s the
first time my husband and I have been able to just sit back and let
everything happen. I am definitely hiring a travel agent the next time we
travel out of country.

Again, thank you so much!

Mrs. Graciela

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Joy Testimonial

Lara,

Everything was so wonderful! Thank you for all your help. I really enjoyed seeing two different parts of Belize. The wedding was beautiful and the diving was AMAZING! I will be back!
Thanks again,
Joy

Posted on September 24, 2014

Shauntelya and Tonya Testimonial

Lara,

Thank you for all that you’ve done to make this a memorable trip. We are having a blast!

 

 

sent while they were still in Belize :)

Posted on September 23, 2014

Grace A. Testimonial

Lara everything has been great. San Pedro is lovely and the people make it so much better. The wedding was great as well! Thank you so much for making this so easy to enjoy!

 

Grace was a wedding guest at a small ceremony in Cayo and then extended her stay here in San Pedro.

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Scott’s Response to My Suggested Itinerary

Oh, oh…. my… yes. I only wish the video on the Xanadu site were longer. I think I made it to the 3rd second of it before I wept tears of joy. Yes, I love it dearly. I’m going to grind some numbers and see what the whole deal looks like, but I think you’ve hit it on the head. 

Amazing work, I feel like a cheater not having to do all this research, so, we’ll be in touch asap. 
Scott is planning his wife’s 40th birthday party.  He gave me a few sentences about what he was looking for, I pulled together an itinerary, and that’s what he had to say :)

Posted on September 19, 2014

Tonya’s Response to My Suggested Itinerary

Hey Lara!!!  Finally! I’ve taken some time to look at the website and I absolutely LOVE IT!!!!!!  You’ve nailed it girlfriend!  Looking at the pictures, the only thing that is missing is Roy and I laying on the beach with cool refreshing adult beverages in our hands!!!  I can’t wait to finish these last few classes and get the next chapter of my life started!

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Top 10 Romantic Things To Do In Belize – Part 2

Way back in 2010 I published the Top 10 Things To Do In Belize. Since then a lot has changed, and it’s time to update the list! So, without further ado:

The Top 10 Romantic Things To Do In Belize – Part 2

Private Water Fall

10. Private Water Fall For The Day: Making it’s second appearance on my Top 10 List, renting a private water fall is still one of the most romantic things you can do in Belize – or on earth, I dare say. You and your ‘other half’ will be have an enchanting waterfall in the jungle all to yourselves. This uber romantic day also includes lunch and a bottle of wine. The waterfall flows into a swimming hole before continuing on it’s way, and feel free to swim as free as can be in the water – you’re all alone. The private waterfall rents for only $175 usd per day and lies on the property of a spectacular boutique resort.

9. Private Boat and Beach BBQ: Not only is the Private Boat day a “must do” for romantic travelers, it’s a must for anyone coming to San Pedro, Belize. For just a couple hundred dollars more than snorkeling with a large group tour, you get your own private 28′ boat with Captain and Guide. The boat has a rinse off shower and an on board toilet, so you can freshen up after an unparalleled day of snorkeling the worlds largest living barrier reef. It’s your boat, so if you see a turtle and want to swim, off you go! After a day of cocktails and lounging on your boat, your captain will take you to a special spot for a romantic beach bbq for two. He’ll prepare the fish he’s caught for you while you enjoy each other. Romance, pure romance.

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8. Blessed Be!: Have your union blessed by a Mayan Shaman. The spiritual blessing ceremony is a lovely ceremony honoring and in keeping with the ancient Mayan way. The Shaman is a bush medicine woman whose lineage is pure Mayan, and she is the descendant of one of the greatest Mayan Medicine Men. The blessing can be done at a Mayan Temple (Ruins), by a waterfall, or wherever you would like.

7. Mud Massage: The setting is pure art. Literally. The owner of this funky resort is an artist who has hand created all the structures in their spa. In a private decadent cabana, the couple will enjoy a “Mood Mud Massage” and then rinse in the sulfur spring bath.

6. Sunset Cruise: San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye faces due East. Fantastic for sunrises, not so great for sunsets. The best way to see the sunset is from a boat, more specifically, a Catamaran; the sails of which will catch the wind and you’ll glide soundlessly along to the southern end of the Island. Once there, the sea meets the sky and if you look closely, you just might catch the elusive “Green Flash”. With cocktails flowing and the breeze blowing as the sunset lights the sky with a thousand shades of pink, you’ll understand why this is on my list of incredibly Romantic Things To Do

5. Butler Service is Sexy: If you are staying in San Pedro and if budget allows, you can take a day trip to a private island. A super exclusive, VIP, mega-watt-stars-stay-there Private Island. Insiders know that you can rent one of the 12 cabana’s for a private day of luxury. Your over-the-water cabana is served by 2 butlers and a private chef. There is something quite sexy about all that pampering, service and luxury. If a full day isn’t in the budget, insiders can get you a table for 2 for a private dinner instead. Just a little taste is still an effective aphrodisiac!

sunset on temple

4. Mayan Ruin Dinner: Those staying in the western part of Belize (Cayo District) will be able to enjoy a very unique romantic experience. No where else in the world is this experience possible. You will enjoy a private gourmet dinner for 2 on top of a Mayan Temple. See the world in a whole new way – literally.

photo by Doug Saylor

photo by Doug Saylor

3. Here Kitty, Kitty: When we are excited, thrilled, or anxious our brains secrete chemicals. Those chemicals are very closely interpreted as arousal. What better way to turn yourself and your partner on than with a little Big Cat Fear? While maybe not the most traditionally romantic experience, getting into a cage with a full grown Jaguar is bound to get your heart pumping. For a $50 usd donation, The Belize Zoo will treat you to their famous “Jaguar Encounter”. Basically, you get in a 5′ x 6′ x 6′ cage, and either Junior Buddy or Lucky Boy (our beloved rescue jaguars) will climb around your cage as you feed it chicken. Thrilling only begins to describe this awesome experience.

photo: www.leonardomelendez.com

photo: www.leonardomelendez.com

2. Secluded Photoshoot: For a lot less than you’d think, you can get a set of phenomenal photos. Rolling around in the sand or playing Tarzan in the jungle while a photographer is shooting is liberating for a lot of people. Whether you do a themed shoot (dying to produce a Bonnie & Clyde with a Golf Cart) or just something natural and relaxed in your hotel room, all that attention and focus on each other is sure to get the embers sparked for a little romance. While the photographer won’t be present ‘for the good stuff’ how much fun will it be to have the photo’s to remind you of the special day.

Camp Starfish For Kids with Special Needs

Camp Starfish For Kids with Special Needs

1. Donate Your Time: Nothing helps a person get more grounded and ‘real’ than spending time helping others. While Belize is a mecca for all things naturally stunning, we are also the home of some folks with very real needs. Whether you spend some time with Special Needs Kids at Camp Starfish, walk a homeless dog at the SAGA Humane Society, or help put water filtration in the San Mateo area – or any of the hundreds of other worthy causes in Belize – you will be helping your own soul at the same time. What better way to “reconnect” to the one you love the most than to spread that love to others? Spending such truly quality time together is one of the most romantic things you can do, don’t you agree?

STTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEretch!

STTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEretch!

Posted on August 8, 2014

Day After PhotoShoot

Photo: Patrick Broderick Photography

Photo: Patrick Broderick Photography


In 2002 I had a destination wedding. One of the few things that truly mattered to me was the Photographer. Somehow, back in 2002 when the internet was barely a “thing”, I was able to find a fantastic destination wedding photographer. I don’t recall if it was his idea or mine, but we had agreed to do a Day After Photoshoot waaay before it was fashionable 😉

Of course, a Day After Wedding Photo Shoot could be anything from breakfast in bed to something Theme’d like “Bonnie and Clyde Take San Pedro….in a golf cart”. How fun it would be to plan a theme’d shoot around the country of Belize.

While I understand that adding on another session with your photographer may make it seem like a frivolity, the few bucks extra will be completely forgotten when you look at those photos in the coming decades. To help elucidate, here are my: Top 3 (+2 Bonus) Reasons to do a “Day After PhotoShoot”

1. The Stress Is Over – The Wedding is officially over. It’s done. Now you can relax. NOW it’s about the two of you, not your guests, not the flowers or the officiant or anything. You can now focus on each other, and more to the point – ENJOY each other, and how fun to have a fantastic local photographer as your guide to a fantastic day… all the while capturing your mood and expression as you enjoy your destination wedding location.

2. The Birth of The Spouse Your wedding day is the very last day you wake up single. The day after your wedding is the first day you wake up and greet the day as a “Spouse”. On this day, you wake up as a “Wife” or a “Husband”. Shouldn’t the first day you are a “Spouse” be celebrated? Happy Spouse Day!!!

3. Photog Familiarity Let’s face it, everyone is a little nervous on their wedding day. Often, it’s the first or second time you are meeting your photographer. After spending hours together on Wedding Day, the comfort and familiarity that comes from having gone through the wedding together, creates an intimacy and connection that makes the Day After shoot a really awesome vibe, and for me, at least as memorable if not more so, than my Wedding Day. And I LOVE the pictures in more casual clothes.

BONUS 1: You can use one of the photo’s for your “Thank You” notes or Christmas Cards (just bring Santa Hats!) With a bit of planning, you can do all sorts of fun stuff with your photo’s.

BONUS 2: You get to buy a whole second outfit!

TIP: If you can only afford 1 photographer, make sure it’s a local one. International wedding photographers can’t/won’t know the best places for such shoots.

Photo: Patrick Broderick Photography

Photo: Patrick Broderick Photography

Posted on July 31, 2014

Same Sex Wedding Legal In Belize?

On July 4, 2014 I was truly honored to produce the wedding of Brielle and Colleen and to cap off an amazing week of associated events. The brides were gorgeous as they stood on the boulders by my personal-favorite-in-all-the-world waterfall. The Officiant was in her robe, the Mayan Shaman in typical wear. It was a beautiful ceremony.

But was this same sex wedding legal in Belize? More importantly, were we doing something illegal?

As is the case in the US, gender laws and policy are hotly contested in the Belize and Caribbean legal systems. I sought council from a prominent Belizean attorney who is involved with such matters. In speaking with Council, I was able to confirm that just because the wedding wasn’t “legal” doesn’t in any way mean it was “illegal”. The answer was very clear, what muddies it up were the usage of the words “legal” and “illegal”.

The word “Legal”, in this case, has two meanings: let’s call them Criminal Legality and Procedural Legality.

So, was the wedding criminally legal? Yes, absolutely. In Belize it is perfectly legal for 2 people to stand in front of each other and declare their love for one another. There is absolutely no criminal activity occurring, and absolutely no law against it.

Was the wedding ‘procedurally’ legal? Nope. After the ceremony, no paperwork was filed with any Belizean government agency, and therefore the wedding will not be “legalized”. Just like it’s still not “legal” in Alabama and Ohio and a whole bunch of other States.

But was what we were doing illegal? The answer is very clear: Unequivocally and simply, No. While the wedding will not become legalized until their second ceremony back in their home state of Hawaii, that doesn’t make the one in Belize “illegal” so much as “non-legalized”.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll blog about the wedding of Brielle and Colleen. Some can argue the definition of the word “wedding”, but I’m not one of them. My definition of a wedding is my definition of a wedding, and what I witnessed and orchestrated were a week’s worth of events celebrating the union of two elements to make one soul. And I will not argue about love.

Posted on July 25, 2014

Michael and Deb Testimonial

Hi Lara and Phillip,
Deb and I had to check the conch shells, cost us an extra bag, though. You were right, they did consider it a weapon. I didn’t see the email below til now, so wish I would have. We had a safe trip to Cayo district and had a lot of fun at the zoo, and the iguana preserve and mayan sites and caves. You set up the trip beautifully for us. The bug bites finally resolved about a week after we got back and we washed all the clothes in hot hot water. We don’t believe we carried them back with us. The trip in San Pedro was also memorable, and the snorkeling adventure was good for us, slow paced and safe….we may venture out more next time. You did a great job at setting up our trip. We need to write on trip advisor about it. Hope your trip was uneventful. Phillip did a great job holding us together through it all.
Thanks again. Would definitely recommend you to our friends and anyone interesting in traveling to Belize.
Michael and Deborah

Posted on June 26, 2014

Nikki and Travis – Testimonial

Lara,
We absolutely LOVED our entire trip. Your recommendations and connections were spot on. The day on the boat was our favorite. The crew was fantastic. The whole thing was great!
Thank you!!
Travis and Nikki

Posted on June 2, 2014

Temple Tantrums – glo.msn.com

Here we are in Glo.Msn.Com again :)  This time it’s about knowing when you simply cannot make someone happy…and knowing when to step away.

Read about “The Most Outrageous Demands Ever”….  bride’s can be nuts!

Lara Goldman plans destination nuptials in Belize, and had a prospective client make a very special request: to get married at an ancient temple, on a beach. “There is only one place on earth this is possible—at Cerros Mayan in northern Belize,” says Goldman. “After I’d spent weeks getting the logistics sorted out, the bride then asked me, ‘If the sand isn’t to my liking, can we change it?'”

Posted on April 2, 2014

Getting Back On The Yoga Wagon Is More Fun Than Ms Pacman

Getting Back on the Yoga Wagon is more fun than Ms Pacman

I am currently actively endeavoring to live my own “personal road less traveled”.  I am 42, and just because I always say I’ve “always been like this” or like that, doesn’t mean it’s still true.  So in addition to taking the dog for a walk in the rain, turning down a path I’ve never seen before, and going to bed at 9:30 even though “I’ve always been a night owl”, I decided to do something really out of my comfort zone.

I woke up, ate breakfast, and then went to yoga.  I “never work out in the morning”, but as I try to shake up my own life without getting on an airplane, I decided to try something new.  The weather yesterday morning was perfect.  It was super chilly and overcast.  It was a beautiful day to ride to town for an 8:30 am class at the not-yet-opened “Zen Arcade”.  PLEASE NOTE: the place is not yet opened – so don’t judge

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Tara and Noel, both accomplished yoga instructors and new mom’s joined forces to build their vision of a…well…of a place to do what you need to do – from yoga to massages to a new hair style and a day by the pool with the girls. In any event, Tara is simply an exceptional yoga instructor.  I was thrilled when I saw her on the street and she told me they had started their soft opening with Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes at 8:30 am.  They are free for the month of January.

So, between the invigorating fall chill in the air and a free  yoga class, I could scarcely come up with an excuse to stay in bed.  So, I went.  I’m so glad I did.

As you pull into the parking lot of the Zen Arcade, you’re struck by the vision.  I can totally see how this will come together.  It’s a great space.  I walked up the stairs to the rooftop where Noel was about to start class.  I “fell off the yoga wagon” over a year ago, and I have done no form of exercise since.  I was so glad to be back.  The view from the roof is lovely.  You can hear the dogs barking at “Fort Dog” and the birds chirping in the trees.  You can also hear the planes as they go directly over head from time to time.  For me, though, the sound of the planes is just “part of it”.  It’s sort of like living near a train track – eventually you can’t sleep without the sound of the train on the tracks at 3 am.  The planes sound like “home” to me, so I didn’t mind at all.

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I am very sore today, and I consider that to be a wonderful thing.  The class was absolutely perfect, and I was excited to get the full tour and hear the vision.  Adam was there, and he regaled me with tales of concrete and water containers.  He also explained, it technicolor detail what the pool area will look like.  This whole space really will be a bit of an oasis.  Yes, that’s the word – an Oasis.

“Everything that is wood is going to be the pool.  The whole is the deep part of the pool”, Adam explained to me.  He also told me about the lounge chairs that will be in the later, the area for the band to set up, and of course, the bar.  Between the gorgeous pool area and the stunning roof top views, this space will be just fab for rehearsal dinners and parties.

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There will be a cafe manned, chef’ed and run by Rojo Lounge.  The food will, of course, be awesome.

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They have several day rooms for rent for acupuncturists, or eyeball color people (iridologists?), massage therapists, or anyone else who wants to have a professional space to treat clients.  There is an extremely well thought out beauty salon with 3 hair stations and 2 manicure stations.

The Zen Arcade is planning on featuring some art as well as hosting some evening events.  I think that they are onto something, and I cannot wait to join their Arcade.  They are still working through their monthly plans and are not officially open until February.

I haven’t been this excited about an arcade since Ms Pacman came out when I was 9!

Posted on January 22, 2014

True Story of Heroism in San Mateo that reads like an Indiana Jones movie

At around 7:30 pm on December 31, 2013 Marlon Gonzalez was hungry.  Since he lives in San Mateo and therefore has no electricity, the 35 year old was using his flashlight when he was searching his kitchen for food.  He had that flashlight in his hand when he heard screaming coming from the other side of the lagoon.  Marlon jumped in the water and crossed the 20 feet of water.  Crocodiles are frequently seen in this section of the lagoon.

When he reached the house, he found a mother and children screaming, and another child blue in the face and non-responsive on the floor of the dark, unlit house.  The mother frantically explained that her daughter, 10 year old Myrna, was choking on a marble.

On November 6 and 7, 2013  Marlon was sponsored by Victoria House, his employer of 12 years with perfect attendance, had taken and completed Red Cross First Aid and CPR Training with Bandage International.  With the course just 7 weeks before, his response was sharp.  He put the flashlight in his mouth and began to pound on her back as he’d been taught.  She remained unresponsive, so he laid her on her back and immediately commenced CPR.  He remembered the most important lesson we’d been taught in that class – just keep pumping.

Marlon tried to dislodge the marble, but nothing worked.  The girls color, however, was getting better.  He could feel her lungs moving, so he knew it was working.  He had her older brother get the dory to take her to the road.  A dory is a small canoe, of sorts, paddled by hand.  The boy paddled while Marlon continued CPR – all the while with a flashlight in his mouth.  The boat ride took about 5 – 10 minutes.  That’s a very long time to be doing CPR after swimming across crocodile infested waters.

The brother, Marlon and Myrna reached the north side of the bridge.  Marlon carried the 10 year old over his shoulder up and over the bridge, where the got into Chi’s taxi. Marlon continued CPR in the Taxi as they drove to Dr Daniel’s office.  By the time they reached, Myrna became responsive and could stand to walk into the office.  Dr Daniel pronounced that Myrna had swallowed the marble and would pass it naturally, and then charged him $10 usd for the office visit and sent them on their way.

A few weeks ago,Marlon had told me the highlights of this story when he gave me a ride home from town, and I then told Tacogirl.com who had sponsored me for the same class.  She then arranged to have representatives from the San Pedro Red Cross and Myrna and her family meet with members of the Press to tell his story.  Before they arrived, I sat down and asked Marlon some more personal questions about how it felt to save someone and if it changed him at all.  We also talked about how the family must be so appreciative of him.  He told me that the father of the girl had bought him “4 Stouts” in appreciation, a day’s wages for the man, and the mother cries when she thanks him.

The family arrived for what I’m sure was their first time at such a fancy place as Victoria House. Clearly there is a deep affection between Marlon and the family.  The father didn’t speak a lot of English, but love and pride transcend language and he spoke volumes.  Myrna, Emily and Wilson were lovely, lovely children.  Myrna was shy, Emily was spirited, and Wilson was “my little monkey”.  The kids got to play on the hammocks and the girls got “Shirley Temples” to drink.

I asked Myrna what she wanted to be when she grew up.  I had to lean in and talk quietly to her, and she spoke so softly it was hard to hear.  But she was clear nonetheless – “nurse”, is what she said.  I said “So you can save lives when you grow up, too.”

I really do have the amazing fortune to be around some of the most remarkable people.  This is a true story of heroism in San Mateo that reads like an Indiana Jones movie.

The orchid laden trees and manicured lawns of Victoria House’s front drive.

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Marlon tells the story

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me and marlon

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The family arrives at Victoria House

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The family sees the beach

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the view

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Sitting together to be interviewed

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Janelle from the San Pedro Sun gets the story

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Shirlee presents a gift from the San Pedro Red Cross

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A present for the survivor, Myrna

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She stands like a little model, but she really didn’t like getting her picture taken

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Emily :)

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Wilson

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The eldest boy, Dixon, the one who paddled the dory and helped save Myrna couldn’t attend the party as he was in school.  He also received a TShirt from the Red Cross.

Posted on January 20, 2014

Red Cross First Aid and CPR Training Produces a Real Life Hero

In early November, 2013, tacogirl.com sponsored my attendance in the Red Cross First Aid and CPR Training session to be held at Banana Beach.  Bandage International conducted the two day training class.   I can honestly say that Darryl’s class was very well paced and he is clearly passionate about saving lives. There were about 25 people in the class, and over half of them were from Victoria House and South.  All the members of the South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood watch, employees of Victoria House and Belize Water Consolidated, as well as other properties and residents of “the South Side”.  I must say, I was quite proud of our group. DSC01451   Here’s the Course Schedule DSC02540 DSC02541 Darryl gets started. DSC01449   I took a few notes.  It’s been a few months since I reviewed my notes from the morning’s classroom training, but I find them useful…if not a bit telling. “*Ice on snake bite and splint” Literally, my notes have the above sentence with the underline and the asterisk. There were a lot of great practical examples, and this anagram to help you remember what to do when you come upon a victim of some sort of incident.  You should ask the victim for a “S.A.M.P.L.E.” S: Signs and symptoms A: Allegeries M: Medications P: Past medical history L: What was their last meal and when was it? E: Events prior to the incident Then there is the “Pain Assessment” anagram.  This one I find of personal importance as I tend to break bones and fall down a lot. Gravity effects me differently, I think. P: Provokes, what makes it worse Q: Quality of the pain – is it sharp? dull ache? R: Radiation – does the pain move? S: Severity – on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the worst pain they have ever felt in their lives T: Time – when did it start.         After lunch, we went into another area of the restaurant to learn and practice CPR.  It’s not the same as it was when I was first taught.  You no longer breathe for the person.  Just keep their heart pumping.  I don’t remember the shocking statistics on saving a life via CPR, but what I do remember is this:  you’ve got like zero time to start, so just start and keep going.  Do the best you can.DSC01459 DSC01463 On day two was more of a ‘hands on” practical.  The Bandage International Team used real world demonstrations to put our newly learned skills into practice. DSC01465 Before we all said goodbye, South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch Patrolman Coy was recognized for his heroic actions in saving his nephews life.  Officer Coy had completed Bandage International’s First Aid and CPR Course on a Thursday when two days later his nephew fell in a pool and lost consciousness. As a direct result of the training he had received just days before, Coy was able to save his nephews life.   Both the child and the hero received gifts and applause from the Bandage International Team.DSC01467 The entire class DSC01475 UPDATE: I caught a ride home from town a few days ago with “Marlon” pictures above.  In his soft, underspoken voice he told me the story of having saved a child from choking on a marble just a week after completing this training.   Marlon it seems, is quite the hero.  A Press Session is being held on Monday, January 21 at Victoria House to honor his actions.  After he told me his story, I knew it needed to be shared.  This is why the Red Cross is so important for Belize.  It really does help save lives. I had walked to town with my dog and friend Anna, and as we began to walk home, Marlon happened upon us by the Tropic Air terminal and offered us a lift.  We had traveled a while when Marlon casually tells me he “used the training we went to”.  I asked him how.  He tells me that he lives in the San Mateo area and he was home when he heard some screaming and a fuss.  He jumped in the water and swam across the lagoon to see what was happening.  He discovered that a small child was choking on a marble.  Marlon administered CPR, and assessed the childs condition.  The child was turning blue.  Marlon continued CPR until he could dislodge the marble.  He then took the child on a dory, and crossed the lagoon.  In order to cross the bridge, Marlon put the child over his shoulder and carried him until a taxi could be found to get the child to the doctor.  The child is alive and well. Marlon completed the CPR/First Aid training just one week prior to this incident. Marlon is a hero.  For real, for real.

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San Pedro Red Cross Receives First Pack For A Purpose Donation

San Pedro Red Cross Receives First Pack For A Purpose Donation

In June, I shared with you my discovery and enrollment in the Pack For A Purpose program.  I wrote several blogs this summer about the process of enrolling, joining, and developing the San Pedro listing.  In the last few weeks, I was contacted by two different tourists who were aware of the Pack For A Purpose program, and were going to be bringing down items to donate.  I was thrilled.

Today I received a call from Don and Carol Schutz from Minnesota. They had arrived in San Pedro a week ago, and called today to inform me of their donation.  I went to their condo to pick the items up this afternoon.

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These office supplies will go a loooong way in helping set up the new Red Cross Office in San Pedro Town.

To find out more about Pack for a Purpose, check out their website.

To find out more about San Pedro Red Cross, contact Laurie at Tacogirl.com

 

Posted on January 10, 2014

Day Trippin’ to Spanish Lookout

Day Trippin’ to Spanish Lookout

I had the opportunity to spend some time in Cayo with my friend Libby a few weeks ago.  On the last day, we drove to Spanish Lookout, the Mennonite community.  They had a whole world of stores and items that you simply cannot get anywhere else, and since they are not required to pay taxes or duty on anything, the pricing is the best in Belize.

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Mennonites are farmers, so there was a fabulous feed shop.  I got all sorts of things for the dog and cat at reasonable prices.  Max got flea/tick stuff, shampoo and a new leather collar.  The collar was super reasonable considering it’s leather, but of course, Max has a little head and can still escape if he likes.

My new venture “12” carries the Lemon Crush Belize line of products, and I needed ‘notions’ for things I’m having made.  For those that don’t know, “notions” in sewing terms, are the ancillary items one needs in order to make things. Notions include zippers, buttons, and fun gadgetry.  We dont have much of this sort of stuff in San Pedro, so it was nice to have choices.

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And they had lots and lots and lots of fabric.

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This is batting.  A whole big fat roll of it!  I needed batting for a project, and you know what I used? A mattress pad.  We are nothing if not creative.

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We took a different way out of Spanish Lookout.  We had to take the pull ferry.  The pull ferry is a dying breed here in Belize, but I love them.  It’s a hand cranked platform that carries cars and people across the river.  I am always very humbled by the cranker.

Lining up for the ferry.

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Drive on

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Crossing the river

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The ‘cranker’

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Safely across

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Posted on January 9, 2014

A Walk In The Park

A Walk In The Park on Ambergris Caye, Belize

The weather has been, as they say, “shite”. It’s been raining for nearly 6 months, which is unheard of for Belize. Every day it does clear up a bit for periods of time. I try to get the dog out for a walk during those clearer times. I started out with Max and it was sunny and nice. We were headed for the beach, and Max was one happy pup.

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Shortly after reaching the beach, a storm cloud rolled in. It was just to the south, and i thought we might be spared, but we did get some rain. I had brought “The Big Camera”, a Canon EOS 20D, that I have no idea how to use, and my point and shoot. As the rain came down, i was most concerned about the The Big Camera, so I decided to duck under a tree for cover. I took these shots from there.

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I was near The Lions Den Park in Mosquito Coast, so I dashed for the thatch covered round table and sat on it. This spot, under the thatch, was just perfect. I could sit on the table with my back against the umbrella post and be stable with the heavy camera. I loved the obvious metaphor of this being New Years Eve day, the last day of 2013, and you could see the sun on coming, and the clouds going.

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After sitting a while and playing with the camera, I realized this was a great spot to do a “2014” thing in the sand for my facebook cover photo. I got a stick and wrote in the packed, hard sand as best I could and then sat back down. Just as I did, two tourists came walking toward me. Well, actually directly toward the freshly written “2014” in the sand. I called out to them, I was only a few feet away, but the one lady ignored me completely, and her other friend came directly to me. I tried to stop the ignoring lady, but she plowed right through. I explained to the intruding lady that I had just written in the sand, and she said “OH! I’ll take advantage of your 2014!”.

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Now, of course, she meant take advantage of the 2014 in the sand, but in my reflective state, it struck me as more of an omen than anything else. I became instantly surly as I contemplated a stranger “taking advantage of my 2014″.  I stayed a while longer, having forgotten the annoying interlopers, and was rewarded by lots of sun. I played with The Big Camera and my Sony point and shoot. I cant tell much of a difference, but then again, I’m not a photographer.

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I walked through The Lions Park, and i saw this on the ground. There are a lot of cool things in this park, but i’d never sat in it before – always just walking by. I imagine it’s the same for those that walk through Central Park in NYC every day on their way to work or wherever.

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I decided to walk home on the road as I’m really trying to walk my own personal “road less traveled”. The sun was getting ready to start callin’ it a day as Max and I came through and around to the Lagoon. I’d seen a pair of croc eyes just up against the wall the day before on my bike ride home from town, and I know that dusk is just about feeding time for Crocs, so I told Max to hurry up, and we went home.

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Posted on January 8, 2014

Part Two – The Day That Blew My Mind

Part Two – The Day That Blew My Mind

Back in November, I went to my friends house in Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize. She introduced me to her neighbor and we arranged a visit a few days later.  Last week I wrote about the first half of the Day That Blew My Mind, and here is Part Two.

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As Bol showed me his property, the orchid garden, and the most gorgeous view I’ve ever seen, I was aware of the sound of a chain saw, and only a chain saw. It would have been silent otherwise, or perhaps i would have heard some birds.  As we walked, we got closer to the sound of that chain saw.  I could see chain saw carnage as we walked.  I felt oddly sorry for the trees.

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We came upon the tree slayer and his son.  And so began Mind Blown #3 of the day.

So, you know how mahogany is very expensive in the States?  Ever wonder how boards are made?  I had wondered how boards were made when Bol showed me the buildings on his property, and explained that one of the houses was made from an enormous cedar tree, and showed me the rest of the boards and the stump.

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Using a chainsaw, the tree is felled.  That i knew.  What i didnt know, is that someone then uses the chainsaw to cut the boards from the felled tree.  Do you see how precise that right angle?  I cant even cut a block of cheese with a small knife, let alone freehanding a straight line with a chainsaw.  In the jungle.

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Free-handing a chainsaw to make boards.  I was incredibly fortunate to get video of him doing this, but i dont know how to load it.  Sorry.  It was totally cool, too.

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This is the piece of root base of the felled tree. I desperately want to do something with it. I can think of a million things.   Just gorgeous.  Naturally.

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So, on we go.  My mind was still reeling a bit, and we continued down the trail.  I then realized that each of those boards had to be hand carried out of there.  On some guys shoulders.  Oy.

Anyway, we walked only a few yards from the chainsaw wielding father, and i saw this roof thingy.  Do you see it just to the left of Bol?

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We get to the overhang/roof thingy, and I see *this*. I think it took me a few minutes to realize that *this* was the “cave”.  I had more of a Flinstones garage sorta looking thing in mind.  Not *this* hole.

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Bol is a true Belizean.  He was raised in these mountains, as were his grandparents and back and back some more.  He began to talk in that thick Belizean accent that I have come to understand perfectly well.  He was a tour guide by trade, and had worked at a small Mayan site in one of the villages.  Through the years of working there, he had heard many stories of caves in the Mountain Pine Ridge area that had been Mayan Caves.  The ‘old timers’ used to tell tales and stories handed down for generations, literally, about Mayan caves in this part of MPR.

One day, Bol applied for his “birthright” land.  All Belizeans are entitled to a piece of land.  When parcels on this mountain came up by the Government, Bol requested this piece. I forget how many acres, but it’s a lot.  He was granted his land, and for years he looked and he looked.  He had remembered what the old timers said about this piece of land.

Then, on November 20-something, 1993 at 230pm, he found this rock, the large white one.  It, and several other stones around it, were covering this hole.

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He told me how they were all piled on top, and he could *just* shine a flashlight down under the rocks in a groove the mayans had worn in the stone surrounding the opening.  He said he flashed the beam through the groove and saw a piece of pottery many yards below.  He had found his buried treasure.  I cannot even imagine what that must have felt like.  Every little boys dream, to find buried treasure and HE found it.   Down there.
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He of course, has had to add the grate and the chains and locks.  What he discovered is worth millions, literally.  It took him ages to unlock it all, and i had a moment to look around.  I was *very* aware of the present.  I was very aware of where I was, and what I was doing.  And I was bring Blown Away.  Even the trees blew my mind.

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Bol talked while he unlocked the locks.  He was very excited about the new ladder, made of steel.  Some archaeologists suggested it would be a better idea than the very unstable wood one I would have been descending had I arrived a few weeks prior.  You can see it in the pictures above.  But below, you see the brand new ladder i was to descend.

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It was at about this very moment that Bol begins to ask me questions like “are you claustrophobic”?  Um, i dunno.  I never thought about it, but, um, now that you mention it – the idea of going down *that* hole in the dark with barely working flashlights, and um, well,… maybe.  “What do you mean by claustrophobic?”.  And this is where the Belizean English/American English translation broke down.  Mostly because I was actually getting very scared.  The more he tried to tell me it wasnt scary, the scarier it became.

Fear is not a reason to do, or not do, something, so I realized it didn’t much matter if I was or was not claustrophobic.  I was going down that hole.  Period.  So suck it up, buttercup.

Bol descended first, and I could see that he was about 20 feet down and standing full height.  I climbed down next, fully realizing that once again, flip flops were a poor choice.  I got to the bottom, and the ground was pretty much dry.  The ceiling was about 15 feet high and I was standing in a silo about 6 feet in diameter.  The ladder extended above me, and to my right was a set of rough stairs in the very thick red clay mud.  Bol had tied a rope on some poles to help hold onto.  Flip flops covered in thick clay mud make for very nice ice skates.

I held onto that rope for dear life, and climbed up the stairs.  The stalactites were above my head, and the staircase was about 4 feet wide.  I reached the top of the stairs, and began down the other side.  My flip flops were so caked in mud they began to get completely stuck.  At one point I really did believe I was going to take a header down those stairs because my feet would not come up out of the mud.  It was the strangest feeling, actually.  Bol thought I was just playing until he needed both hands to get my shoe out of the mud.  I removed my shoes and decided to just go barefoot.

Once my near death stairs experience was over, we stopped at the first area.  This area is still in the stairs, sort of, but has a collection of pots in a small chamber.  The green tape was put there to tell you not to get any closer than that.  Anywhere else in the world you’d be looking at these things through 8 inch thick glass, here…there’re just laying in the dirt.  This is the only picture i took with a flash.  It’s bad for the objects to have the light on them.  The exhalation of our breath, the moisture from our skin, everything we do damages these objects, so I turned off my flash and tried to do as little harm as possible.  Should you take this tour one day, I implore you to do the same.

Anyway – this is the first picture i took.  I cannot begin to tell you what Bol told me.  He’s had many archaeologists through his property, and they have taught him a lot about his collection.  These pieces and pots were found in the general area of where we were standing.

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All the pieces of a bowl.

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A nearly intact plate, a very rare find

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They found all the pieces to this plate below, and that is a pulley.

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We turn away from this first section, and continue around a slight curve in the stairs.  I couldn’t help but gasp.  There before me was a huge chamber.  It was at least 20 feet wide, 30 feet long and 30 feet high.  The center was cleared out and was a base of thick rich red mud.  The cave is normally dry, but it’s been raining so much some dampness has come in to make it a bit muddy.  I put my shoes back on though.

As i looked around I could see only what was visible in the feint light of my headlamp.  There were sections of collections of pottery, artifacts, tools and art.  The items were found pretty much where they lie.  Bol walked me around the sections and shared his knowledge.  I looked up to see these incredible Stalactites

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This collection of grinding tools was found covering a pathway to another chamber.  In that chamber were assorted pieces of jewelry and other objects.  Bol himself removed the stones from the opening.  They had been left undisturbed for nearly two thousand years.  What must that have felt like for him?

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Opposite those grinding stones was another chamber.  Inside that chamber was a nearly intact pot so large, it could not have possibly come in the same way Bol and I did.  It’s diameter is greater than that stone opening the Mayan’s had made.  This means there is another entrance to this cave.  Bol has not yet found it, and he has not yet completely discovered all the chambers of his cave.  My mind continues to explode.

This is a REAL mayan calendar.  They only found half, but as Bol pointed out, that just means the other half is here somewhere.

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Monkey See

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This is a water jug.  These objects were not made in this cave.  Bol is not sure why the Mayan’s had this cave.  They do believe some sacrifices were done here as one of the pieces was related to them.

 

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This pot was found way up there balanced on that rock.  Weird, huh?  Even weirder is that it never got broken by things falling, earthquakes, the occasional suicidal bird.

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Would you look at this pottery? I’ve never seen so many nearly complete large pieces before, even in the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum.

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Bol and I are standing in the middle of the clearing in the center of the cave.  He points his light up, and points out a carving in the ceiling, it’s a pair of hands pointing down. I dont even know how the ancient Mayan would have gotten up there.  But then again, how did they make the Crystal Skull and how did they build the pyramids?

Bol then points out another carving in the side wall of the upper reaches of the cave.  It’s an enormous mayan woman, with her hair cascading down her back as she sits.  I desperately wanted a picture of it, and I dont know … if you use your imagination maybe you can see it in this smudge.

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This is the bowl used for sacrifices.  It’s on feet so the blood can drain.

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This is an Intact Large Pot.  This thing is literally worth a fortune.  This pot is extremely extremely rare and valuable on the black market.  With great wealth comes great responsibility.

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More tools

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I have no idea what this is.

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Stalagmites as we exit the main chamber and climb another bit of steps/hill to another chamber.

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The ground is slippery again as we climb to the next chamber.  Bol points out various objects, and explains that this is where they fond the Human Remains.

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He named the first human he found “Mr Sunday” since he was found on a Sunday.  Mr Sunday is on the right, and the white orb to the left is, apparently, his girlfriend.

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Assorted bones, jaw and teeth found here

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Her cranium was much smaller and smoothed over by growth in the cave.

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How interesting the growth plates.

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After our visit with Mr and Mrs Sunday, we began the climb out of the chamber and back to the main grand chamber.  Once we were in the center again, Bol had me turn out the headlamp and flashlights.  It was dark.  Full dark with no light whatsoever.  It was not scary at all in that cave.  With or without light.  It was just a plain calm place.  Very very calm, and calming.  I found it all very interesting and made me ask myself a thousand questions.

I wondered why I could see my breath, for example.  It was warm and very humid down there in the cave, so why would i see the vapor of my breath?  Why were the mayans there at all?  How did that man and woman die? Where was the other entrance, and what else might Bol find?

It was much easier getting out of the cave than into it.  I wanted to get one picture as i left, but its all fuzzy for some reason.  I wonder why.

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Posted on December 27, 2013

Bol’s Museum Cave – A Mind Blow 3 times in 1.5 hours

Caribbean Spice owner and friend/hostess for my week in ‘da bush’ introduced me to Bol, her neighbor.  Libby had described her house as “the suburbs of Caracol”, meaning when Caracol was the main city, the folks her lived on her land were suburbanites.  All over this part of Belize you will find mayan bits and bobs – shards, pottery bits, arrow heads.  So, I was super excited when he told me he had a Mayan cave on his property.  He offered tours, and we set a time of Wednesday around 10 am.

After helping pack up a shipment of Caribbean Spice destined for The Greenhouse in San Pedro, I began my 1/2 mile-ish walk to “Bol’s “Museum Cave” as it’s called.  It’s a short walk up the hill (my back is to the hill in this shot) from The Junction.DSC01920

I saw this sign for a room for rent, and I couldn’t help but think “this is why people should hire me” – imagine if you found this ‘rustic’ place on the internet!  You can see the place for rent in the upper portion of the photo.  I had to giggle.

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This is the base of Bol’s Museum Cave property.  I walked up the side of the hill/mountain and Bol was sitting waiting for me.  We sat a while and he told me of his vision for the place.

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This will be a small shop with basic things like bread and beer.  A place for tourists to stop, and for locals to shop for staples.  The other small building will be a guest room where someone could stay.  We sat here a while, and he shared with me his vision for the property, and pointed out where the various fruit trees were planted.

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We chatted a while and then made our way up the hill to his house.  It was also his base of operation, with two small basic bedrooms off to the left.  There is no running water or electricity, and only a butane stove.  As he gathered the supplies for the hike and spelunking, it struck me – no electricity.  I asked Bol, “Did you do all this by hand? There isn’t any electricity”.  And so began my day of getting my mind blown.

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Yes, the entire place was built by hand.  Each board sawed with a hand saw, having been cut from the property and turned into boards with a chainsaw. He then showed me the hand drill.  I thought and said “oh, like a battery drill”, “No”, he said, “Like this”.  Now, i didnt take a pictures, but I wish I had.  I found this one on the internet.

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It explained why the door hinges were nailed in, and not screwed, and it absolutely explained why someone would be content with a very simple house.  As I looked around the house, I noticed the details in the angles that had been cut, and what amount of labor it would have taken to build this house.

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He asked me I wanted to see the orchid garden, and of course I said yes.  We ascended a very steep hill, and I was instantly regretful that I hadn’t packed a pair of sneakers….but then again, I had no idea I’d be up to such things.  I tried to take a picture, but the pitch of the hill doesnt show up, but trust me, they call them hills – I call these small mountains. It was a pleasure to get moving after so many months of rain, so I was not complaining.  We reached very near the top, and I turned around and saw this:DSC01932

 

Then he pointed out the 21 varieties of orchids that were growing on his property.  He was gathering them from various areas of the grounds to create a garden.  He had several black orchids, the national flower of Belize.  Apparently they bloom year round, and really are absolutely lovely.  The thing is, the flower is about the size of my pinky finger nail.  They are itty bitty, and just gorgeous.

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This is another type of orchid that was in bloom, and this sucker was huge.  He was about 3 feet tall.

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I had a little further to go to the top.

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Once I reached the top, for some reason I didn’t look ahead, I looked behind and wanted to take one last look from the top, as I’d been just a few feet lower when I took the picture you saw before of the incredible valley and mountains (hills) behind us.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  And then, I turned around.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to explain what I felt the second I turned around and saw this.

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I can say that I literally felt like I’d been physically knocked in the chest and I stepped back two steps.  It was so beautiful, it knocked me off balance – literally.  After I caught myself, I took a few steps forward and I teared up.  Hell, I’m tearing up thinking about it as I write this – it was so beautiful.  I looked at Bol, after I took the panoramic picture and I said “I dont know why I bother – no matter how good a photo, sometimes no camera can capture it as good as it really is”.

 

I played with the camera a bit trying to capture it, and I just couldn’t.  But here are my attempts.  DSC01953

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Bol pointed out various landmarks of the area, such as San Ignacio Town, the very top of Xunantunich’s El Castillo.  He told me that people could come and camp in this circle at the top of this incredible piece of land, and pointed out the fire pit.   There is a reason I called my company “Romantic Travel Belize” – and this is one of those reasons.   There are few things on earth as romantic as this would be on a perfect starlit night.  Breathtaking.

So, that was “mind blown” twice in the span of an hour or so.

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We gathered our things, and began to walk down the other side of the steep hill (mountain) we just climbed.  What lies ahead, is “Mind Blown” number 3 of the day, and I was only 1.5 half into this adventure!

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All Natural, Belize Made Bath and Body Products

Libby lives on a beautiful piece of land just before the junction to go to Caracol. When we were driving to her house she was explaining the density of Mayan artifacts and Mayan ‘mounds’ in the area. There are over 600 ancient Maya sites in Belize, and one of the great wonders to me is that each ‘mound’ or small hill you see is most likely an unexcavated Mayan site. She has some on her land as well, and explained that her land was once the “suburbs of Caracol”. Caracol was one of the most famous and important ancient Mayan Cities and was active and populated from about 1200 BC to 950 AD.

"The Junction"

“The Junction”

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“The Junction” is Libby’s little, strange gift shop/bar/spice outlet store right at the Junction to go to Caracol, Rio of Pool, and Rio Frio Caves. All truly exceptional sites. More to come on those in a future blog.

Caribbean Spice is a premier spice and seasoning company that Libby started a few years ago. She and her family hail from New Orleans, so food, spices and fun are in her DNA and her accent makes me laugh all day long. I wish my name ended in an “R” so I could hear how it would sound with a Cajun accent, but I digress.

I love using her products, all made here in Belize, in my gift baskets and for guest welcome bags. Nothing represents a region quite like it’s food and flavors, so they really are perfect for that. She also has a talent for recipes in general, and in light of my baskets and overwhelmingly positive response to them throughout Belize and on the internet, I decided to brow beat her into making me some special products. Bath and Body Products to be exact.

When Carrie from Letters to My Friends, stayed in my home for several months, she taught me about using natural products for bath and body. For nearly a year, I have washed my face with nothing but baking soda and moisturize with nothing but coconut oil, and my skin has literally never been better. My friend Cindy made me a honey-sugar-lemongrass body scrub and I loved it. Since Libby has the bottle and jars for her food product, the natural inclination toward creating recipes, and that accent I love so much, I decided to brow beat her into Body Product Making Submission.

She came up with sugar scrubs, mani-pedi scrubs, shaving lotion, a honey face wash and a coco butter body cream. Here we’re whipping up a batch of something yummy to slather on ourselves. I have to say the testing and manufacturing process were super fun and my hands never felt so soft!

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Once that was complete, she had a giant order for spices and seasoning to make before the Christmas Rush. I was put to work in the garden picking fresh oregano that she was about to use in one of her recipes. I helped to can the gorgeous mustard that had been boiling on the stove for hours, but I’m sort of a lousy assistant – the mustard smelled so good, I made a sandwich.

Yum.

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Posted on December 19, 2013

Belize City to Cayo on the Caribbean Spice Express

Belize City to Cayo on the Caribbean Spice Express

Libby had some shopping to do for her business, Caribbean Spice, so we drove into the heart of Belize City.
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We went to the supply store, and not only did they have a huge bag of flax seed for $5 bzd ($2.5 usd) they had the cutest puppy on earth.

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After finishing up, we were driven back to Municipal Airstrip where her car was waiting. After loading it up with all our bags, her purchases and her 5 year old son, Rio, we were off like a herd of turtles for the western part of Belize, the Cayo District.

I have always adored Cayo with its beautiful mountains, abundant Maya sites, lush jungles and unique Mountain Pine Ridge. The Cayo District is a world unto itself, and is a must do for anyone visiting Belize. Each of my clients is encouraged to spend at least 10 days in Belize if they can because the diversity in this tiny country is so great, they really do need to see both ‘sides’ of the country. I haven’t spent a ton of time out in Cayo in a couple years, and I’m always excited for an opportunity to come back.

The drive from Belize City to Cayo is about 2.5 hours and goes right through Belmopan, the capital of Belize. Libby had to stop at the Tax Office, so we did. Here it is. Impressive, no true?

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Just before we reached San Ignacio, the main hub of Cayo, we stopped one more time at a new nursery Libby had been meaning to stop at. It was absolutely beautiful, and once again reminded me how ridiculously expensive San Pedro is relative to the rest of Belize. Sigh… They had gorgeous plants and flowers and stupidly reasonably prices. I wish I had two things 1) A car to bring it all back and 2) a green thumb so I wouldn’t instantly kill it all.
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One last stop at Mr Greedy’s Pizza on Burns Avenue in San Ignacio Town. I hadn’t been to Burns Avenue since they renovated the area to make it more tourist friendly. The main square and Burns Avenue both look fantastic and one day, when the tourists come in droves it might serve it’s intended purpose of being a “promenade” but unfortunately, it’s killing the business. SAN PEDRO take notice – closing front street to cars does nothing to build traffic to the local businesses, in fact, it redirects it to others. Belize is not Mexico, and San Ignacio and San Pedro are NOT Playa Del Carmen or Cancun. So, if you do happen to go to San Ignacio, please stop at the businesses on Burns Avenue, and go have some pizza at Greedy’s. Enjoy the Promenade, that’s what it’s there for – you just wouldn’t know it.
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After a drink for me and Libby, and a gelato for Rio, we began the final leg of our journey to Libby’s house all the way up Mountain Pine Ridge. Passed the San Ignacio Town’s Christmas Tree as we left

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Libby lives “Off Grid”, so there is no electricity save for the solar panels and battery she uses. There is no electricity during the day, and we turn it on for a few hours at night to do the things that need done from computer time, to cloths washing, to movie watching. I absolutely love going off-grid, and if you have a chance, I strongly recommend it.

Final note: I listened to howler monkey’s roar as we went to sleep that first night. I was in the jungle again, and I absolutely love it.

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Posted on December 16, 2013

Roatan To Belize City and a Quick Mammogram

Roatan to Belize City and a Quick Mammogram while you wait

I woke at 4 am although I didn’t really need to be up until closer to 5am, but you know how it is when you have an early flight – hard to trust the alarm clock. It was pouring rain as I showered and finished packing. I toasted the left over bagel from my delish breakfast the day before, grabbed a Diet Coke from the fridge, and had breakfast.

Emsly, owner of Hyde Tours was waiting for me as arranged at 545 am to take me to the airport. We were there in plenty of time.

Roatan Airport - Code RTB (coincidence?)

Roatan Airport – Code RTB (coincidence?)


There were 8 other passengers for the short Tropic Air flight that departed at 7 am. I had the good fortune to have Ana, Guest Services Manager from Las Verandas on the flight with me, and as we chatted away another passenger joined our conversation. LaurieAnn is the fishing guru at El Pescador, the world famous fishing lodge on Northern Ambergris Caye. We shared a lot of ideas as she too found a welcome place for her specialty in Roatan as well. Fishing Wedding anyone?

The uneventful flight arrived in Belize City without too much ado. It’s quite nice having only 8 other people to go through Customs and Immigration and it made for swift processing. I said goodbye to my travel companions, and got in a taxi.

Ana, Guest Services Manager for Las Verandas on her way to Victoria House

Ana, Guest Services Manager for Las Verandas on her way to Victoria House

My friend Libby Storey, founder and owner of Caribbean Spices, and I had arranged to meet in Belize City and then drive to Cayo for a few days. She was scheduled to arrive at the Municipal Airport at 1030 am, so I had some time to kill. So, I asked the taxi driver to take me to Belize Medical Associates as I had been trying to get over to the City to get a mammogram and an ultrasound.

I arrived at approximately 910 am. A receptionist took name, address and date of birth and I was asked to take a seat. She called me to the counter to pay for the procedures. Total cost: $170 bzd ($85 usd). Seriously, $85 bucks for both a mammogram and an ultrasound. Reason number 35,345 I love Belize.

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At around 935 am, I was brought into the mammogram room and immediately had my boobs squished. This was of course, after she looked at my breasts and realized the doohickey had to be changed to the smaller doohickey. Five minutes later, I was in the ultrasound room and told to wait for the doctor. About 3 minutes later, the doctor came in and performed the ultrasound. She detected nothing of concern.

I was asked to sit in the lobby again, and after about 5minutes, they handed me my films and I was free to go. Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes for a walk-in at the hospital. Amazing. Medical Care in Belize

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Posted on December 13, 2013

Poly Puppies Ladies Lunch Fundraiser for the Poly Clinic

Yesterday Ti Southwell and Amy Oldham held their annual “Ladies Lunch” Fundraiser at Wild Mango’s restaurant to raise money for the Poly Clinic.  The Poly Clinic is the closest thing we have to a hospital here in San Pedro, so it’s a very important charity to support.    I was tied up in the Studio all day, so I was unable to attend.  However, I happened to go by Mango’s to drop Tanya’s Gift Basket she’s sending to the Mainland as  Christmas present and some of the ladies were still there….sipping wine and champagne.

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Tanya's Basket

Tanya’s Basket

Last year, Amy and Ti made these adorable dolls.

Polly Dolly $20 bzd ($10 usd)

Polly Dolly $20 bzd ($10 usd)

The Polly Dolly’s were such a success, they decided to do it again this year.  but changed it up a bit, and made Poly Puppies.  RIDIC!

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And then Amy, owner of Wild Mango’s offered me a glass of champagne.  I then picked my own puppy.  I chose this one because, let’s face it, he’s a bit wonky – and I like wonky.

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Suffice to say, the merriment continued on, and Mel got a little frisky with her new Puppy, named Elvis.

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All said and done, Ti and Amy raised over $5,000 for the Poly Clinic.  BRAVO ladies, BRAVO

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Posted on December 12, 2013

First Pack For A Purpose Donation on It’s Way

Photo: Tacogirl.com San Mateo, Ambegris Caye, Belize

Photo: Tacogirl.com San Mateo, Ambegris Caye, Belize

Back in July 2013 I became aware of a wonderful organization called Pack For A Purpose.  This organization provides a place for would be travelers to find out what needs their destination country may have and encourages those tourists to “pack for a purpose” and bring much needed items with them.  Imagine if every tourist brought down a packet of pencils, a roll of bandages or some other small, light weight item…what a difference it would make!

There are three organizations I chose to support – San Pedro Red Cross, San Pedro AIDS Commission, and SAGA Humane Society.  I do wish more San Pedro Businesses would sign up for this free service.  Each business can chose their own charities, so imagine what all those tourists could do to really change Belize for the better.

Here’s the email I received from the visitor who will be staying at Pedro’s Inn

“Thanks Lara. I’m very excited to visit Belize. I discovered Pack for A Purpose last year when I was visiting Panama. I went to a school on RedFrog Island and the kids were so excited for the supplies, it was great.”

I’m actually really proud of this, and I cannot wait until January when she arrives.  I’ll take photo’s and share it all with you.

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Posted on December 10, 2013

Bridal Guide Magazine Wedding Tips Feature RTB

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I was asked to provide my best wedding tip for brides preparing their budget.   The inquiry was for the Bible of Brides, Bridal Guide Magazine.    The article, 30 Unexpected Wedding Costs Brides Forget to Budget For.  The list of tips is very detailed, but my tip was the very last one listed, and I frankly think it’s the most important of all: The Ubiquitous “OTHER”

Here’s my tip in full, but they left off the destination wedding part when they printed it :)

I also tell my bride to add 20% to her budget for “other”. What is
“other”?

– “Other” is when the flower delivery got stuck in a storm, and you have
to hire a local florist to use local flowers.
– “Other” is for when the power suddenly goes out and you have to go
buy 200 candles.
– “Other” is for the ‘dear friend’ who cried that she and her new
boyfriend werent invited, and you have to lie and say her invitation got
lost in the mail.
– “Other” is for the broken nail that broke so low you have to get a
full set of acrylics at the last minute so your hands dont look like a
ditch diggers

For a destination wedding, the list of “other” is even longer – Your
shipment of special decor fell off the barge on the way to the island, or
your musician decided that he wanted to play with a circus in Playa Del
Carmen, or there’s a storm, or or or or!

I’m a very budget conscious girl, so when asked to create a budget, i
always, *always* include 20% for the ubiquitous “Other”!

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Horseback Riding on the beach in Roatan, Honduras

Horseback Riding on the beach in Roatan Honduras – Day 5, Part 2

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Trusty Luis from Hyde Tours had been my driver for the days I was in Roatan. Luis works for the super cute Emsly, and doesn’t speak much English. This forced me to practice my Spanish which I rather enjoy. Anyway, Luis was waiting when we were finished at the Gumbolimbo Park, and we started making our way toward the West End from West Bay.

It was around 2pm by this time, and we were hungry. We stopped at a local gas station (yup) for lunch. Veronica had been a very knowledgeable and creative companion who had not led me wrong so far, so when she suggested lunch at the gas station for some local cuisine, who was I to argue? There was a food counter there, and the place reminded me more of a 7-11, Circle K or Wawa than anything else. The ____ was awesome. It was a large warmed flour tortilla filled with refried beans (I love them, why dont we have more of them in Belize???), local cheese (cant go wrong with that) and some seasoned ground beef. There are other options for ingredients, but they were out of them this day. I really really really wish we had those suckers in Belize.

After lunch, we made our way a few more yards to the ‘ranch’ and were met by a rather unique fellow. He opened the stick and razor wire fence, and we walked up a muddy hill to a hut with three horses tied to it. There were other horses grazing around, but these three had their tack and saddles all ready.

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I was introduced to Trigger, and I got on up. Veronica got on her horse, and we made our way to the road. We had decided to ride to Sandy Bay as I had already seen West End. We had to go along the main road for quite some distance. We walked along hoping to not get plowed down by a car.

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We made our turn and made our way to the beach. Veronica hadn’t ridden as many times in her life as I had, so I asked our guide if it was ok for me to run. He said ok, and told me the command that would get Trigger going. I did as I was instructed, and off we went.

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There really isnt anything quite like running the beach on a white horse, with the wind in your hair. For real. The stretch of beach wasnt particularly long so Trigger and I ran back and forth on the beach a few times for fun. Trigger LOVED running and apparently doesn’t get to do so very often. Neither do I, so it worked out well.

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Some things in life you don’t forget, and for me, this will be one of them.

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Posted on December 9, 2013

Won’t You Take Me To Monkey Town – Gumbolimba Park Roatan

Roatan, Honduras – Day 5 Part 1  Won’t You Take Me To Monkey Town – Gumbolimba Park

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I woke to rain (again) but then saw the faintest rainbow, and I knew it would be a good day. I showered and ordered my room-service breakfast and got online to see what Veronica was up to. It was the first day since I’d been in Roatan where an outing was possible, and since I had no interest in water based activities I reviewed the literature Ana the Guest Services Manager had left for me.

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I went to the lobby of Las Verandas to see what we could arrange and to call for Emsley. Keila, the General Manager to beat all General Managers, came to see what I was up to. She made a few calls, and the next thing you know I was off to pick up Veronica and head out for our days adventures: Gumbolimba Park and Horseback Riding.

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Keila had suggested we go to Gumbolimba Park as they had many things to do in one location. The park is in West Bay, which is about 45 minutes from Las Verandas. We were greeted upon arrival and given our visitor badges. But first, some pics with the My Beautiful Belize Informational brochure from San Pedro Sun. Apparently, even Conquistadors love the periodical

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Ryan, our tour guide, brought us into the Insectarium.

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There were a lot of bugs in there, and tons of beautiful butterflies. It was really rather interesting and I wanted to take pictures of all the butterflies but really, who wants to look at those pics? Here are my favorite from the Insectarium.

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Next we were taken to the Coxen Hole Cave. This man-made cave houses a mini museum. We entered the ‘history room” (as I call it) and the guide pointed out the fruit bats hanging from the ceiling. I am a wuss, and I was afraid and sorta screamed like a 5 year old girl, which of course resulted in making the bats start flying around and toward me, which resulted in me screaming more and sorta flailing about in a very elegant fashion.

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Ryan gave us a geographical overview of Roatan, and also reviewed the murals on the wall which depicted the various cultures represented. Interestingly, Roatan also has a village called Punta Gorda, and it is also where the Garifuna have settled. The Garifuna are descendents from the laves brought from Africa and they have maintained much of their incredibly rich, vibrant, musical culture.

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We were then led across a suspension bridge, and this is when things got really interesting. Before we finished crossing, white faced monkeys started coming toward us. And then they started climbing ON us. This little fella just clung onto me as I walked around. Veronica wasn’t nearly as enthused by this whole thing.

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“Won’t you take me to, Monkey Tooown!” – try to get it out of your head…

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All of their monkeys were either donated, rescued or born at the park. Diego, who apparently enjoys My Beautiful Belize, was a pet at one point in his life, so he was very friendly and loved to sit on your lap and be petted.

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The macaw is the national bird of Honduras and they have several of them at the Park. The macaw mates for life and are inseparable once paired. The only way for a human to tell the difference between the male and female, according to Ryan, is via DNA test.

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While macaws normally nest in the trees, this is not an option at the park. The birds adapt, and this pair is digging a hole, together, for the babies which must be on their way.

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In the late 90’s, according to Ryan, the rare Black Iguana was discovered in Roatan. Apparently, it is only found in Roatan, and in no other place on earth. It is cold blooded, unlike the green iguana, and lives on the ground and must be warmed by the sun. This fella has a skin infection, and that’s what the white is about. Ryan said something about it, but I forget.

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They have some beautiful trees and décor at the park, and I really think it would be an incredible place for a wedding, reception or party.

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The park costs $30 usd and includes full day use of the pool and beach. There is another optional ziplining tour that takes about 1.5 hours. We didnt do that this day, but we did some folks flying through the air. Unfortunately, I couldnt get my camera out in time.  

is this the same as a gibnut?  they called it something different in Roatan, which was originally named Rat Island, interestingly enough.

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Posted on December 3, 2013

Roatan Honduras Day 2 a Hike a Golf Course and a Beer

Roatan, Honduras Day 2 A Hike A Golf Course and A Beer (or 12)

I woke up unusually early, and opened the curtains in my bedroom. Not a bad view, eh?

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Upon check in, Ana – Guest Services Manager extraordinaire, had several Roatan information books for me. I got a bit of work done while still in bed, and with that view, it was pretty pleasant work, I must say!

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Hunger strikes! I pick up the cordless phone, and order my room service breakfast. The food prices here at Las Verandas, arguably the single most luxurious property in Honduras, are surprisingly reasonable. I ordered the “Comfort Breakfast” and it was $8 usd. And I ate it in bed. The only time I’ve had breakfast in bed was when I was in the hospital – this is soooo much better.

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It seems the rain followed me from Belize, and it’s been rainy and very windy all night and continued throughout the day. Here’s a panoramic picture from one of the two verandas off my suite.

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Prior to coming to Roatan, I had made a ‘facebook friend’ Veronica who happens to live in Roatan. When I planned my trip down, we made arrangements to meet at Las Veranda’s at 10 am. She is not only a photographer and social media consultant, she also runs the Facebook page Roatan Fans. We had a fantastically inspiring meeting, and then decided to brave the rain and head to “the mall”. I donned the rain poncho provided by Las Verandas, and got this quick pic before we headed out to explore. Las Verandas, where I read the San Pedro Sun.

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This is the view from the lobby.  I wish it was sunny so there was enough light to see how really beautiful it is.

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Pristine Bay, the gated community where Las Veranda’s is located, is about 2 miles and three moutain/hills away from the main road. Veronica and I were feeling ambitious, so we decided to walk. They front desk staff thought we were insane.

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There is a gorgeous golf course in Pristine Bay, and you pass it on the way to Las Verandas

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After the first mountain, I understood their incredulous-ness. Holy Hills!! I did not that a human could climb so steep an incline. Unfortunately, the overcast skies prevented me from getting any great pictures to share the spectacular view from the top of these mountain/hills, but hopefully before I have to leave the clouds will part.

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The rain stayed at bay until we nearly to the “mall”. It was more of a strip mall, but it was more than I was used to, so it was great. We couldn’t decide where to eat, and the rain forced us to make a quick decision, so we wound up at Wendy’s. They have a nice grilled chicken flatbread sandwich, so it wasnt too bad.

Veronica called Las Verandas for me and we scheduled Emsly (the super cute driver/tour guide) to collect me in 45 minutes and I hit the grocery store. I picked up some cheese, a few snacks, and the most important of all, a couple 6 packs of America Beer.

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Posted on November 30, 2013

Las Verandas, Roatan, Honduras – Night 1

Las Verandas, Roatan, Honduras – Night 1

Although the weather was awful, we landed in a deserted Roatan, Honduras Airport right on time.  A super cute guy was waiting for me with the “Las Verandas” Sign.   Emsly Hyde has his own tour and transportation company here, and has been contracted with Las Veranda’s to do their people schlepping.  His super nice arms aside, he’s a consummate professional who speaks impeccable English.  He spoke with chagrin of the traffic issues on the island and shared that his grandfather brought the first vehicle to the island.  He explained that Roatan was part of British Honduras “back in the day” and as a result, like Belize, many locals speak English fluently.  We drove over the hills and mountains, and arrived at the gated community in Pristine Bay.  Las Veranda’s was definitely over the hill and through the woods.

This is the lobby.  Not much else to say as a picture is worth a thousand words.  Just elegantly and perfectly done.  Since it’s a sister property of Victoria House, I expected no less.

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I was driven via golf cart to my Villa, #5.  Um, yeah, it’ll do.

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The General Manager, the awesome, stunning and brilliant Keila joined me for dinner.  Kelia is 8th generation Roatan-ian (??).  Her English is impeccable and she has a strong, long history in the hotel industry.

Everything is SO new.  They are a very new property, so everything was sooo new.  In fact, it was so new and shiny, I had to take a picture of the shiniest silverware ever.

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This was the most awesome refried bean/cheese dip.  I wish we did better refried beans in Belize.  I love them so. Especially with a cosmo.

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I had a jerk chicken salad dish with “poppadoms” – an Indian tortilla chip of sorts.  Keila had the fish tacos

 

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The absolutely incredible Cristina, the Food and Beverage Manager, joined us.  The team that Janet from Victoria House as assembled, from all accounts, is world class.  Cristina has her MBA and then studied culinary arts in Italy.  She is a bright, enthusiastic, beautiful woman who brings an effervescence to the place.

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Posted on November 28, 2013

Flow by an Angel From Belize to Roatan Honduras with Tropic Air

I woke up early to get a lot of stuff done before my trip to Roatan, Honduras from Belize City. The flight from BZE to Roatan leaves International Airport at 4:15 pm. I had an 1130 appointment in the City, so I was booked on the 11 am from San Pedro to Belize City. I dropped Maxi Little Head (the dog) at the vet, arranged for someone to feed the cats, and loaned my photo printer to Saga Humane Society for Photo’s With Santa at the Lighted Boat Parade on Dec 7, and I was off like a flash.

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Well, not so much a flash. I had a really productive meeting and was supposed to meet my friend Anna for lunch (and mucho cocktailo’s) before my flight. Anna was coming by boat from the south of Belize, and the weather really mucked things up for her, and we weren’t able to meet. I did, however, have 2 really fabulous (and intoxicating hiccup!) margarita’s and a shrimp wrap. I love you Dustin, by the wrap, while tastey, was over priced at $26 bzd (would have felt better had it come with fries)

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My email was blowing up while I was at Riverside Tavern (free wifi, woohoo!) because apparently there is horrendous weather in Roatan. Super strong storm level winds and rain was resulting in many flights into Roatan being cancelled. Both Honduran contacts and Belize peeps were keeping me updated as the . It’s a $50 bzd cab ride one way to International from the City. I rolled the dice, and hoped the flight would go, otherwise I’d be wasting $100 round trip to get back to the City to hang with Anna.

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Upon check-in at Tropic Air at International, I was informed that our Captain would be “Angel”. I considered this a good sign. Captain Angel made the call, and off we went. I am writing this from the plane, and after I snapped a few pics of cruise ships and the like, we were in the clouds. Nothin’ to see here, folks, so just keep movin’.

With nothing to do, i thought i’d catch up on my San Pedro Sun (hard to take a decent selfie whilst holding a newspaper on an airplane)

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View of “West End” of Roatan.  The flight was very smooth until we came upon our approach.   A bit of turbulence, but really, Angel was a flying angel.  Below, a pic of the very well light up runway.  The wind was fierce, but i believe in my travel angel, and i was not disappointed.

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We’ve arrived!

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Mitten Snowmen in San Pedro

It’s a rainy saturday…again. I was cruisin’ around on facebook, and saw this cute idea. Make snowmen out of mittens. So, off to the closet i went, and yes, i have mittens. And gloves. Because you need these things in Belize :) Actually, maybe once a year I’m able to wear them here in Belize, but mostly they come in handy when i travel in the winter.

I found this black pair that were rather shabby. They are the convertible finger type, so this added a layer of complexity. By complexity, i mean i sat there a second and realized it didnt really matter much.

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After i stuffed the mitten using left over crepe paper from my Kissing Ball project, i used silicone glue to glue the flap shut so cinching the waist would be easier.

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I couldnt think of anything else, so i used a foam ball for the head.  Remember, we dont have craft shops down here, besides, it’s flippin’ raining again.  When it’s raining in San Pedro, i cant get to town. I dont ride my bike in the rain, and the puddles are a nightmare.  Anyway, it turns out i had all sorts of goodies i could use for the project, so it’s all good.

Here ya go!

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Posted on November 23, 2013

Real Bride Question: Fiance is a dud when it comes to planning

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My Fiance is a dud when it comes to planning!

Real Bride Question: My fiancé and I are getting married October of next year and we’ve already begun doing some planning but it seems like unless I constantly remind him nothing is gonna get done it feels like I have more help from my best friends and very little from my fiancé so ladies and gents of wedding planning..help me please :/ (she goes on to explain that when she does give him a list, he doesnt follow up and claims there’s a ton of time)

My Response such a frustrating situation! have you considered asking him what aspects he would be interested in? Perhaps choosing limo’s, music, or specialty cocktail might be more “dude like” and might help get him inspired to participate.
Also, i find that over 70% of the honeymooners that contact me – are the grooms. and guess what, they are almost always rushing with about a month notice! I tsk tsk tsk them, because i’m sure he was tasked with the planning ages before.
sigh men, we love ’em!

have you tried to tell him how this all makes you feel? That i makes you feel like he doesnt care about the wedding. Maybe you can go on to say that his dismissiveness about the wedding feels like he’s dismissing you. If you can get him to see that you arent nagging but that you read his behavior as a reflection of he feels about you, maybe he’ll change his vantage point a little bit.

Wishing you much luck and love! Lara

What advice do you have for this bride?

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Posted on November 22, 2013

Jessica Keller Testimonial

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Everything was awesome! The rain didn’t stop us from experiencing anything. I was glad it rained our last couple days because we had all of our adventures done with and out of the way. The rain was relaxing the last day and we didn’t come home exhausted and needing a vacation from our vacation. We loved Hidden Valley Inn it was very quiet and was like our own private paradise with the waterfalls! It was also very nice not having to worry about anything because everything was already set up! We definitely plan to come back to Belize and I’ve already highly recommended it to everyone I know! Thank you for every thing!!

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Posted on November 20, 2013

Tropic Air Offer 9 Great Tours in Belize

Everyone knows that SeaDuced by Belize is the best for water based tours, including tours to the Mainland.  But if you are short on time and prefer to fly, Tropic Air is offering some pretty awesome tours.

Check them out, and let me know what you’d like to do, and we’ll tailor your hotels and other details around your adventures!

Posted on November 18, 2013

Real Underwater Marriage Proposal

I have been dying to produce an underwater marriage proposal or underwater wedding for months now.  I’ve even talked to the famed Tony Rath to photograph it.  Several MAJOR media outlets have expressed interest in the story of REAL couples doing REALLY romantic things under water.   But alas, I have not been so fortunate to have one of these land in my lap.

I was slightly giddy when I was Facebook chatting with a Dive Master friend of mine, and he mentioned an Underwater Engagement he was part of in Florida.  He wasnt the one to propose, but he was their guide.   The groom-to-be had been working with Sail Fish Scuba for months to plan this ultimate surprise Proposal.    The pictures tell the story…

She had never really been in the water like this before, but what a trooper!  I’m sure no one involved will ever forget this one in a million proposal.

I have the photographer, the dive master, and the slate board all ready to go.  how cool would this be to do at the #3 Most Surreal Place on Earth, the Great Blue Hole?  Or anywhere else in our incredible Belize Waters!  Email lara@romantictravelbelize.com or call 215-469-2496 to set up your own special, one of a kind proposal in Belize

Tentatively, she gets in the water. she has no idea what's in store

Tentatively, she gets in the water. she has no idea what’s in store

Sail Fish Scuba had the board all filled out

Sail Fish Scuba had the board all filled out

He Pops the Question!

He Pops the Question!

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I wonder if she’s crying in that mask?

She Said YES!

She Said YES!

 

And they lived happily ever after..

And they lived happily ever after..


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Posted on

South Neighborhood Watch Hero Honored

Two years ago Officer Coy of the South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watched attended  Bandage International‘s CPR and First Aid training as part of an ongoing effort to increase safety in San Pedro.  Mr Coy complete the two day course on Friday.  On Saturday, his new found skills were put to the test when his then 4 year old nephew was found in a swimming pool.  As a direct result of the training he received, Officer Coy was able to save his nephews life using CPR.

The Look Of Love

The Look Of Love – Officer Coy and His Nephew share a look of pride and appreciation

Fast forward to present day.  Tacogirl.com sponsored my attendance, so I was able to be on hand for a special ceremony honoring Officer Coy’s quick thinking level headedness.   The owner and lead trainer from Bandage International, Darryl, gathered us all together after Day 1 of training to present Coy as an Honorary Member of Bandage International, including his own uniform shirt emblazoned with their logo.

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And as if this wasnt enough excitement for the now 7 year old, he was over the moon with the super thoughtful and generous gifts Darryl and his team brought from Canada for him

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This is the sort of story that really drives home how easy it is to save…or lose…as life.  I implore all hotels, businesses, and public sector agencies to please encourage and/or mandate some members of your team come to this incredibly valuable training next time.

This little boy is here today because of a $25 usd class his uncle took.  CPR saved this boys life.

awesome.

 

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Posted on November 17, 2013

Melt Cafe – a truly unique restaurant in San Pedro

I am NOT a foodie.  I consider food a means to stop the pain in my stomach.  I do not typically enjoy eating out, per se, as much as I like the experience of being with my friends in a social setting.  As a result, I am in a restaurant rut and eat at the same place all the time, and never try new places.  There are other foodies who blog a whole lot more articulately than I.  If you want to hear about food in San Pedro, read Tacogirl.com’s blog.  She’s always eating.

But today, today was different.  Today the sun was finally out after weeks of rain, and I decided to walk halfway to town and meet a friend for lunch.  There isnt much to chose from south of town, really, so I suggested Georges Kitchen.  I love it there, basic, reasonably priced good local food, and just a nice spot.  They were closed, so we walked down the road to Melt Cafe in Exotic Caye Resort.

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First of all, it’s SUPER cute. They have completely changed the inside.  They have added seating outside and have added table with umbrellas on the beach.

Second of all, the menu.  It’s completely unexpected for San Pedro (at least to me).  It’s a huge menu full of melted items. You do know what “melt” means? It means cheese, and I consider cheese to be it’s own food group.  My friend and I shared a chicken melt that had some sort of indian spices on it.  I forget, because I am not a food blogger, but it was DELISH . It was something i never would have ordered had i not been sharing, and i’m so glad i did.  YUM!

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Finally, Mimosa’s.  $15 bzd ($7.50 usd) for an orange or watermelon juice Mimosa.  I worship at the alter of Mimosa’s so I was in my glory – on the beach, sandwich in hand with cheese on it, friend to my side, dog at my feet… I’m pretty sure it doesnt get any better than this :)

ps – they even gave Max a treat :)

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Posted on November 15, 2013

Real Bride Question – Father of the Bride In A Wheelchair. What to do?

Here’s Another Real Bride Question

i love this picture. total fluke :)

Advice for wedding ceremony where father of the bride is immobile in a wheelchair?  Has anyone had or been through a wedding ceremony where the father of the bride was severely disabled? My fiance’s father has MS and at this point is in a wheelchair and can’t really speak or move. It’s horrible. we are getting married in May and don’t know what to do about walking down the aisle or the first dance. We’ve tried to talk about it, but she gets upset because she knows her dad would want to do these things but just can’t. Any advice on how to get him to have these moments with his daughter without it being a spectacle?

My Response:  there is no “spectacle” among family and friends. Please know that you are loved, as is your fiances father. For the first dance, is it possible to have them sit together in the center of the room, as music plays and you watch a video of them together? Photo, old videos? Tell the story of the “Father Daughter Dance” differently…  perhaps you know someone who can “animate” some photos? i know there are ‘techie’ people out there, so maybe they can have a virtual dance?

 

What do you think? What advice would you have for this groom?
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Real Bride’s Question – Train too long?

I frequently answer questions on various forums on the internet. I thought, other brides might have the same questions, so i’ll post here.

Photo: JAG Studios, Jacklyn Greenberg, Location: Hidden Valley Inn

Photo: JAG Studios, Jacklyn Greenberg, Location: Hidden Valley Inn

I think my train is too long, but everyone else disagrees. Originally I had wanted a tea-length dress, but I tried this one on (it was my aunt’s) and it was perfect. The only thing is the length. I never wanted a train and I want to have it removed. My sister and mother keep trying to convince me to keep the train long.
My question is this, should I keep it and if so how hard are bustles? It doesn’t have a bustle currently but I can have one added, right? I wanted to be able to go to the bathroom on my own, but as soon as I chose this dress that dream went out the window….

Here’s my response:

bustles are super easy to add…they are little more than a hook and eye. A good seamstress will also be able to show you how to bustle it super easy.

also, have you considered having it made removable completely? Perhaps it can be redesigned with a bit of creativity.

i suggest you go to your local bridal shop and ask if they recommend someone for alterations. All shops have seamstresses on staff, and back ups in case of emergency. Those ladies are brilliant, and might even have some other ideas that will make you so happy!

 

So dear reader, what do you think she should do?  Post your thoughts, and i’ll share them with her!

Posted on November 14, 2013

Fashion in Belize – Bursting with Talent

There’s a lot to know about a country and belize is no exception.  Betcha didnt know that Belize has some AWESOME fashion talent.    It does.  So, in case ya didnt know, here ya go.

First up is Joris Hendrik.  I was first introduced to Joris’ incredible talent when I produced a photoshoot for a US wedding gown designer.  I am committed to always giving opportunity to local Belizean talent, so I insisted on 3 things.  One, that we use a Belizean model and I was thrilled when I was able to secure the reining Miss Belize,  the unbelizeable Destinee Arnold.  Second, I insisted that at least one Belizean Photographer be on site.  I had recently stumbled upon Monica Gallardo via facebook.  Her photographic style is so romantic, i knew she’d find some magic.  Finally, i wanted a Belizean designed wedding gown.  Bridal design is a very specific type of design, and not all designers do it, so i knew it was a long shot.  I could not contain my glee upon learning that Joris had made a gown.  The gown is a stunning cotton and happen to fit Miss Belize as though it was made for her.

Those three elements came together to create this stunning image.

Photo: Monica Gallardo Photography

Photo: Monica Gallardo Photography

Joris has an incredible design style and is definitely a “designer to watch” in fashion.

The next “designer to watch” is Richard Henderson.  Born and raised in Belize, Richard relocated to California where he has a design house called RHCreation with partner, Timothy McGee.  RHCreation found itself in the international spotlight recently when they showed at San Diego Fashion Week.  Not only did they show, they *showed up* and won! According to Justluxe.com “The winning designers of Fashion Week San Diego were announced, and as voted by the audience was the RHCreation team, with Wish Now and Greenpatcha coming in second and third, respectively. ”  The winners were one of 26 designers showing this year, so the honor is enormous and we are so proud!  Oh, and RHCreation has a “Womens” collection as well for those ladies who dont fit into model sizes :)

RHCreation

Finally, we have the gorgeous Rebecca Stirm.  Only 18 years old, this up-and-comer has already placed 2nd in Jamaica’s Project Runway.  She has dressed several noted Belizeans, including me!   There is nothing more fun than seeing a dress online, taking your own measurements, emailing the designer and receiving a custom made designer dress in the Belize Post.  Awesome!  Love the dress, by the way, which makes sense since according to Naturebel.com, her designs are “made fort he ultimate girly girl”.

Rebecca recently designed a bridal gown, which i must say, i adore.

Photo: Monica Gallardo Photography

Photo: Monica Gallardo Photography

All of the designs you see are available for purchase so contact the designer directly via the links, or shoot me an email and i’ll help ya out!
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Posted on November 10, 2013

Lucky Boy’s Story

Hi, my name is Lucky Boy.  And I really am a lucky boy.  My story doesnt start out so great, though.  Eleven years ago I was born in captivity in a Mexican zoo, and then sent to a resort in Southern Belize.

luckyboy-Aug 29 2012

In mid-July 2012, Facebook throughout Belize was all a-buzz about 2 jaguars discovered in an abandoned resort in Southern Belize.  Things had gone OK for years, but then something went not-so-okay, and the owners had to leave.  He left me and my companion spotted jaguar in the hands of caretakers, who left us.  We had no food and hardly any water.  My spotted jaguar best friend died.  I nearly died…but word got out and the Belize Forest Department and The Belize Zoo came to rescue me.

lucky boy pre-rescue July 14th '12

 

I thought I would be dead soon, but then I saw the nice people and I thought that maybe I still had a chance.

Lucky Boy pre-rescued

 

Now, a difficult mission was in front of the zoo.  Barely even able to stand, weak and emaciated, I was coaxed into a wooded box.  It took two days for the zoo team to convince me to get in the box.   Since I was a sickly animal, they knew i would not live through being tranquilized.   These are harsh drugs and likely to cause death in a weakened animal like me.  Once I was in the box, the door was gently closed, and the team drove all the way from Punta Gorda to the zoo at ten miles an hour!

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They used a whole lot of patience and some yummy beef liver to get me into the cage.  Once i was in there, they gave me even more beef liver.  I think i like these people.

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One my second day, i began to explore my new home.  My new mom, Sharon Matola who founded the Belize Zoo loved when i gave her “high fives” when she fed me.  Doesnt she know how happy I was to have a home and love?  I’d have done backflips if Ihad  had the strength

LBoy 2 days at zoo

By Day 5, I was already getting stronger and stronger.   My skin is healing already and my fur is growing back.  I’m starting to feel much better.  My mom posted on The Belize Zoo Facebook page that I was”Eating like a champ and enthusiastically interacting with caregivers.  A surprisingly calm and easy going jaguar, a special diet and tender love and care are all he wanted”.  My new mom is very smart.

lucky boy 1st week at zoo july 2012

Day 11 and I feel even better.  Although it doesnt look like it, my fur and skin are soooo much better.

Lucky Boy 11 days  post rescueA

Day 13 – My mom, Belize Zoo Founder Sharon Matola, and I enjoy music therapy as we sing “Lucky Boy Rocks” a song she wrote just for me.

sharon and lucky boy August 2012

Just one month after being rescued imminent death, and look how big and strong i am!  Apparently, there’s been a fundraising effort on my behalf.  I am ever so grrrrrateful as i do eat a lot, and i like good food!

lucky boy standing

 

Check out my new digs!  Sure beats the concrete block i was living in. I have my own pond!! Here I am, checking it out for the first time. Life Is Purrrrfect.  HIGH FIVE!

LBoy explores pond Dec 6 2012

 

December 6, 2012 – I hang with Royalty!  Here i am with Miss Belize (Destinee Arnold).  This is my very first time checking out the “people cage” in my enclosure.  I loved being with people and Mom was so proud.  I got a LOT of chicken, and who doesn’t love having their picture taken by professional photographers like JAG Studios?

Photo: JAG Studios

Photo: JAG Studios

 

In March of 2013, a group of people came from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr George Kollias did a thorough exam and check up and gave me a clean bill of health.

Dr Kollias and Lucky boy

 

Well, except for one thing.  They said I needed to gain another 30 pounds.  I was super excited about this news (See pic below) but Mom said I was “eating her out of house and zoo!”.  So, click here if you’d like to donate to help me and all my friends at the Belize Zoo, i’d totally high five ya!  PAWS UP!

Copy of Lboy happy to hear he needs to gain weight

 

I agree with Ghandhi when he said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.  I think Belize sure is grrrreat!

lucky boy 2012-2013

 

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Posted on October 30, 2013

Sudden Trash Slicks in Belize

Sudden Trash Slicks in Belize

Yesterday i got home, hit the sofa, logged into facebook and started scrolling.  All i was seeing was post after post about a TON of trash washing up, all of the sudden.  Reports were coming in from Caye Caulker of huge “trash slicks” as well as from North Ambergris Caye.  We have always had trash wash up, and the debate about whose trash it is, is cause for much bar room fodder.  But looking at these pictures last night, I was shocked.  These were just slicks of plastic.

The comments and posts were heated.  Everyone agrees that the trash is awful, but where’d it come from is the issue.  There are those that contend that it’s from cruise ships, those that contend its due to the recent rains washing the trash in the waterways and rivers of Belize into the ocean, and those that contend it’s from just around the whole wide world.

I walk my area’s beach several times a week with Maxi Little Head (the dog), and the South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch regularly schedules beach clean ups, so it’s  pretty good area to gauge if something was, in fact, amiss.  So, this morning, i donned my Nancy Drew sunglasses, grabbed my camera and the dog and hit the beach.  I embarked on a very scientific study.  I was going to evaluate four things:

  1. Quantity of Garbage
  2. Type of Garbage
  3. Origination of Garbage
  4. Tropical Weather System

 

 

 

First, Quantity of Garbage.  I very scientifically “eyeballed” the beach.  Was it, or was it not “super gross”, or just normal “needs to be cleaned as it’s been months” gross, or “actually, pretty clean”.  I walked this beach 3 days ago, and it was in pretty good shape.  I would rate it as “maybe in a couple weeks, we’ll need a clean up”.

The beaches that are cleaned daily had that “huh, they need to clean their beach” look, while some untended beaches looked pretty much normal

An untended stretch, not bad at all

An untended stretch, not bad at all

Then the areas between seawalls, made you go “Huh, i wonder when the next SACNW clean up is?  It looks like it’s that time”.

trash collecting in the seawall corners. certainly rather quickly

trash collecting in the seawall corners. certainly rather quickly

But overall, not nearly the shocking stuff I had expected to see based on what other areas had reported, although it had gone from “maybe clean it up in a couple weeks” to “pretty fricken gross” in a day or two.

Next, Type of Garbage. What the heck is this stuff?  Well we have all sorts of garbage represented.  We have random garbage that is clearly local like water bags and plastic bags.  But mostly, it’s just random crap, just….crap.  Some of it is clearly chopped up ala cruise ship style.  Did you know they are permitted to dump their garbage only 5 miles (please, someone correct me if i’m wrong, but i think it’s that close) off shore.  They are permitted to do so, as long as they chop the bits up into small pieces.

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There are TONS of flips and flops, but never a pair.  There are plastic bottles, and loads of caps.  All the plastic caps in all the plastic world it seems, are here now.  My careful analysis concludes that there is both Cruise Ship Trash and Regular Old Garbage.

Finally, it’s Origin.  I, being the learned garbage scholar that i am, actually can draw some very facebook-ian conclusions as the origins of the Trash Slicks.  Some of it is clearly from the rivers of belize, as suggested by many a belizean facebooker.  Yup.  That’s our trash!  no doubt about it.  Then there is stuff that is so clearly *not* our trash.  We do not have Ketchup Pina in a packet in Belize.  Nope, we sure dont.

Especially for you Coleen!

Especially for you Coleen!

So, the origin of the garbage itself seems to be, shockingly, global.  Yup, the trash problem is everyone’s fault, and it’s evidenced quite clearly on the beach.

Now, someone on facebook also pointed out that in the pics of the trash in caye caulker, that the trash was barnacled and there was a lot of pumice.  Therefore, it was theorized, that the trash had traveled some distance.  Further, the large Tropical Weather Systems that went through recently, would likely have shoved it this way.  The pumice part is what caught my attention as i walked the beach.  These were not “pumice stones”.  We had Pumice Boulders.  Pumice Rocks and Pumice Chunks.  I have never seen so much ENORMOUS pumice.  I will be collecting pumice from the beach for a long time to come.  Based on the size of these things, i’d have to agree that they came from far away… i guess?

Pumice Boulders

Pumice Boulders

In conclusion, it is my opinion that the trash came from all over the world, from far away and from nearby, and that it is actually probably just a “perfect storm of trash” that made it way here, and washed up where and how it did.  However it happened, it sucks.

But, alas, it’s still a beautiful place to be :)  The question of who is responsible to clean it up is a wasted argument.  It’s the whole worlds’ responsibility, and it’s each single one of us. We are either part of the solution, or part of the problem.  Give A Hoot, Dont’ Pollute!

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Posted on September 27, 2013

Kissing Balls in San Pedro, Belize

Ok, slightly salacious blog title is on purpose, but it’s also what the darn things are called!

I was asked by a potential Belizean client about the availability of “kissing balls” in San Pedro, Belize.  I had to confess, while i thought i knew what they were, i had to look it up to be sure.  I’d always called them “flower balls”…but i guess they are also known as kissing balls.

I looked online, and they are not cheap.  Here’s a page with loads of them: Kissing Balls   I’m not sure why they are called kissing balls, i think that maybe it’s because they can replace mistletoe?

Anyway, i found a tutorial online about how to make them, so off i went to town to scavenge for supplies.  Remember, we don’t have craft stores or Walmart here, so this could get tricky.   I was able to find one large foam ball, one medium ball, and a bag of 9 small ones.  The red ball below is the first one i made, and it’s made from a small foam ball and red paper.

The red ball took me the longest, as i made the flowers TINY.  The large white has over 300 hand made (by me) paper flowers on it.  I now understand why they are so much money to buy.

These and other Kissing Balls will be available for rent in my LemonCrushBelize/RomanticTravelBelize Design Studio in town.
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Posted on September 13, 2013

Paddle boarding in San Pedro, Belize

My friend Cindy has a cool boyfriend.  He bought her a block of hours of Paddle Board rental in town.  She being both chicken and generous simultaneously, she asked me to join her for a try.  The weather today was perfect for newbies like us.  Cindy once paddle boarded up at Xtan Ha for about 5 minutes, and I’d never tried.

We arrived and “Mike” told us we didn’t need to sign anything, and he didn’t care that the actual certificated Cindy had received had been ruined.  Mike plopped a rather old board in the water, held it there as you sprint across the scalding hot floatation platform (it’s black and baking in the sun).  As you get to the spot where the board is, he hands you the paddle and walks away.

Mike didnt say a word.  There I sat with a paddle in my hand floating out to sea.  Fortunately Cindy had 5 minutes experience more than I, and she instructed me to start on my knees, then pop up to my feet.  You hold the paddle close to the board.  It took me several tries to figure out how to stand up.  I lost my nice sunglasses on what turned out to be my last failed attempt to stand.  I lost my sunglasses, and then was able to stand up, and stayed up for a good long time.

Conclusion:  Paddle Boarding is fun and easy.  However, you will not receive so much as a word of instruction, so practice before you get out past the docks.  The water is nice and shallow, so it’s easy to get back up on the board…a lot.

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Posted on September 9, 2013

That’s A Croc!

Every so often i have a “Toto, we’re not in Kansas” moment.  These occur a lot when one first moves to Belize, but over time, they are farther and fewer in between.  I live on the Reef, I play on Mayan Temples, I chill out at a private water fall, and I valiantly slay bugs and critters that ‘back in the States’ would have caused me to dash from the house screaming in hysterics.

This past Sunday I had the unique opportunity to have one of those precious “Toto” moments.   I was invited to go along with ACES (American Crocodile Education Sanctuary) as they released a 7′ “problem croc”, and a baby few week old fella named Dov.  Two friends and I jumped on the boat and headed out to the back side of the island, into the lagoons.  As I took my seat, I noticed something…strange under the seat opposite me.

Please Make Sure Your Croc Fits Completely Under The Seat In Front Of You

Please Make Sure Your Croc Fits Completely Under The Seat In Front Of You

As you drive through the lagoon, the water is only a few inches deep in places, and the draft (how far into the water the boat rests) is only 6 inches.  There are no street signs or buildings. Just mangroves.  Beautiful mangroves protecting the island and all the lee baby fishes :)  Vince and Cherie, with Chris on the bow, have navigated these mangroves for the last several years, and shout out directions and water depth to each other in a much practiced melody.

We were releasing a 7 foot croc which ACES had captured earlier that day.  ACES had been called by a mother who lived in San Mateo. This croc lived under her house, and she had small children.  Crocodiles are apex predators, and while this is ‘cool’ to talk about, it’s absolutely terrifying for a mother to hear a croc under the wood shack where her babies sleep.  Chris was filthy from the SAn Mateo water, which is the waste from the plywood houses of the inhabitants.  There is no running water here, and no sewage system.  It’s dangerous water as it is, without the added ‘bonus’ of a hungry crocodile.

We continued through the lagoon, and fortunately, had left earlier than normal.  Had we left at our scheduled time, we all would have been in trouble.  There was an illegal “gill net” stretched across the lagoon.  This is an illegal fishing net.  Our boat’s propeller would have gotten completely tangled in this net.  That concern never escaped anyones lips because it never occurred to us.  Cherie, Vince and Chris were concerned with only one thing:  The two crocs we are about to release will swim directly into that net and die.  So will the bonefish, the turtles, and anything else that is trying to get from one part of the lagoon to another.  Vince and Cherie did not take this lightly.  We phoned Rachel Graham, who is the head of the Belize Shark Project to get advice.  She put us touch with the right person to advise us at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve office after hours.  We were advised to pull up the net.  We did as instructed.  Wow, i just learned a LOT in that whole exchange.

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Our adventure continued, as we still had two crocs on the boat.  We reached the desired ‘release location’ as the sun was setting bright pink behind us.  I was permitted to removed the flotation devices that were used to help hold the large croc in it’s spot.  I wanted to remove the croc, but frankly, it was just too big (and sorta scary) for me to do it.  Chris and Vince removed him, and then the science began.  They measured him and scanned him.  At this point, we didnt know if he was a “him”, they had to test for that.  They stick a finger in it’s private parts and feel for the sex organ. I almost wanted to, so i could say i did, but i just couldnt bring myself to finger a croc.

 

$6 usd per tag, but priceless knowledge

$6 usd per tag, but priceless knowledge

Croc Porn

Croc Porn

 

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The American Crocodile is an endangered species, which is truly startling when you consider that they are, quite literally, dinosaurs.  They have remained genetically unchanged for millions and millions of years, yet man has f’d up it’s habitat so badly that WE are killing them off.  Disgraceful.  Cherie and Vince are passionate about researching, documenting, and saving as many as they can.  “0A01544103″ had a standard animal microchip inserted a couple years ago.  Cherie explained that in the recent past, they have begun naming the Croc.  You can “ADOPT A CROC” for a $40 usd donation (email me for info).  So, 0A01544103″ had been previously tagged.

This would make a fantastic educational trip for you to take.  Your donation allows you access to the trip i took and to name your own croc.  The fuel, time, equipment, and the boat itself all cost money, so this is a fantastic way to support and learn.

fyi – baby crocs are ridiculously cute…

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and the grown up ones are really beautiful….

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Posted on September 6, 2013

Destination Wedding Rules Of Thumb

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As a Destination Wedding Planner in Belize, you do start to notice trends in human behavior.  You also learn a thing or two about weddings in Belize.  As much as we all like to think we are truly unique, somethings are more predictable than you think.  Following is a living document.  When I find myself spewing these little “Rules” to my brides, I’ll endeavor to update this list.

Word.

Rule Of Thumb #1 – Determine your budget FIRST.  The ENTIRE budget.  I dont care how much you think you want to spend on the wedding, and then how much on the rehearsal dinner, and then how much on the snorkel day.  That’s completely bass-ackwards.  It’s significantly smarter to tell your destination wedding designer what your ENTIRE budget is. When i know your entire budget, then i can help figure out the right configuration of events, locations, players, and the like to create your entire wedding event.  The pieces simply do not fit together when trying to back into the budget bit by bit.  This is an altogether different approach than what would be used for a non-destination wedding.

Rule Of Thumb #2 – Your budget is directly proportionate to your guest list.  Fewer guests, less expense.  More guests, increased expense.   Guests are exponential in their impact on costs.  It’s not just one more place setting at dinner, it’s one more boat ride, welcome bag, snorkel tour, increased cost for transporting supplies to your event, more people to photograph, and so forth.

Rule Of Thumb #3 – 60% of your guests will accept your invitation.  I know you think you know your guests, and who would want to travel for your wedding, but what you don’t know is how those people vacation.  Yes, it’s your wedding, but many will say “what the heck, we hadn’t decided where to go for vacation this year, may as well go to Susie’s wedding in Belize and kill two birds with one stone!”  Dear Old Aunt Betty that you had  to invite, who is older than Methusila, has never shown any interest in you at all, but little did you know she’s been saving nickels in a jar since Eisenhower and it’s been her life long dream to go to Belize.  Ya never know, so when determining your budget, assume 60%, you’ll save a lot of heartache later.

Rule Of Thumb #4 – If you give your guests too many hotel options, your brain will explode.  We do not have phones in hotel rooms here, and there is no way to communicate with your guests.  We do not have your Verizon Cloud thingy, and we dont have 4G that you can connect to.  You will not be able to communicate with your guests, and you will need to.  You will want to be able to reach them when they are late to the snorkel boat and your other 48 guests are waiting…on them.   And you cant call them.  You will spend 90% of your time on 10% of your guests.  Better to pick a location that can either accommodate everyone, or provide one or two other options.

Rule Of Thumb #5 – Use your ‘weakest link’ as the common denominator when hosting group activities.  I know that 24 of your 25 guests want to go Scuba Diving, but remember dear Old Aunt Betty?  If you are hosting, remember that you are hosting all of your guests and must be a gracious host to them all.  There are plenty of other super cool tours that will make everyone happy.  (Rule suggest by Opal Enriquez)

Email me with your suggested “Rule Of Thumb”

Lara@romantictravelbelize.com

 

Posted on September 3, 2013

September Celebrations Event Calendar

The National Institute of Culture and History has sent out a complete calendar of Events for September Celebrations.  For those that dont know, September is one big party in Belize.  There are several important holidays to learn about and enjoy.

On September 10, we celebrate St Georges Caye Day.  This day commemorates the great battle of St Georges Caye wherein the Belizean woodcrafters defeated the Mexican army backed by Spain.  From Wikipedia: The battle took place between an invading force from Mexico, attempting to assert Spanish claims to present-day Belize, and a small force of resident woodcutters called Baymen, who fought for their livelihood assisted by black slaves. After the final two and a half-hour battle, ravaged by sickness, the Spaniards withdrew and the British declared themselves winners.

On September 21, we celebrate our independence from British Rule.  While Belize is still a British Commonwealth and the Queen is still on our currency, in 1981 our own parlamentary government was established, and the beloved first Prime Minister of Belize, George Price, just recently passed away in 2011.

September Celebrations is a FABULOUS time to visit belize and to truly experience the culture of this incredible country.  Click the link below for the full nationwide calendar.  TONS to do!

Pages from September Calendar of Events 2013

Posted on August 30, 2013

The Beach Brides Bag

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My apprentice Alice and I were at a wedding recently, and the bride had a huge (but cute!) “Brides” tote bag. Alice noticed her bag was in many of the shots, and quickly retrieved it. In the meantime, i found this blog “The Bridal Bag and What should it Hold” by Bridalstyle.com I read their list, and while it’s good, it’s fairly useless for a Destination Bride. While yes, you need mascara and lip gloss, there’s oh so much more….

Destination Bride Bridal Bag – It’s in the Bag For A Destination Bride

  • Make up – no-brainer, lipgloss, mascara, zit cover up. these are the “well, duh” things.
  • Camera/iphone – your perspective is important, and interesting!  You’ll want to have it on hand so you can update your social media and make all your friends at home jealous
  • Sunscreen – You’ll want to put someone in charge of your shoulders, neck and face.  You dont want to be all burnt to a crisp on your wedding night!  Coconut oil makes an incredible natural sunscreen that will also moisturize you throughout the day as you apply it.  You’ll be soft and silky as you get between the sheets at night.
  • Sarong/wrap – The strong trade winds can make even the hottest bride chilly in the evening.  Carry a sarong or wrap with you, it will also help protect your hair from the breeze as well (think Shirley MacClaine in ‘Terms of Endearment’ as she drives off with Jack Nicholson)
  • Tissues – you’re bound to cry at least a little bit.  I often tuck a tissue in the bodice of my bride as she leaves her dressing suite…just in case
  • Cash in Small Bills – you may find yourself in need of small bills for tipping as emergencies come up or as you get exceptional service.  Just nice to have on hand should you need it

While a woman’s purse is like a fishbowl – we will grow to the size of it, in this case, do try to edit.  You dont want to be lugging around an enormous tote or suitcase.  Just keep it cute and personalized and most of all, Fun.

Posted on August 12, 2013

Introducing, Alice the Apprentice and “What She Did This Summer”

Things have been a bit nuts at RTB Headquarters what with my new Design Studio and Consultation space in town, renovations on the house, Miss Costa Maya Pageant and Lemon Crush Belize Bikini’s, a new LGBT initiative, and embarking on the development of organized voluntourism in Belize. I have added two staff members to the RTB Team (yay!).

That's our Alice on the right :) Isnt she cute?

That’s our Alice on the right :) Isnt she cute?

Please allow me to introduce Alice. She is 12 years old, originally from the UK and moved here with her Mom, Kate, about 3 years ago. Alice is very bright, pleasant, attentive and observant. She can also write pretty darn well for a 12 year old!

Alice has already assisted at a large wedding for a client in July. She was brilliant and noticing details that would ruin a photo, run around gathering needed items, and just generally being incredibly useful. Look for Alice at future events as she has aspirations of being a wedding planner when she grows up.

Having written articles for the local print newspaper, “San Pedro Sun”, Alice was the perfect choice to blog from a kids perspective. RTB is more than just weddings, we do family vacations and all sorts of travel arrangements, so it’s nice for readers and future travelers to know what to expect for children.

Here’s her first blog. I made only one minor correction, the rest is all her. If you see her in town please say “hi!”…she’d love it :) Also, i should point out, Alice is a heck of a little photographer. She took all the photo’s attached at the end of her blog.

ALICE’S BLOG
Over the summer, I had a few summer camp experiences, and I enjoyed all these camps very much. I meet lots of new people and tried new things.

The first camp I went to was a Christian summer camp called Son & Sea. The camp was on June 10th – 13th. At Son & Sea, we had a variety of activities to chose from, including swimming, crafts and “death by noodle”. Everyday close to the end we would sing songs then go off in groups, and spend about 45 minuets or more talking about how Jesus is in our lives. The councilors this year taught us about Jesus by dressing up as super heroes, and telling us that super heroes are like band-aids and just swoop in fix the problem then leaves. But Jesus he doesn’t leave he stays with us through happy and sad times. I’m really glad that my councilors taught me this.

The second camp I went to, was a conservation camp at Belize Zoo. This camp was held on July 1st – 5th.Over those five days I experienced many things I went bird watching, I went on a night tour, I high fived a jaguar and hiked 2 1/2 miles to a water fall and I just had the best time while making friends along the way, and I hope I can go next year.

The last camp I went to was Chaa Creek EcoKids Camp. This camp was held on July 20th – 28th. These are some of the activities I experienced .
Day 1: Creatures of the night hike.
Day 2: Guided bird walk with a naturalist guide, tour of butterfly farm, and tour of natural history museum.
Day 3: Hike to Chaa Creek maya site, Power point presentation on Ancient Maya by mayanist Joe Awe.
Day 4: Medicinal Plan Lecture, Medicinal Cures, Treatments and recipes by Salome, Guided medicinal walk, and swim at swimming pool.
Day 5: Organic Farming with Mr Mick.
Day 6: Discussion and Demonstration of the 3 Rs of Conservation with Brion Young, and Music Segment with Emmanuel Mangar.
Day 7: Presentation on sustainability, Responsible tourism presentation with Ms. Lucy, Horseback Riding, and Team song competition.
Day 8: Interactive Presentation on Belize Wildlife by Jamal from Belize Zoo,Treasure Hunt!, and Staff & camper talent show.
Day 9: Pack & Clean, and talent show for parents.

I am very great full for all these opportunities I have had this summer .
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Posted on August 8, 2013

Belize Featured in Glamour.com Weddings

A Mayan Ruin Ceremony is a truly unique place to get married, so sayeth the uber gods of fashion and all things stylish Glamour Magazine. To prove that they really are chic and ‘in the know’ they have listed the Mayan Ruin ceremony as one of their Top 10 Picks of unique venues around the world.

This incredibly creative and unusual shot shows the drama and romance of Cahal Pech Mayan Site in San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize.

The couple were exceptionally challenging, but in the end, they were happy and Leonardo Melendez captured this great shot which we are proud to share with the world.

Come here, do this.

Produced by: Romantic Travel Belize Photo: Leonardo Melendez, Ceremony: I Do Belize Weddings

Produced by: Romantic Travel Belize Photo: Leonardo Melendez, Ceremony: I Do Belize Weddings

Posted on July 26, 2013

The Seven Stages of Travel and the Destination Bride

I was talking to my mentor and friend, www.honeymoons.com owner, Tom. As we chatted, he mentioned that he’d recently learned the Seven Stages of Travel. He began to list them, and I jumped up and started jotting them down. It was like a stream of genius, that helped make sense of the entire Destination Wedding Planning Process.

Having communicated with hundreds of brides over the last several years, I have walked them through so many of these stages, but did not realize it was an actual psychological process. It’s a process each destination bride must go through in order to get to pure Destination Wedding Bliss, aka nirvana, aka Belize :)

So, let’s go through the Seven Stages of Travel and the Destination Bride:

Stage One – Inspiration
At some point, the seed was planted “hmmm….maybe we should just go away to get married”. Bonk, like a coconut on the head, it hits you: A destination wedding….???

Stage Two – Research
You rush to your computer, or turn on your phone and you google. You google some random set of words, from ‘destination wedding’ to ‘run away to get married’ to who knows what. You start narrowing down the options, thinking this ‘wonky idea’ through, and the next thing you know, your shouting “Hey Hun, what do you think of getting married in Belize” or whatever country/location/place/wonky idea plops out of your mouth.

Stage Three – Planning
You send the Hun off to go make popcorn, and you stretch out and start to really think this through. In the time it takes Hun to come back with the popcorn, you have narrowed it down to a concept. You know you want (beach) (mayan temple) whatever type wedding. You may have narrowed it down to a country, so you start thinking this through a little more. You are planning. You are sending emails to planners, and hotels, and tour operators in every country you think might be a fit.

Now, this is the stage where couples usually start to panic. They have internet overload, and have gotten themselves so confused they dont know what they want. Fortunately, those couples have found me, and we stop and walk through their desires and help to really focus their vision, and give them a sense of calm. Remember…this is supposed to be fun.

Once I’ve got you breathing again, you move to Stage 4

Stage 4 – Validation
Now that we’re all calm again, you’ll likely go ask everyone you know, or better, a few key people, their opinions on the subject of a destination wedding. You’ll want to know to know that you are not totally alienating people you want to attend, and make sure you feel safe in the idea of getting so emotionally and financially invested in a foreign country.

A reputable company is easy enough to validate, regardless of the country. I do not advise that you rely too heavily on tripadvisor.com as it can be biased unfairly. Rather, review the actual credentials such as accreditation, length of time in operation, media coverage, and connections on professional sites like LinkedIn. Of course you can use facebook to find out a tremendous amount as well.

Guests to a destination wedding join the process at Stage 4. They have to make sure they are also comfortable joining a couple on their trip.

Once the couple feels comfortable, we move to the scariest Stage of all…Stage 5.

Stage 5 – Booking
Time to put down some duckets, dinero, cashola. It’s time to commit. In the case of Belize, a modest deposit on a hotel room is all that is required to get the ball rolling and confirm your date.

Guests will also begin booking their travel. To make it easier for a couple, I handle all their guests travel arrangements as well, and provide my couples with a full spreadsheet outlining all their guests travel, hotel, tours, so nothing conflicts. Also, as i tell my couples, “It might be your wedding, but it’s your guests vacation”.

Stage 6 – Travel!
The best of all stages! Well, at least it should be. There is a lot to consider in advance so making sure you have someone with “boots on the ground” in your destination is the best way to make sure Stage 6 really is the best stage of all.

Stage 7 – Sharing
This is the stage that matters most to the receiving country. I know that every person that works and lives in this country wants every guests and traveler to leave here so happy they tell EVERYONE they know. Belize depends on tourism as a major source of employment, and therefore hope for our tiny nation. We, the entire country, will strive to make sure that you do share your wonderful experience with everyone. So, as they say, “Sharing is Caring!”

So, as you embark on this memorable, fun, and unique destination wedding and travel experience, Breathe, remember you are just going through some natural progression of stages, grab a glass of wine…and then call me 215-469-2496 :)

Posted on July 18, 2013

Creative Destination Wedding Invitation – Fun Flash Drives

Facebook provides an endless parade of inspiration. I saw this “Message In A Bottle” flash drive, and i thought it was the absolute perfect idea for a creative destination wedding invitation – Fun Flash Drives!
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I would load it up with a personal message from the bride and groom, add a ton of photos backed by garifuna music, and download some videos of belize to put on there as well What better way to whet your guests appetite for the most amazing destination wedding location, ever?

Cant go wrong with a heart!

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What could be more perfect than a flip flop drive?
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Such a cute way to announce your coming nuptials with this engagement ring drive
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I just googled “unique flash drives” and it is shocking how many fun options! i cannot imagine sending a regular invitation now that i’ve seen these :) LOVE!

Posted on July 16, 2013

Pack For A Purpose San Pedro, Belize

I am so pleased to announce that Romantic Travel Belize is the first Pack for a Purpose San Pedro, Belize business! I am really hopeful that other lodging or tour companies in San Pedro will also consider joining this group. It doesnt cost anything at all, and i’m it was really easy.

Pack for a Purpose is a non-profit organization that helps small countries and destinations like Belize organize donations through it’s tourism industry. So for example, SAGA Humane Society is one of my selected charities, so people interested in bringing supplies for SAGA, can go to the Romantic Travel Belize Pack For A Purpose Page and bring things down from SAGA’s needs list. I’ll meet them at the airstrip, collect the donations and bring them straight to SAGA. Simple!

On Romantic Travel Belize, there is a page that describes the 3 charities I chose. San Pedro Red Cross, SAGA Humane Society, and San Pedro AIDS Commission. I wish i could chose more, but that’s where i need other businesses to join. Who knows, maybe we’ll even make a dent!

If there are any other businesses interested in joining Pack For A Purpose, please email me and i’ll send you the forms and what not.

Posted on July 12, 2013

Bride has 2.3 mile Wedding Aisle in Belize

Bride Has 2.3 Mile Wedding Aisle in Belize

The aisle is a pretty important detail in a wedding. Every little girls vision of her wedding starts with the walk down the aisle in a white dress, on the arm of her father, toward her very own Prince Charming. Every little girl except for Melissa’s, that is. I estimate my bride Melissa had the Longest Aisle in History.

I researched the wedding aisle, according to Wil’s World of Words, as the ‘aisle‘ is the central passage in the wedding venue’, and since it’s a destination wedding, Belize is the venue. In order to create a line, i’m going to define it as from the time the bride and her father begin the official approach to the intended fiance. Go with it.

In fact, using this logic, Melissa’s “aisle” was more than twice as long as Kate Middletons walk down the aisle. The distance from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey is .86 miles (1.4 km), and i estimate Melissa’s was approximately 2.3 miles (3.7 km).

It started with the bride leaving her condo to get into a golf cart.
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Where we had to wrap her up so her dress wouldnt get dirty as they began their 1 mile cart ride to The Palapa Bar.
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Then, Melissa continued her ‘walk down the aisle’ via boat. Hi armando! :)
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the bride and her father arrive at the dock

the bride and her father arrive at the dock

The dock is really long,

She and her father are going to walk from here, allll the way to the far left on the beach.

She and her father are going to walk from here, allll the way to the far left on the beach.

She’s coming down the beach
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Whew! She made it :)

and dad get's to sit down, it's been a long journey <3

and dad get’s to sit down, it’s been a long journey <3

Oh, and by the way, check out the fabulous shoe's she did it in

i peeked at the label, Badgley Mischka, dahlings

i peeked at the label, Badgley Mischka, dahlings

She stopped along the way to pick up this bouquet. It never would have made it through the boat ride, so there was someone to hand it to her when she got off.

This photo does NOT do this bouquet justice.  Beautiful work, Dulce!  Orchids of several variety and color and gorgeous flamboyants.  with fragrantly fantastic plumeria

This photo does NOT do this bouquet justice. Beautiful work, Dulce! Orchids of several variety and color and gorgeous flamboyants. with fragrantly fantastic plumeria

After the “I Do’s”, its back on the boat for a private toast and a romantic moment
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Great job, I Do Belize Weddings in working the logistics of this intricate and super fun wedding aisle. Alice Corrigan was a super awesome Bridal Apprentice, and helped to make this detail driven moment happen.

Posted on July 9, 2013

Medicine Trail Guided Tour with Mayan Shaman

I love the unusual never before done things to do in belize. That’s my favorite part of my job, finding and sharing some of the most exciting, exotic, authentic experiences in the world (literally).

I am also completely enamored with the Mayan Shaman, and their beautiful spirituality. I was very proud to be the first person to bring a Same Sex Marriage on a Mayan Ruin officiated by a Mayan Shaman. In light of recent US Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, it’s even more exciting to be able to bring the matrimonial experience to more LGBT folks.

There is another Shaman that i’ve found through Balaam Eco Tours. They have identified a Medicine Trail Guided Tour with a Mayan Shaman who has a medicine trail on his land, and will give a guided tour of all the herbal and natural remedies right there on the ground.

Photo Courtesy: Will Moreno

Photo Courtesy: Will Moreno

That’s not a shaman in the pic above, but it is cultural!

If you’d like to learn more about Mayan Shaman Medicinal Tours, or in using a Shaman as one of your wedding officiants, please let me know. There is nothing i like more than helping preserve this ancient culture by sharing it with the world.

Posted on July 1, 2013

Hopkins, Belize – A Driving Tour

I had to go to Placencia for work, and by work, I mean “find an unusual out of the way location for an ‘adventure’ wedding”. My friend had a vehicle and had heard of this great place north of Hopkins, so we went for the day. On the way back to Placencia, we decided to stop into Hopkins Village for a visit, and to find “Tony”. We found Tony, then hooked up with a friend at the far north side of the village, while Tony had been on the far south side. Hopkins is very spread out, very old school Belize, and very very charming. My “Hopkins, Belize – A Driving Tour”

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Driftwood Pizza, very north end of Hopkins Village

Driftwood Pizza, very north end of Hopkins Village

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Mango Tree. fruit was growing everywhere

Mango Tree. fruit was growing everywhere

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Makes my creative juices flow

Makes my creative juices flow

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Driftwood Pizza, very north end of Hop

Driftwood Pizza, very north end of Hop

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Posted on

Shipsandtrips.com Testimonial

Lara is a GREAT connection for Belize. She was great to work with and since she lives in Belize she knows all the “must sees” and has a personal relationship with all the vendors. She has such great insider knowledge of the place and chose a couple resorts off the beaten path that we could never have found on our own. She gets us commission on everything we book including air from the mainland to San Pedro. She really is great. HIGHTLY RECOMMEND USING LARA! 5 Stars! Thank you Richard {Markel, President Association for Wedding Planners International) for the recommendation!

Posted on June 28, 2013

Bamboo Toilet Paper Holder

The bathroom is not yet done. We had a snafu with the granite, and am waiting to sort it out. So, no update photos, but i’ve been happily glueing away to make things to decorate it when it’s done…. one day, when it’s done.

Toilet paper is a tricky thing when designing a bathroom. Everything needs to be easily accessible. The roll you are using, and much more dire, the all important ‘back up rolls’. The rounded corner cabinet is the perfect size and place for the extra rolls, but i was stymied as to what to do with the “active” roll.

It’s been raining. Out to the “Doll House” for supplies. I had a roll of construction wire, rusty, but usable, and the remaining ball o’ twine from the chandelier in the “Portico” of the “Doll House”. I had a piece driftwood bamboo that was the perfect diameter. I used my trusty “Robozip” and cut the bamboo to size. I rough measured out where i’d like it to fall on the wall, and cut the wire, folded it in two and broke out the glue gun. I glued a line of twine the length of the wire for stability, and then started twirling. My hands hurt.

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yes, yes i did just write a blog about toilet paper.

Posted on June 26, 2013

Pack For A Purpose Update

A week or so ago, i shared with you a great program someone had stumbled upon, Pack For A Purpose Here’s the Pack For A Purpose Update.

I had noticed that there were no properties from San Pedro represented,so i decided to apply as a business. They responded with a lovely personalized email explaining that as a ‘travel agent’, i could become a “Partner” but i have to recruit three lodgings to sign up with them. It’s free to join, and properties dont have to donate anything, it’s actually pretty simple and good.

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I’ll be reaching out to a few to see what their thoughts are and keep you posted. Also, if you have any favorite properties in San Pedro (or anywhere in Belize, really) or you own a property, email me and let’s see if we can’t round out the Belize Representation and get weddings involved in this great idea.

Just a great way to do a lot of good with very little effort.

Photo: Tacogirl.com San Mateo, Ambegris Caye, Belize

Photo: Tacogirl.com San Mateo, Ambegris Caye, Belize

Posted on June 25, 2013

Belizean Designer Makes San Diego Fashion Week

Living in Belize, you see a LOT of talent. Musicians, artists, dancers. You “up there” in North America have probably never heard of a Belizean talent, let alone a fashion designer. So, for Richard Henderson, the talent behind the label RHCreation the opportunity to show his 2014 Resort Wear collection on such an internationally recognized stage as San Diego Fashion Week is, well, a pretty big deal.

To up the excitement ante, Miss Belize, Destinee Arnold will be walking in the show. I know Destinee and have worked with her in the past, and she is a true professional model. I am SOOO hoping she will get seen. It’s so hard to make it “up there” from way down here, and we sure could use a national hero. Having spent time with Destinee, i can think of no one better to represent Belize.

I am really thrilled and proud of this team! Steal the show, team belize!

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So, if you are planning on being in the San Diego area September 30 through October 6, 2013, check out San Diego Fasion Week, and show your support for Belize!

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Culinary Tour in Belize – a Foodies Dream

I was in Placencia last weekend for work, when i heard of “this guy tony who does special culinary tours from Hopkins”. While I am about as much a foodie as my deaf, blind foster cat is a sommelier, I do understand that for some, FOOD is a very big deal. So when i heard that there might be someone that could help my foodie clients find their foodie utopia, i had to meet him. After visiting the incredible Bocawina falls, we stopped in Hopkins and found “Beaches and Dreams Seafront Inn”.

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Tony sent me an awesome RomanticTravelBelize.com exclusive package. I love this Culinary Tour in Belize, a true foodies dream, and i’m not even a foodie! I just wanna go see all these cool places. Check it out:

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7 night all inclusive for foodies: $1750 usd per person
Round Trip from Belize International Airport to Beaches and Dreams in Hopkins Village

7 nights in a beachfront room/ 50 feet from the Caribbean Sea

Our Extreme Foodies Gourmet Meal semi- inclusive package. This package includes a deluxe breakfast and 4 course gourmet dinner nightly, one evening of unlimited Tapas tasting menu, we cook for you until you tell us to stop. Lunch is on your own except where noted in tour days. This allows you to sample a flavor from many of the local cultural dishes in the area.

Ms. Emma’s Farm Tour and gourmet lunch. Ms. Emma is a botanical wonder who will personally guide you through her tropical fruit fantasia, one of the most diverse samplings of exotic plants and edible fruits all in one place in Belize. She will then prepare a gourmet multi course lunch using many of the ingredients form her farm and garden.

Southern Belize Agro-culinary tour. Depart after breakfast for a full day of gastronomical indulgence. We will stop at a Spice Farm for a guided tour of many exotic spices being grown and processed on premises, then continue to the village of Punta Gorda for a living Mayan Experience and have a Mayan lunch, then on the one of Belize’s most renown Chocolate factories and Cocoa farms for a tour and sampling.

Snorkel or Fish The hemispheres largest Barrier reef- Take a private boat with your own captain and visit one of our private islands for a great Seafood Shore lunch. Relax, snorkel, Amore’.

Marie Sharps Factory Tour and Jungle Oasis Visit- We will tour one of Belize’s premier Hot Sauce Factories, then cruise into the Jungle for a lunch at the Wild Fig Restaurant in Mayflower Bocawina National Park. You can take an optional Zip Line here for an added $65 US per person.

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Posted on June 24, 2013

Pack For A Purpose – Belize

I was reading the Ambergris Caye Message Board, and  i saw a post about this Pack For A Purpose Program.  I clicked the link, and then checked out the Belize section of the site.  To my surprise, Pack for a Purpose Belize is VERY well represented on there, with lots of fabulous causes.

The Inn at Roberts Grove, in Placencia, for example, has a school and the Humane Society.  KaAna Belize supports a school.  In fact, there are 11 properties currently participating in the program.  I think this is just wonderful, and i also think it’s a great start, but there’s so much opportunity in this program.

I would love to see properties making more of this, perhaps adding a link to the website in their confirmation emails.  I know i’m going to absolutely do so for those clients staying in those properties.  I’m also going to start speaking to brides.  What an amazing thing to add into your invitations so that your guests can bring something if they chose, then all of it can be donated in the name of the couple who got married.  Wont that be lovely?

I think i’d even give the couple a plaque to commemorate their generosity.

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Posted on June 12, 2013

Embroidery Hoop Valance

I’m a bit of a collector.  That is to say, i never throw anything away…i’m very belizean that way – everything has a use.  Also, i’m someone that when i see something unusual or odd, i tend to pick it up.  Both of these tendencies came together to create a unique valance for my sliding glass entry door.  Well, those things and a lot of rain, so i had a lot of time on my hands. I have some really nice, high quality fabric left from the days when i had my antique/home design shop.  I have the ‘cuttings’ (what was left over from making other things) of some very expensive embroidered silk fabric i got well below wholesale, and i have a few yards of some nice upholstery fabric i used for my kitchen chairs.  I also have several yards of silk dupioni, also acquired well below wholesale, and in large quantities for my shop. About a year ago i was delighted to find a whole schwack of new stuff at Caye Supplies, and embroidery hoops were among the treasures.  I bought about a dozen of them, in 3 different sizes.   I had no idea what i was going to do with them, but they were round, cheap, and unusual for San Pedro. DSCN1341  DSCN1342 Fabric saved for over 10 years, odd-ball embroidery hoops, a hot and low-temp glue gun and my beloved staple gun all converged to make a rather cool window treatment.

And here’s how i did it: How To Make an Embroidery Hoop Valance – 

First, you’ll want to determine approximately how high and wide you’d like your valance.  Approximately two inches on either side of the jam is appropriate width, and the height is to taste.

Step One – Determine how many hoops you need.  In my case, i had 12, so 24 circles is what i had, and is what i was going to make work.  In this case, it worked out beautifully as i’d determined i wanted the c ircles to take up approx 15 inches in height, and 86″ wide.  Arrange the empty rings to make sure you have enough for what you want to do.

Step Two – Separate the embroidery hoops and remove the thumb screw and tightening mounts

Step Three -Determine how many of each type of fabric you’d like in your finished product.   Leaving a 1.5 to 2 inch allowance, cut the fabric into circles using the actual hoop section as a guide.

DSC00225Step Four – Using a low temp glue gun, go from opposite points on the circle, and glue the fabric to the inside to the hoop.  Continue around the circle, gluing at opposite points until it’s glued the whole way around. To clarify, glue at 12 oclock, then 6 oclock, then at 3 and 9. Then go in between those points.

Step Five – Using paper, make a rough template of the shape you would like your finished valance to have.  I used brown painting paper.  TAKE A PICTURE!  You will spend a ton of time futzing with the arrangement, and when the dog comes barreling through and messes it all up, you’ll be glad you have the photo.

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Step Six – Using low temp glue, put a small dab at any point where two rings come side to side.  Notice they do not all touch one on each side, some do, some dont.  Do NOT glue the top layer to the bottom layer yet.

Step Seven – If you have an electric stapler, use it to staple the joint from the bottom/back of the rings that are spot-glued.  If you dont have an electric stapler, this will be a royal pain, and i’m not sure you need to do it… but I do, so i did. DSC00236 Step Eight – Using Hot Glue Gun (in caps ’cause i’ve got mad respect for the molten lava that comes out of it), reinforce the joints from the back.  I went right over the staples to give it more stability

Step Nine – Repeat steps 6 – 8 for bottom layer

Step Ten – Using low temp gun, tac the top layer to the bottom layer as configured

Step Eleven – Using low temp gun, go back and run the glue around the entire circumference of each top ring, where it lays on the bottom layer.  Do not use too much, you cant get glue off fabric very well.

Step Twelve – Using a 1×2 or similar small piece of wood, using Hot Glue Gun, secure it to the entire center of the back of the valance.  This will stop it from bowing.

Step Thirteen – Figure out how to hang the thing.

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Posted on June 8, 2013

Fathers Day Itinerary

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6 Day Fathers Day Itinerary

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Day 1 – Arrive Belize, check into hotel

Day 2 – Learn Fly Fishing, smoke a Cuban Cigar

Day 3 – Climb an Ancient Mayan Temple

Day 4 – Pamper Him (even men like a nice massage)

Day 5 – Private Boat to snorkel, drink beer, fish, and generally be a dude

Day 6 – Go back home

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Complete this form to plan your Hubby’s Trip

 

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Posted on June 5, 2013

Adopt A Classroom in Belize

Sheree’s Got A Dream – and it involved the children of belize, and education.  She wants to start an “Adopt a Classroom” project.  Such a simple idea that could literally change the country, and therefore the world.  With fewer than 40% of San Pedro children graduating High School, it’s fair to say we are likely leading the country with that paltry number.

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This past April, i was back in the Philadelphia area visiting family and friends.  I spent some time with a dear friend and her family in NJ.  Her youngest daughter had a recital at school, so we went. The recital was about Mexico, and my friend went on to tell me how the school raised money to buy supplies for a school in Mexico.  Hell, Belize is a hella-lot more needing that Mexico.  She and i tried to figure out a way to make it simple, but alas, nothing is.

But really, it IS simple.  And Sheree’s Dream proves it.  Here, an Adopt a Classroom or School is explained.  Pretty basic, pick a classroom or school, do a fundraiser in your local community, and ship the stuff down.  It’s that simple to change the world…really, it is.

I of course, think it’s a FANTASTIC reason for someone to come visit Belize.  The leader of the fundraising project and a few students could come down and SEE the direct impact they are having. This isnt like dropping off donations at a Red Cross Shelter…this is MEETING, hugging, talking, and laughing with the very children whose life you are able to impact.  Powerful stuff, and the stuff that forms the moral character of your kids.  Awesome.

There is more background on the website, but following are the directions on how to Adopt a Classroom

How to Adopt  A Class Room In Belize 

  •  Step 1: Identify the School or Classroom you are thinking about  adopting, preferable a school whose students are financially challenged.
  • Step 2: Reach out to the Teacher or Principal for the supply list that  each students would normally need
  • Step 3: Organize your fundraisers and own your adoption.
  • Step 4: Donate the stuff

Seriously, it’s that simple.  I’d work out your travel and experience for you…just come and help.

As we approach Fathers Day, i’ll share with you the most sound piece of advice my father ever gave me:

“No One Can Ever Take Away Your Education or Your Dignity” – let’s make sure all kids have both, shall we?

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The Belize Zoo Summer Camp

The Belize Zoo is my favorite “thing to do” in Belize.  It’s a 100% rescue zoo, and the animals live in natural habitat enclosures.  They respond to founding power-house Sharon Matola by name.  My favorite experience was passing by the crocodile pond with Sharon. As we walked, she called out “Bruuuuuce, Bruuuuce!”.  And up swam a 16 foot crocodile.  We just kept on walking like nothing unusual had happened, and i guess for Sharon, nothing had.

When i saw on facebook that The Belize Zoo is accepting applicants for it’s 20th Annual The Belize Zoo Summer Camp, i emailed to find out more. I just KNEW that this was an incredible opportunity for some children.  Not just Belizean children, but all children.  The Camp is open to children 12 – 17 years old, and is 5 days, 4 nights.  The cost: $50 usd.  The dates are July 1 – July 5, 2013, and there are only 30 spots.

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$50 US dollars covers materials, accommodations, meals, field trips and activities for the duration of camp.

Hello! North Americans!  Instead of spending thousands to send your kid on a Disney Cruise, spend less $50 plus airfare and send him/her to Belize…to live with some amazing animals and learn a little something.

Of course, i’d put mom and dad up at a very comfortable place for 4 nights, where you’ll be pampered while the kids literally, run wild.   4 nights in the jungle for mom and dad while the kids are at the Zoo, and then you all come to San Pedro for an amazing family vacation with snorkeling and beach time.  Sounds like heaven to me!

STTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEretch!

STTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEretch!

email me to find out more. Lara@romantictravelbelize.com

 

Posted on June 3, 2013

Rowen Garel – A Belizean Hero and Inspiration

What did you do today? Yesterday? Last week?  Whatever it is I did, it seems like nothing compared to what Rowen Garel has done in the last two years.   Rowen Garel is a 14 year old Belizean force to be acknowledged.  Born in blind, Rowen has decided to do some pretty extraordinary things in his short life.

In March 2011, the extraordinary then 12 year old determine he wanted to raise funds for the Belize Council for the Visually Imparied (BCVI), so he did what any kid would do – he decided to climb to the top of Victoria Peak.   At 3,675 feet, Victoria Peak is the second highest mountain in Belize.  It took Rowen 3 days to climb the mountain accompanied by his father.

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But, then i suppose that wasnt enough for Rowen. So, in July 2012, at the age of 14, he decided to “Walk Across Belize”.  It was a 92 mile journey that took him just over 4 days.

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Well, nearly a year has gone by since he last proved i was a lazy, useless lump.  And I suppose Rowen was bored again, so he’s planning his next fundraising and awareness effort – he is going to dive the Great Blue Hole on July 14, 2013.  The Great Blue hole is one of the more amazing spots on planet earth, and is a favorite of scuba divers who come from all over the world to experience it.  At 984 feet across, and 401 feet deep, it’s a monster of a sink hole, and was made famous by the one and only Jacques Cousteau.

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Pretty awesome kid.  Pretty Awesome cause.

You can still donate to Rowan’s cause by visiting The Belize Council for the Visually Impaired.

Posted on May 30, 2013

Photography in Belize

I didnt own a camera when i lived in the US.  Of course, that was loooong before smartphones, iphones, or cell phones for that matter.

Since living in Belize, i’ve realized, like everyone who comes to Belize, – this is a Photoshoot.  Photography in Belize is a fun pass-time, and a very popular hobby.  The entire country is one gigantic photo shoot, and even non-photographers like me get into the action.  Novices and experts agree – taking photos in Belize is fricken awesome.

Terry Gruber Photography

Terry Gruber Photography

I was graciously given a Canon EOS 20D, which i promptly abused by using a sock as a lens cover and tossing it in my purse.  The very generous friend who gave it to me just about had a heart attack.  I’ve since replaced the lens twice, but have managed to keep it in a proper bag.   I would love to take classes on how to use the thing, as i’m not great at learning from a manual.

I go through a regular digital camera about every six months.  Whether broken, stolen, or just up and died, i go through them quickly.  While “point and shoots” are nice, i do always wish i had my “good camera” with me when i get/see a great shot.  You simply do not leave home, when home is in belize, without a camera of some sort.  You never know what you are going to see!

Middle Silk Caye, Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve  Ian Plant waded to get this view. Tripod-mounted Canon EOS 5D Mark II with adapted 14–24mm f/2.8G AF-S Nikkor lens and polarizer; 0.3 sec at f/11, ISO 50. Photo: Ian Plant

Middle Silk Caye, Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve
Ian Plant waded to get this view. Tripod-mounted Canon EOS 5D Mark II with adapted 14–24mm f/2.8G AF-S Nikkor lens and polarizer; 0.3 sec at f/11, ISO 50.
Photo: Ian Plant

In keeping with this “Living in a PhotoShoot” theory, i’ve also noticed several articles on the web recently about taking photo’s in Belize.  Popphoto.com did a whole spread on “Photography in Belize”  a few weeks back.  Great shots, worth a view for sure.

As a destination management consultant specializing in weddings, i deal with all the photographers in Belize.  And i have to say, each one has a very specific style, and i like each one for different things.  Some are amazing at capturing Belize’s rich culture, others it’s romance, still others it’s nature and life.

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Tony Rath Photography

Tony Rath is a local Belize Photographer who is simply amazing.  I adore his work with nature and culture, and is by far the best underwater photographer of all.  His work is important as he captures life, animal life, in a way that makes it very relate-able.  This is impactful as many of the creatures are endangered.

Caves Branch is a resort run by a very interesting fellow, Ian Anderson.  They do some pretty cool stuff out there, and it’s a pretty cool place.  I found this awesome little workshop for them.  It’s a “Insect Photography Workshop”.  I love insect photography even though i loathe insects.  They are not scary at all when it’s just a photo, and i get to look and gawk and learn without the heebie jeebies.

Another great nature photographer (who also does some beautiful wedding photography, but that’s for another blog) is Jose Luis Zapata.    I love his bugs :)

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Posted on May 29, 2013

Book your Belize City to Roatan Vacation

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Do Both! Belize and Honduras with new flights

It’s very exciting news!  Tropic Air is now flying from Belize City to Roatan Honduras and offering a great introductory fare of only $99 usd one way!  Imagine getting married in Belize and honeymooning in Honduras.  OR…for those scuba enthusiasts, what a great chance to do both.

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Complete this form to begin planning your Central American Vacation

 

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Posted on May 20, 2013

Fly Belize City to Roatan Honduras

Scuba Divers are a serious bunch, serious about diving, and serious about fun.  They come from all over the world to scuba in some of the best waters in the entire world…right here in Belize.  Now, Tropic Air has made scuba diving in the region even easier.  Travelers can now fly from Belize City to Roatan Honduras.  Roatan has long been known for it’s incredible diving as well so what a great trip.

To add great deal to great style, I happen to know of a new property in Roatan that is the sister property of one of the best properties in Belize.

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So, in honor of this exciting new flight, Tropic Air is offering an extremely enticing deal – $99 usd one way from BZE to Roatan.  I love this…i cant wait to go, frankly.    The new flights will begin on November 13, 2013.  To get this super special deal, you must purchase your tickets prior to September 30, 2013 and travel between November 13, 2013 and March 31, 2014.  Passengers must purchase a round trip ticket.

Even for those non-divers, this is a great way to have a wedding in Belize, and a honeymoon in Honduras as the flight is only about 1 hour long.  Cool

Very Cool.

Email me for details or to book.  Of course, i love travel agents, so folks, hit a sister!

lara@romantictravelbelize.com 215-469-2496

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Bacon Themed Wedding

“Bacon” has suddenly become a major big deal.  It’s like a “THING”.  I knew i was seeing bacon related jokes, tshirts, etc everywhere, and that it has become a stock answer for any questions.  So much so, that when i posted the questions “What themed wedding would you like to see” on my RomanticTravelBelize facebook page, there were several “likes” and one comment: Bacon.

Okaaayyy….sorta gross, but what the heck.  We do have a ton of pork, and we have some really creative uses for Pork.  Once again, i turn to Facebook and ask “Please list some Belizean Pork Dishes” . We have some GREAT options from Pibil and a Pig Roast to local Bacon Pancake Cupcakes.

http://www.myveryeducatedmother.com/2012/01/bacon-maple-cupcakes.html

http://www.myveryeducatedmother.com/2012/01/bacon-maple-cupcakes.html

So, one step closer…so off to pinterest and bing!  Did you know they make Bacon Flavored everything  including condoms?!  Who Knew!?! There are entire websites dedicated to bacon…wow… had no idea.  It get’s “cheesy” very quickly, but i do think it can be done with class.  Like these cocktails:

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/alie-ward-and-georgia-hardstark/the-tipsy-pig-cocktail.html

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/alie-ward-and-georgia-hardstark/the-tipsy-pig-cocktail.html

 For example, i think it would be great to make this little jar of Bacon Salt out of local Belizean Bacon for your guests.  Useful and tasteful! bonus!

Photo: : http://sumpretty.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/baconsalt-formal-fringe1.jpg?w=580

Photo: : http://sumpretty.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/baconsalt-formal-fringe1.jpg?w=580

 

But of course, NO bacon themed party is complete without the main Bacon – that is Kevin Bacon! You could have his movies playing, or movie posters for decor…you could do anything with Kevin Bacon

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Apparently, there’s an old jazz song called “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, which of course keeps with our pork theme.  There is some nice artwork associated with it too:

bacon hat

Dont forget Sir Francis Bacon – i’m sure we can use him somehow too!

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To see more ideas, check out my Pinterest Board  So, now that we know what sort of decorative accessories, music, invitations and the like we’re going to have for our Bacon Themed Wedding in Belize, we need to sort an itinerary.  My suggestion is as follows:

Welcome Party – Pulled Pork Sandwiches, music from “Footloose” and lots of snacky bacony things.  And Beer, bacon and beer belong together.

Rehearsal Party – Beach Pig Roast and Pibil.  Pibil is a local treat, and they actually bury the entire pig and cook it underground using magic or something like it.  Pig on a spit over a fire on a private beach with live music and all sorts of beach fun.  Maybe we rent a basketball hoop, and instead of playing “HORSE”, you play “BACON”

Wedding Reception –  Pork Chops or other deliciously local pork option, and i love these bacon “turtles” for the midnight snack as the party goes on

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Yes, i know, a Bacon Themed Wedding is…well….bizarre…But VERY funny, and actually could be a lot of fun. I’d love to come up with creative ideas for your wedding, especially a bacon themed one :)

 

 

 

Posted on May 15, 2013

Belize Vacation Summer Specials

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Cool off in Style in a Private Waterfall

 

 June Offer: Two way road transfers included in room rate for 4 night bookings.
 July Offer: Chldren under 16 years old stay for free when sharing with parents. Breakfast included.
 August Offer: Stay 4 nights and get $200 cash back upon check out!
 September & October:Book 4 nights and we will include Breakfast and Dinner FREE!
 November: 4th night free!

 

Photo: JAG Studios, Jacklyn Greenberg, Location: Hidden Valley Inn

Photo: JAG Studios, Jacklyn Greenberg, Location: Hidden Valley Inn

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Stake your claim in paradise
if only for a few nights…

 

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Posted on May 14, 2013

Golfing in Belize A Great Vacation

I’m not a much of a golfer.  That is to say, I tried hitting balls once in 1997, and wound up whacking my date in the head with a club.  While he might have deserved it, it wasnt much fun.  Throughout my years as an executive in “corporate america” there was a lot of pressure to learn golf, but i just had no interest.

Until i moved to Belize, and saw Caye Chapel.  Caye Chapel is an island golf course.  Meaning: It’s an island that is a golf course.  Pretty sick.  It’s so awesome that Golf Digest published an article about it in the April 2013 issue, called “Travel Secrets: UnBelizeAble”

Photo Courtesy: Ambergriscaye.com

Photo Courtesy: Ambergriscaye.com

But the jokes on them…  that’s not a Secret.  If all those famous people went there, it’s not a secret.  A Secret is a course i’ll bet the folks at Golf Digest dont even know about.  I have been asked a hundred times about golfing in Belize, and the only answer was “Caye Chapel…if it’s open”.  Good to know it is, but now i know another place.  It’s on the mainland near the capital.  And, guess what….it’s apparently pretty darn good!!  I dont know diddly about golf, but my friends who also live here do, and when they went on a little vacation from paradise, they went golfing on the mainland.

 

Photo Courtesy: Marie Carroll Rigby

Photo Courtesy: Marie Carroll Rigby

7 Day Golf Vacation Itinerary anyone?  There’s plenty for your non-golf friends to do while you’re hitting the greens…

For those that love golf, let’s put together the perfect golf vacation itinerary.  I love the idea of a Golf Destination Bachelor Weekend… a little bit of fishing, a little bit of golfing, a little bit of jungle, and a little more golf…and a little bit of partyin’ too :)  Email me at Lara@romantictravelbelize.com or call 215-469-2496

Posted on May 13, 2013

Chocolate Themed Wedding, Destination: Belize

The Coffee Themed Wedding idea from emmalinebride.com was such a great one.  Then i realized, that here in Belize, we could take it up a notch both in style and experience, and we could also do it with Chocolate!  Make sure to click the link in the article for dozens of darling ideas that, like my ideas below, can be done with both coffee and chocolate.

So, here are my thoughts on a Chocolate Themed Destination Wedding in Belize.

First, your guests would receive a custom made cocoa powder packet with their invitation.  We could customize something to include reference to your wedding date or future monogram…

Sample of an announcement and customized coffee and cocoa packets

Sample of an announcement and customized coffee and cocoa packets

 

Custom Thank You Gifts

Use Cocoa Powder instead of coffee to match your theme. Custom Gifts from RomanticTravelBelize.com

Of course, the drink of choice would the yummy “Dirty Banana” cocktail.  Frothy, chocolaty, banana milkshakey adult cocktail that tastes like a smoothie.  Local Noah Boah’s Chocolate sauce should line the glass then the bartenders concoction is added.

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Photo and Dirty Banana Courtesy of Jaguar Reef Lodge

Photo and Dirty Banana Courtesy of Jaguar Reef Lodge

 

Upon arrival guests would have Kakaw chocolates, made here in San Pedro, on their pillows.

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Check out these tables…we could have these custom made for your wedding…no table cloths needed!  Each table is filled, of course, with local Belizean Cacao beans.  How darling would it be to have photo’s of you and your guests under the glass?  How much more fun to have a photo of you and the person seated at each place setting under the glass instead of place cards?

The Belize Chocolate Company

The Belize Chocolate Company

Black Orchid Spa offers special chocolate massages…the perfect treat for the bride and groom, or for a super fun girly party.

resize choc bod boxsome really awesome chocolate body products you could use, but i love them for Wedding Favors for your guests too…and so will they :)
Goodie bags for your guests could be filled with chocolate body butters, fresh natural cocoa butter, lip balms, oils and all sortsa yummy chocolate scented and flavored things you need :)

 

 

Then there is the Chocolate Wine.  Yes.  There Is A God and SHE Made Chocolate Wine!  And as strange as it sounds, its as bizarrely

CHOCOLATE WINE

good as chocolate covered bacon, which is also ridiculously good, and would be an amazing chocolate appetizer or midnight snack for your guests at your reception.

Then of course, you and your guests could tour a chocolate factory, and depending on where in the country you get married, you could even make your own chocolate.  What an absolutely unBelizeable memory to share with your guests

choc drumchoc bars

The mugs, the spoons, the absolute rest of the incredibly cool, fresh, fun ideas can be done from the EmmalineBride.com Coffee Themed Wedding Blog except we’d use Cocoa beans instead.  Of course, we also have coffee, so we can do that too!!  SOOO fabulous set in the belize jungle or on the beach.  The backdrop with this idea/theme is absolutely perfect to compliment….i’d so love to do this, so email me if you’d like to create your custom Chocolate Theme Wedding here in Belize :)  We’ll have a blast!

also, check out some other really awesome ideas i’ve been adding to my Chocolate Theme Pinterest Board

 

 

 

Posted on May 10, 2013

San Pedro Belize, Old Time Remedies for What Ails you

I’ve lived here 7 years full time, and in that time i’ve learned a number of important things…one of which is:  If a San Pedrano tells you to eat something, do something, stand on something whatever…to alleviate your pain/bleeding/issue… DO IT!  Just do it.

Recently, the ambergristoday.com did a great series of articles on cure for things that ail you.  Many of these things can be done wherever you are, even if you arent lucky enough to be here:

cayo espanto pool view

Regardless of your location, go to AmbergrisToday to read these great tips and remedies for the following:

Deep Cut/Wound
Nail Puncture
Stomach Ache
Severe Pain on Cut or Puncture
Tooth Ache

And if that’s not enough, the following week they came out with more tips!

Chest Cold
Ear Ache
Head Ache
Loose Bowels

No need to thank me…just read the AmbergrisToday.com and you never know what you’ll find!

 

 

Posted on May 8, 2013

Coffee Themed Destination Wedding in Belize

I saw the cutest blog on www.emmalinebride.com.  She often has the best ideas, and it’s just an overall great wedding/bridal blog/site.   The whole concept was a Coffee Themed wedding, which of course, i think is awesome.  Now, i’m not a coffee drinker myself, and frankly i’m a freak because the smell of coffee makes me physically ill…BUT i totally get that i’m a freak…and starbucks has proven that.

But back to the theme…the idea of a coffee themed destination wedding in Belize is absolutely darling and PERFECT for someone getting married in Belize!!  Why? Because we’ve got coffee!  Lots and lots of it, and it’s all locally grown.  Those that are coffee-people have told me how wonderful it is, and it’s very easy to get here…in all forms.

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While the Coffee Themed wedding from EmmalineBride.com is fabulous…if you did this theme in belize, we’d have sooo much more to add!  For example, in belize, you can go and tour a coffee plantation as part of your experience.  Hell, you can get married on a coffee plantation if you really wanted to!  Yip, i can arrange that for you, no problemo :)

So i strongly encourage you to check out the blog for some great ideas and tips.

Here, we could do a fabulous favor bag for your guests upon arrival to include local coffee and personalized mug, perhaps.  Of locally made coffee and some rum for hot toddies :)

As always, email me at lara@romantictravelbelize.com to start planning your wedding or pick up the phone and call me at 215-469-2496

Posted on May 6, 2013

Placencia Belize Calendar of Events

I saw this Placencia Belize calendar of events posted online.  It’s not all inclusive, but i thought it had a great list of things to do, and would be a great way to begin planning your trip to Belize.   There are several amazing properties, and it’s really an altogether different experience than being in San Pedro.   Here’s what’s going on this year, so you can figure out your best month to visit.

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APRIL: Whale Shark Season!!!

MAY: Summer begins in Belize: Rates throughout the country drop by about 20%.  By the looks of the weather this year, it’s still gonna be cold up in North America.

JUNE: The Placencia Lobsterfest is a mega beach party like no other in Belize organized by the Placencia BTIA and Placencia Village Council. Date: June 28, 28 & 30, 2014.  This is the week after San Pedro’s Lobster Fest.  Let’s have a Lobster Double Whammy and do both!   Come at the “tail” end of San Pedros, for the big block party, then head to Placencia for their kick off.

July/August – Enjoy much lower prices, significantly fewer tourists, and great weather.  Belize is very child friendly, so since they’re out of school and making you nuts anyway, may as well sip a cold cocktail while they splash in the ocean or pool

SEPTEMBER: Celebrations held throughout the month leading up to Sept. 10 celebrating the Battle of St. George’s Caye Day and Sept. 21, Independence Day. Enjoy small festivities like patriotic pageants and parades, to large celebrations and the Placencia BTIA’s Saltwater Fishing Tournament where anglers can win large cash prizes.

OCTOBER: Barefoot Bar’s Halloween Party: Join Halloween enthusiasts from Placencia and all over Belize at the biggest Halloween party in the area.

NOVEMBER: Garifuna Settlement Day on Nov. 19 in Seine Bight Village. Enjoy cultural pageants conducted in the Garifuna language and watch reenactments of the Garifuna people arriving on Belizean shores followed by parades, punta dancing, live drumming and more. 2013 Date: November 19

DECEMBER: * Placencia Mistletoe Ball: Glam up and celebrate the year at this formal affair and * The End of the World Placencia Marathon and Half Marathon: 2013 Date: Dec. 8

Posted on March 27, 2013

Going Organic with Francis Ford Coppola in Belize

10 years ago, very few people in Philadelphia talked about “organic” anything, let alone referring to foods.  Unless of course, you’re talking about the cheese steak, in which case we’d tell you that they were organic to Philly.  Whole Foods had just started in the area when i moved to Belize, and i remember the first Trader Joe’s opened around that time too.

I hadnt given this much thought, though, until i read the Bon Appetit article about going organic with Franicis Ford Coppola in Belize at his two resorts here.    But then again, he’s a California guy…the west coast was always way ahead of the east coast on this stuff.  The article is a very interesting read, but here are my favorite highlights

Francis Ford Coppola on Belikin Beer:

What’s your favorite drink when you’re in Belize?
FFC: I must say Belikin beer is a wonderful beer. Unfortunately it’s a monopoly. You don’t see any Mexican beer in Belize, you probably know. That’s a flaw, in my opinion
Francis Ford Coppola on Cheese:

How so?
FFC: In their desire to protect these very small fledgling industries, some farmer is making mozzarella–or what he calls mozzarella. And then they’ll ban any other real mozzarella. I brought the chef from Turtle Inn to Italy, and he learned how to make fresh mozzarella. If you’re going to give people a meal, you can’t be told to use Belizean spaghetti. Or Belizean this or that. It represents a tiny industry. Belize has wonderful pork. They of course have wonderful sea products. You certainly have to support those industries, but there are certain things you can’t get.

Francis Ford Coppola on Being Hip

Farm-to-table is so hip now. You were ahead of the curve.
FFC: We were doing it–but out of the desire to have wonderful fresh produce!

Those three questions, all in a row, basically sum it all up :)

 

 

 

 

Posted on March 25, 2013

Roberts Grove Site Visit

Ok, i admit it. I’m a bit of a San Pedro snob. So i was pleasantly surprised by my visit to Robert’s Grove. It’s a rather large property with over 50 rooms. Each room was surprisingly well appointed. It’s one of the few properties that has ironing boards in it :) The robes and towels are embroidered with their logo, and the soaps and toiletries are all private labeled. Nice touch :)

I went to Roberts Grove with a client who is scouting for her 2014 wedding. We’d seen several properties. With it’s 3 restaurants, 3 pools, dive shop and other unique amenities, I must say Roberts Grove is a great options. Email me for more information and to create a custom package.

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Posted on March 22, 2013

Belize Luxury Resort El Secreto shhhhh…it’s a secret

El Secreto quietly joined the ranks of Belize’s elite properties late last year. I’d had the pleasure of seeing the property twice in a week or so, and cannot wait to get back up there. Enjoy this picture blog (plog?) featuring this fabulous property.  Enjoy the photo’s of the newest Belize Luxury Resort

When the staff has enough fun to decorate eggs, you know you've got a happy team!

When the staff has enough fun to decorate eggs, you know you’ve got a happy team!

The view as you approach

The view as you approach
the bar...can you think of a better place to take a cocktail?

the bar…can you think of a better place to take a cocktail?

delicious pool with great shower feature

delicious pool with great shower feature

the Lake Villas. Each of the 13 units has it's own jacuzzi

Upon check in, you'll receive an iPhone. This is used to control everything in your villa

Upon check in, you’ll receive an iPhone. This is used to control everything in your villa

well thought out and appointed bath

well thought out and appointed bath

Every villa has it's own private outdoor shower.  One day, i will have an outdoor shower'

Every villa has it’s own private outdoor shower. One day, i will have an outdoor shower’

they spent a fortune on the bedding and mattresses

they spent a fortune on the bedding and mattresses

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water surrounds the front desk.  Look for "Dude" the turtle when you're there

water surrounds the front desk. Look for “Dude” the turtle when you’re there

Posted on March 20, 2013

Delightful location for Destination Wedding St Lucia

As one does when one is in a new country alone, I went exploring.  I stumbled upon the Botanical Garden.  I had been aimlessly wandering the hillside when a man came onto the road.  He was nice enough and was walking to work and accompanied me to the gardens.

In this case there isnt much i can say except it was absolutely beautiful.  They have a volcanic waterfall that runs different colors based on the minerals emminating from the ground.  They had incredibly details walking paths using coconut husks for edging, and then the incredible gazebo.  Truly an enchanting place for a destination wedding in St Lucia.  The photo’s would be sick!

If you are interested in a St Lucia wedding, email me.  I’ll put you in touch with the best folks.

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Posted on March 18, 2013

A Kosher Destination Wedding in Belize! Mazel Tov!

Belize is known for it’s cultural diversity, but even still, there are very few Jewish folks here.  As a result, the entire Jewish culture is a bit of mystery to many Belizeans.   But when the owners of El Secreto were planning their space, they recognized that many of their associates were Jewish, and that a Kosher kitchen is a rather easy thing to accomplish.    Basically, meat and dairy must be kept separate.  Separate refrigerators, separate utensils, separate plates.

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I didnt think to take pictures of all the very nicely neatly labeled refrigerators.  Dairy in one, meat in another.   In this very easy to maintain, hygienic way we can now accommodate Jewish weddings in Belize. Mazel Tov, El Secreto!

Now, a story about teaching Kosher in Belize.

Belizeans are a very proud people, and as a rule, take tremendous pride in their work.   So, it was understandable that the kitchen staff were worried that there was something wrong with their work when one set of guests insisted upon using disposable plates.  One staff member voiced her concern, and asked the Manager why the guests thought she didnt clean the plates well enough such that the guests felt the need to use disposable ones.  The manager replied that they were Jewish.  The staff member said that she knew other Jewish people, but they had no problem with the cleanliness of her plates.  The manager went on to explain that much like there are varying ways Christians practice their faith, it is the same for the Jews.  Just like some Christians dont eat meat on Friday, so some Jews keep Kosher.

It’s a practice that dates back thousands of years when the cross contamination would literally kill you.  Kosher keeping Jewish people dont eat shell fish or pigs either, because they are “dirty” animals that eat the waste of others.  I imagine that 3,000 years ago, absent the proper mechanisms for cleaning those critters, people would, in fact, get sick and possibly die.

Now, i’ve completely over simplified a complex, ancient culture and religion. I know that.  But still, the point remains, we CAN do a Kosher Destination Wedding in Belize.

And we can do it HERE:

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Posted on March 12, 2013

Washing Ashore in St Lucia

On January 31, 2013 i stepped ashore in St Lucia.  New Country New Day!  While the captain cleared us through Customs and Immigration, i went down the block to the office of the St Lucia Tourism Board in Soufriere.  I was met by Ms Magdalena Frederick.  She helped me find basic accommodations at a guest house.  I preferred to be in town, so this suited me perfectly.  I cannot say how incredibly helpful the Ms Frederick was, and how welcoming.  I can only hope that visitors to Belize are greeted so hospitably.

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A young man came to help carry my bag up to the Cascara Guest House.  Soufriere is built on the side of a mountain, so it’s a rather steep walk.  And then, up 68 hand made concrete steps to my room.

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But then, once my bags were in the room, i turned around, and this was my view.  Totally worth it, besides, climbing the side of the mountain then all those steps has gotta be good for my butt.

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I took a very very long shower, then headed out.  If you read in my past blogs, you’ll see i love churches and cemeteries.  They are both so interesting, i think both visually depict a culture.

I stumbled across the Soufreire Cemetery.   This is the first time i’d seen stones on graves.   Then there was a man painting the stones of one grave.  He greeted me warmly, and i asked if he was the caretaker of the cemetery.  He said “No, this is my adopted mother’s grave.  i come down from the village to tend to it”.  We then had a brief, but intensely personal and beautiful, conversation.  He asked me to mail him a copy of this picture, and i took his address.

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The outlets in St Lucia are European, and did not have an adapter.  As i suspected, however, the main tourist hotel had an American outlet, and i had lunch and charged my iPhone, which had become my lifeline to the universe after my laptop died 2 days into my 3.5 week trip.  This was the view:

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After lunch, i went for a walk, and found a spot to sit and think about the 3 weeks of sailing i’d just completed.  I found a bench, and sat for a spell.

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There were only two places in Soufreire (that i found) that take credit cards.  And in keeping with the tale of any good journey, i had just enough cash to get me home, so this was important.  I was very grateful that the team at the yummy restaurant “Petit Peak” were so awesome :)  I felt finally ‘at home’ after all those weeks.  The Skyla and Vicky, the servers,  had the warmth and friendliness of my beloved Belize.  I ate all of my meals there for 2 days, and watched the sun go down with some beers each night.  Harvey and Mervin were my super fun drinkin’ buddies one night, and made sure i got home safely after a quick stop for water and snacks at the shop.   (ps – girls, watch out for the green flash, and think of me when you catch it!xo!)

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Sitting with my back to the bar at Petit Peak Restaurant in Soufreire, St Lucia. PERFECT spot to watch the sunset.

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Petit Peak used to be the jail. Notice that the bathroom is the old cell, still has the original cell door. Pretty cool bits like that throughout the building.

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Why oh why dont we have this in Belize? Fried Plantain wrapped in bacon, served with ranch dressing. HEAVEN ON A PLATE

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Sunset from Petit Peak, Soufriere, St Lucia

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I do not remember what these little yummy nuggets were (told ya, sundowners…) but they were, in fact, yummy

I’ll be working on another blog about walking around in Soufriere, St Lucia…there was so much to beauty to see.

Posted on March 6, 2013

Chelsea and Rick Murphy – Testimonial

Lara,
My goal was to have my “Thank you” checklist completed by our first anniversary.  Here I am (three years and) two days to spare and I still don’t know how to put into words how much I appreciate everything you did for us.  But… here is my best attempt.

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When we decided to have a destination wedding sometime during 2012 we literally pulled up a map of Central America, pointed at Belize, and thought, “Yup. Perfect.”  Unfortunately, there are VERY few resources for Belize weddings and even fewer for a group of nearly 40 people.  Luckily, the gods lead us to Lara!  From our first correspondence in August 2011 through our honeymoon in March 2012 Lara acted as not only the general contractor of our two week adventure but she was many times a psychiatrist and by the end a dear friend.  It was, at times, difficult to trust someone who was half-way around the globe whom we had never met but if we can lend a piece of advise to anyone it is to TRUST LARA!  She made the recommendation to hire a wedding coordinator, Keli, at I Do Belize Weddings.  She traveled to “our selected hotel” and met with the lovely owner to scope out our wedding location.  She took care of booking our guests their hotel rooms there.  She found a very nice and cost effective second hotel for the remaining guests.  She sent my hubby and I to a beautiful resort for our wedding night and last few days on Ambergris Caye.  She took care of booking all of the guest’s air travel on within Belize.  She recommended the brilliant idea for a “getting to know each other” group snorkeling trip.  She coordinated with Scott and Jodie for our rehearsal dinner at the spectacular Palapa Bar and Grill.  She made sure to speak directly with the owner of our third location, our honeymoon island paradise, before agreeing that it would fit her standards of safety for foreign travelers.  And last, but not least, she found the ultimate post-reception karaoke destination at the Roadkill Bar even though we were somewhat wedding crashing the owner Helda’s own reception!!!  In addition to all of the plans she made for our wedding she also took care of details here and there for individual guests.  From planning, night dives, day dives, deep sea fishing trips, extended stays on the main land, and more, everything was seamless and flowed with ease.  She was even darling enough to send the bride and a friend to her own stylist, Carole Goodreau, for pre-wedding mani/pedis and secretly added on chocolate treatments as her personal gift.  Lara, a million and one thanks to you for lending your time and service.  We, along with our family and friends, had the trip of a lifetime.  Rest up because we will be back February 29, 2016 for our first anniversary!!!
xoxo,
Chelsea and Rick Murphy

Posted on March 4, 2013

Destination Bachelorette Party In San Pedro, Belize

On Monday I blogged about Bachelor Parties in San Pedro, Belize.  What is good for the goose, is good for the gander, so here’s my ideal Bachelorette Party Weekend Package:

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This 5 Day package is $985 per person, based on quad occupancy, and includes:

  •   4 Nights Accommodation in a 2 bedroom luxury condo, including all taxes and service charges
  •   Round Trip Airfare from Belize International to San Pedro for 4
  •   Round Trip Ground Transfer to the resort
  •   Private Boat for a day for snorkeling, fishing, spear fishing, swimming with water critters as       you see ‘em (turtles, rays, nurse sharks, manatees are all possible), hooking lobsters (in season) and then a beach BBQ with your fresh catch.  Best Day Ever.  Beer, Rum Punch, guide, boat, tackle, gear and everything is included
  •   Spa Treatments for 4, including transfer to the spa and light refreshments and fruit.
  •   4 Seater Golf Cart rental for 4 days so you can get around and have some fun, and possibly get up to some shenanigans of some sort.
  •   Personalized Pub Crawl with drink and meal specials
  •   24 Hour “HELP!” Line (aka, my personal cell phone number so you can call me if you get in trouble ;) )
  •   RTB exclusive: Private Tour of Chocolate Factory and Chocolate Tastings
  •   Inside tips for the best eats, drinks, parties, and shenanigans in San Pedro.

Email lara@romantictravelbelize.com for more information :)

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Posted on February 27, 2013

I Am Big – but what does that mean?

I had the honor of interviewed by Ayush Maheshwari for the I Am Big Show.  It was a very cathartic and challenging experience because it was very honest.  The show is an incredible exploration into the concept of being “BIG”, and about “sharing what is working, in a BIG way”.  The people who are featured have all done or been through something that brought out their “BIG”.

My episode will air on March 2, 2013, and in anticipation of it’s debut, Ayush asked me to write about what “Being Big” means to me.  For someone who spent her entire life trying to be small, this is a really tough question.   It took me years to understand the concept of “big”.  My entire life people chastised me for my “big energy”, and I spent a lifetime trying to “tone it down” (been fired several times for my inability to do so), to be small, to be the sweet, nice girl in the corner.  I was taught: Big Is Bad.  At 41 years old, I have come to accept, I am not that soft spoken, demure little thing in the corner, I’m…me.  Big hair, big voice, big opinions, just big… and thank god for it!  ugh, it was so hard trying to pack myself into a 5 lb bag.

So, maybe, embracing and accepting the “big” is more the point.  We all do big things all the time – a mother of 3, hell…the mother of one!  A teacher is doing something big.  A fisherman is doing something big, as is a farmer.  A neuroscientist is doing something big too, and just because it’s more unusual, doesnt make it any bigger than an painter.  So maybe, it’s about realizing that we are all rock stars.  meow.

I think maybe the point is to be able to say to ourselves “YES! I AM BIG!”…and not feel as though we are somehow accepting an accolade for which we are undeserving.  Maybe we are all deserving of thinking we matter, that we are, in fact, something important, significant, dare i say…special enough to allow ourselves to feel GREAT about that very knowledge.  Secure enough to believe it, in your very soul.

I have no idea how i’ll come off in the interview as i have not seen it.  I have no idea how the “Big” will be discussed or if i’ll sound like a smacked ass (always a risk in my case).  But i suppose, to answer Ayush’s question “What does Big mean to you” i have to say, to me,  it means acceptance.  It means you accept your situations, your limitations, your assets and your liabilities, you accept your strengths and you accept your weaknesses.  You accept the totality of yourself with as much love and compassion as you accept the totality of those you love.

And maybe, because i am who i am, i also gotta believe that the Biggest bigness of all comes from the knowing that someone loves the totality of you right back, and you know they accept all the bigness in your soul.

My episode airs  March 2, 2013 on www.iambigshow.com

 

 

 

to ayush – i love you. and thank you for healing a little piece of my soul. xo

 

 

 

Posted on

Destination Bachelor Party in San Pedro, Belize

According to Bridal Guide Magazine, 1/3 of their readers have a destination bachelor/bachelorette party (aka, stag/doe do’s).

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An old boxing friend recently got engaged, and he called to ask about a Destination Bachelor Party.  All this talk about destination bachelor /bachelorette parties got me thinking about how perfect San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize is for such an event.  Let’s face it, here, we drink a lot.  We sleep late a lot, we are on “island time” all the time, and we have loads of fish.  Sounds like a Bachelor’s Dream to me.

So, i thought i’d come up with a sample Bachelor Party Long Weekend Itinerary.  This 5 Day package is $985 per person, based on quad occupancy, and includes:

  • 4 Nights Accommodation in a 2 bedroom luxury condo, including all taxes and service charges
  • Round Trip Airfare from Belize International to San Pedro for 4
  • Round Trip Ground Transfer to the resort
  • Private Boat for a day for snorkeling, fishing, spear fishing, swimming with water critters as you see ’em (turtles, rays, nurse sharks, manatees are all possible), hooking lobsters (in season) and then a beach BBQ with your fresh catch.  Best Day Ever.  Beer, Rum Punch, guide, boat, tackle, gear and everything is included
  • ATV/Cave Tubing and Zip Lining Tour for 4 (or comparable tour of your choice).  This tour takes you to the Mainland of Belize, includes lunch, guided tour with licensed, experienced guide, park entrance fees, and transportation.  Not only will you zipline through the jungle canopy, cave tube in ancient mayan caves, you’ll also zoom around the jungle in your own ATV for a few hours.  You will be a muddy boy at the end of this day.
  • 4 Seater Golf Cart rental for 4 days so you can get around and have some fun, and possibly get up to some shenanigans of some sort.
  • Personalized Pub Crawl with drink and meal specials
  • 24 Hour “HELP!” Line (aka, my personal cell phone number so you can call me if you get in trouble 😉 )
  • RTB exclusive: Free Pizza at Pedro’s Inn with purchase of a “Bachelors Bucket o’ Beer”
  • Inside tips for the best eats, drinks, parties, and shenanigans in San Pedro.

Email lara@romantictravelbelize.com for more information :)

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Posted on February 25, 2013

North Side Versus South Side, Ambergris Caye

When it comes to your destination wedding or family vacation, whether you are “North” or “South” is a much bigger component than you might think!

I had a very brief conversation with a travel agent yesterday about Belize. She was looking for a place for her clients, and i quickly ran down some of the incredible highlights of the mainland and the coastline.  In a few minutes she felt she had the information that she needed to proceed with offering belize to her clients, but then i had to beg a pause from her, as i requested a bit more information from her clients.  Determining the winner in a Mainland Vacation versus Island Vacation is often readily made by a client, but alas, such an easy victory cannot be claimed for either the North Side or the South Side of La Isla Bonita.   Ambergris Caye is divided, just to the north of  San Pedro Town, by a channel.  In 2006 a bridge was built to span this channel.

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While Ambergris Caye is about 38 miles long and skinny as a sand bar, it’s really only truly populated on about 15 miles of it.  La Isla Bonita is very clearly defined in terms of “North of Town” or “South of Town”, roughly translated into “north of the bridge” or “south of the bridge”.  There is also “In Town”, but that has no baring on this blog.  While this division has implications on everything from real estate prices to politics to the price of a beer, this blog is about only one factor: Vacations and Destination Weddings in San Pedro, Belize.   And for the purposes of your vacation/wedding, “In Town” isnt significantly different than “South of Town”

The complexities of a family vacation or wedding are really, well, complex.  Theoretically, you should run through a checklist about what is most important to you, and then, like focusing a camera lens, the perfect location materializes because the answers for the north side and the south side become self evident.

For the purposes of this wedding and vacation blog, I define the geography as follows:

  • South – From the bridge to about 2 miles south of town, which is where the paved road ends.
  • North – Anything North of the bridge
  • South-South -anything past where the paved road ends, about 2 miles south of town.
  • North-North – About mile 6 through 10 north of the bridge
  • “North  North North, way up north” – Mile 12 or so on up to Mexico
  • In Town – From the bridge south to about Exotic Caye/Roadkill.
  • Mainland – while there are many variables on the mainland as well, generally speaking all areas are comparable to each other since they are all connected by roads.

Factors to Consider
Nightly Room Rate:

There are properties for every budget on both the north and south side of the island, as well as In Town.

Type of Accommodation:
All quality and type of accommodation are found on both the north and south sides.  There might only be 1 or 2 $80 usd per night property on the north side, versus several options south of the bridge.

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Beaches:
Since we are so fortunate to have the words largest living barrier reef running our entire coastline, we have a lot of turtle grass, which is an essential component of the reef.  Therefore, not all properties, either north or south, have great beaches.  However, there are a few that have some lovely beaches both north and south.  The beach itself is not really a factor between north and south, as much as it is which property you prefer.

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Ground Transportation: There are several ways to get around Ambergris Caye (aka San Pedro), but where you are on the island has a major impact on all decisions.  If you want to party like rockstars in the dance clubs in town until 2 am, then whether you are north or south will determine what time you turn into a pumpkin.  Similarly, the cost to travel north versus south is very different, therefore the transporting of goods and services is reflected is the price – expect to pay a surcharge or fee for everything delivered north.  If you are planning a destination wedding in Belize, then tables, chairs, musicians, everything – will have a fee associated with going north.

Golf Cart

  • South – Golf Carts can run freely to any part of the island south of the bridge. Deliveries and services are often on golf cart and included in most delivery charges.
  • South-South- there will often be a surcharge to go farther south as the dirt road can be difficult
  • North – Golf Carts pay $5 usd round trip to cross the few hundred feet of barely held together steel.  The road is not paved, and due to the bridge, it is not as often grated as the road South-south. For this reason, it is often a very bumpy and uncomfortable golf cart ride.  The road is not lit, so after dark, it can be rather unsafe.
  • North – North – Golf Cart rental companies will not allow their carts to go farther than 5 miles north of the bridge, so there is no golf cart or, for all intents and purposes, no ground transportation beyond this point

Ground Taxi – taxi’s are everywhere.  They are mostly mini-vans, however a few small cars have started running around as taxis.  There is a fee chart, in Belize dollars, that is required in each taxi.  Make sure they are referring to that when they quote you pricing.  Prices are quoted per cab, not by the passenger.

  • South – any and all taxis will freely run from the bridge south.  Price is anywhere from $5 bzd to $20 bzd
  • South-South- taxi’s will go to the very tip of the island, however, late at night they will charge a surcharge.  Minimally, expect to pay $20 bzd, but often it might be a bit more to go wicked far south
  • North – There’s a $20 bzd surcharge just to cross the bridge, and then it’s some number more for the ride.  It’s $60 bzd to go 5 miles north.
  • North- North – No ground taxi service

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Water Taxi – thanks to John McAfee putting Island Express out of business by price gouging then raising their prices once they’d accomplished that, there is only one water taxi company.  It runs on regular intervals, however, those intervals change fairly often.  At the moment, they run every hour or so, with the last water taxi runs north at 1030pm.

  • South – At the moment, the water taxi does not run south at all.  It used to, and it was lovely. boo.
  • South – South- nope, no water taxi service
  • In Town – the water taxi leaves from Amigos Dock and heads north.  If you want to water Taxi to Wayo’s or Wet Willy’s, knock your socks off.  I’m not sure the rate, but it’s probably around $5 bzd one way
  • North – They just raised the prices, and frankly, i’m a bit confused, but i paid $12 bzd one way to 5 miles north this weekend.  Then inexplicably,  i paid $10 bzd on the way back.
  • North – North – you have to call to make sure they come far enough up, but they will come get you up to about 10 miles north or so.

Grocery Store: If you are on a family vacation, this will might be a consideration for you.  If you are planning a destination wedding and will have guests, this mustbe a consideration for you.  Your guests will have all sorts of different budgets, so the availability of non-restaurant food may be a big deal.

  • South – every 20 feet you’ll find a store. DO NOT go into Island SuperMarket, it’s ridiculously priced.
  • South-South – there is a small but very well stocked tienda (small grocery store) at mile 2.5
  • North – there is a well stocked, reasonably priced grocery just across the bridge
  • North – North – there is a really awesome grocery, Mata Grande, at mile 5 or so.  There really isnt much that isnt ‘tourist priced’ aside from those two in that span, so unless you have cart, groceries are a challenge for you.  Mata Grande does do provisioning and delivery, so if you want to take a nice walk to the store, pick out all your items, they will deliver them to your accommodation.

What other factors would be of interest to you? Email me and i’ll add them to this list! Lara@romantictravelbelize.com

Posted on February 22, 2013

Inside John McAfee’s Compound

I called a friend for lunch the other day and while she was unavailable for lunch, she invited me to join her Saturday up at “what used to be John McAfee’s house”.  Her friends had bought it, and were having a little get-together.  Um, cool.  I felt a bit like i was going to Al Capones Vault or Scarfaces house, and half expected a bare chested McAfee to pop out of a famed sand pile screaming “say ‘ello to my little fwend”…  but once i saw the sand, i knew that wasnt gonna happen.

The Dock and House

The Dock and House

We took the water taxi 5 miles north to the ‘compound’, and i have to say, i was wholly underwhelmed.  I mean, to listen to the news accounts and what not, this place was a huge “compound”.  It’s not.  Its a bunch of buildings and breezeways.

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I walked around the property, and it does go back quite a ways.  The thing that just kept ringing in my head was how HARD the ground was.  McAfee’s claim to have quickly run and ‘buried himself in the sand up to his neck and covered his head with a box’ as the Belize police approached is quite simply, bullshit.  It’s just not possible.  I recently had to bury my beloved Luna, and it took two adults about an hour to dig in my yard for a hole big enough for a dog…let alone a grown man.  So, on that point, i call full on Bullshit.

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Sunday morning I was treated to the news that one of the other guests found a bullet in the toilet.  Now, i dont know anything about anything, but this struck me as very odd…wouldnt the police have checked?  Of course, this makes me wonder what else they missed and what other things are buried in and around that house.  Might be interesting to see what’s discovered one day.

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This closet/bunker is very interesting to me.  This is one big safe, and this is one big metal door.

Standing inside the closet/safe room.

Standing inside the closet/safe room.

There were several lovely carvings, but this amethyst one is just gorg.

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The view from the deck

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The ‘master bedroom’

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the main house and main house  from the loft.

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Posted on February 19, 2013

Black Orchid Spa’s Latest Pampering Princess

I recoil at being told that I am “lucky”.  Generally, I do not believe in “luck” as a concept when it comes to ones life.  On very rare occasions, however, I am forced to admit I feel very lucky indeed.  Having a roommate who does massages, facials, body scrubs and the like for a living, is one such time.  Very lucky indeed.

The remarkably massagy/facial-ly talented Miss Carrie Tripodi, has started working at Black Orchid Spa, located in the Vilma Linda Plaza.  Also located in this charming little plaza is the uber awesome “Mesa Cafe” (highly recommend their black bean burger…it’s divine),  SeaDuced By Belize Tours (the best in the biz), Pages Bookstore and The Paradise Gallery and Frame Shop (blog on their incredible work coming soon).

Black Orchid Spa

Black Orchid Spa

Carrie was new to the Spa, and in an effort to help her get her “groove” in the new setting, I selflessly volunteered my services as “person needing a massage”.   Carrie’s got a soothing but effective touch that found all the knots and crunchy bits i’d store piled in my body.  I had the One Hour Full Body Massage.  It was an awesome massage, and seriously…i was woozy afterward…  awesome.

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K…so apparently, i’m a really good “person in need of..” because when i volunteered to be the “person in need of a facial” so Carrie could learn the different products used at Black Orchid Spa, she said ok.  Lucky me!  I got a facial yesterday.

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This was a complete facial with all sorts of steps and potions.  At one point, i was covered in Honey and Sugar or something like that.  Below, I am Blue.  This is not from Carnival, this is from the mask.  The mask is a “color therapy” mask, and this is what we found out about the product:

  • With MSM and Blue-Green Algae, this nutrient-rich masque is perfect for all skin types. This masque can be especially useful for painful, inflamed and irritated skin.
  • Blue-green algae is full of trace elements, calcium, and magnesium. In skincare products, it helps the skin store moisture to improve elasticity. Our vitamin and mineral-rich Organic Blue-Green Algae is harvested from a lake in Klamath Falls, Oregon. It contains the highest level of chlorophyll, protein, minerals, amino acids and enzymes in any growing organism known to man.
  • MSM is necessary for collagen synthesis in skin, hair and nails. It prevents cells from becoming rigid while softening tissue, and is believed to relieve stress, arthritis & inflammation; detoxify the body; and increase blood circulation. MSM scavenges free radicals and assists with hypersensitivity to topical drugs while expediting wound healing.

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My skin feels awesome.  Both a massage and a facial are exactly what a girl needs after weeks of salt water abuse.

Good stuff :) To make an appointment with Carrie, call 226-3939

Posted on February 15, 2013

Belize Carnival

Many countries in the Caribbean and Latin America have some sort of Carnival.  Belize is no exception.  I was curious about this custom, and did a bit of research.  First, i was shocked to find there is actually a website, www.belizecarnival.com.  The website says Carnival is in September, but that’s a different one i guess.   According to the site, the tradition of Carnival in Belize was started by 5 women in Belize City for September Celebrations.  Since that time it has grown to a huge nationwide extravaganza with an astonishing display of creativity and talent.

In San Pedro, it’s a weekend long event preceding Fat Tuesday, starting with the walking of a statue of the Virgin Mary through the town, called the Procession, which culminates at the Catholic Church and a service.

Each day brings events, but the most dreaded, feared, and i must say, enjoyed, is the Painting.  For some reason (it wasnt listed on the website I used for research) San Pedro has started a tradition of painting..everything and everyone.  It is absolutely commuter/walker/dog/cat/person/bird beware, for the roaming band of kids with their latex paint in water bottles WILL get you.

My Green Roommate and I surrounded by merry making Carnival Island Friends

My Green Roommate and I surrounded by merry making Carnival Island Friends

In 7 years i have managed to avoid Town for Carnival.  I desperately want to see the amazing costumes and dancing, but there is no way i can get latex paint out of my hair…so i never go.  Last night, however, i found myself in town and had completely forgotten it was “painting day”.  I wandered down the beach and found myself at Cholos (love that place).  Everything is covered in plastic, and men with paint all over them were everywhere.  Thank GOODNESS they knew me, and protected me from getting completely painted.  In return for their chivalry, i let them paint my face :)  Fair enough :)

Posted on February 13, 2013

Hair and Cheese – My Life Sailing

the boat was very small. but somehow, that never really bothered me. over time, i was able to find an accommodation to any adjustment i needed to make in order to make it “habitable”.   From the outset, i had to major issues: my hair, and cheese.

My Hair – My hair is always an issue, regardless of what i’m doing. There’s a lot of it, and as i’ve gotten older, it’s gotten curlier. The curlier it gets, the more prone to “dread-ing” it becomes. When on ocean water for more than 2 days without washing, the under side of my hair dreadlocks. By day three, removal of the knots requires scissors. I’ve lived on a caribbean island for 7 years, and as i tell all my brides – you will lose the battle with your hair. Succumb. My personal anthem is “Hair” by Lady GaGa. (and no, i cant cut it, lest i’d like a permanent enormous helmet o’ hair on my head)

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On a 27 foot boat, there is no shower. There was a 5 gallon neoprene bag, with a hose. I tried to wash my hair in a bucket once, but it took about 2 gallons of water, and water is a commodity on a boat. We were seldom in a place to acquire more water, so i had to figure something out. I tried french braids, i tried ‘twists’, i tried pony with braid, and the minute i took my hair out – WHOOSH – an enormous fuzzy mass atop my head. There was a sheepskin on the boat, i looked exactly like it. And of course, when one’s hair is a fuzzy frizzy salty mass, it breaks and falls out. So now, there’s hair all over the tiny space. Not fun.

About a week or so in, i figured i could go three days without washing my hair, however i had to leave a good bit of conditioner in my hair, and then spray it with coconut oil. I found the right balance of products to make it actually quite pleasant…until about day 2.5. At which point i was just plain greasy.

By the end, i could shower, shave, exfoliate face and body, wash and condition my hair in 1.5 gallons of water.  I rock. And I was Clean. amen.

I would sit on the floor of the “cockpit”, remove my skivvies, leave my bikini top on,  and i could  have some modicum of privacy in the harbors.  And i was Clean. Amen.

The Bathtub / Cockpit.

The Bathtub / Cockpit.

Cheese:  We had no refrigerator, but we had a small cooler. It would fit about a 12 pack.  In Trinidad, bagged ice was about $1 – $2.  Totally worth it, as cheese, drinks, anything is lovely with a bit of a chill.  The cool water the next day was nice for rinsing clothes as it was good fresh water.  But after Trinidad, a bag of ice was about $5 usd.  Since we were going to be days between locations where ice could be had, it wasnt even worth buying it..especially at that price.

Right, wrong or indifferent, i eat about an 8 oz brick of cheddar cheese every 2 – 3  days when i’m at home.  I eat the same basic foods all the time, and they all have cheese.  Cheese omelet for breakfast, tuna with cheese for lunch, and taco’s or pizza or something like that for dinner – all cheese, and all very easy to make on a small boat.

Gotta have your Marie Sharps with your eggs

Gotta have your Marie Sharps with your eggs

Never fear, I’m an island girl after all.  I dont care where you are in the Caribbean, Central America or Mexico, you will find “Happy Cow” cheese.  And as i say, Happy Cow, makes for a happy cow!  After about a week, i was able to find said product from the heavens, and i was solid.   Then, as if a girl couldnt be happy enough, i was standing in a “chandlery” (store just for the sailing set with stuff for boats) and there was a book, the name of which i regret i do not recall, and it said that the sealed package cheese would stay good for days without refrigeration.  It said the cheese would separate, but it would still be good.

The “New Zealand Anchor” brand cheese is also as ubiquitous as Happy Cow.  And now i know why.  It does. It really really does last.  For a couple days.  It cost about $4 usd a brick for cheddar.  I would buy two bricks, as i normally eat about a brick every two days at home of regular cheddar.  I’m a cheese-avor. Everything is better with cheese.  So, cheese problem solved, i basically ate exactly as i did at home, especially once we found soy and taco seasoning on Union Island, Grenada.

 

Posted on February 11, 2013

Bequia, The Grenadines

Bequia, pronounced Beck-Way, Grenadines is a charming little island town that is part of  St Vincent and the Grenadines.  It’s got about 7,000 people on the island, but it doesnt feel like it.  There is only one small town, and i loved it.  It felt very familiar and comfortable to me.  It was a bustling little town, and not many tourists except on the main drag.  The cruise ships go into St Vincent, about 20 miles away, then come over in droves on ferry’s and tenders.

I’d be lying if i didnt admit that my favorite time was when they all left.  Then you could get back to the business of being in the town.

When i was first dropped off, i had to take the boats garbage to the can.  Of course, i was dropped off at the opposite side of the bay, so i had to walk around.  no worries, every local i passed noticed the bag and pointed the way.  I do wish Bequia had more than one garbage can for sailors use – i dont like walked 30 minutes carrying garbage…get’s in the way of my fun and picture taking!

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Finally a post office!  Off go the postcards from Trinidad, Grenada and the Grenadines, from Bequia.

Finally a post office! Off go the postcards from Trinidad, Grenada and the Grenadines, from Bequia.

After mailing my postcards and letter to G-Pa, i walked the main drag.  There are stalls and tiny shops set up along the promenade.  I happen to stop in one,  “Jewel of the Sea” and wound up having a very soulful conversation with “Kemmy”.  If you stop in Bequia, please tell him i said hi.  I gave him the pocket copy of “The Four Agreements” that i had with me as we had gotten into a conversation about intent, purpose, and directing your life.  It was nice to have such a chat with someone, and i was glad i’d brought the little book.  Someone had given it to me as a gift, and it seemed fitting to give it to Kemmy.  I had used the book like a Bible during my trip, and i thought it time to share.

"the main drag" in Bequia

“the main drag” in Bequia

Beautiful old church.

Beautiful old church.

I love churches, always take pics of churches

I love churches, always take pics of churches

My laptop broke very early in the trip, and all i had was a very old iPhone. Fortunately, there were 2 places in Bequia with sufficient internet that the iPhone worked, and i could make US phone calls. It was great to be able to hear the voices of my friends. The “WhaleBoner” with it’s whale spine seats has great internet, but they dont take credit cards. “Frangipani” also has really great internet and they do accept credit cards.

Whaleboner Restaurant. Free Wifi with purchase of beer.  Jenn, this was my view when we had out long chat.

Whaleboner Restaurant. Free Wifi with purchase of beer. Jenn, this was my view when we had out long chat.

Map in Macs Pizza.  My first stop on my first day in Bequia.  I love the "i am here - i live there" moments when i stumble upon a map when traveling

Map in Macs Pizza. My first stop on my first day in Bequia. I love the “i am here – i live there” moments when i stumble upon a map when travelingBequia

I spent 3 or 4 nights in Bequia. There was a little blues festival, but it was sort of a bust. Nice to see people out and about though. I’d definitely recommend this place to stop and “be” for a while. It was lovely, and i do hope to get back one day. It was a comfortable little town, and the people reminded me of home…and after all, i love belize, so it’s always nice to be reminded of her when i’m away.

Posted on February 8, 2013

Sailing the little Windward Islands

After the Grenada, we headed to St Vincent and the Grenadines, but first a stop in Tobago Cays for a night or two.   Overall, our travels have been to harbors designed and built to service the sailing community, and small remote coves and islands. Unfortunately, access to much of the “features” of the towns we visited werent readily available, so i spent a great deal of time on the boat reading and writing.

I also was able to feel a sense of Belize as we sailed.  The islands were all significantly more mountainous than La Isla Bonita, and as a result they also had few sand beaches, but it was interesting and lovely to be reminded of the beautiful Belize mountains….except from a boat :)

Here’s a gallery of photos of various islands and things i saw while spending a few weeks living a dream…

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Posted on February 6, 2013

Sailing Tips for the Girly Girl

The Girly Girls Guide to Sailing

First, I am a girly girl.  I wear heels, and i dont leave the house with out at least some mascara.  I need to wash my hair every day or else it mattes up or dreadlocks.  I like my air conditioning on ‘high’ when i sleep while i’m under a down comforter.  I like what i like.  So when i was asked if i wanted to come along on a sailing trip to island hop the western caribbean, of course i said yes…but i was nervous.

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The boat, “Living the Dream” is a 27′ Albin Vega Sailboat.  The interior living space is significantly less than 100 square feet, and only in the dead center of the cabin does the height reach 5′ 7″…just enough for me to stand.  The sleeping cabin is shaped like a wedge in the front of the boat, and a full grown human cannot sit up at all, let alone straight.  There is a toilet, however, this no room to close the door as it comes directly to the front of the toilet when closed.

I wash my hair in a bucket, and the shower is a bag with a hose that hangs from the mast.

I’ve been out here for 8 days now, and i’ve begun compiling tips for other girls who would like to attempt a similar trip.

1) Coconut Oil – again, i cannot sing the praises enough.  Please see my blog “Ode To Coconut Oil” for more uses, but suffice to say its amazing.  It’s a fabulous skin moisturizer for both your face and body, and it is also a very effective skin detangler.  It’s great for cooking, and also calms a sun burn (so i recently discovered).  Bring the bottle and small spray bottle.  You will never stop finding uses for the stuff.

2) Baby Wipes – yes, there is a toilet, but you just need baby wipes.  trust me on the baby wipes, their just great to have along.

3) Bar Soap takes up less room and lasts longer.  This tip was from my friend Lisa who has worked and lived on yachts for the last several years.

4) Sarongs – they are not so wrong, they are so right.  It’s a cover up, a blanket, a towel, and a dress.  Bring two, one is always wet.

5) Pouches of tuna – there is no refridgerator on this boat, so food is an interesting process.  The pouches of tuna are a great easy way to make sure you are nourished.  You will lose weight on a small boat.  There just isnt enough space for too much food so ‘boredom’ eating doesnt happen.

6) Ear Plugs – while the sound of the ocean is absolutely lovely, the boat makes a lot of noise as it creaks and rolls around on the waves.  While i love all those noises, the first few nights they were so unfamiliar, that i had trouble sleeping.  Fortunately, I’d learned many years ago when i travelled a ton for my corporate job to always carry ear plugs.  I take sleep very seriously.

7) Kindle or Nook – you’re going to have a lot of spare time, and since the boat is small…you’re gonna want to make sure you mentally unplug from the others on the boat.  Read.  Its good for you to detox from TV anyway.

8) Nail File – i broke every single one of my fingernails, and am halfway through my toe nails.  Dont bother with a manicure before you sail, it’s a waste.  But do bring a nail file and nail clippers as all the moisture can cause hangnails and the like

9) Cup with a Lid and Straw – my friend becky saw me eyeing up her twist cap cup a few months ago, and brought me one since i am forever knocking my drinks over.  I brought that cup with me, and it’s perfect for a boat…cause you are forever knocking things over.

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10 ) Leave Your Ego at the Dock – you are whomever you are sailing with are going to spend a LOT of time together in very close quarters.  To make the ebbs and flows of personality and moods tolerable, you just cant take things too personally.  My captain and I had an “clearing of the air” a few days in, and it helped immensely.  Make sure to be an open, fair communicaor.  As my avid sailor friend, Nathalee told me before i left, “Patience, Lara, remember to be patient”.  Great bit of advice.

11) Gummi Bears/Worms – Again, the gracious miss Nathalee told me to bring Gummi Bears.  For the life of me, i could not imagine why, but being the sort that takes the advice that’s given, i brought some.  I found out what they are for – seasickness.  If you start to get a little seasick, just chomp on a few gummi bears and you’ll feel immediately better.  Someone we had met sailing had suggested that a bit of ‘sweets’ helps, and i remembered the gummi bears.  viola!  worked like a charm.

Posted on February 1, 2013

St Patricks Day – Party with a wanker

St Patricks Day – The Last Bastion of Silliness

I dont really know the history of St Patricks Day, but i do know that it makes me think of green, leprechauns and alcohol.  When i was in university (ok, and welllll after that) this was my favorite night to go to the Irish Pub on 21st St in Philadelphia and drink my face off.  I wasnt alone, there are always sure to be scores of “drank til their faces came off” people of all shapes and sizes waddling around pubs and bars throughout the US, Ireland, Canada and anywhere else Irish people once drank (er, um, i mean lived).

But that has all gotten so boring, hasnt it?

Come to belize instead, and drink your faces off with icey cold Belikins, or better, load up on “Panti Rippa’s” and find out why they are called that.  We have a couple Irish folks here, mostly represented by Irish Jennifer, my favorite of the Irish.  We have loads more of them, but somehow i get in deep trouble for calling a Scotsman and Irishman or some other Great Britain confusion I’m still trying to sort out.

Pedro’s Inn is probably the best spot for Irish Shenanigans this year. Pedro is a wanker, and that’s what it says on the T-Shirts he sells, it’s not me calling him that – it’s him. He’s self proclaimed so it’s OK.  He has just added a new monstrocity he calls “The Hotel”, but it has really big, really safe, really new rooms with nice hot water and air conditioning.  The rooms are budget priced and amoung the best values on the Island when you consider they have 2 swimming pools, a bar/restaurant and Charlie the Dog, Splat the Cat and Jager the Puppy.  If you are in the bar, do NOT ring the bell, not even by mistake, or you have to buy Jager shots for everyone… are you seeing how this is going?  If you want to party your face off for St Patricks Day, Pedro’s is it.

Rooms at Pedro’s start at $50 usd, and if you book through me, i’ll make him give you something for free (mostly because i like to antagonize him, it’s great fun, you’ll see :) ) Pedro’s is a great place to bring a whole schwack of your friends to come to party.  This is NOT a romantic place, the only romance you’ll see is between Pedro and Jager (either the shot or the puppy …. depends on his mood), but then again St Patricks Day isnt about romance, it’s about drinking.

A 4 night weekend getaway, with a sunset booze cruise, snorkel trip and hotel will run you about $370 usd per person, double occupancy including hotel, tax, service charge, the two trips, and round trip airfare from Belize City to San Pedro.

 

Posted on January 29, 2013

Grenada Part 3 – Moliniere Under water sculptures

Grenada Part 3

On Day 5 in Grenada, we pulled anchor mid-morning, and sailed to Molinaire.  It was abouto 3 miles from us, and took several hours as there wasnt much wind – but who’s in a hurry anyway?

Moliniere Bay is where the French anchored to recapture Grenada from the British in 1779.  This place has some history, i’ll tell ya.  Between the French, the Brits, and the Americans during thier struggles here in the ’80’s, no wonder Grenada is so friendly, there’s always someone up in their grill!

Anyway, the worlds first underwater sculpture park is here.  It’s about 7 feet down and is a circle of life sized human figures holding hands, slowly being reclaimed by the sea from coral.  There is also a life sized man at a desk, and a man on a bike, dont ask my why.  In 2010, another artist added 14 more pieces to the scultures already existing 65 pieces.  Pretty nifty.

Then we were off to Carriacou.  (pronounced – carry a coo).  Earlier this week, i had met a rasta from Carriacou.  The refer to the main island of Grenada as “the mainland” just like we belizean islanders refer to Mainland Belize.  I am very excited to go to Carriacou for 2 reasons, 1) they are supposed to have the best beaches in the Caribbean, and 2) I’m curious if it will be like Caye Caulker.  It’s supposed to be quite small, but then again, now that i’ve seen these other islands, San Pedro is a tiny island comparatively speaking.

ps – never was able to see the sculpture park.  there were only 2 moorings (bouyes) to tie to, and both were taken, and you werent allowed to anchor.  We had a 10 hour sail (3 knots tacking against the wind) to get to Carriacou, so we just went first thing in the morning instead.  I sorta imagine the pictures you see in books are good enough :)

Posted on January 27, 2013

A Valentines Day Dream (or was it a nightmare?)

Valentines Day  – Seriously

I had a dream last night.  Really. I did.  It was about Valentines Day and i walked into a store to get something completely unrelated to V-Day, and there was this long line of very somber, grief stricken people standing in line.  In my dream, they were all shapes, sizes, cultures and ethnicities.  And they were all miserable.  I shortly thereafter realized why, and i tried to help them, but alas, i was unable to make Hallmark and Cupid chill out and leave these people alone.

I do still, however offer a really nice alternative.  For the life of me i cannot imagine why anyone would want to do anything different for Valentines Day, and i cannot imagine a gift i’d like to receive more than a trip/vacation for the Big Day.  Now, this might be because I just added more pages to my passport so i’ve got travel on my mind, but i dont think so.  I think this is a real public service i’m offering here – respit for the romantically miserable.

You dont have to use the trip right away or even over Valentines Day.  You can imagine how happy your other half will be just to know that you were thinking of being alone and oogly-woogly with them at your own private water fall, or perhaps on your own private boat for the day, frolicking, sunnning, funning, swimmng, and of course, snorkeling.

Packages can be created to fit your budget, from a modest $700 usd for 7 nights including domestic airfare and hotel for two (not much more than that, but hey it’s a start!) to the extravagant into the thousands that will surely get you out of whatever dog house you might otherwise be forced to inhabit.

Posted on January 25, 2013

Grenada Part 2 – Including a Hair Cut and Corn rows (sorta)

Grenada Part 2

“Living the Dream” and i have been anchored in Grenada now for 5 nights so far.

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I had a chance to walk around St George, the capital of Grenada yesterday.  It is an absolutely lovely little city of about 30,000 people, but feels significantly larger due to the enormous cruise ships that come in daily and the hundreds of boats/ships/yachts of all sizes that cruise the Caribbean.

Grenada is very mountainous, much to my surprise and has a road that runs around the perimeter.  The “buses” (minivans) are constantly zipping around and you dont have to wait more than about 30 seconds for the next one to come whizzing by saying “bus bus bus!”.

The salt air has been wreaking havoc on my hair, so i found a “shop” and sauntered in.  I paid $40 EC (about $17 usd) for a wash and a trim.  The proprietor of the shop, Shirly, is who did my hair, and after she was all done, she asked me if i wanted her to “do it up nice”.  I said sure.  10 minutes later, out I sashayed with the entire front of my head twisted into make shift cornrows that ran to the side of my head.  Not only was all the pullling and twisting a very effective way to keep my hair out of my face, it also provided an added bonus of a mini-facelift.  She then took all the tails left from the twisting, and pin curled them in a pile on top of my head, with all the hair on the back of my head hanging down.  I thought this was great, however, i do have some dignity and i am not, in fact, black and some do’s only look good on some ethnicities…so as soon as i was out of the shop, i removed the pin-curls, but left the twists.  I kinda dig ’em, and they really really do keep my hair out of my face …for the first time in decades i didnt smother myself in my sleep.

SHirley's Hair Shop - up a very dank stairwell, very caribbean.  Very happy to have my hair washed

SHirley’s Hair Shop – up a very dank stairwell, very caribbean. Very happy to have my hair washed

 

My "Twists".  I lasted about 4 days like this, then i just couldnt take it anymore

My “Twists”. I lasted about 4 days like this, then i just couldnt take it anymore

All in all, i have to say, that while expensive (about the same cost of goods as belize), it’s an absolutely lovely country.   I’m not sure what their deal is regarding weddings, because i cant seem to find much information.  Very much like Belize, this is the one thing they seem to be missing in their marketing plan and there was nothing at the Tourism Board.  The very nice lady there did tell me that i could go to their website, but they had no literature.

Also, for those interested, i was able to get more pages for my passport.  It was $82 usd, and they were very nice about the whole thing, and rather quick over all.  I did however, get in trouble (no surprise to those who know me) for taking a picture of the Embassy.  I had no idea this was a problem, a photo from the outside, but when the very large security man started taking my picture in return, i knew the jig was up.  So, as a little tip – yes, you can get more than one set of additional pages in your passport as this was my second.   Away i go some more!

Posted on January 23, 2013

Grenada

Grenada

We anchored in Prickly Bay, Grenada at 4 am on the morning on January 14, 2013. Needless to say, it was dark, so we couldnt see anything. In the morning, we woke up and realized we were in an incredibly beautiful place…at least from where we were floating.

 

Taken from the Prickly Bay, Grenada Immigration and Customs Office

Taken from the Prickly Bay, Grenada Immigration and Customs Office

We dinghy’d in to clear customs and immigration, where they charge a $25 usd fee for a “Cruising Permit” which is what allows you to anchor here. The currency in the Eastern Caribbean is called the “EC” or the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. Currently the exchange rate is about $6.25 or so, to $1 usd. The immigration and customs officers were very nice and it was a pretty easy process. Although I should point out, that when sailing like this, from country to country, be prepared to fill out a a lot of forms. Once we’d used up all the ink in our pens, we were free to go.

 

My passport is full. Very full, and i’ve already added pages, so I wasnt optimistic when I approached the US embassy yesterday to inquire about adding more. It was a beautiful walk to the embassy from Prickly Bay Marina, so I was happy enough to try and find out, so I walked there. The walk was on a paved road with very little shoulder, and they drive on the “other” side of the road, Britain style, so I was always surprised when a car whizzed past me, but they gave me room, which was a nice welcome change from Belize where I believe they make an attempt to see exactly how close they can come to you and mow you down.

 

On the walk there, I asked someone where the embassy was (she was collected shrubbery to feed her goats) and she graciously offered me a ride. It wasnt far, but it was hot to the ride was welcome. But before the ride, I was struck by how beautiful the road was and the homes. Simple, clean, well maintained and FLORAL. Flowers everywhere.

 

The embassy people were very nice, and for an $82 usd fee, they check my clearance and told me to come back the next day at 1130 to pick it up. Easy Peasy.

 

On the walk back to the marina to get picked up to go back to “Living the Dream”, I was hailed and greeted by every person I saw, and even some I didnt. Men and women, young and old, say “good afternoon” and a brief comment about the weather. As any woman who has ever traveled Latin America knows, you cant walk 5 feet without someone hissing, whistling, calling, and generally being a nusance. It was a very welcome surprise to find the men here just say “Hello” and wish you a nice day. Even the men in the cars arent gross or vulgar.

 

Although I know one shouldnt judge an entire country or it’s people by 24 hours of exposure to one town, but I have to say I love Grenada. I loved the feel of it the minute I woke up at 6 am on our morning of arrival, and am very happy to discover more of this lovely country.

Posted on January 21, 2013

Coconut Oil – a girls Best Friend

Ah…the wonders of Coconut Oil

 

An Ode To Coconuts

 

We all know that coconut water is incredibly good for you. Although I do know some people that are surprised to learn this information, the rest of us know, anyway. Coconut water is good for everything inside your body… all your systems. But I had never heard of coconut oil until my friend Carrie (Letters To My Friends) began to extoll it’s virtues. Then, when I found out I was going on this sailing trip, I emailed my friend Lisa, who is a yachty (she works on private yachts and travels round the world on them) to inquire on any boating tips. She said: Coconut Oil.

 

So, I happen to find a bottle of Coconut oil in my cabinet from years ago (thanks andrea!) and poured some into a small spray bottle. So far I have used the oil in the following ways whilst on board “Living the Dream”

 

  1. Skin Moisturizer – Carrie uses it every day at home on her face and body, and I actually started doing this as well. I had been using cocoa butter on my face, but the coconut oil, just a few drops, absorbs beautifully into your skin very quickly, and has so far proven noncomedogenic (sp?). It is also great for your body, so keeping it in a spray bottle is very convenient
  2. Sunscreen – I know, makes no sense, but we did look it up on the internet to confirm, and I have my own skin as an example. While I am still getting some sun, i’m not burning at all. Just browning, which is what it says on the internet, too. Shocking but true (at least for me).
  3. Hair – Ok, if you’ve never seen me you dont know about my hair. My hair is a “thing”. It’s got a zip code, a personality, and I do believe that Lady Gaga’s Song “Hair” is my personal anthem, or at least my hair thinks so. My hair is verythick, and very curly. My hair does not consider salt water a friend, and wind is the enemy – and combined, they are more terroristic than the Uni-bomber. Lisa the yachty friend, upon receiving my request for tips, suggested Coconut oil for my hair. Yip, spray bottle of coconut oil and spritzing my hair, and it’s helping to keep the dreaded dread-locks away.
  4. Cooking – We have a small burner on the boat, and I love me some eggs in the morning. The little frying pan long lost it’s non-stick quality and you can imagine trying to clean a pan caked with stuck on egg on a boat with only a tiny pump water sink smaller than a water fountain. Of course, I never had to actually deal with that issue because I first sprayed the pan with coconut oil, and am making the best omelets you’ve ever seen. Unlike olive oil, coconut oil doesnt lose it’s health benefits in the cooking process, so my breakfast is an even healthier way to start my day :)

So, dear reader, Coconut Oil. It’s your friend.

Posted on January 18, 2013

Sailing from Trinidad to Grenada

Early in January, I was facebook chatting with an old friend who was going to be sailing the atlantic alone, in a 27′ sailboat.  I was asked if i would like to come along once the boat reached Port Of Spain, Trinidad and then we’d sail up the Lesser Antilles.

resize oil

Um….YES, YES i want to sail the caribbean sea. YES, i most certainly do.

So, on January 10, i boarded a flight to Miami and connected through to POS, Trinidad.  I arrived after midnight, so i didnt see much, but i can tell you this – it’s HUGE.  This was not going to be some quaint little island village.  It’s an enormous city.

There isnt much i can say about Trinidad, we were in a marina that wasnt my favorite place, but was ok.  I was really just itching to get going.  We werent staying there long, so i cant speak to anything wedding related, but i did get a real estate magazine since so many of you love that stuff :)

The TT (trinidad and tobego dollar) is about 6 to 1 usd.  This is a bit offputting when you look at pricing in the millions, then realize you divide by 6.  Not too bad, then. Seems to me you can get a very cute house for about $200,000 usd, but again, i’m not even sure about areas, so my advice – skip it and come to Grenada, which was our next port of call, and from whence i write this blog.

On the way, we saw the Venzuelan Oil towers in the sea.  Made me sad as i thought about the recent Supreme Court decision overruling the validity of the tens of thousands of signatures against offshore drilling in Belize.  Will be awful to see these HUGE ugly towers in our waters.  I hope we dont, i really do.

resize oil

It was a 20 hour sail, into the head winds.  It wasnt the smoothest sailing in the world, considering we were in the “Bathtub” (as i affectionately call the itty bitty boat).  I am not at all ashamed to say i “chummed” twice. And for those of you who dont know what that means, it means i fed the fish with the contents of my stomach.

We finally arrived Prickly Bay, Grenada at 4 am.  Cant wait to see more

Posted on January 16, 2013

Customized Gifts and Favors

Whadday think about this as a Thank You or Welcome Gift for your guests?  Custom and hand made you pick the contents, and the price point and i pull it all together for you.  In this case, we’ve got a bamboo case, with a locally hand carved slate Maya Calendar (my friend makes them in town), a packet of local Belizean Spices from Lalla’s Spices, a Coconut Shell Soy Candle, hand made by Glow Belize’s stunningly awesome Rosie Symes, and a bar of locally made soap.  Then i personally create these little 8 cup packets of Gallon Jug Coffee you see at the bottom.  You could have them personalized for your wedding, company or otherwise.  Email/call for pricing and options.

Custom Gifts

Custom Gifts

Another great little Welcome or Thank You gift is this bag.  It is a locally made water bottle bag, but we filled it with a little bottle of local rum, a Glow Belize Soy Heart Shaped Candle, and the ever present bottle of Marie Sharps Hot Sauce.

y 636

You could order these in advance (give me a couple weeks due to international shipping) for your Valentine or for a birthday gift.  Not to mention, your Romantic Travel Belize Online Gift and Bridal Registry, the only online registry in Belize. 😉

Posted on January 14, 2013

How To Plan A Destination Wedding – Part Two

Two days ago, i published what i deem to be Step 1 and Step 2 of How To Plan A Destination Wedding Part One (aka, Plan a Destination Wedding in 5 Easy Steps)

 port bed

Step 3: Lay The Foundation  – Now that you know which country, how many people, how much you have to spend, and who is responsible for creating your vision, you have to actually create the vision.  The first step to building anything real, is to lay the foundation upon which everything else will be built.  In the case of a destination wedding, the foundation is the Accommodations.  Until you’ve picked the accommodations, no details of the wedding can be determined.  If your hotel of choice has grounds for a wedding, great, but sometimes they do not.  This topographical fact impacts every other decision that is made.  Further, every hotel will have different services and policies pertaining to weddings.  Some hotels have a policy that all guests attending the wedding must stay at that hotel, while others limit the size and frequency of weddings at their location, and there are those with great in-house wedding coordinators, while others….not so much.

Never fear, though.  Much of the decision will narrow down the options, and your experienced destination manager or wedding coordinator can help you take this bite of the elephant with ease.

Step 4: The Guests – Elopers, Please Proceed to Step 4, All others, keep reading.  Regardless of how you are creating your wedding, someone needs to book and communicate with your guests regarding their trip.  For my clients, I create a document (very simple, i’m no stationer) that congratulates the guests on being invited, introduces them to the property they’ll be staying at, outlines the details of their stay including costs, and provides my contact information for questions or in order to book.    By this time, I will already have a hold on a block of rooms for your guests, and the process glides along.

When considering your guests, you should give thought to a wedding favor and thank you gift for them.  I particularly love to custom design and tailor each gift to match the flair of the wedding.  Consider their wallet as well.  I know you cant go around asking people what their budget is, but you do have a rough idea of a range per night for a hotel room.  A good destination planner will be able to guide you to the right 1 or 2 properties that should meet just about anyone’s needs.

Step 5: The Details  – If you havent completed steps 1 – 4, Step 5 is mental candy, and nothing more.  It’s the part that allows us to frolic on the internet, and create wonderfully inspiring pinterest boards.  And, by the way, every destination wedding couple should have a pinterest board.  There is no better way to share your vision that with visuals, and pinterest helps me to “see” what you are talking about.    After you know which hotel you are staying in and the number of guests, we can then you can start adding in all the details.  Chairs, tents, flowers, music, catering, fireworks, steel drums, lighting and every other little thing can now, finally, be determined.

Every couple does it…they jump waaaaaay ahead to step 5.  The truth is, it’s just a dream unless you’ve done steps one through four because you have no idea what any of those embellishments to your wedding will cost until you know where in the destination you are getting married.  Transportation costs are a very real consideration in Belize, as fuel is $6 usd a gallon, the cost of various flowers is greatly dependent on the time of year and region of the country, and so on.

Also, it’s nice to plan a couple group activities, or “tour days”.  While people can do whatever they like, it’s been my experience that once one part of the group wants to go do “x”, others say “me too!”.  Providing a rough, flexible itinerary for the week helps your guests begin to prioritize their own vacation, while taking your wedding events into consideration.

 

There ya have it, How To Plan A Destination Wedding in 5 Steps

Those lucky enough to receive the romantictravelbelize.com newsletter, received a super special secret link to both blogs 2 days ago. Shoot me your email, and get the down low 😉

Posted on January 11, 2013

How To Plan A Destination Wedding – The Planning Manual Part 1

Beach Bride Toes in Sand

There are entire sections in bookstores dedicated to destination weddings. My dear friend Lisa Light’s book, Destination Bride, can be found on Amazon.com. There are stacks of magazines as tall as me on the subject of destination weddings, and i think it all boils down to five (5) very basic steps.  Yup, just 5.

In my former life as a Human Resources executive i wrote a lot  of manuals.  Training manuals, policy manuals, procedure manuals, sales manuals… a lot of manuals. And all manuals are constructed the same way: You have a purpose, a general outline, and key basic steps comprised of subsets and steps.  This is exactly how you plan a Destination Wedding.

One of the greatest dangers in planning a wedding is trying to  ‘eat the elephant’ all in one bite.  Almost without exception, during the initial consultation call, the bride begins to spiral as she speaks.  She is suddenly speaking quickly and going in circles and jumping from point to point.    I then tell them to find a paper bag, put their head between their knees and breathe, and remind them how to eat an elephant, one bite at a time.  For this reason, I’m only going to provide steps 1 and 2 today.

All you brides who just found this blog:  You’re homework is to complete just step 1 and 2.  THEN you are allowed to pick up your fork and read steps 3, 4 and 5, which will be published in two days.

Without further ado,
I bring to you
Step one and step two

Step 1: Define Your Vision – Most destination brides will tell you that they want a “simple wedding where my friends and family can come and just have a great time”.   While that is the purpose of their vision, it isn’t really truly what their vision is.  The vision itself is crafted from the three dimensional details.  You will need to define your vision so that it can become three dimensional.

  • Determine your budget – this is the FIRST step of defining your vision, and absolutely everything else is predicated upon this.  I know it’s not romantic or sexy, but it’s true.  Guests costs money.  And unlike the weddings i’m used to in Philly, people do not bring envelopes to destination weddings.  Your guests are already paying to come to your destination of choice, so you are not going to recoup the costs like you would at a traditional wedding.  So, without worrying about the number of guests you’re inviting, you need to know how much money you have to spent.  Also, the hotel you’ll stay in, the types of tours you’ll take, the type of music that will play..everything depends on the budget.  Once you know your budget, then you can proceed to…
  • Pick A Date – from high season to low season to peak season, pricing in destinations can swing as much as 20%.  Since you know what your budget is, you can then select a date, and consider the season and costs associated with that choice
  • Figure Out Which Destination (country) – Figure out which destination YOU want.  Not your aunt, not your brothers gardener, not your mother.  YOU.  What do you and your fiance want for YOUR wedding.  Do you envision yourself standing at the foot of a water fall in the middle of the Maya mountains? Or perhaps you see yourself with your toes in the sand, and the sun on your face.  Maybe, your dream is to stand on an ancient Maya Temple.Prioritizing along the way, the choices of locations in the world quickly narrow down to a few smart choices in the world.  By balancing your budget, desires and the “VIP” guest list’s ability to travel with you, you will quickly come to a top 2 or 3 destination list.  Search the web about your choices, and read a little bit…but not too much!  Trust me on this if on nothing else: you will become VERY overwhelmed VERY quickly if you ‘over google’…and the above mentioned elephant soon becomes a mastodon.
  • Finalize Your Guest List – One of the many perks of a destination wedding is that you are significantly less obligated to invite everyone who is even remotely related to you or once met you when you were 3.  Even still, many destination brides find their invite list swelling to 100 or more.  As a general rule of thumb, in my experience, 50% of those you invite will come.  And you’ll be surprised who does, and does not, come.  For many people, now that they have a reason to take a vacation, do…next thing you know, Second Cousin Beatrice is coming with her service cat because it has always been her dream to go to Belize (or wherever).  The size of your invite count is the single largest determinant in your budget.

The last three points – Date, Destination, Guest List – form the TriFecta of your Destination Wedding Budget.  All other details and decisions are predicated on those three points, and they all work in concert.  The trick is to know how.  Which brings me to Step #2…

Step 2:  Determine the Creater – Now that you know where on the globe you want to get married, who will join you, and what you want to spend, you have to now decide “HOW”.  How is this destination wedding vision going to come to fruition? You have two, and only two, choices.

  1. On your own
  2. With Someone Else

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do go, and again, there are many variables such as size of your group.  But regardless, you will have to figure out many things about your destination in order to make an intelligent decision.  Remember, it is a whole different country, so there’s a lot to learn and know.  It’s safe to say you will spend many many many hours trying to piece your wedding together.   Making a destination wedding is a bit like creating a theatrical production -you need musicians, photography, caterers, tents, chairs, lighting, alcohol (of course!), and a limitless list of options.  With each option, and with each additional guest, you add a variable.  Each and every variable needs to be accounted for, tracked and managed in order to orchestrate a perfect production.

And you wont have a local cell phone.

The best piece of advice i can offer here is this:  If you chose to work with a destination manager like me, or a local wedding coordinator, make the conscious decision to trust that person.  In my case, I never send you a bill, and i do not charge you anything.   I receive commission from the hotels, tour operators, and transportation companies after you’ve gone, and i work with all of them in the entire country.   So, it matters not which vendors we chose, so long as they are the right vendors for you, creating the exact vision you defined and orchestrating the vacations of your guests.

The thing many destination couples often miss is not only is this your wedding, but it is also the hard earned vacation of your guests.   And absent a destination manager, every single one of their questions, desires, tour requests and needs will be directed at you.  What type of electricity? do they have cheerios in that country? are there yoga classes? will there be bugs? can i bring my pet hamster?  You’ve got enough on your plate what with getting married and all…, so i really dont understand why you’d want to own their vacations anyway.  Let me do that.

But for some, like me, all that is fun.   To those of you who prefer to go it alone: Good Luck To Ya!   I sorta thought the point of a destination wedding was to reduce the stress, not increase it.  I live here, it’s not hard for me, and since i don’t charge you anything i do have to wonder why you wouldn’t want to use my services, but hey…to each his wedding planning own 😀

Part 2 will be out in 2 days and will cover the following steps:

Step 3: Lay The Foundation  

Step 4: The Guests

Step 5: The Details

As of January 12, How To Plan A Destination Wedding Part 2 link will be live :)

 

Posted on January 9, 2013

The Lawver Family Testimonial

Lara is simply amazing as a trip organizer/planner! She helped us with every thing and booking adventures through her was simple! I wish there was more we could do for her! Lara’s recommendations were the reason for us having the best family vacation ever! The daily tours, timing of each activity and people she sent us through were nothing short of FABULOUS! For well pracitced travelers this trip was surely one of BEST thanks to LARA G from romantic travels Belize! We will be back and cant wait to once again experience the beauty that is BELIZE and AMBERGRIS CAYE!!!
THANKS LARA!!!!

Posted on January 8, 2013

December 21, 2012 – Megan and Kevin get married

Megan first contacted me waaay back when in March 2012.  She was interested in a Dec 21, 2012 wedding.  Of course, she was one of the first ones to decide to get married on that date, and Megans fashion design brain was all about the details and getting ahead of the season.  Which, when planning a wedding, is a VERY useful skillset. :)

Megan and Kevin stayed both in San Pedro and in Cayo. Having the good sense and style to choose me to work with (teehee) also meant she had the good sense and style to stay at some very chic properties. Unfortunately, she was one of the many brides whose wedding dreams had to be slightly altered due to the incredibly bad planning on the part of the Government of Belize, and we had to keep moving her wedding location from Xunantunich to Cahal Pech and back again.

megan_kevin

 

The couple eloped…which always has a soft spot in my heart.  I love for those that come alone to feel like they arent…alone.  That they are looked after and cared for.  I communicate a lot with my clients when they are here, and in Megan and Kevin’s case, they also got some New York Times lovin’ too.

Megan and Kevin first arrived in San Pedro on Dec 16 and enjoyed a beach couples massage upon arrival.
0601

Then, before they headed to the Cayo District, they enjoyed a Romantic, Private Dinner on the Dock
cayo espanto dinner

On December 21, 2012, Megan and Kevin were married. I am waiting for more photo’s, but rumor has it, they were incredibly fortunate to have Mayan Drummers and musicians present at the time of their nuptials. Will share photo’s when i have ’em!

All the best to Kevin and Megan …. i truly wish you a lifetime of love and happiness :)

Posted on January 7, 2013

Valentines Day is upon us, Think Out of the Box!

Ah….Valentines Day. The mere mention fills most single people with dread, most married people with loathing, and most guys with terror. The North American marketing machine does a wonderful job of making you feel like crap. Not to mention the expense. Whether you’ve been a not so great partner, or a really awesome other half, odds are you are also gonna spend a pretty penny on V Day. In fact, the statistics surrounding Valentines Day are astonishing.

1) 4 Million People get proposed to on Valentines Day (how’s that for pressure!)
2) $13.19 BILLION dollars is spent in the US alone for Valentines Day
3) Get this… 53% of women would end their relationship if they didnt get something for Valentines Day.

Suffice to say, there is a LOT of pressure to make Valentines Day awesome, and a lot of money and energy is spent on it.

I say HOG WASH! (and HOOEY! too!) (and for those that know me well, F*&% That!)

Seriously, what a waste! For what? Flowers that will die? Dinner that will pass, and wine that will wake us to pee. For me, I’d rather create a memory, an experience, and spend my money on something that will last. So while a trip to Belize will cost a couple hundred dollars more than a dozen roses, dinner and a show…but honestly? not by much! And besides, you get **maaad** bonus points for coming up with such a romantic, out of the box, unusual, one of a kind Valentines Day Gift that totally rocks.

For example, I went to my dear friends at Hidden Valley Inn, and asked their super awesome marketing dude, Raul, to come up with something that would save a brother in arms, on the dreaded Valentines Day. Something he would like, something she would like, and something that would really be *worth* it. I think any girl (or guy!) would be totally thrilled to receive a trip to Belize as a Valentines Day Gift. This gift would be $1400 usd…cheaper than a diamond bracelet, actually :)

Champagne

Chocolate, Champagne and Flowers

  • 3 Nights luxury accommodation in our Estate Room, and free upgrade to an Estate Suite if available upon check in
  • Complimentary Hand Massage on Arrival
  • Flowers, Chocolate and French Champagne inside room on arrival (WOW)
  • Daily full breakfast breakfast
  • Nightly four-course a la carte dinners at Hidden Valley Inn’s spectacular restaurant
  • Complimentary use of our mountain bikes (on property)
  • Access to our 7200 acre private reserve and trails.
  • All Taxes & Service Charge where applicable

Xanadu Island Resort (13)

We would love to send you a special Valentines Day Presentation Gift for you to hand to your beloved on Valentines Day if you cant actually travel by then. Email me for more information, lara@romantictravelbelize.com or of course, call my US phone 215-469-2496 that rings here in Belize.

Of course, there are a ton of little things we can do down here for you, and other properties too. Over the coming weeks, expect to see my list of romantic things to do in belize, and juicy insider tips for la amor!

Private-Pier-Dining-@-Porto

25

Posted on January 4, 2013

Marsha and Elton – Dec 12, 2012 Wedding

Lara is awesome to work with and she has a great sense of humor! She has a really good level of knowledge when it comes to travelling in Belize and is more than happy to share travel tips! She made many behind the scenes arrangements for us. We didn’t have to worry about any of the details except to show up at the right time! She even planned a couple of surprises for us – a beautiful lunch on the patio of our cabana, and an even better very special wedding dinner outside by candlelight on a small Mayan ruin! We had an amazing wedding and holiday, all thanks to Lara!

photo

Posted on January 2, 2013

Lona and Kyle – An Intimate Wedding on Dec 21, 2012 (that happened to be in the new york times :) )

The Lovely Dr. Lona Cook contacted me in early September to have a small wedding, perhaps on 12/12/12. Fast forward a few months, the wedding list had swelled to a lovely 12 guests, and the date had changed to 12/21/12. Dr Cook and her fiance Kyle Klocke were an incredibly charming couple to work with, from beginning to end, and they were the type of couple that you hope for when in my business.

Ultimately, they were married on the temples steps of my favorite Maya site, Cahal Pech on December 21, 2012.

The real fun came when, out of nowhere The New York Times chose to interview them for their article, “It’s the End of the World and I Feel Fine”.

The couple were sooooooooo chill and laid back, they didnt even have a photographer. They did send me this picture though :) arent they cute?

lona

Instead of stuffing or formal wedding reception, this cool couple just joined in the December 21 feast that was prepared and available at their hotel. This was the perfect way for them to feel “part of something bigger” … as if being featured in the New York Times was big enough! 😀

Anyway, Kyle and Lona, love ya guys! Happy 2013 and beyond…

<3

Posted on December 30, 2012

New York Times Style/Weddings Features Romantic Travel Belize Dec 23, 2012

NYT Logo

New York Times
FIELD NOTES
It’s the End of the World and I Feel Fine
By MARGAUX LASKEY
Published: December 21, 2012

SOME choose to marry on a numerically auspicious date (12/12/2012; 11/11/2011 to name two). Others are more focused on the proximity of the sun — as in “will I be warm, but not too warm in my expensive wedding gown?” Still others find that to wed on doomsday is a perfectly romantic notion.

Doomsday? There were numerous articles about the 5,125-year-old Mayan calendar, the last day of which was Friday, Dec. 21. To some, this date also meant the end of time. Period.

People the world over were stocking up on supplies in preparation for a potential apocalypse, and in the case of a man in China, a version of Noah’s Ark was being built.

Lona Cook, a chiropractor, and Kyle Klocke, an electrician, both from Minneapolis, instead chose to play out their own happily-ever-after scenario that day with a wedding attended by 12 guests at Cahal Pech, a Mayan ruin near San Ignacio, Belize.

Ms. Cook and Mr. Klocke are neither thumbing their noses at the end-of-the-world gang, nor embracing them. In fact, they didn’t specifically set out to get married on Dec. 21, but the couple, who wanted a short engagement and a destination wedding, came across on the Web, Romantic Travel Belize, a planning service specializing in weddings. Ms. Cook, who has long been fascinated with Mayan culture, loved that the planning service organizes ceremonies at ruins of ancient Mayan temples. The significance of the date was an added bonus.

It makes for an excellent movie plot — two lovers binding themselves together for all eternity as a meteor hurls toward the earth. Viva Las Vegas Weddings, a wedding chapel in Nevada, was offering “Armageddon wedding packages” on Friday geared to those couples who wanted to poke fun at the doomsday myth while simultaneously tying the knot. Brian Mills, the chapel’s general manager, said they had at least 25 weddings booked, four of them also adding zombie themes.

He said the reasons people choose to wed on dates with alternating sets of numbers like 12/21 or repetitive ones like 7/7/2007 vary, but for many people, it boils down to something quite banal: “It’s easy to remember,” he said.

For those who were convinced there was no tomorrow, choosing a recognizable anniversary date might have seemed a futile effort. Lara Goldman, owner of Romantic Travel Belize, contends that doomsday is a primarily Western construct reinforced by Hollywood and Internet conspiracy theorists. Those who married this weekend, she said, saw Dec. 21 as a beginning not as an end, just as she thinks the ancient Mayans would.

Another couple who were drawn to this “end of days” event at Cahal Pech (which is said to translate unromantically as the “Place of the Ticks”) were Megan Sauer, a fashion designer, and Kevin Humphreys, who works in computational linguistics. The couple, from Redmond, Wash., described themselves as “spiritual, though not religious.”

“We love the symbolism of Dec. 21 being a new beginning of the Mayan calendar, connected to the solstice and celestial alignments, and thought it would be a perfect day to mark our new life together,” Mr. Humphreys wrote in an e-mail.

For Ms. Sauer’s part, she admitted in an e-mail before the couple’s wedding to a tiny bit of just-in-case doomsday superstition.

“I can’t help but be drawn to the date, partially due to the hype around the end of the world (I am a ‘Coast To Coast AM Radio’ fan after all),” Ms. Sauer said in an e-mail. “And of course I wouldn’t want to share the end of the world with anyone else.”

A version of this article appeared in print on December 23, 2012, on page ST15 of the New York edition with the headline: It’s the End of the World And I Feel Fine.

Posted on December 25, 2012

Best Marriage Advice EVER – part deaux

Last week as the Mayan Calendar refreshed itself and started again, I posted what i thought was the Best Marriage Advice EVER. It was a blog by a guy named Dan Pearce, www.danoah.com, who of course is now a relationship god…in my mind :) The advice came in the form of a list of “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage” and then offered “Do Over” options that even “Boy Brain” can understand. Pure Relationship Genius.

So, today, on Christmas Eve, I share the rest. Consider it my little gift to you 😀

17. DON’T STOP BRINGING HER FLOWERS.
When I was wooing her, I made it a point to show up with flowers. And not just for special occasions. I’d have them delivered. I’d drop some at her door and run. I’d have them if I was just showing up for a movie on her couch. I brought her flowers from day one to day married. And then after we said I do, I stopped. Flowers became an unnecessary expense and were only worth splurging on for really special occasions like anniversaries or Valentine’s day. And sadly not always on those days, either.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I might get her flowers on those special occasions, but I’d make it a point to get her flowers often enough that she never wondered what I’d done wrong when I did. I’d understand that the most meaningful flowers were the ones given with no reason but to give them.

BONUS! it’s hard to hold grudges for the other stupid things you do when there are fresh flowers reminding her that you’re a good guy most of the time.

18. DON’T WORK SO MUCH THAT YOU DON’T WANT SEX.
This may be a little too much information, but when I was married, I would sometimes be so in need of sex, yet I would work so hard and so late into the night that even when sex was an option, I would turn it down in favor of crashing and decompressing. This of course would make her feel rejected because she knew that I wanted it, but couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want it from her.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d set a bed time for myself and wake up earlier to get my work done if needed. I’d remind myself that no amount of money is ever enough when you’re a workaholic. And I’d not give up the boonda boonda with my wife to make a few extra unneeded bucks.

BONUS! you don’t have to go to the gym as often because the gym comes to your bedroom.

19. DON’T PUT HER DOWN TO OTHERS.
It always seemed that the more bla our marriage got, the more I would (usually jokingly) put her down to others. What’s worse is that I’d do it while she was standing there as much as I would when she wasn’t. I made sure that she knew that her faults and her weaknesses were never going to be secret and then if she’d get mad about it, I’d throw it back on her and tell her she needed to develop a sense of humor.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d realize that there’s nothing motivating about being put down. Building people up can still be done in awesomely joking ways.

BONUS! she probably wants a good guy as part of her foundation. Building her up makes sure that her foundation is with you and not Billy Bob over there.

20. DON’T BE PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE WITH HER.
Always claiming I was the saint, I would refuse to talk about what was bothering me, I’d refuse to discuss when things hurt me, and I’d refuse to admit that anything was wrong. Instead, I’d be passive aggressive about things. I’d pretend to take the high road. “It’s not worth the contention to me, just have it your way,” I’d blurt out. Let’s not kid ourselves. I said that to make her feel like a bully and to push her into giving me my way. It rarely worked. All it ever did was make her feel worse about herself and about me, and neither one of us would get what we needed.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d Keep Reading the rest of “The Other 15 Ways I Blew My Marriage”

Posted on December 24, 2012

The Best Marriage Advice – Ever

I was on facebook, Romantic Travel Belize Facebook Page and i saw a link entitled “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage”. I clicked on it, and i read it. It’s the Holy Grail of Marriage Advice, from someone who f’d it up….twice.

So I got to thinking that with the Mayan Calendar starting fresh tomorrow, perhaps we should all take a moment to reflect on how we treat each other, and if you do any of this dumb stuff….it’s a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, and optimism for the future. Keep on, keepin’ on.

BOOM. The Best Marriage Advice Ever

16 Ways I Blew My Marriage
By: Dan Pearce
http://www.danoah.com/2012/10/16-ways-i-blew-my-marriage.html

1. DON’T STOP HOLDING HER HAND
When I first dated the woman I ended up marrying, I always held her hand. In the car. While walking. At meals. At movies. It didn’t matter where. Over time, I stopped. I made up excuses like my hand was too hot or it made me sweat or I wasn’t comfortable with it in public. Truth was, I stopped holding hands because I stopped wanting to put in the effort to be close to my wife. No other reason.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d hold her hand in the car. I’d hold her hand on a star. I’d hold her hand in a box. I’d hold her hand with a fox. And I’d hold her hand everywhere else, too, even when we didn’t particularly like each other for the moment.

BONUS! When you hold hands in the winter, they don’t get cold. True story.

2. DON’T STOP TRYING TO BE ATTRACTIVE.
Obviously when I was working to woo her, I would do myself up as attractively as I possibly could every time I saw her. I kept perfectly groomed. I always smelled good. I held in my farts until she wasn’t around. For some reason, marriage made me feel like I could stop doing all that. I would get all properly groomed, smelling good, and dressed up any time we went out somewhere or I went out by myself, but I rarely, if ever, cared about making myself attractive just for her.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d try and put my best foot forward throughout our entire marriage. I’d wait to fart until I was in the bathroom whenever possible. I’d make myself desirable so that she would desire me.

BONUS! when you trim your man hair, guess what. She returns the favor.

3. DON’T ALWAYS POINT OUT HER WEAKNESSES.
For some reason, somewhere along the way, I always ended up feeling like it was my place to tell her where she was weak and where she could do better. I sure as heck didn’t do that while we were dating. No, when I dated her I only built her up, only told her how amazing she was, and easily looked past all of her flaws. After we got married though, she sometimes couldn’t even cook eggs without me telling her how she might be able to improve.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I wouldn’t say a damned thing about anything that I thought could use improvement. I’ve learned since my marriage ended that there is more than one right way to do most things, and that the imperfections of others are too beautiful to try and change.

BONUS! when you tell her what she’s doing right, she’ll tell you what you’re doing right. And she’ll also tell her friends. And her family. And the dentist. And even strangers on the street.

4. DON’T STOP COOKING FOR HER.
I knew how to woo a girl, for sure. And the ticket was usually a night in, cooking a nice meal and having a romantic evening. So why is it then, that I didn’t do that for her after we got married? Sure, I’d throw some canned soup in the microwave or fry up some chimichangas once in a while, but I rarely if ever went out of my way to sweep her off her feet after we were married by steaming crab legs, or making fancy pasta, or setting up a candlelit table.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d make it a priority to cook for her, and only her, something awesome at least every month. And I’d remember that meat in a can is never awesome.

BONUS! candlelit dinners often lead to candlelit bow chica bow-wow.

5. DON’T YELL AT YOUR SPOUSE.
I’m not talking about the angry kind of yelling. I’m talking about the lazy kind of yelling. The kind of yelling you do when you don’t want to get up from your television show or you don’t want to go ALL THE WAY UPSTAIRS to ask her if she’s seen your keys. It really doesn’t take that much effort to go find her, and yelling (by nature) sounds demanding and authoritative.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d try to go find her anytime I needed something or wanted to know something, and I’d have both gratitude and manners when I did. I always hated when she would yell to me, so why did I always feel it was okay to yell to her?

BONUS! sometimes you catch her doing something cute that you would have missed otherwise.

6. DON’T CALL NAMES.
I always felt I was the king of not calling names, but I wasn’t. I may not have called her stupid, or idiot, or any of the other names she’d sometimes call me, but I would tell her she was stubborn, or that she was impossible, or that she was so hard to deal with. Names are names, and calling them will drive bigger wedges in communication than just about anything else.

IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: Any time it got to the point that I wanted to call names, I’d Read The Rest of “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage”

Posted on December 21, 2012

Jose and Reyna – 12/12/12 Wedding of MY dreams!

As everyone who knows me knows, 12/12/12 has been an obsession of mine for a year and half. And on 12/12/12 a wedding took place that has surpassed my dreams. No, it wasnt the Maya Marriage of Many, but it had just as much going on!

On September 23, 2012 I received and inquiry from a very adorable bride named Reyna. And she wanted a small wedding on 12/12/12 with just her and her fiance Jose. Since 12/12/12 was only 10 weeks away and a very popular date, we had to get moving. Long story short, they wound up with a lovely group of 14 or so for their wedding at Cahal Pech Ruins. Their wedding I organized through Keli at I Do Belize Weddings was lovely and to be photographed.

Of course, this is one of the couples whose wedding had to be moved due to issues at NICH, so they didnt get their first choice of Xunantunich. This, sadly, plagued the couple, and they’d never be able to get past the remorse of not having those photos. I completely understood, but the problem was it was 630 PM on Dec 11. Their wedding began in 14 hours.

Photo: MG Photography, Belize

As good fortune would have it, Monica Gallardo was available. Then, before we knew it, Jose and Reyna not only got their pictures taken at Xunantunich after their original ceremony at Cahal Pech, they then went on to a Butterfly Farm and on Horseback! I cannot wait to see these images.

What i love the most, at the last minute, spinning on a dime….Team Belize can make your wedding dreams literally, come true.

Much love to you Jose and Reyna!!

Posted on December 19, 2012

Belize's Only Online Wedding and Gift Registry

Destination Brides get jipped. They get jipped of the chance to build a Registry. It’s not of gowns and veils of which most girls dream…its the chance to run around a store with a little wand and say “POOF I WANT THIS” and magically it appears on your own personal wish list…that will be completed by people who truly want to make your wishes come true.

A destination bride, alas, cant do that. And she should be able to wish and dream and SHOP. It’s an inalienable right…or at least it should be. well, at least i think it should be.

So, i created the Romantic Travel Belize Online Wedding and Gift Registry. Any bride of mine will shop, i say! And shop she shall…with her dreams and imagination.

Buy the couple a water fall for only $150 usd


Let’s say the bride would like a private water fall for the day, we add it to the registry.

Wanna “High Five” a Black Jaguar or how about a Jaguar licks your head? Register for this special add on at The Belize Zoo, and it’s only $50 usd

Personal Encounter with a Jaguar? Register for this incredible $50 usd experience

Maybe you’d like to register for something less exotic, but a nice treat like hair and make up on your wedding day.

Or you could make a donation to the local SAGA Humane Society via your wedding gift registry.

Whatever it is, from flights, to tours, hotel rooms to massages, why not put it on a registry? Your friends and family will love that they can be “present” :)

Click HERE to find the Bridal Registry Page

Posted on December 17, 2012

Miss Belize and the Belize Zoo – Beauty and Belize

About 10 days ago, i received a call from my dear friend and colleague, Lisa Light of Destinationbride.com. She and her stunning model daughter were coming to Belize after she completed a destination wedding she was doing in Playa Del Carmen. Lisa and I had been working on the Mayan Marriage of Many and have become friends. We decided we’d have a spot of fun with her daughter in a Cotton Bride Wedding Gown, and take pictures at Cahal Pech Maya site, and then come back to San Pedro hang at mi casa, and go snorkeling.

So much for best laid plans. Out of nowhere, the indescribably awesome Jacklyn Greenberg of JagStudios.net. Jacklyn has shot weddings that have made the cover of Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine, Grace Ormond, and dozens of others. Simply put, when it comes to wedding photography, Jacklyn is the Bomb Diggity in New England. She and Lisa were friends and colleagues, so we all decided we were going to pool our talents.

Miss Belize was available and via my contact with the Next Miss Belize Organization, we were able to book her for the 2 day shooting schedule. I’ll blog more about all that another day, but today it’s about the Zoo.

Sharon Matola is truly one of the Top 3 women I admire. What she has done there is absolutely astonishing. She was very gracious about sharing her beloved zoo with us, and i was able to snap some pictures. I cant give any more away, but i did want to share my favorite pictures with you.

If you would like to donate to the zoo, click here to find more information

A new little Bambi born in the Zoo

Junior Buddy is very tired…but about to get up and perform. Happy Kitty

STTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEretch!

Lucky Boy is the now famous rescue black jaguar at the Zoo. The story can be followed on The Belize Zoo’s facebook page. Lucky Boy was left at an abandoned resort, and was just about dead. There was another jaguar at the place, but that one was already dead. Fortunately for Lucky Boy, Sharon Matola and her incredible team got there to save him. He acts exactly as my Luna the Wonder Puppy acts, and just like every other rescue animal – Just sooo happy to be loved.

Feb 12, 2013 UPDATE – The Toronto Sun just did an awesome article on the Zoo.  Check it out, but call me to book! Cool Cats of Belize

I didnt get as many great pics of Lucky Boy, but mostly because i was so busy being “present”. He is astonishing. Truly astonishing. And truly, a Very Lucky Boy

Harpy Eagle coming to get me…

E A G L E S- EAGLES! Screaming, ticked off at Lara Eagle, Harpy Eagle, that is

Posted on December 14, 2012

Christmas in Belize

There are lots and lots and lots of things to do in Belize over christmas. Of course, you’ve read about my love of the Lighted Boat Parade, (see pics here) but there’s also a simplier “thing to do”. Rent a golf cart, and go for a ride. Looking at the lights on houses is something that everyone everywhere loves to do…and belize is no different.

Here are some pics i took 2 years ago. I’m going to try really hard to get out to get new ones this year…

Posted on December 12, 2012

The Many Layers of the Mayan Calendar – and what it all means

The following was liberated from Joshua Bermans (author) Facebook page, and it seems he liberated it from Sean Caulfield.com
Good stuff! Keep Reading

Mayan Calendar…with rings :) what can i say – i’m in the biz!

Day Keeping particulars and translation for December 2012 – The Mayan calendar has many layers of understanding that can be seen in the different cycles and combinations within the 260 and 360 Day calendars.

Chinese Year of the Water Dragon and The Mayan calendar – December 2012
By Sean Caulfield – www.seancaulfield.com

On 6th December we go through the midpoint of 18 days of Akbal/Night – recreation of unity and dampened worldly ambition, the intention is seen in the number 10, which is “challenge” that brings manifestation. Akbal is Darkness before Light, the obsidian mirror of Prophecy. The end of old and beginning of new. A good day to make a fire as the Sun rises and ask for renewal and resurrection here on the face of the Earth. On 15th Dec Akbal fully comes through and what may have been held back until now will manifest.

2012 is the Chinese Year Of The Water Dragon. According to the Chinese Zodiac calendar on 22nd January 2012 the Year of the Rabbit ended, giving way for the Year of the Water Dragon which runs from 23rd January 2012 to 9th February 2013. A link to Chinese astrological predictions for 2012. http://www2.chineseastrologer.org/2012_year_of_the_water_dragon.php

The underlying bigger cycles of the Mayan calendar are at the effect of Alligator, Jaguar and Wind. My reference for this comes from a continuation and the new beginning of all the cycles of the 9 levels of the Mayan calendar. Life continues to manifest by an ever evolving purpose seen in evolutions growth and maturity of life through Creations Sacred 13 intention and 20 aspects that weave to form the sacred 260 day Tzolkin of the Maya peoples. Within this 260 day count, on the 5th of December 2012 we start a new 13 day Trecena of Kan/Lizard. You can go to the latest at Mayan Majix for more insight. http://www.mayanmajix.com/1mma_12_5_12.html. Kan/Lizard is a “day to ask for abundance… to unravel problems, to eliminate bad energy and influences, to loosen the ties that bind us to vices, and to fix emotional or romantic problems.” Carlos Barrios.

The 9 levels of the Mayan calendar started 16.4 Billion years ago. Link to the structure.
http://www.seancaulfield.com/Member/RockArtGallery/Images/ImageGallery/20120712055346690.pdf. Link from Dr. Calleman of how he sees the Mayan calendar’s cycle continuing. http://www.calleman.com/img/graph2012.pdf

The completion and build up to the top of the 9 levels has seen radical changes to the world. Our human consciousness is now able to fully see itself for what it is, without the filters that where in place before we reached the top of the Mayan calendar. We have potentially arrived at a connection with our zero point and new beginnings. Hence, all the cycles continue with a new understanding of purpose from the 29th October 2011. This new beginning reconnect us with the original dream of unity and the fact that we are one with the Divine Infinite Source of all the Universe. The original dream of unity could never fully manifest before the completion of the Mayan calendar. The reason for this is because the Mayan calendar’s 9 levels had not fully evolved through to the sacred completion number of 13. We have now been given the tools to fully manifest unity consciousness through 13. However because of the evident chaos in the collective unconscious and our heavily weighing unresolved “stuff”, it is going to take time for things to fully shift to a balanced equality. There is no quick fix solution, yet through patience and endurance we will prosper, through truth of heart we will attract long lasting peace and happiness.

The continuing underlying bigger cycles that start again are all about new beginnings holding the primordial energies of Imix which is known as the Alligator/Dragon.

Water Lilies and Mangroves – just what the mayans ordered

Imix is Wetness, Earth Monster, Water Lily, Crocodile. Spiny One or Caiman. She is the First Mother, her place is where Sky and Earth meet the Ocean in the salty waters of the mangrove and water lily covered estuaries. Imix is a day so ancient it precedes the cultivation of maize, a world in which humans lived off the abundance of the Earth Mother through hunting and gathering all they needed for sustenance, shelter and sacrifice. A day of the Source of life, Mother Energy, Primal Waters, Blood, Nurture and sustenance. A time to clean oneself of negative chargers that have built up within us.

On the 22nd October 2012 we completed a 360 day Tun cycle of 1- Imix/Alligator/Dragon, the initiating of the new phenomena comes to the surface. We entered the new 360 day cycle of 2-Ik/Wind on the 23rd of October, a reaction that will allow for the new phenomena to be disseminated and communicated. This cycle will take us through to October 2013. Ik/Wind is the breath of life, the North Wind, the ripening and harvesting wind of the maize fields as well as the “Lords of Dust”. The spirit or vital energy that moves this world towards change. A good time to ask for our negativity, suffering and sorrows to be taken away and a day to ask that we may grow spiritually and that our path be cleared before us.

The 234 day cycles of 13×18 days is a large Trecena cycle on the Galactic plane that aligns to the 8th level of the Mayan calendar. On 19th June 2012 we started a large 234 day cycle of 1-Jaguar, a connection to the deep subconscious. This cycle completes on 6th February 2013 and the following 234 day cycle starts with 1-Deer which will initiate a time of bringing spiritual strength in nature. The Jaguar cycle that we are riding now brings a connection to the core of the Earth. Jaguar is the Lord of the night and Underworld. Jaguar is the warring sorcerer in the shaman’s field of battle for human hearts and souls. The Jaguar’s mirror-like golden eyes reflect the power of the sun who lets loose its “Nawales” across the Mountain-Plain as night falls on the face of the Earth. Within this Jaguar cycle, we are in the tenth 18 day cycle of 10-Akbal/Night. So on 6 December 2012 we reach the midpoint of 18 days of 10-Akbal/Night, the number 10 is all about the challenges that manifest and Akbal/Night is the recreation of unity and dampened worldly ambition.

On 16 December we start a new 18 days cycle of 11-Kan/Lizard/Seed, brings clarity and resolve for a time when sustenance naturally manifest and patience is rewarded. Kan/Lizard/Seed is the day of the “carrying net” into which the maize is harvested and brought down off the mountain. This is a day to give back with thanks. South is her direction and abundance is her destiny…….

On the 21st Dec 2012 it is 4-Ahau and we arrive at the summer/winter solstice and the Galactic astrological alignment of the 26000 years processional cycle. 4-Ahau is the 160th day of the 260 day Tzolkin and this day brings consciousness closest to the ration of the golden mean of 1.618 on the Tzolkin. The following day is 5-Imix and the start of the 9th Uinal of 20 days which “creates forward movement” in the process of the growth from seed to mature fruit. This sacred forward movement of Creation’s Divine Will is Quetzalcoatl or Christ consciousness energy. The message is that we are all Divine Universal Beings of Creation and nobody can take away our individuality.

We are one in Diversity. Everything is sacred because it is not separate. You are everything you see. What you do to life you are doing to yourself, so treat life how you want to be treated. Now is the time to become conscious and live with feeling. Your feelings come from the blood that circulates through your ancient heart and this connects you to all life, because the ancient heart is where all life has evolved from.

Here is the Day Keeping particulars for December 2012

The Universal 18th Night(9×9) = 18 days of applying the new consciousness
Start of 18 days of 10-Akbal/Night, challenges the recreation of unity and dampened worldly ambition

1- 7- Earth(Caban/Noj) 28th November 2012, East, Movement & Compassion

2- 8- Flint(Edznab/Tijax) 29th November 2012, North, Reflection & Strength

3- 9- Rainstorm(Cauac/Kawoq) 30th November 2012, West, Cleansing & Giving

4- 10- Light(Ahau/Jun-Ajpub) 1st December 2012, South, Patience & Expansion

Start of 8th Uinal of 20 day
Tlaloc – God of rain – 8=Harmonizes – Eagle
20 days of 20 Aspects to Creation starts 2nd December 2012

5- 11- Alligator(Imix/Imox) 2nd December 2012, East, Water & Rejuvenate

6- 12- Wind(Ik/Iq) 3rd December 2012, North, Communicate & Change

7- 13- Night(Akbal/Aqabal) 4th December 2012, West, Renewal & Resurrection

Start of a new 13 day Trecena
Start of 13 days of appreciation of the growth accomplished

8- 1- Lizard(Kan/Kat) 5th December 2012, South, Harvest & Gifts

9- 2- Serpent(Chicchan/Kaan) 6th December 2012, East, Equilibrium & Peace

Midpoint of 18 days

1- 3- Death(Cimi/Kame) 7th December 2012, North, Transformation & Rebirth

2- 4- Deer(Manik/Kiej) 8th December 2012, West, Nature & Spiritual

3- 5- Rabbit(Lamat/Qaniel) 9th December 2012, South, Abundance & Appreciate

4- 6- Water(Muluc/Toj) 10th December 2012, East, Gratitude & Offering

5- 7- Dog(Oc/Tzi) 11th December 2012, North, Guiding & Devotion

6- 8- Monkey(Chuen/Baatz) 12th December 2012, West, Memory & Creativity

7- 9- Road(Eb/Ee) 13th December 2012, South, Awareness & Protect

8- 10- Reed(Ben/Aaj) 14th December 2012, East, Growth & Sustenance

9- 11- Jaguar(Ix/Ix-Balam) 15th December 2012, North, Nurture & Guardian

The Universal 19th Day(9×9) = 18 Days of an opening to consciousness
Start of 18 days of 11-Kan/Lizard, creates clarity for a time when sustenance naturally manifest and patience is rewarded

1- 12- Eagle(Men/Tzolkin) 16th December 2012, West, Vision & Confident

2- 13- Owl/Vulture(Cib/Ajmaq) 17th Dec 2012, South, Wisdom & Receptiveness

Start of a new 13 day Trecena
Start of 13 days of innovative intellectual impulses

3- 1- Earth(Caban/Noj) 18th December 2012, East, Movement & Compassion

4- 2- Flint(Edznab/Tijax) 19th December 2012, North, Reflection & Strength

5- 3- Rainstorm(Cauac/Kawoq) 20th December 2012, West, Cleansing & Giving

6- 4- Light(Ahau/Jun-Ajpub) 21st December 2012, South, Patience & Expansion

Start of 9th Uinal of 20 day
Quetzalcoatl – God of light – 9=Creates forward movement – Turkey
20 days of 20 Aspects to Creation starts 22nd December 2012

8- 5- Alligator(Imix/Imox) 22nd December 2012, East, Water & Rejuvenate

9- 6- Wind(Ik/Iq) 23rd December 2012, North, Communicate & Change

Midpoint of 18 days

1- 7- Night(Akbal/Aqabal) 24th December 2012, West, Renewal & Resurrection

2- 8- Lizard(Kan/Kat) 25th December 2012, South, Harvest & Gifts

3- 9- Serpent(Chicchan/Kaan) 26h December 2012, East, Equilibrium & Peace

4- 10- Death(Cimi/Kame) 27th December 2012, North, Transformation & Rebirth

5- 11- Deer(Manik/Kiej) 28th December 2012, West, Nature & Spiritual

6- 12- Rabbit(Lamat/Qaniel) 29th December 2012, South, Abundance & Appreciate

7- 13- Water(Muluc/Toj) 30th December 2012, East, Gratitude & Offering

Start of a new 13 day Trecena
Start of 13 days of single minded action and devotion to the highest ideal

8- 1- Dog(Oc/Tzi) 31st December 2012, North, Guiding & Devotion

Happy New Year…

9- 2- Monkey(Chuen/Baatz) 1st January 2013, West, Memory & Creativity

The Universal 19th Night(9×9) = 18 days of applying the new consciousness
Start of 18 days of 12-Chicchan /Serpent, creates understanding for vital energy, instinct and desire for creativity

In my understanding nothing could fully mature to its truth of 13 intentions until the completion of the 9 levels of the Mayan calendar on 28th October 2011. Before this date there were big manipulations. It is now the time of the Great Revealing.

On the Mayan calendar the numbers 1 to 13 are sacred universal waves that emanate as Divine intentions aligned to the evolution and growth of life from seed to mature fruit. Starting with 1 = initiate, 2 = reaction, 3 = activate, 4 = stability, 5 = empower, 6 = flow, 7 = reveal, 8 harmonize, 9 = forward movement, 10 = challenge, 11 = clarity, 12 = understanding, 13 = complete. Humans complete there cycle to becoming and elder after roughly 52 years, this equates to 4 cycles of 1 to 13, 360 day cycles. Thus we become a teenager at roughly 13 years of age.

Within sacred light… Sean www.seancaulfield.com…

Posted on December 10, 2012

Last Minute Hotel and Condo Sale in San Pedro, Belize – GREAT Christmas Gift!

Straight up – I am a busy little bee this December, as are every other business in Belize. This is OUR TIME! December 2012 is here! FINALLY!! woo hoo!

So, if you want to book one of these deals, you need to know your dates, check the price of the flight to get here, and call me ASAP.

ok, first, we have Hidden Valley Inn. Book through me, make this your Private Waterfall at a special rate 😉

Rent This Waterfall – email to find out how :)

Then, I received the following email from my colleague. I love the property a LOT, and this is a great chance to get a great condo for Christmas!

I have a new condo joining the rental pool just in time for the Holidays.
Ground floor, beachfront 2-bedroom / 2-bath, gorgeous furniture, 1 King and 1 Queen bed sleeps up to 4.
$325/night Christmas and New Years week then down to $275/night starting January 7th

Your View this Christmas

A few minutes later, i received the following email from someone else! now, this property i’ve never been to, but it’s a pretty good deal no matter how you slice it for over the holidays. The rates do not include 20% service charge and 9% tax

We still have one 2 bd rm. condo left with beach view for only $200/ nt.
Dec . 20-jan 10th.

Actually I have (2) 2 bedroom
Beachfront 2 bedrm $250/ nt
Dec 14-24

So, hit me up and i’ll hook ya up!
Happy Ho Ho from Me!
Lara

Posted on December 7, 2012

Elaine and Shaun Testimonial

We had the BEST time, ever! Seriously, it was the most relaxing, fun time we have had in a while, and much needed. You were a huge help, I really don’t understand how a bride and groom are able to plan a huge wedding AND have to worry about taking care of the honeymoon details. Once we fell in love with Belize, it was a no-brainer to utilize your services. Why go to a major travel agency who needs to rely on outside sources, when I can get hands-on encounters and experiences from someone who lives it daily? You really looked out for our best interest; We didn’t feel like just another customer, we felt like your ONLY customer even though you work with multiple couples at a time. You did not steer us wrong, and always had our best interest at heart. Now THAT is customer service. We cannot thank you anymore than we already have, and will always be grateful for your help during one of the greatest moments in our lives.

Posted on December 4, 2012

The Holidays are officially Here! My Tree and The Lighted Boat Parade

It’s official. Well, to me it finally is. Last night my friend and i put up a “holiday tree”. I’ve been focused on December 2012 for nearly 2 full years…obsessed some would say…and it’s finally here! And i almost missed Christmas time…It’s hard to remember it’s the holidays when you are down here. It’s not really cold, you dont have decorations on every immobile object, and well, it just doesnt “feel” like Christmas time. At least i didnt…until we put up the tree 😀

Happy Tree

because you can never have enough happy tree…

I bought this tree at Super Buy south for $31.50 bzd ($15.75 usd). Pretty much the girliest tree ever. I wanted the so-tacky-it’s-awesome pink tree, but they were out. This is one happy, girly, tree!

The Lighted Boat Parade – Saturday December 8, 2012 Central Park, around sunset or so 😉

For me, the thing that indicates that the Holidays Are Here on La Isla Bonita is the Annual Lighted Boat Parade. This super cool event was originally masterminded by the chief do-gooding master mind of them all, Jan Brown. This is the 6th year for this event, and i remember the first one VERY vividly. It was AWESOME. To see those boats all lit up going up and down the shoreline, it was just about one of the prettiest things i’ve ever seen. I wish i had pictures to share, but it’s really hard to take those shots!

This year, the San Pedro Business Association is supporting the event full steam, and the efforts are headed by the incomparable Rebecca Arceo and there are more boats, more prizes, more booths, even more more more for the block party! CANNOT WAIT! Oh, and yours truly is in charge of the judges… (this means making sure their cocktails are full, among other important duties :) )

The friends of the furry, SAGA Humane Society is absolutely in the know – they have SANTA himself coming to take pictures! Yip, SANTA is coming…and he’s brought a camera this year! Santa’s elves are very handy, and they have a really great photo printer that will print you 4×6 print of visit with Santa. For a small donation, of course :)

Finally, i am very excited to share that we are working on a newsletter. Well, we’ve worked on it for a while, but our weekly reports will be emailed out weekly, so feel free to let me know you want to sign up! And once i get fancy schmany, i’ll be able to figure out how to put a link here so you can just do it that way, but for now…i’m still a techno dork with a really shiny tree :)

Let the holiday fun begin!
Hugs
Lara

Posted on

5 Star Luxury 30% off for Cyber Monday

SPECIAL FOR Romantic Travel Belize clients 😉 Deal ends on Monday, but if you book with Romantic Travel Belize, you have until Tuesday. Sssshhh….it’s our secret 😉

This weekend only, book an 8-night Luxury Vacation stay in Belize and get an incredible 30% OFF!

Package for 2 includes:

• 4 nights in a 1-Bedroom Private Pool Villa at Ka’ana Resort (Includes Daily Full Breakfast and 1 Private Mixology Class)

• 4 nights in a Sea Villa at El Secreto Resort (Includes Daily Continental Breakfast and 1 Ikal Hot Seashell Couple’s Massage)

• 1 Private, Guided, full-day Cave Tubing & Zip Lining Tour with Chukka Belize

• Local Flights with Tropic Air Limited

• Road/boat transfers to and from Tropic Air airstrips and Resorts

** plus a special gift from Romantic Travel Belize (me to you <3 )

Value: US$8,182.00
You Pay: US$5,695.00
You Save: US$2,487.00 (30%!!)

Book Now! Offer Ends Monday, November 26th, 2012
Travel Window: April 1st, 2013- October 31st, 2013

Posted on November 26, 2012

Bathroom Remodel – A Girl's Tale

DISCLAIMER – this blog has nothing to do with anything remotely bridal, but it does have to do with everything girly…and guy-y. It also has everything to do with Belize.

I have lived in my little house for nearly 7 years. When i bought it through Tim and Tina at Invest In Belize Real Estate, the second i walked through the door, i looked at Tina, and said “yes”. When i bought it, there were some things that needed-doin’. A honey-do list of sorts. But overall, the house was in great shape.

Since then, the only thing i’ve done is paint. Well that, and years ago i added a fence and deck. The process of which was so exhausting I havent dared another project of any sort since that time. I did install a ceiling fan once, and in direct contrast to the explicit warning from Tim, I did not turn off the switch. Fortunately for me, i was on a wooden ladder. I have tried to be “handy” in this house, and I am simply Not.

The List is very long. And very major for me (need a new roof, tiles have popped on most of floor). So, i decided to start in a room that would make me happy. I’ve never had a “nice” bathroom. I want a “nice” bathroom. Dammit!

Current Vanity and mirror. This wall is about 9 feet long. Please note the lack of “cold water” handle…and ergo, therefore, henceforth, thereunto – No cold water in sink. arg.

This is my bathroom now. Very functional, but not “nice”. Well, not actually functional either as the sink is broken and i only have hot water. Which, of course comes out scalding when not mixed with cold. BUT, i have it timed….if done properly, i can brush my teeth and wash my face before the hot water comes on full blast.

The shower/toilet wall. toilet mostly works, but sometimes not. Shower is fine, but its dark, and the tiles are starting to need regrouting

There are several towel bars in the bathroom, this one i use to keep my necklaces. Took me a couple years to ‘discover’ this, and i LOVE it


It’s taken me months to find a contractor I thought could do a good job and was knowledgeable enough to ‘do it right’. I received the bid today.

I call this series of blogs “A Girls Tale” because ever dude i know says “you can do this” or “you can do that”. No, i cant. I’m a “girl”…and that’s not to say girls cant do such things, but trust me – THIS girl, cant. I cry “girl” instead of “uncle”. I give up trying as i’ve hurt, cut, electrocuted, bruised, skinned and otherwise caused physical harm to myself. so, undertaking a remodeling project on my own is very daunting….but i’m optimistic!

Next up – shopping in belize city.

Posted on November 20, 2012

The Truth about John McAfee and Belize – the red herring

I do not know if John McAfee murdered his neighbor, but i do know that he is very interested, especially now, in painting belize as a dangerous, ugly place. He is after all, accused of creating drug labs, shacking up with under age girls, being in the possession of dozens and dozens of unregistered rounds and many many guns, and now sought in a murder case…so i guess, out of desperation and to throw a red herring…. Let’s make the tranquil Caribbean nation look “Scary”. And then decided bury himself in the sand – figuratively and literally.

Reality is – i’ve lived on this tiny little island of Ambergris Caye for 7 beautiful years. Read back in my blogs, i call belize “Mother Belize”…because she has taken care of me. She is a beautiful country, and if you ask anyone who has every been here, they will tell you this:

“I came for the Mayan Ruins and the Worlds Largest Living Barrier Reef….but i come back for the people”. People like Coconut Leo, and Paisano, and Mayor Danny with his every present hat, and even the Mean Ole Pedro…they come back for Alexis who sells jewelry and tries his best to make those that helped him go to school proud. THESE are the people in MY neighborhood…when i bike to town, i think the Sesame Street song in my head (ugh, Elmo and McAffee in one week! 😉 ).

But the truth is, that IS the truth. That IS the truth about San Pedro, and all of Belize. Whether in San Ignacio and Mountain Pine Ridge, down in Placencia, Dangriga or the charming Punta Gorda…or chilling at the split in Caye Caulker, people will smile back at you when you smile at them. Sure, we have our flaws (the previous mayor of san pedro being a major one!), and i’ve had my trouble with petty crime, but that’s mostly because we are all human, living in a society. A democratic, free, society. I’ve been very vocal about speaking out about government, police, crime and many things – but i never had to bury myself in the sand and cover my head with a card board box.

The truth is, John McAfee fell in love with Belize and then made the exact same decision i made. He chose to move down to Belize, buy a little house, and start a small business. The difference is, he then chose to violate several major laws, and i didnt. He’s chosen to run from the law in a democratic society. His allegations of death are ludicrous…. ESPECIALLY now that he’s made sure that everyone is looking at him. That he’s put himself out there to be a victim in a wild west movie with a gustapo militia.

Um, just simply NOT true. I live here too, and it’s a TINY place – only 18,000 people on this island – and only ONE accusation like this.

Ok, he has property on the mainland as well, so let’s do whole country – 300,000 people…

So to give you scope – in the course of my life and working career in the USA and Canada it is fair to say that i have met over 300,000 people. The entire phone book for the ENTIRE country is 6″ x 8″ and 3/4″ (three quarters of an inch!) thick. This phone book contains the land lines, cell phones, fax numbers and emails of everyone in the ENTIRE country.

So…ergo…herewith…blah blah…someone please explain to me how, if McAffees allegations are true to the extent that he is saying, that NO ONE else has ever had this problem?

oh wait…no one else has ever had this much access to media. Um, also not true…he’s not the only rich, famous person who comes to belize. Leonardo DiCaprio owns an island here, Francis Ford Coppolla owns 3 resorts, Tiger Woods has golfed here, and Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas were here recently. Harrison Ford has been coming here since they filmed “Mosquito Coast” here back in the ’80s and now comes with Callista Flockhart every few months or so. Never happened to any of them…..

So, nope, it’s just McAfee. Belize as a Country and Tourism Destination are not to blame, nope…just McAffee. It’s a one off situation, with one ‘off’ person!

And believe it or not, i actually DO believe that once apprehended, McAffee will receive a true, fair and appropriate trial in the country in which he chose to live.

May justice prevail.

PS – Ambergris Today did a GREAT editorial – click here

Posted on November 14, 2012

Experience

At Romantic Travel Belize we believe your vacation is more than just a trip -it is truly a once in a lifetime experience.  Our goal is to create a space in which you can fully immerse yourself in Belize – and as we say, “Be One With Belize”

Posted on October 23, 2012

Rachel and John Testimonial

“Lara
Thank you for all of your help with our hotel and flights, and the excursion with Biggs. We had such a great time and cant wait to go back! We Love Belize! next time, we are there we need to meet and grab a rum punch. This is just a little something to say “thanks” Enjoy some Texas Pralines!”

Rachel and John

(they sent me two sets of lovely writing paper, and some yummy chocolates which i devoured with a friend with some wine. YUM! and THANK YOU to rachel and john for being soooo thoughtful and sweet!! xo, Lara)

Posted on August 28, 2012

Hip Hip Hooray! It's a 5 Day Belize Get Away for $158 per day

Just perfect for a long weekend, this package is designed to give you that “i need a quick fix of paradise” dose of Belize.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….

$158 per person, per day ($787 per week, pp) based on double occupancy includes the following:

Day 1 – Arrive in Belize… just in time, ’cause you were about to do some real damage to someone. You’ll breeze through the tiny Belize International Airport, and get on a super fun 18 minutes ‘puddle jumper’ flight to the island of Ambergris Caye (better known as San Pedro). Once on the island, you’ll be brought to your accommodations.

Day 2 – Sleep in or get up early to watch the sunrise over the worlds largest living barrier reef. Then, somewhere around mid day, you’ll enjoy a relaxing massage. ***sigh*** feeling better already arent you?

feelin’ better already….


Day 3 – You’ll go out on a private boat to go snorkeling, fishing, and floating. See a turtle, want to swim? It’s your boat, stop and swim! Want to learn to spear fish or just plain ole fish? Have fun. Then, whatever fish you catch (or your boat captain catches for you) will be cooked up for you at a private beach bbq.

Day 4 – Lovely day at Altun Ha Mayan Site with lunch at the nearby Spa Resort. You’ll be transported by boat from the Island to the Mainland of Belize. Climb an ancient mayan temple, spend some time and look around you at the jungles of belize. Listen closely, and maybe you’ll hear the worlds second loudest animal, the Howler Monkey. Cool stuff, honestly.

Day 5 – enjoy your transfer and journey home. Hold onto your Belize in your heart as long as you can…or until you can come back again!

lara@romantictravelbelize.com

Posted on July 19, 2012

"I Belize I Need A Break From My Kids!!!" Package

It’s been a long summer, school cant start soon enough. You need a break…and you’re not gonna make it to September.

This special package is just for you Mom’s. In honor of Jenn, from , mom of 4, ages 11 – 16, Mom’s of Summer – This One’s For You. 4 day Package, starting at $375 per person, based on double occupancy.

You 4 Day, 3 Night Package Includes the following for 2 people:

4 Days in Belize – $375 usd per person. 4 Days without Kids – Priceless

Email me for more information and to get the heck outta town, now :) lara@romantictravelbelize.com

Posted on July 9, 2012

Caye Caulker Lobster Fest 2012

On a lovely Sunday, my friends Cindy, Denyse, Zz and I went to Caye Caulker to enjoy their lobster fest. As much fun as San Pedro’s lobster fest is, somehow, Caye Caulkers is soooo awesome. Just nice to be somewhere else for a bit…different island, different… well, not different people since we mostly saw San Pedro people, but it was still a GREAT day.

Big HUGE shout out to Bob Hamilton from Coral Beach Realty for saving my broke a*& when i ran out of cash, and my credit card was expired!

Check out the picture of the 5pm boat back to San Pedro. The wise women that we are, we decided to sit tight, have another cervesa, and wait for the 615 boat. No WAY i was gonna pile onto that boat…no way.

All in all, another stellar day in paradise!

Posted on July 3, 2012

Coral, Shells, Turquoise, and Bling – Belize Destination Wedding and Home Accessories

More…

This bouquet is lovely and BLINGY. I used a LOT of jewelry in this one… i was inspired by the colors in the hummingbird…which of course, has a rhinestone in it’s beak (what else would a hummingbird have?) The tones of purple, pink, green and soft blue are really lovely. In the sun,….it SPARKLES

RomanticTravelBelize.com Handmade Bridal Bouquet with Pink, Purple, Green and Blue Vintage Jewelry, Belize Shells and Coral

Destination Wedding Bridal Bouquet by Romantictravelbelize.com

I love these wreaths. They are sooo versatile. It’s the one thing you’d think “what will I use that for”, then when you start noodling it through, the options are endless! Photo frame, candle wreath, around a small cake or pie, signage, or a frisbee! Just kidding on the frisbee 😉

RomanticTravelBelize.com Hand Made Wreath with Vintage Jewelry, Belize Shells and Coral. Great for walls, doors, on an 8″ plate with a candle, or for a “Sand Pour Ceremony”

So far, this is one of my favorite frames. Ok, thats not true, Baby Maddie Fish frame, and the other fish frame are pretty awesome, but something about the versatility of this one. ANYONE could use and love this – not just a bride. Great gift for someone who watched your kid, dog, cat, canary while you were on vacation, great way to showcase your Belize Trip photos… just love this one.

Taupe Leather Frame with Turquoise and Coral Vintage Jewelry. Belize Shells and Coral make this the perfect frame. I love this frame – Great gift

call 215-469-2496 from the US or Canada, or while in Belize 670-5272 for more information. Also, will be available in Belizean Melody Art Gallery on Front Street down near Belize Bank.

Posted on June 26, 2012

Holly and Rob – Testimonial

Hi Lara,

Rob & I had an amazing trip to Belize. Thank you for all your help- it was perfect. We loved the relaxed and remote vibe at TBR. We did an amazing day trip to Shark Ray Alley & Caye Caulker. Chabil Mar was beautiful! And, it was perfect timing as it was Lobsterfest! We couldn’t have asked for a better honeymoon.

I will be sure to pass your name along to anyone planning a trip to Belize!

Best,
Holly

Posted on

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish….

Well, i’m on a roll! The exciting news is these items are available for sale at Belizean Melody Arts Gallery on Front Street across from Tech Transylvania. FUN FUN!

Wreath, decor around a candle or "sand pour" ceremony with a plate or mirror under it. Tre Chic!

Maddie’s first modeling gig! HUGE hugs and love to Andi and Robert Stork. Betcha didnt guess i kept the stuff you send me, but note to all – i keep it all. Getting mail here is sorta what i remember it being like when i had penpals as a kid. Something wonderous about going to the post office and finding presents there. Pictures, cards, anything feels like a gift to me…someone thought enough of me way down here to send me baby announcements like Andi and Robert did…makes my heart happy. So this is Maddies Fishy Frame:

Maddie the Model in a super cute Fish Frame covered in red vintage jewelry, shells and coral

I love these mahogany boards. They can be painted with your name, table number, or use as photo frame. Free standing, or hang on a wall.

Use as a photo frame, Table Card holder, or have it painted with your names and wedding date

Ok, this is the piece de resistance! (or however thats spelled). This is a red vintage jewelry with shell and coral bridal bouquet. It can be held in any direction, and i LOVE the idea of having Dulce Wolf add flowers to make a cascade. Really beautiful. This looks gorgeous as a table decoration as well. Would look lovely in your china closet too :)

Hold it anyway you chose, but i made it so it hangs down. Would love to see flowers added.

Posted on June 20, 2012

Shells, Vintage Jewelry Belize Destination Wedding Accessories

With rainy season upon us, I’ve stocked up on items to make incredible one-of-a-kind wedding or home accessories. I use found items, since i LOVE to repurpose. Take said found item, loads of Belize shells and bleached coral, add some great vintage jewels – and viola! Lemon Crush Belize Wedding Accessories for your Destination Wedding, or to commemorate your trip. Make great gifts!

This is a 3 piece set, each piece sold separately. The bouquet, of course, can be kept in a china closet or on display for as long as you marriage lasts (hopefully forever!). The picture “Fish Frame” is handmade, and i love the details. The mahogany board can be handpainted with the bride and grooms names, just the date, or table numbers. It can also be used as a photo frame.

Shells, Coral and Vintage Jewelry - all one of a kind

This is “Helda’s Fish Frame”. Please note she has tiara made from a necklace and a broken bit of conch shell, lips, eyes, and a lovely fish necklace made from a pair of vintage shoe clips. I love this frame :)

such a pretty fishy - love her tiara and necklace. Note her eyelashes are bones of some form from a crab :)

I’ve just completed a three piece “red” jewelry set. Here’s sneak peek, but need to wait til the rain goes away before i can take pics of them with the pretty belizean sunshine

David Beckham is in the frame because it was the handiest “landscape” oriented image. Plus, i love “Reina’s Bar” in Puerto Vallarta where this came from. Also, who doesnt like to look at David Beckham in his skivies?

Table Numbers, hand painted with your names and wedding date, or as a photo frame

Posted on June 18, 2012

Emily and Jake Testimonial

“Lara from Romantic Travel Belize did a exploratory job helping my husband and I plan a wonderful wedding at Tranquility Bay Resort on Ambergris Caye. We never would have taken the chance of having our perfect beach wedding there if not for Lara’s help! She made the logistics of getting there much easier than they appeared to a wedding party that had never been to Belize before. She helped us realize we could “have our cake AND eat it too” in Belize! We wanted a secluded, romantic, and perfect beach wedding, and Lara knew exactly where to send us! In total there were 23 people that were able to attend our big day, and Lara made sure they all got there in one piece, safely!

The staff at the san pedro resort truly exemplify a unique environment of professionalism and fun all rolled into one, from the management team, dive masters, and right down to the “awesomest” bartenders and waiters EVER! Isabella handled all the preparations leading up to the big day. The ceremony, linens, flowers, cake, a surprise band (!!!), and EVEN a last minute tent rental were all handled perfectly. She made sure everything went flawlessly, right down to the last flower petal. She even became “bridezilla” so that I wouldn’t have to be! (No, SERIOUSLY!) I cannot speak more highly of her or her staff’s eye for perfection and quick willingness to help their customers.

So thank you Lara, for helping us get there safely and pointing Jake and I into a truly unBELIZEable direction!”

Happy Bride - Romantic Travel Belize Weddings

Posted on June 14, 2012

Hand Made Destination Bridal Bouquet with Vintage Jewelry, Shells and Coral

I hand made this bouquet after Helda inspired me. Using top quality vintage and antique jewelry, shells from the beautiful beaches of Belize, and washed up coral from the worlds largest living barrier reef that line our shores. Perfect destination wedding bouquet. Email for pricing and special orders.

lara@romantictravelbelize.com Bridal Bouquet Hand Made with Vintage Jewelry, Belize Shells and Coral

lara@romantictravelbelize.com Bridal Bouquet Hand Made with Vintage Jewelry, Belize Shells and Coral

Romantic Travel Belize lara@romantictravelbelize.com Bridal Bouquet Hand Made with Vintage Jewelry, Belize Shells and Coral

Posted on June 10, 2012

10 Tips for Chicks for your wedding or any ole trip to Belize

A few weeks ago, i did a video with tips for your vacation to belize. Not just for brides, but for females in general (and a few very chic males i know 😉

I cant get it to give me a photo or something to click on or indicate it’s a video but CLICK THE PINK – Belize Wedding Honeymoon and Trip Tips

Here they are – the Lara’s Top 10 Chicks Tips and Questions Answered when coming to Belize

Romantic Travel Belize, Rosie Syme, Jose Luis Zapata Photography


1. Wedges. Leave your spiked heels at home. why? because you’ll sink in the sand, twist your ankle on the cobblestone, and slip between planks on the docks, decks and walkways and ruin them anyway. Wedges are more like snow shoes – creating a larger foundation so you dont sink into every thing

2. Cotton, Cotton, Cotton – i know you love your silk wedding gown. Silk is one of the best insulators there is. It doesnt breathe. You will simply melt on your wedding day. Some thing with all synthetic fabrics. You know how the best clothes are all lined? Beautiful linings… i had to cut them all out. I dont buy clothes with any linings – poly, silk, satin – it’s all god-awful in the heat. The Cotton Bride is an incredible gown designer using the most sumptuous cottons to make stunning designer wedding gowns. For the rest of you, so long as it’s cotton, your dresses, tops, and other things will make you much happier.

3. Hair Tip – Give Up. Give up the battle with your hair. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will get to enjoying your time here. If it wants to be curly, it will be curly. If it wants to be straight, it will be straight. Not even my dear friends who come to see me believe me until about day 3 – but trust me – you will lose. Think “If you cant beat ’em, join ’em!”

4. Powder not Liquid Make Up – due to the heat and humidity, liquid make up can be problematic in several ways. First, it will run, pool, and cake up. Second, it makes your skin break out down here. I think it’s the humidity. Third, it’s hot. I have trouble putting on body lotion because sometimes even lotion makes you hot, let alone goop all over your face. The powder make ups lay nicely and just help to keep your skin cool. also, most of them have an SPF in them, and you’ll need that.

5. Sunscreen. Yah, i know. I used to lay out with baby oil from morning til night all summer long at my shore house in Margate, too. I really did. And i never used sunscreen when i went to florida or texas either. Yah, i’m that kinda tough. But ya know what, this isnt Kansas. This is Belize, and there is water, and white sand, and open skies and SUN everywhere. You Will Burn. If you “never burn at home”, please at least use a 15. Nothing worse than ruining your vacation with a sunburn the first day. If you do get a burn, pour white vinegar on it. It will take away the sting. Also, on the topic of sunscreen – i do BEG you to PLEASE find a biodegradable kind. The sunscreen will wash off your skin minutes after you snorkel our beautiful reef. You need the sunblock, but when it rinses off your skin, it kills our reef. So please be kind to the reef, and use biodegradable sunscreen.

6. Lip block – dont forget your kisser! When i moved here 6 years ago i had trouble finding a lip gloss with a sunscreen. Estee Lauder was one of the only ones back then, so i bought a ton. But now, they have them from a bunch of manufacturers and i found some in walmart the last time i was up. Lipgloss with sunscreen – muy importante for any stylish island girl :)

7. Shots – There are government guidelines for shots, so check ’em out and make the best decision for you. I didnt get any shots to move here, but that was probably stupid.

8. What to pack – pack a couple pair of shorts, a pair of long pants, a dress and a couple tops. If your like me, you’ll start there, and before you know it you’re concerned your bag is going to weigh more than 50 pounds! I beg of you, take less. Pack as you would, then remove half. Literally. You wont need it.

9. Water – while the water is drinkable in most parts of San Pedro, no one does. You will be served bottled water if you request water. In general, the water from the tap though, is perfectly fine for teeth brushing, showering and cooking.

10. Bugs – Yes. We have bugs.

Posted on June 6, 2012

Anatomy of a Nightmare Wedding – but the cake was good!

The following is an email my friend, Jennifer from Bradley Bunch Bakery sent me. The back story is this: Bride and “Pam” brought paint chips to the consult for the cake. The bride had a very specific color purple in mind, and wanted to make sure it was exact. The details, it seems, matter a great deal to this bride.

This reminded me of one of my lovely brides. She had a detailed spreadsheet that was down to the minute – literally. 6:01 walk to door, 6:02 walk down aisle, 6:03 begin music…etc. I looked at her, and said “now ya know this makes me laugh, right?” She said she knew, but it made her feel better to do it. Of course, she was 45 minutes behind schedule herself, but it all just goes to show you – it’s your wedding day. You have not a single soul on the planet to please but yourself, but alas…even the best laid plans can go kablooey.

Wow what a wedding we had!

The OMG moments:
FedEx lost bridesmaid dresses in Toronto somewhere-they’re still not found, groom’s 14 yr old daughter flying alone delayed in Arizona and misses flight, strong storms during outdoor rehearsal Friday night and power outages, groom loses marriage license that they all need to sign necessitating me running to bride’s hotel room and searching followed by going back to my house to look through groom’s stuff and found it and run back to wedding to find that…ta da..the wedding still hasn’t started because the minister was in a car crash and is getting sitches in his head and being bandaged up, followed by limo driver leaving because the wedding has now been delayed by 3hrs and he has another wedding to be at…

The good stuff:
New bridesmaid dresses were bought from David’s bridal, groom’s daughter was put on a plane next day and made it here, storms caused us to quit rehearsal and go eat dinner which was really a good idea at that point, I found marriage license and didn’t miss the ceremony, minister was ok and really wanted to fulfill his obligation to do the ceremony so stopped off at a store and bought nonbloody suitjacket and shirt (but Doylestown Mayor was nearby at 200th year celebration and volunteered to marry them if minister couldn’t), bride was able to wait for wedding to start from inside the FontHill museum (instead of the limo) and got a private tour of the place by the curator..
The kids weren’t whiny, we all worked together and no one’s temper got hot, the cake was safe in air conditioning, the brides train that got stuck on a tent pin was easily fixable because I brought my sewing kit in the trunk for just such an occasion.
And the best part, they got married. None of the other stuff really mattered.

So now that we’ve all enjoyed your wonderful cake, how should I properly freezer-safe wrap the top layer for their 1 yr anniversary? What’s the best method? In saran then wax paper then foil then repeat? In Tupperware?

Thanks,
Pam

Jenn’s response for preserving the cake? Taken right from theknot.com :)
How To Preserve Your Top Wedding Cake Tier

Beach Wedding Cake from Bradley Bunch Bakery

Posted on June 5, 2012

RePurposed Purple and Orange Wedding – Emily and Jake

I have had the pleasure of working with Emily and Jake for nearly a year on their destination wedding in Belize. I had the further pleasure of working with Isabelle and Carlos, the Live-In Managers of Tranquility Bay Resort, as this was the chosen resort for the couples first half of their Belize wedding-moon adventure.

It’s been raining for weeks here in San Pedro, but true to form, Belize stepped it up and it cleared up and was a magnificent day yesterday. I was very happy to be heading to Tranquility Bay, i consider it a treat to be able to go up there. It’s very very far north – it’s the northern most resort on the island. It is IN a marine reserve as it’s located where the reef meets the island. It’s divine.

A Perfect Day to Go North

Emily was a very crafty, creative, colorful bride. She was an absolute dream to work with. Simple White paper bags, tied with satin ribbon, filled with Kakaw Belize Chocolate, hot sauce and a small bottle of local rum make the perfect “Thanks for Coming!” gift.

Belize Wedding Favor


Beautiful Head Table Flowers

Destination Wedding "Sand Pour" symbolizing the joining and blending of lives


Aisle on the right, cocktail reception and finger print guest page on the left. Perfection


Before it begins: The Aisle


Hummus Among Us


come sail away...


Finger Print Guest Book - someone needs to make these with palm trees. So cute!


Photographer Photographing. LOVE the umbrella for this Trash the Dress shoot. Jose Luis Zapata, photographer


Repurposed glass jars with Orchids and Birds of Paradise


The Aquarium at Tranquility Bay Resort. First Dance among friends, family and fish

The newlyweds and their family danced the night away to the tunes of The Punta Boys. About two thirds of the group will be going along with the Happy Couple on their Mini-moon. They will be picked up in Belize City and taken to do Cave Tubing and Zip Lining before heading to their mini-moon hotel, Cahal Pech.

Wishing Emily, Jake and their expanding family a lifetime of happiness!

Posted on June 1, 2012

Tale of 3 Cities – Part 3 San Pedro, Belize

I was in the US for a total of 3 weeks. That’s the longest i’ve ever been away from Belize. Its the longest i’ve ever been away from any home…never taken a 3 week vacation, and i’d at least have popped home for a weekend if it were a business trip. This trip was both business and personal, and it was three weeks straight. It was exhausting.

Belize, Ocean, Forever, Sky

The very second I stepped off the plane in Belize City i remembered why i’d moved here in the first place. As i came down the stairs from the plane, i saw people i knew…the people that worked at the airport, at immigration, at Tropic Air. When I’m aiting at Tropic Air for the flight home, that’s when i start to decompress and know that soon…soon i will be home.

Cartoon Cigarettes For Sale at Belize International Airport

Normally, that would be enough to make it a good return to Belize. But as i waited for my taxi to take me to go collect Luna the Wonder Puppy and Thelma the Deaf Blind Cat, my friend Doug, from Cowboys Bar and Grill up at Grand Caribe happened by. He picked me up, helped me collect said menagerie, and drove me home. Very nice way to be greeted. I was starting to feel even better…starting to shift from USA mode to Island mode. It’s a process, shifting of gears and recalibrating and stuff.

A raccoon on the road.

I got in the house, called a friend of mine and had a lovely “welcome back to the island” decompression time. She lives nearby, so Luna and I walked her home. It’s so lovely at night, so… Belize. It’s very interesting, the transitioning from “Up There” to “Down Here”, and it’s not always easy. I felt very much as though i’d been giving a very soft, welcoming landing back to Belize from my crazy tours “up there”. I’m so glad to be home, to be back “down here”.

Posted on May 30, 2012

Tale of 3 Cities – Part 2 New York City

I’ve never met a celebrity. Once, when i was about 6 years old, we went to the Zoo on a school trip. There was a guy from the local news there…doofy 70’s mustache and all. I got to look at him, and was in awe. His face embedded in my brain to this day. That was my ‘celebrity peak’.

That all changed as Jenn from Bradley Bunch Bakery drove me from Bucks County, PA to NYC on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 for my 130 pm meeting with Ronnie Rothstein. You might not know who he is, but for me – meeting him was like meeting Harry Connick, Jr or Will Smith. Mr Rothstein is the owner of Kleinfeld Bridal, the store in the show “Say Yes To The Dress”. Mr Rothstein went to University of Pennsylvania, and was the force behind making Kleinfeld Bridal the USA’s most recognizable wedding store, if not the world. I was there to meet with him about creating a “Kleinfelds’ Belize Honeymoon Package”. The intention is to create a piece of collateral material to be handed out to each of the 17,000 brides who walk through their doors in one year….not to mention space on their website, which is run and managed by The Knot.

I dont know why she's missing an arm...


I’m only moderately good at only one thing. I like business. I like the act of business, i like the process of business, i like Business. Some people paint, some people sing, others can do computer technical stuff, and yet others can make something using their hands that actually does what it’s supposed to do… These are skills i do not posses. And, as would be the case for any novice in any field or endeavor finding him/herself “at the table” with the “Grand Poo Bah” of that field, I was humbled, thrilled, and eager to learn. And i did what anyone in such a circumstance would do: I geeked out.

Leading down to the mens wear, alterations, and more


I mean full on, camera blazin, whispering with my teammates Lisa Light and Rebecca from geekin’ out. Rebecca wisely hissed at me to stop geekin’ out as we walked through the showroom. It’s like being in a megaplex of girly.

I got my act together, and got my game-face on. We had our meeting, which went toe-curling-ly well. Details under wraps though. After our super positive, productive meeting, Ronnie had his assistant show us around the $10,000,000 store. Now that the meeting is over, I’m free to geek-out good and proper.

The Famed area where brides show their fam and friends the gowns they are trying on


The longest conveyor system in all of New York City holds Bridal Gowns. thousands and thousands and thousands...



All the beads come off, all the beads have to go back on

After all that excitement, Rebecca, Lisa and I go to a cafe to get a glass of wine and wait for Jenn and Megan, our friend. Who is sitting at the table next to me? Harry Connick, Jr. I kid you not.

What a day.
😀

Posted on May 25, 2012

Flowers

Belize is and has a lot of “worlds most” this, and “worlds biggest” that…and flowers are not to be overlooked when making such grandiose statements about such a wee-small country. Since we have both rain forests and sandy islands, the diversity of plant life is incredible.

The national flower of Belize is the Black Orchid, and orchids can be found all over the country. There was one on my wall when i bought the house – once every 2 years or so it would shoot out these loooong stalks with a small, not very pretty flower on it. Eventually, it became the home of the termites that invaded my house, but i digress. There are many truly stunning orchids in Belize, and there is a resort on the mainland with an inspired and stunning orchid greenhouse.

Aside from orchids, we have hibiscus, roses, plumeria, purple drum like trumpet flower ones i love, and the same in yellow, we also have bougainvillea, oleander, lilies and whole ton of others.

Some flowers from my walks…

We have a few incredibly talented floral designers that will be able to work with you to create exactly what you would like for your wedding. If the flower isnt available here in Belize (for example, we dont have white orchids or roses), for a fee they can be gotten from Mexico.

This is a cluster of flowers that were used as both the wedding aisle, and then they were then transferred to the tables as centerpieces. :)

Belize Floral Aisle

The same bride as the aisle above, but her bouquet, pictured with a memory :) I really loved her flowers.

Bridal Bouquet, and a memory

Floral tips and bits to note: Hibiscus open and close with the sun. If you want hibiscus for a sunrise wedding, you’re outta luck. Same for hibiscus for an evening affair. Nope, wont work. Also, when storing your flowers before you walk down the aisle – dont let anything touch the blooms. It makes them go brown.

Posted on May 24, 2012

Tale of 3 Cities Part 1 Philadelphia

A few days ago i returned to San Pedro, Belize from a three week trip to Philadelphia and New York City. This was the longest trip i’ve ever taken – for any reason. The most i’ve ever been away from home was 2 weeks and 2 days. Even in my early days of living in Belize, when i used to “bugger off” and just go until i didnt want to ‘go’ anymore i would always come back to San Pedro at 2 weeks. Anymore than that, it didnt feel like travel, it felt lost.

The trip was a very “big” one. Not in any measurable terms, but in terms of my energy and my business growth. I was used to working from my wee little house on a tiny island in the middle of the caribbean, where a busy day means i “went to town” on my bike…with my dog in tow. I am used to working by myself in my loft with my dog in the yard, and my deaf blind cat on the floor.

I arrive in Philadelphia a day before a scheduled lunch with my 100 year old grampa. He told me that he cant see enough to read anymore. I bought him a “Nook”. I taught my 100 year old grampa to use a Nook. He is amazing.

Then, on Monday, I began the real ‘work’. I had an appointment to meet Marilyn Russell from 95.7 BenFM. This Philadelphia based radio station is in the same office space as 93.3 WMMR. Marilyn is awesome. I literally wanted to bring her back to Belize with me and keep her as a friend. She gave me a tour of the space, and there was my idol, Pierre Robert. I tried to remind him of the Bob Marley 12-14-11 a couple months ago, but he was busy being his uber good-citizen self. Then, Marilyn and i got to talking about the Maya Marriage of Many for 12/12/12, and she just loved the idea, and of course, fell in love with Belize. She taped our interview, and it should play soon on her “woman of the week” broadcast one of these sundays. I’d never done radio before…it was SO much fun.

I met with their Director of Sales and did a little brainstorming about a Belize Promotion of some sort. I have a wicked idea for Halloween time frame, and a very intriguing proposition brewing for the summer with the Philadelphia LGBT community.

What a great Monday. The next day, Tuesday, I head to New York City to meet with Ronnie Rothstein, owner Kleinfeld Bridal of “Say Yes To The Dress” fame regarding a Belize/Kleinfeld relationship. OMG!

Posted on May 21, 2012

From the City of Brotherly Love to UnBelizeably In Love – and back again

“I am not just from Philadelphia, I am of Philadelphia”, declares Lara Goldman Philadelphia native turned Belize, Central America resident and founder of Romantic Travel Belize, a San Pedro, Belize based Destination Management Consulting firm.  “My 100 year old Grandfather was born here, my mother was an original American Bandstand dancer, and my father used to drag race on the Roosevelt Boulevard with Frank Rizzo, Jr.  I went to Beaver College and my entire career was based in Philly before moving to Belize” she explains.  In a tale reminiscent of “Rocky”, Goldman owned a womens boxing gym and antique shops on the Main Line before her husband was tragically killed in a plane crash in 2004.  In 2006 she moved to Belize, which is at the epi-center of the Mayan world, in order to help her heal, find her center and “get up off the mat”.  And now she’s making a cameo appearance in Philadelphia hosting an event on May 9 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, which she describes as the pinnacle of her career, and symbolizes her own personal renewal, similar to the meaning behind the ubiquitous December 21, 2012 date.

The “UnBelizeably In Love with Penn Museum” Fundraiser and Bridal Experience on May 9 represents a come-back for this self described Philly girl.  Atiya German, Rental Facilities Manager with University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology was excited by the proposal Goldman laid out to her on the phone from her home in Belize.  “Lara outlined her vision of romance in the face of the looming December 2012 date, and of course this perfectly complimented our Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit which opens on May 5”, says German.

With proceeds from the Auction going to support the Museum, items up for bid include jewelry from Steven Singer Jewelers, a Luxury 10 Day Belize Wedding, and a Luxury Philadelphia Wedding Package.  Kameron McConnell said “…….say something incredibly catchy here” this Fundraising event is a totally ‘out of the box’ way to meet with some of the most exclusive bridal vendors in the Philadelphia region and see the Museum’s Maya 2012 exhibit at the same time.    For anyone interested in archaeology or travel, the mayan world or Belize, engaged or soon to be engaged, this event will hold everyone’s interest.  Even the men will enjoy this Bridal experience as tickets to see the exciting Maya 2012: Lords of Time will be discounted by nearly 25% for the evening, and the “Unbelizeably in Love with Penn Museum” is absolutely free.

Posted on May 8, 2012

Big Buzz for Mayan Marriage of Many on 12-12-12

Will 2012 really be the end of the world? Will something catastrophic happen? Does the Mayan calendar ending really signify an event of some kind? Well, if you believe it is, then why not get married? Instead of it being an ending, why not make it your own personal new beginning?

This unique wedding package really is one of a kind, as the brides and grooms to be will be wedded on sacred Mayan grounds and temples.

If you want to know what all the big buzz is about, (just in case you need a refresher), Check out the link below that has quite a few mentions of the Maya Marriage of Many and Romantic Travel Belize from all around the internet and various media, including an NBC broadcast.

http://www.squidoo.com/belize-wedding-event-on-12-12-12

Posted on May 7, 2012

Get Hitched in Style!

While surfing the internet and catching up on all the latest on the 2012 happenings I stumbled across a nice little section in a digital magazine highlighting the 2012 Maya Marriage of Many. It’s so cool to find what can easily be described as an amazing opportunity on so many different websites and articles and magazines etc..

According to Centro Y Sur Digital, The Maya Marriage of Many is a once in a lifetime romantic opportunity for anyone who has ever dreamed of getting married at a Maya archaeological site, on an auspiciously alliterative date, with 12 other couples, 200 guests, global media and A-list wedding photographers, of course.

What’s also cool is that after doing some more surfing, I came across another site highlighting the same page in the same magazine!

Check it out on the link below and see how cool the little highlight is with the wedding couple at a Maya Site as well as the second blog highlighting the first.

http://www.centroysurdigital.com/centro_y_sur/201202#pg12

http://www.moon.com/blogs/belize/maya-marriage-many-121212-belize

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Something Blue Engagement Ring

When planning your wedding, you naturally want to make sure that everything matches. From the invitations, to the decorations, to the dresses your bridesmaids wear.  But in a crazy twist, why not make your ring match your special day as well? An interesting article over at Preston Bailey Bride Ideas showcases a couple who did just that!

Now reading this did touch a very special place close to home and Romantic Travel Belize’s very own Lara Goldman  decided to share her own experience. Who would have known she also had ring similar to the one the couple used to match their wedding.

Read all about it here:

http://brides.prestonbailey.com/2012/03/29/something-blue-engagement-ring/

and read about Romantic Travel Belize’s Lara Goldman’s ring here:

http://brides.prestonbailey.com/2012/04/05/stunning-diamond-and-sapphire-engagement-ring/

Posted on

Maya Festivals for the end of time

On 21 December 2012 — the winter solstice – the Maya calendar will complete a 5,126 year cycle and will come to an end. While some people are building shelters to prepare for the apocalypse, others are heading into the heart of Mayan civilization.

This is a great time to head into the heart of the Maya civilization and learn what made them so great. Before its collapse around 800 AD, the ancient Maya empire spread across southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Today, nearly 50% of Belize’s population is of mixed Maya-European descent and about 10% are indigenous Maya. While many of the most well known Maya sites are located in Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is home to hundreds of archaeological sites, 11 of which are excavated and open to the public.

In the lead up to the winter solstice, several sites throughout the former British colony are hosting events to celebrate the end (or the resetting) of the Maya calendar.

At the Caracol Archaeological Reserve in western Belize, the National Institute of Culture and History is holding four special events to mark 2012’s two solstices (21 June and 21 December) and the two equinoxes (21 March and 22 September). An archaeologist will lead a tour of the ancient site, nestled in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and traditional food will be served. Overnight camping at Caracol will be allowed for the first time, allowing winter solstice campers the chance to witness the sun rise on a new B’ak’tun (or cycle) from a very historical spot. Each event is limited to 100 people; tickets can be purchased through the Institute of Archaeology.

If you are not visiting during one of the four solstices/equinoxes, there will be tours of Altun Ha, a major ruin on the east side of Belize, in addition to exhibits, entertainment and regional food. During “the 2012 Maya Marriage of Many”, 12 couples will tie the knot on 12-12-12 at Cahal Pech. Though the marriage ceremony is open to couples from anywhere in the world, the event is invite only.
So jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the 2012 revolution!

Read the full article:
http://www.bbc.com/travel/blog/20120201-maya-festivals-for-the-end-of-time

Posted on April 30, 2012

Meeting at University of Pennsylvania

It seems that lately Romantic Travel Belize and the 2012 Maya Marriage of Many are getting around! Next stop on the tour is the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology. What a great place to be considering that it is one of the “Ivy League” schools and it is also the first university of the United States! So naturally this place has a history of “making history” and hopefully we will be able to make our mark as well.

After spending some time there, it’s off to meet with Steven Singer Jewelers (a major jeweler in Philadelphia) who also happens to be the oldest “jewelers row”. Let’s see what the day has in store for Romantic Travel Belize and the 2012 Maya Marriage of Many.

Posted on April 26, 2012

Meeting with Kleindfeld from "Say Yes to the Dress"

For more than 60 years, brides have learned that the magic of Kleinfeld lies not just in their most magnificent store; not just in their offering of the largest and finest selection of designer wedding gowns in the world; but the magic lies in the hearts of the most professional staff anywhere…a staff dedicated to perform your every wish.

And that is exactly why Romantic Travel Belize and the 2012 Maya Marriage of Many decided to pay a visit to Kleinfeld and give them the scoop on this years hottest wedding event.  If you haven’t heard of them, well just to recap; they are the place to visit if you are getting married. They even have their own show, “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC. Kleinfeld is definitely one of the big players in the wedding game.  They see 17000 brides per year and sell $250,000 USD worth of gowns every Saturday! Remember the show I mentioned? Well it is seen on tv by 2 million viewers every friday, and 4 million viewers over the weekend. Talk about exposure!

The 2012 Maya Marriage of Many is already such a unique event and will only keep getting better.  We hope to have Kleinfeld say “yes to the press!”

Check out their website for more info:

http://www.kleinfeldbridal.com/

Posted on April 24, 2012

Philadelphia Radio Station Gets on the 2012 Bandwagon

Romantic Travel Belize and the 2012 Maya Marriage of Many Get to be on the Radio!  On Air personality Marilyn Russels from Philadelphia radio station BENFM 95.7 gets all the juicy details about traveling to Belize, what you can do while here as well as the low down on the recent news that everyone is talking about, The 2012 Maya Marriage of Many.

95.7 BEN-FM is Philadelphia’s Adult Hits station with the largest music library in town. BEN-FM plays the best variety of music, including Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Train, Pink, Nickelback, Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Journey, Madonna, U2, Lady Gaga, John Mellencamp, Prince, Daughtry, Maroon 5 and many more!

Its such good news to know that Belize is getting the exposure that it justly deserves. With all the  media getting involved like this, its only a matter of time before Belize becomes “The Next Big Thing” especially with everyone like Ambergris Today,  The BTB, All the internet blogs, the Tour Operators etc.. doing their part.

You can check out Ben-FM Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/957BENFM

Posted on April 23, 2012

Where will you be on the end of the world?

If you happen to believe that the Mayans got it right and the end is coming soon – on Dec. 21, 2012, to be exact – then visiting ancient Mayan sites probably seems like a great (and appropriate) way to spend your last days. And, if you don’t think Dec. 21 is going to be the big day, then Central America is still a pretty nice vacation spot, with the bonus of sticking around to see  Dec. 22.

But we don’t “belize” that the world is coming to an end. Belize, itself, opted for the more upbeat: “Where will you be when the world begins anew?” Because, according to scholars, not even the Mayans really thought the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012. It simply begins again. The winter solstice on Dec. 21, 2012 marks the end of the 13th Bak’tun, or cycle, in the Mayan calendar. A bak’tun runs about 400 years, but the 13th one is particularly special as it marks the last cycle in the “long-count” calendar after 5,123 years. All that means, say experts, is that a new long-count calendar starts over at year one.

Don’t Believe this? Then head on over to yahoo travel and check out the cool article that talks about this amazing event. You will see what all the fuss is about and even see some cool pics taken by Ambergris Today. Of course the big deal here is the Maya Marriage of Many which of course is mentioned as well in the article and if you are here in Belize why not take the amazing tour being offered by the Belize Institute of Archeology? Its sure to be one great, unforgettable experience.

Want to read the entire story? Then Click Below!

http://yhoo.it/IcbQuX

Posted on April 21, 2012

The Maya Marriage of Many on Fox News!

It feels great to know that word is getting around about Belize especially on such an important event as 2012 and what it means in terms of the Mayan culture. That is why being mentioned on Fox News is such a big deal! Romantic Travel Belize as well as the Maya Marriage of Many were highlighted among the things that you can do to take part in the 2012 “culture” here in Belize as well as all the activities that you can do in all the other Central American countries who are also creating their own Maya themed events.

If you didn’t know, The Guatemalan city of Tapachula will feature an 8-foot digital count-down clock in its main park, Mexico’s Riviera Maya are planning reenactments of a popular Mayan ball game and the Sacred Mayan Journey and of course If you’re thinking about using this auspicious time to get married you can join the “Mayan Marriage of Many” and tie the knot with 12 other luck couples on an actual Mayan ruin in Belize. The ceremony takes place on Dec.12, with plenty of time to prepare for the end of the world as a married couple, before you’re whisked to a tropical honeymoon paradise. Who wouldn’t want that?

Belize on its own, is doing a great job to stand out in 2012. Did you know that in Belize, tourists will be able to get access to each of the country’s main archaeological sites, including Altun Ha, Barton Creek Cave and Caracol, with the $25 Maya 2012 Passport, which is available through Dec. 21, 2012. Plus, for the first time, Belize’s National Institute of Culture & History (NICH) is allowing visitors to camp overnight at the majestic Maya site of Caracol to witness the rising sun over the revered site on the summer and winter solstices and spring and autumnal equinoxes. These Maya Equinox Celebrations are limited to 100 guests per event and allow travelers to camp at Caracol on the evening of the 20th of March, June, September, and December. The Belize Tourism Board will also be available to take orders at 800-624-0686.

So what are you waiting for? Head down to Belize today!

If you would like to read the entire article, Click the link below..

http://fxn.ws/I8l51k

Posted on April 20, 2012

The 2012 fascination

Everyone knows or is somehow aware of the 2012 event, especially after the movie “2012”. With this in mind, whether or not the something bad happens, it is a great year to get out and travel. What better place to go to than Belize? If you go on the internet, you will find Belize being mentioned everywhere and it is clear that this year, 2012, is our year.  Some sites on the internet refer to this as apocalypse tourism but whatever you call it, it is clear that Belize is the place to visit this year.

Take what Slate.com had to say about why Belize is the place to be.  According to Slate, “The three attributes that seem most promising in terms of crafting a tourism sales pitch are: 1) The whole country speaks English, as it was colonized by Brits, not Spaniards. This fact is not well known among American tourists, and it alone might be enough to close the deal with some. 2) Belize boasts the second largest barrier reef on earth, behind only Australia, which makes for world-class diving opportunities. 3) It is among just a handful of countries with Mayan historical sites.”

Also, in the same article on Slate.com; guess who got mentioned? That’s right! The 2012 Maya Marriage of Many and Romantic Travel Belize!

Its always good news to know that we are getting our message across. If you would like to read the entire article, click on the link below!

http://slate.me/I84SJq

 

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Wendy Sprague

Lara was amazing from start to finish. She recommended properties that suited my every need, booked local transport and assisted me in booking all of the activities I wanted. Her local experience was invaluable and I could not have realized my dream to travel to Belize without her guidance and support. Thank you, Lara!

Posted on April 18, 2012

The Maya Marriage of Many Gets Featured on Wedding Nouveau

Wedding Nouveau is the Premier style guide for intercultural brides and multi-ethnic wedding inspiration featuring wedding dresses, wedding customs, traditions and photography around the world. Celebrating interfaith, intercultural, interracial and multi-ethnic wedding style and inspiration for today’s modern & global savvy bride and that is why we are so thrilled to be mentioned in the Spring Issue. You can see our favorite event planner, Lisa Light, in the behind the scenes section as well as read more about the Maya Marriage of Many in this years spring issue. But wait, there is more! For a limited time, you can download a free copy of the spring issue and read all about the Maya Marriage of Many happening 12-12-2012 by visiting http://weddingnouveau.com/magazine and subscribing.

Check out some of the photos below!

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SEAT SALE TO BELIZE: $450 round trip, all in

I am going to the states for some incredible things. My G-Pa is going to be 100 years old, and we’re having a party for him. And i’ve got a couple of other top secret shee shee foo foo things set up that i’ll blog about later. But this blog is about a seat sale i found.

BOTH Directions On Sale:
PHL – BZE – $462 RT, taxes included, late april into may
there’s a whole schwack of airlines and cities on sale. I received an alert from airfarewatchdog.com, and then i think it came up on cheapoair.com and cheapair.com.

Get this My Belize Peeps – It’s CHEAPER to fly to the states by $10 usd :) That’s 4 Lighthouses’ on Ice at BC’s before i go :)
BZE – PHL – $451 RT, taxes included. This ticket was $343 plus $108 in taxes. I am literally typing here, mouth agape. I have not seen fares like this since my Sister In Law got her entire family of four here from Newark International for $525 taxes included…round trip….for four people. Now that was a good fare…

Anyway, clearly go check out those fares!

SO EXCITING!

Posted on March 29, 2012

Brooke Testimonial

Hey Lara!
Just wanted to thank you (it’s WAY over due!) for all your amazing help with Rick & Chelsea’s wedding! everyone had a BLAST and you were insanely helpful.

Brooke was a guest at a wedding recently. The above is what one guest said when she emailed with the information of a referral to me. LU UVE referrals! (well, duh! :D)

Happy Wedding Guests

Happy Wedding Guests

Posted on March 28, 2012

Betsy- Testimonial

You are FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much Lara!

Posted on March 9, 2012

A Little Bit about the Winning Couple – in their own words

I’ve been terrible about giving updates on the MMM. It’s been an absolute whirl-wind, and i havent worked this hard since i was VP of something or other at a pretty big company. I have to say, i absolutely love it. This couple, this event, everything – it really has brought my past to my present, and my present toward my future.

The Trifecta of Love – Hope, Belief and Faith. Live and in action. crazy, i tell ya!

So, here’s their story, in their own words:

Tell us why you want to be a part of the epic Maya Marriage of Many on 12.12.12.
Being a part of the epic Maya Marriage of Many on 12.12.12 would be an unforgettable experience and a day full of many memories. I would sincerely enjoy being a part of this because I believe my fiancé deserves a day so memorable, so unforgettable and so magical that we would have to look back at pictures to believe such a thing happened to us. I say my fiancé is so deserving because he has done so much to not only win my love and devotion but the love and respect of my family as well, something I thought would never happen. For you see, neither of us ever thought we would marry. For the last twenty something years I never wanted to marry because I had never met anyone I thought was worth my life long love, respect and utter devotion. Most of the gentleman I was privileged to meet seemed to be a bunch of curmudgeons, so my heart was hidden away among ivory towersand incased in ice. In all my years my fiancé Abel has been the only man to try and succeed in climbing over all the walls I had erected and melting the ice around my heart. I feel that being a part of this Maya Marriage would not signify the conclusion but the beginning of a lifetime of adventure, loveand laughter with a man who is a king among princes and better than any girlhood dream. Participating in the Maya Marriage of Many with my fiancé would make me feel as if I have truly lived, truly loved and done something I never thought I would: expose my heart.

Photo: AJ Photography www.ajlovestories.com

Photo: AJ Photography www.ajlovestories.com

Bio and History of the Couple
Abel Garcia Jr and Mary Janelle Franklin
Engaged October 8th, 2011 on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Ring- 3 diamonds, (2 carats) from Zales

Abel’s info: Graduated from Lake Dallas HS in 2005 and went on to become a part time owner and Vice President of AFFM ( Abel’s Fine Furniture Movers) in Dallas.
Born in: Corpus Christi, Tx on July 29, 1986 Parents: Abel Sr and Rebecca Garcia

Janelle: Graduated from: Lake Dallas HS in 2006 and went on to graduate from Harding University May 2011 in Searcy, Ar. Majored in Social Sciences.
Born: February 18, 1987 in Dallas, Tx but grew up in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Parents: Willie and Pam Franklin.

Engagement story: We originally met in High School in 2005 but lost touch once I graduated and then three years ago we were reacquainted and have been best friends since then. October 1st we were scheduled to take a business trip to France for one our clients, Ligne Roset, for a period of ten days. Little did I know that Abel had previously asked my dad for my hand in marriage and had been carrying the ring around in his pocket trying to decide when and how to propose.I of course had no idea, I was just so exhausted from working but excited to be there and see the sights. October 8th, 2 days before we wee scheduled to return home, he suggested we visit the Eiffel Tower at night to see it light up and to see the view from the top. So after dinner we made our way over to the tower and made the decision to take the stairs and walk all the way up to the top! I was told that it is over 100 stories tall, so as you can imagine we had worked up a light sweat by the time we reached the top, but the view was beyond beautiful. For the next forty-five minutes we strolled around on the tower but I kept noticing Abel was engaging several people in conversations and seems a little distracted. He later told me he was “interviewing” people to try and find someone to record the proposal for our family back home. He ended up meeting this sweet couple from Moscow celebrating their one year anniversary and they agreed to record us so we could make a video for everyone at home. As soon as they hit the record button Abel got down on one knee and said something along the lines of this: ” Family, friends this is for all of you who are at home right now. I want to ask you, Janelle, to take this ring and be my wife and I want you to know that this is a symbol of our love and a promise that we will make it to our wedding; no quitting, no giving up because I want forever with you. Will you marry me? ” I of course was crying and smiling and disbelieving that he would do something so publicly. During the proposal a crowd of 250 or more had gathered around and were cheering and taking pictures, which just added to the excitement. We returned home two days, shared the news with our families and they, of course, were laughing and crying and happy as could be. Ever since then, Abel and I have been planning to join or lives together and live as man and wife. Some say we have lived a fairytale, but I say it has been better than any fairytale and Abel has been better than any prince I could have dreamed of.

Janelle

Photo: AJ Photography www.ajlovestories.com

Photo: AJ Photography www.ajlovestories.com

Posted on February 19, 2012

Valentines Day Went South for 1 Tx Couple – all the way to belize south!

On February 13 at 1030 am, Frisco, Tx Councilman John Keating, Mayor Pro-Tem and House of Representatives Candidate Pat Fallon, and Mayor Maher Muso were on hand to unveil the winner of the Maya Marriage of Many Contest. The very deserving couple, Janelle Franklin and Abel Garcia, Jr along with a dozen of their family members were on hand to find out if they won. They did!

Check out the video that aired on the NBC Channel 5 News in Dallas at 5pm , 6pm and again this morning :) never been on the news before :)

nbc5 today at 5_30am-belize wedding contest – frisco couple -2012-2-14 (1)

Posted on February 14, 2012

Lee And Susan Honeymooners

Lara we had a great time. Thank you for all your help. Both parts of the trip,were different and fun. We especially liked the hiking, waterfalls and Cave tour at HVI. We loved Victoria House and all the people who helped us with diving and tours were awesome. Susan got certified and that was an added plus. We wish we could stay longer ! Thank you for all your help.

Posted on February 6, 2012

Why Do Wedding Photographers Cost So Much?

I found this blog somewhere, and i LOVED it. Take all these same points (average about 1/2 the cost of the US for a great photographer), add to them that the equipment needs to be brought in from some other country, duty and taxes paid, and of course, replacement is a bitch ’cause San Pedro is the most corrosive place on the planet. Honestly, your wedding photo’s are the ONE THING you will have with you for the rest of your life. Your blisters from dancing will be gone, your suntan from the tropics will fade, the food and drink, well, you’ll long forget about those and you might even lose your ring from time to time…but you’ll never not have those photos. They are priceless. Dont fret the cost, over the course of a 30 year marriage, it’s a drop in the bucket – cut something else, just dont be sorry you didnt get a photographer.

So here it is….cause for pause, i say!

Friday, January 27, 2012
Wedding Photographer Slap Down!
I found this great post over on PetaPixel and wanted to share .. it is quite good. Apparently they came across this posting on Craigslist by a disgruntled bride who had issue in paying $3000 for a wedding photographer, because, as she says, all they do “is hang out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them”

The response from Nikki Wagner is priceless

Dear Bride,
I am a wedding photographer in the Erie, PA area. Wedding season only last about 4 months here, so I photograph an average of 20 weddings per year for an average of $2,500/wedding (which totals about $50,000/year).
That being said, I am a small business owner, so I pay all of my taxes, totaling about $15,000/year, which leaves me with a gross income of around $35,000
Of that $35,000 I pay $600/month in rent for my small house and garage which I converted into my studio (which is where I would be editing your wedding images).$35,000 – $7,200 = $27,800
Then I have my car, which I would use to get me to and from your wedding, which I pay $400/month for the lease, plus $200/month in car insurance. $27,800 – $7,200 = $20,600
To get to your (and my other brides) wedding consultation, second wedding pre-consultation, the wedding itself, and to and from the printers I spend $840/year in gas money. $20,600 – $840 = $19,760
I also have $500/year insurance in case you sue me, or if any of your drunk guests would happen to break any of my equipment. $19,760 – $500 = $19,260
You also probably found me through my website, which I pay $30/month for hosting, and another $30/month so that you can view your photos online and share the images with your friends and family. $19,260 – $720 = $18,540
Or perhaps you found me through my advertisements in the newspaper or local bridal magazines, or a bridal show that you attended that I paid to have a booth at. $18,540 – $1,000 = $17,540
I also pay $250/month for my own health insurance in case I were to get hurt at your wedding. $17,540 – $3,000 = $14,540
I pay $200/wedding for a second shooter for your wedding, so that you can have more images and different angles, as to make sure you get the best images possible at your wedding. $14,540 – $4,000 = $10,540
I also need to have a new pair of shoes ($100) every season because my shoes get worn out and dirty from season to season. $10,540 – $100 = $10,440
I need high speed internet so I can upload all of your images online, my home phone for my business and my cell phone so I can communicate with you. $10,440 – $2,500 = $7,940
Oh yes, and I also pay a lawyer to make sure my contracts are iron clad and an accountant to make sure that I am paying all of the taxes I need. $7,940 – $500 = $7,440
Sometimes I attend workshops and seminars to teach me how to better my business, and make my client happier (that would be you), as well as keep up on the trends and learn new techniques so that I can make sure you have the best quality images available.
That would technically leave me with about $7,000/year to feed myself, buy groceries, pay for my heat and electricity, clothe myself, etc. But, usually I end up reinvesting whatever I have left on upgrades and new equipment:
During your wedding, I bring my professional equipment that I use so that I can make sure you have the highest quality images.
I have 2 Canon 5D Mark II cameras (because you always need a backup in case of a camera malfunction, which would ruin your big day’s photographs) which cost $2,500/camera =$5,000
I also have quality lenses which can capture your special moments in low light situations:
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 lens = $1,200
Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens = $1,300
Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens = $500
Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro = $600
…and I have speed lights to catch the fun moments at your reception:
2 x Canon 580EX II = $1,200
Also multiple battery backups and memory cards, lens filters, light stands, umbrellas, light boxes, external battery packs and a bag to carry everything in = $1,500
Because this is equipment, sometimes I need to have it serviced or cleaned to make sure it is all working properly = $200
After spending 8-10 hours at your wedding, I then come home to my home office and spend about 20-25 hours editing your images, creating your album, blogging about your wedding, posting pictures on Facebook, ordering you prints and burning your DVDs.
I edit your photographs using a 27-inch iMac computer = $2,500.
I edit your photographs on Adobe Lightroom ($200) and Adobe CS5 ($400 for the upgrade and $900 for the new program).
I print your DVDs on a printer which costs $300 and which uses $200/year in ink.
I buy the DVDs and jewel cases you’re getting printed for $300/year
I archive all of your photographs on 2 x 2TB external hard drives = $500.
I also back up all of my photographs online so if there was ever a fire in my office, you would never lose your photographs = $400/year.
I also have office expenses as far as buying paper, staples, envelopes, packaging, filing cabinets and files, etc…
I also spend time and money ordering your prints and albums, paying for shipping, going to the post office etc.
All of that being said, I’m usually in the hole at the end of the year, and take on many family portraits, senior portraits and corporate jobs in order to make ends meet.
Photography is my passion and my livelihood, and it is also expensive. Yes, it seems like a lot of money for one day, but one day isn’t all we spend on your photographs or on our business. You will spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress or flowers or a venue or on catering which you are going to have for only one day, but your photographs will be the only thing you have to remember that one day for the rest of your lives.
I’m extremely insulted by your craigslist post and hope this sheds a little light on why we charge $3,000 for one day of your memories that are going to last you forever.
– Nikki Wagner, Photographer

Posted on January 28, 2012

12-12-12 Maya Marriage of Many

According to the Maya, December 2012 will mark the end of a 5,126-year era, and is a time of renewal, rebirth, renaissance and new beginnings. In honor of this historic moment in time the 2012 Maya Marriage of Many will be a celebration of love with a marriage en mass for 36 lucky couples on the Maya ruins of Cahal Pech on 12-12-12.

Posted on January 17, 2012

2 for $1400, just in time for Valentines Day

I was cruisin’ facebook (honestly, i really do WORK on there!), and it occurred to me that Valentines Day was coming! SOOO…in honor of the Holiest of Love Days, I decided to post a “Quickie” Itinerary. This is a sample 5 nighter, just a quick in and out, if you will. Come on Saturday the 11th, leave on the 16th, for example. Anyway, i can modify, add, delete, change, do the hokey pokey if ya want. It’s your vacation after all!

www.romantictravelbelize.com
US – 215-469-2496
Belize – 011-501-670-5272

Day 1 – 10:15 am – Arrive BZE
10:40 am – Depart BZE to SPR
11:00 am – Arrive SPR, transport to resort

DAY 2 10 am – maybe wake up, maybe roll over, maybe go to the
pool, maybe go frolic in the sea….

DAY 3 The Altun Ha maya Ruin Tour and Jungle Spa Visit
On this adventure you head out the backside of the island toward the mainland. Soon you will be winding through the Northern River where you are likely to see Orchids, cactus and a rich variety of birds and indigenous animals. At Bomba Village, you will then board a private bus that takes you through several quaint villages as you make your way to the maya Ruins of Altun Ha.
There, our guide will give you a tour of the ruins and you’ll have some time to explore. Once you have worked up a healthy appetite, we will head to the Maruba Jungle Spa for an exotic lunch including fish and
wild game. After lunch you can take a refreshing dip in their pool or indulge in incredible treatments such as herbal facials and mud baths (for those that wish to be pampered). Then enjoy the swift boat ride back through the river and home to San Pedro.

Flourishing during the Classic Period of Maya civilization, the true ancient name of this site is unknown. “Altun Ha” is a maya translation of the nearby village named “Rockstone Pond.” The extent to which the site has been cleared and restored makes it easy to imagine its past glory and wealth as a major ceremonial center. The archaeological site covers about one square mile of area, with at least 500 visible structures. Evidence dates the earliest settlement here to 200 BC, with varied construction phases ending about 900 AD.
Includes: Breakfast, lunch, beer, sodas, rum punch and snacks.

DAY 4 Go to town? Drive around in golf cart

DAY 5 Two Stop Snorkel Tour

Stop 1: HOL CHAN MARINE RESERVE-
Due to the protected status of the area, the fish
populations have exploded. In waters as shallow as 5 feet, large schools of jacks, groupers, snappers and barracuda abound. Along each side of the cut grow healthy stands of corals and seagrass in shallow water, perfect for the beginner snorkeler. The more experienced swimmer can swim from one side of the cut to the other, experiencing shallow reef, drop offs over the steep sides of the “cut”, and seagrass and sand beds in the middle of the channel.

Stop 2 – Shark and Ray Alley – The sharks and rays hear the dive boats approaching and begin to school in anticipation of bait being thrown into the water. When you arrive, you will see the surface often boiling with rolling sharks and sting ray wings as they vie for the scraps.

5:30 pm – Return to Hotel

DAY 6 Time to go home. Transfer from SPR to BZE

Posted on

100% Belizean Wedding Favor Bags – featuring Glow Belize Soy Candles

I received an email from a colleague in the states. She also manages tours and other events in Belize, but remotely…from the states. So when she found herself in a pickle, having been told at the last minute that she was not going to receive the Wedding Favors as promised for a client, she emailed me. I was actually glad, as i’ve wanted to do this sort of Wedding Favor a Destination Wedding here in Belize for while, just never had the opportunity.

Although the Wedding Favor/Swag Bags for the Maya Marriage of Many 12/12/12 Destination Wedding in Belize will be much grander than this, it’s a nice starting point :)


The completed bag


Water Bottle Bags made by Carib Creations


So anyone that knew me when i had my shop in the states knows i ADORE SOy Candles. They leave no soot. Not black crap on your walls, the sides of the container…just clean burning great smelling candles. Glow Belize Candles are the first ones produced here. Now…here’s the thing about Rosies, “Glow Belize Candles”…

You see these little heart shaped boxes? Ok, so they arent 100% natural, or belizean, but hey, we are REALLY limited for resources here. So when Rosie and I discussed this project, i wanted something “special”. She described how she’d make them. I had no idea i would see this.

First, you should know..the sand was taken from “the other side of the reef”. The sand here on our beaches is a bit courser than this sand. And see the pink bits, you wont see that on our beaches. SO..at some point, she was on the other side of the reef and got this sand. Then, she glues the sand on the box, then glues on the tiny but perfect shells on top. Then she clear coats the whole box…twice. THEN, she wraps in cello and ties with raffia. But she’s not done…then she adds a sweet little charm. Sheer Destination Wedding Favor Bliss!

Posted on January 16, 2012

Live Like a Local

Belize is a country that may get easily over looked when travelling through Central America, but it shouldn’t because it full of life and beautiful people. Just off the coast to the north of Belize you will discover the island Ambergris Caye which offers you a paradise which hardly travelers are yet to fully discover. For some good tips and ideas for your visit to Ambergris Caye we have talked to a home town local, Lara Goldman who has so kindly shared her knowledge so you can visit Ambergris Caye “Like a Local.”

What are your top 5 places to go in your city?

Hol Chan Marine Reserve – a marine reserve in the world’s largest living barrier reef

Shark Ray Alley – swim with the sharks and sting rays. These creatures began populating this area off the coast of Ambergris Caye, when the fishermen cleaned their conch and fish there. The sharks and rays began hanging out there to get scraps, and now, they come when they hear a boat engine,

Palapa Bar and Grill – float in inner tubes under the 2 story bar and grill, and they will drop beers down to you in a bucket,

Marco Gonzalez Maya Site – receiving its designation as a “Park” by the country of Belize just this year, it is in the process of being excavated. Watch where you step, pottery shards, tools, and other ancient artifacts are absolutely everywhere. Please don’t take them though – they belong to Belize; as with all things in Belize, leave only footprints, take only memories.

Tranquility Bay Resort – very far north on the island, go here to see “the aquarium”. This resort is in a marine reserve, so in the evening, the restaurant which is built over the water, is lit from beneath, lighting the surrounding waters. Watch as first the little fish come, then the bigger fish; then the spotted eagle rays, tarpin and others come to feed in the light

What are the Top 3 places that visitors must go to feel like a local?

Rocky Point – at the tippy top of Ambergris Caye, it’s a Caribbean wonder to behold!

What are some typical activities for locals in your city?

Snorkeling, scuba diving, hanging in a hammock, climbing Mayan ruins, visiting the Belize Zoo

How can you spot a local in your city?

Besides the beautiful brown of the Belizeans, you can tell a local by their attitude (no shirt, no shoes, no problem), their laid back spirit, their calmness, and of course, their feet – which seldom have shoes. Also, due to the large Maya Population (we are the epicenter of the Maya World); you’ll notice the broad faces, enormous gorgeous deep brown eyes, and flat noses. For the expats, you can tell us from our tans, and our relaxed style

Where is the best district for food lovers?

Central Park and “street meat”. Tourists are often afraid to eat from these street vendors, but truth is this is the best food in the country

A few Do’s and Don’ts

DO – Eat, eat, and eat

Do- Leave behind your insecurities. No one cares if you are fat, short, tall, rich, poor or educated. They will only care if you have a pure heart, and they will notice it in you in a nanosecond.

DO – Bring bug spray, we may be paradise, and even the bugs think so sometimes.

DO- Bring sunscreen and use it! I don’t care that you lay out with baby-oil at home, or that you’ve been to other islands, but trust me you will get burned.

DO – Listen to the local when he tells you to put vinegar on your sunburn (see above). It really does take the sting out. The first time i was told to do this, i was sure i was being marinated, but it really did work!

DO- Rent a golf cart (it’s all we drive) and go exploring. You can’t get lost, and there aren’t any really bad neighborhoods, so during the day you are safe as can be.

DO- Eat street meat

DO – Attend any local events in town. We are still so small and undiscovered, we don’t have a ton of tourists, so any events going on are authentic and truly for local enjoyment, but we love for you to join us! It’s a treat to see a local culture being naturally cultural

DO – Come in June for Lobster Festival. YUM!

DONT – buy drugs, while we are very laid back about drinking, but drugs are still very much illegal.

DONT – forget to bring your common sense. It’s best to walk on the roads at night and not the beach when you’ve had too much to drink on your way home from a night of partying.

Local un-miss able food

Chicken, Rice and Beans. I know you’ve had it elsewhere, but not like this. And BBQ…..oh how we love our BBQ, Amazing stuff!

Are there some great day trips from your city that aren’t well known?

The Belize Zoo is amazing, and completely natural. All animals are rescued and are in natural habitat. TIP – if you go toward the end of the day, you can follow the ranger as he feeds the animals. I fed a jaguar once, and i can tell you, you never forget a thing like that!

Best way to get a locals perspective of the city.

Talk to them. We Love Belize and we love to talk about it!

Any tips for travellers to your city or words of wisdom?

Leave all your preconceived notions of Central America and the Caribbean behind. Tourists in other places are best to avoid talking to locals on the streets and in bars, but in Belize, if a local wants to talk to you – he really just wants to have a chat. Belizeans are very friendly, warm and open people. If you are sitting near one, and they have a tortilla, they will tear it in half and share it with you. In Belize, you won’t be asked what you do for a living, but you will be asked if you are enjoying out Beautiful Belize. Talk to the folks, listen to their advice, and make a new friend. We see only souls here, not pocketbooks.

Like a Local by Lara Goldman

Romantic Travel Belize
www.romantictravelbelize.com

Posted on October 21, 2011

Tenae Raak Linares Wedding Testimonial

Our trip was overall amazing! You and Lara helped make everything go so smoothly! I really wasn’t worried about anything. I loved the flowers and decorations, the cake looked great, the music was perfect! Overall, it was a lovely experience I would say it was a huge success!!! Thank you for all of your hard work to make my special day so wonderful! I wish I could give you a hug right now!!

Posted on October 19, 2011

Free Week or up to $4,900 in Commissions for 12/12/12

The Epic Maya Marriage of Many
www.2012weddingsbelize.com

The 36 couples and 218 guests attending the Maya Marriage of Many at Cahal Pech Maya Site in Belize are in for a once in a 5200 year treat! Read all about it on the website, but this email is to let you know that if one of your clients or friends books this package, YOU get lots of moolah!

12 Productions Belize, Ltd, is offering a 10% commission on each bridal package. So, if your referral books a $24,030 package, and their 6 guests each book their $2530 package, thats $3,900 in commissions to you! Add to that a $1,000 FIRST BRIDE signed head hunting bonus, and you could earn $4,900 USD!!

The first bride to sign up will surely get a TON of press (and so would you as the referring agent). The bride we seek must desire being the center of attention and appreciate the incredible rarity of this event, and truly desire to be a part of something “bigger”. In addition, she must have dynamic personality, adventurous spirit, and be globally and culturally conscious.

email inquiry@2012weddingsbelize.com for more information or to set up an appointment to discuss in more detail.

Posted on October 4, 2011

Maya Marriage of Many Epic Wedding Event in Belize

2 years ago, almost to the day, i launched my little bikini company, Lemon Crush Belize.  Absolutely everyone thought i was crazy.  And as i sat and tried to figure out how to get people “up there” (meaning the USA) to notice me “Down here”…tiny tropical island off the coast of Belize…i decided to try to target the bridal industry, and Romantic Travel Belize was born.  My intention was to work in conjunction with a select group of local businesses and gain internet exposure for them, and Lemon Crush Belize.  I had no idea what i had done.

Flash forward: December 12, 2012 – 36 couples, 218 guests, a minister, a shaman, and a JP, gorgeous flowers and fabric flowing everywhere, authentic mayan cooking, culture and music filling the incredibly acoustic and intimate Cahal Pech maya site…people you really love, in an incredibly moving, enchanting environment.  Meanwhile, 5 couples will get married here in San Pedro…one in each of 5 different hotels.  Total wedding couples and attendees: approx 500.

whoa.

The minute the words “mass wedding” were sent into the air during a conversation between Lisa Light and I…it was like POW.   The phrase “mass wedding” was uttered in the midst of a true rambling babbling brainstorming discussion.  The instant the little bone that beats the little drum in my ear interpreted that phrase, i dont know how to describe it… all i can say is, in that very instant – i knew i had to TRY.  That POW moment was only 3 months ago.

Now, i say “only” but thats not really true.  A thing of this magnitude doesnt happen overnight, and it doesnt happen on it’s own.  The relationships and partnerships that have been going into this Event have been in the works for YEARS.   This “Project” as i’ve been calling it, is about relationships and believing that we really can do something so incredible it can TRULY benefit….everyone.

I do not care that our airfare is higher than Cancun.  It should be.  We are different than Cancun.  We are Belize.  There is No Where else in the whole world with THAT Reef and  THOSE ruins.   If not for Australia, Belize would have The Worlds Largest Barrier Reef, but they do not have Mayan Ruins.  Yucatan has Mayan Ruins, but they do not have a Barrier Reef.  I repeat, there is No Where Else In The World where you have Ruins and Reef.  No where.

And did I mention the 5,126 year old Maya Calendar is about to come to an end? EVERYONE knows about the moron that said the world was going to come to an end a few weeks ago and then “OOPS, I meant October”.  The world is going to be looking for something to look at:  May as well give them something to look at.  That was the idea, anyway.

A thing of this magnitude doesnt happen overnight, and it doesnt happen on it’s own.  The relationships and partnerships that have been going into this Event have been in the works for YEARS.   This “Project” as i’ve been calling it, is about relationships and believing that we really can do something so incredible it can TRULY benefit….everyone.

So, i needed to pull a team together.  Off i went, in search of belizers…er, um, I mean believers… UP THERE…And i found them:

The Public Relations team is absolutely world class.  Alan Brown and Shari Solomon Cedar from Primetime, LLC, have signed on as the PR firm to market and sell this event, and Lisa Light of New York is the BEST at what she does – design and plan AH MAZE ING weddings….she literally wrote the book Destination Bride, available on amazon.   The Cotton Bride, www.thecottonbride.com, by International designer Chris Kole, has signed on to make a Maya Inspired wedding gown out of Cotton just for us.  Terry Grruber, A List photographer (he did Catherine Zeta Jones’ wedding) is the International Official Photographer.  How fortunate i truly am to be working with these people – it humbles me.

When i started RTB I used to say I felt like a Who from Dr Suess’ “Horton hears a Who”, trying to get “them up there” to hear “us down here”.   I guess this is how  one little Who, can get a lot of other Who’s together, so we can get Horton to “hear us, hear us, hear us….”

shout out to: paul jewitt, jen sharp, jose luis zapatta, carole goodreau – from the first photo shoot to this…..thank you for believing in this little Who! xoxo

 

Posted on August 10, 2011

From "Brides" Magazine – Guide to Wedding Planners

The following was cut and pasted from “Brides Magazine” online.  Link is at bottom :)

Wedding Vendors

“I need a wedding planner, er, coordinator, um, designer. Wait… what?!”

We investigate your options so you know exactly what type of wedding planner you’re shopping for.

By Lauren Matthews

You know it’s smart to hire a planner—but should you hire a wedding planner, coordinator, consultant, architect, producer, designer, or stylist? Sure, it’s confusing, but we investigated the different designations so that you’ll know exactly what you’re shopping for.

Job Titles Explained

Since there’s no license or certification required to practice wedding planning for a living, planners essentially can call themselves whatever they want. And while belonging to an organization like the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants (ACPWC), or the Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA) is an indicator of experience, it’s not the only one. Talent speaks for itself via photos on the planner’s company website or blog. And, of course, as with all pros you might hire, always read reviews on sites like Brides.com (natch), and politely ask for references from other vendors and couples. Now that we’re clear on these points, let’s look at what these pros can do for you.

Full-Service Planner

a.k.a. wedding planner, wedding coordinator, wedding producer
Does what?
-Provides vendor referrals and negotiates contracts; schedules and attends all vendor meetings
-Creates detailed timelines and floor plans
-Helps determine and manage your budget
-Attends site tours and menu tastings
-Brainstorms style ideas and coordinates design details
-Coordinates hotel room blocks and transportation
-Manages the rehearsal
-Oversees everything on the wedding day (makes sure everyone adheres to the timeline, handles snafus, manages vendors, and executes your vision on-site)

Right for you?
-You have no free time because of a demanding job
-You have no clue where to start when it comes to planning, and your organizational skills aren’t the greatest
-You have a very short time frame for planning
-You’re throwing a destination wedding and/or a wedding weekend involving multiple events
-You’re hosting your wedding in an unusual space (read: not a hotel, restaurant, or banquet hall)

Wedding Designer

a.k.a. wedding stylist, wedding architect
Does what?
-Creates the wedding’s design concept
-Provides color palette guidance
-Oversees the décor budget and vendors (florist, rentals, lighting, stationer)
-Sources special props and equipment
-Attends a site visit to visualize where you want everything to go, devise a layout, and identify potential problems
-Creates detailed floor plans
-Ensures all of the décor elements are in place on-site at the wedding

Right for you?
-The décor is the most important element of the wedding for you
-You’re confident in your organizational and logistical skills, but your creative skills are lacking
-You’re trying to pull off a very specific theme or you have a million wedding style ideas that you can’t narrow down

“Day Of” Planner

a.k.a. wedding consultant, wedding director
Does what?
-Puts in at least 25 hours of pre-wedding work (versus 80 to 250 hours for full-service planners; up to 40 for designers)
-Meets with you four to eight weeks before the wedding to get a handle on what you’ve planned thus far
-Checks in with your vendors to review the signed contracts and confirm logistics
-Creates detailed timelines and floor plans
-Completes a final walk-through of the ceremony and reception sites
-Addresses any overlooked details (such as forgetting to hire a coat check attendant)
-Manages the rehearsal
-Oversees everything on the wedding day

Right for you?
-You want to play an active role in planning your wedding but would like someone to take care of the last-minute details and make sure you haven’t missed anything
-You’re extremely organized and detail-oriented
-You don’t have the budget for a full-service planner

 

 

http://www.brides.com/wedding-answers-tools/wedding-vendors/2010/12/wedding-planners-day-of-planners-hiring-wedding-planners

Posted on August 4, 2011

Back to the Dress

With the approaching of the resetting of the ancient Maya Calendar in December 2012, I’ve become obsessed with the Ancient Maya Sites in Belize.  One of the only places in the world you can get married on an actual Mayan Temple is in Belize.  Sure, you can get married on the beach, and my tips for picking a dress apply to beach weddings as well, however, my obsessions have always slanted to the “out of the box” and thats why i adore Maya Temple Weddings.

Having recently coordinated and attended one of  the first same sex, female weddings on a mayan temple, i was once again reminded of one thing – It’s HOT.  Some months ago i wrote a blog about choosing the perfect destination wedding dress for a destination wedding.  The number one tip – Breathable Fabrics.  Nothing is more important.   I know, dear reader, you dont think i’m right.  I know :).  But i am.  I really really want you to enjoy your wedding and to feel your best, and if you are in a fabric that does not breathe, not only will you not want to participate and dance, your hair and make up will be a mess because you are just….HOT.  Fortunately, Britton my Maya Temple Bride, opted for a long plain cotton column dress.  But this got me thinking, doesnt anyone make a really great cotton wedding gown?

Google to the rescue!

Here are my picks for the cutest, chicest cotton wedding gowns i could find on the web :)  Any suggestions for ones i missed?  pass them along and i’ll post!

Oh, and not to mention – Cotton and natural fiber dresses are uber-eco friendly, too

The Cotton Bride – you have got to see some of these gowns.  Not your grandmothers lace, nor her bodice!   It is ASTONISHING how elegant and beautiful these dresses are.

Eleanor Eco makes some pretty dresses.  I think these are more “one of a kind” and can be found at the link attached, or also i found some on etsy.com

Marilyn Pate Cotton Wedding gowns are very reasonably priced. The one shown is only $385.  Which, for a custom made, eco friendly gown, is as friendly to your wallet as it is to you budget.

Cady Erica at GloriasBridal.com is on sale for only $129!  Nice deal, great little dress.  I’d glam this one up with some vintage jewelry in colors or plain rhinestone for a little more pop, pizazz and pinache

Posted on July 28, 2011

Big KISS in little Belize- Simmons Proposes in Belize

i am watching A&E’s “Gene Simmons Family Jewels”.  Tonight is the airing of the season finale in which Gene Simmons will propose to girlfriend of 27 years, mother of his 2 children, and woman he has refused to marry for 27 years.

I know what it was like to wait  4 years…but 27! Woman, you DESERVED that trip to Belize.  But i digress….

I sit here in my living room in Belize, watching my facebook account explode, and just sit here in awe to hear about my tiny little country on TV.  People still say “Belize, wait where is that?”.  Noone knows about this amazing little gem, and i’m so proud to be here and i love sharing it.  Tourism is an essential part of our economy and the man who held out for 27 years, the King of Kiss, gets engaged here!  Such an exciting an opportunity for us!

I am so proud to watch how things unfold.  It just ended, and i have to say,  “Job well done!”  to the team that pulled that together.  The show highlights belize beautifully and shows people exactly how amazing this place is.    Victoria House was their host here in San Pedro, and is the dock he drops to one knee and proposes at.

It”s hard for someone in the states to understand how big this is for us down here.  Our nation is so small, every person that you see and they are meetings are people that we all know.  So from that end, its super cool.  To see my beloved belize as i would be seeing it if i was still sitting on the sofa in philadelphia is VERY cool.  sorta trippy actually :)

Meanwhile, having grown up in the 70’s and 80’s, i understand the cult like draw of Gene Simmons.  Well, i dont “understand” it, but i get that it exists.  But then again, i have always been a far of his show, not his music.  I suppose, for me, i loved that he managed to turn that moment in time, that goofy band that wore make up – into a brand.   A “brand” this is still pertinent, and i just admire the guy.  So for him to be here, and to truly help raise the profile of this tiny little nation of 300,000 people.

I wonder if he really will ever understand how helpful that sort of thing is for us.  Personally, i’m hoping that a bunch of women are sitting out there,  and are saying to themselves “ooo, i wanna get married in belize!’.  But more than that, I truly hoping that all the dudes out there, the ones that havent found the damn cahones to get around to asking her to marry you, to the ones who see Gene Simmons proposal as a “loss” and just another one fallen…and have pointed to Gene Simmons as an example of why NOT to propose…  I am hoping you realize that the true ROMANCE, Inspiration, and energy of Belize can even make your icon  of single-hood, finally give in and give the lady a rock already! :)

And do it here in Belize :)

Posted on July 26, 2011

Tara Del Sol featured as part of Condo-Hotel Trend

02/23/2011

 

For Immediate Release

 

Condo-hotels is the new travel trend of 2011

 

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico, February 23, 2011. While the past two years were among the worst for hotel business in decades, there are signs of recovering occupancy rates and new trends, and the consumers are now expecting more value for the money. Value is delivered in the form of luxury condo-hotels that have sprung up during the last decade – in the US and abroad – and have recently joined the tough hotel market more daringly than ever. After all, condos can offer more space and more privacy, with 5-star hotel amenities and services, but the price of one traditional hotel room.

 

Condo-hotels are on average at least 50 percent less expensive per square foot than hotels, with suites instead of rooms, multiple amenities, and hotel-like services. HomeAway, Inc., the world’s leading online vacation rental marketplace, lists the reasons why vacationers might find vacation rentals and condos to be more attractive than traditional hotels. “Home-like experience” and “more room” are listed as top reasons for their choice of rentals. Other advantages of vacation rentals are listed as “more privacy,” “better value,” and “more authentic travel experience.”

 

For example, instead of getting an average hotel room, guests of four boutique Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen, situated in the premier beachfront zone of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, stay at posh suites with living rooms overlooking the Caribbean Sea, enjoy multiple spacious bedrooms, each one of them with its own marble bathroom, and lounge on personal terraces or rooftops.

 

Jack Perlman, the developer and former New Yorker, says that “instead of being cramped in one hotel room in sharing beds, families can relax and enjoy the privacy that the separate bedrooms and bathrooms can offer.” Almost all condos feature private outdoor heated Jacuzzis and pools, and rooftops at all four properties boast high-end kitchen appliances and outdoor BBQ grills. Having an option of cooking one’s own home-made dinner and enjoying it on a terrace overlooking the beach adds to the home-like experience a vacation rental can provide.

 

Similarly, Tara Del Sol vacation rentals on San Pedro island, Belize , offer home-like environment. “Lounging in a luxurious living room during those down times, getting up and going to the kitchen that you’ve stocked with your favorite snacks and treats…well, there’s something to be said for that,” says Lara Goldman, founder of Romantic Travel Association of Belize. “Here on Ambergris Caye, the vast majority of properties are condo-style, which is reflective of the this trend,” she affirms.

 

There is no surprise then that the rental occupancy is steadily growing – for example, occupancy rates at Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen are already up by 50% compared to the last year. Similar research in the US shows that, for instance, Rocky Mountain Vacation Rentals, a vacation rental provider for the high country of Colorado, had a 139% increase in annual sales from 2009 to 2010. Vacation Home Rentals, LLC, the largest independent vacation rental site in North America, predicts the vacation rental market will grow 13.1% in 2011.

 

All of these properties, however, do not only hand keys to their guests. They are offering the same that any upscale hotel would offer. Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen have the services of a 5-star hotel, such as 24-hour security, indoor parking garage, room service and daily maid service.  “We have started developing our properties fifteen years ago as condos with 5-star hotel services,” says the developer, “and that takes us ahead of other rental properties that are currently in a rush to install hotel-like services and amenities so that they catch up with the trend – even such big chains as Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont now offer vacation rental option.”

 

As it would be at a hotel, all units at Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen are equipped with luxury toiletries and fine linens.  Guests can even get the services of a private chef, personal shopping, baby sitting, concierge, and transportation in luxury cars. The upscale beach club is complimentary for guests, and everyone receives passes to a modern fitness center. On site, there are two gourmet restaurants, a health café, a luxury Spa, a beauty salon, a gourmet deli & market, and a soon-to-open scuba shop.

Rocky Mountain Vacation Rentals also offer similar hotel-like services, including a 24-hour maintenance, pool & Jacuzzi access, housekeeping, ski lockers and parking. The Colorado properties can conveniently plan their  guests’ entire vacation, including lift tickets, activities at a discount, and even dinner reservations at the best restaurants in town.

That way, in addition to offering more for the money, condo-hotels also bridge the gap between staying at a fancy hotel, where everything is sterile and not-to-be-touched, and a relaxed home environment. It seems they are quite successful at their task – for example, Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen are currently #1 on TripAdvisor.com among all Playa del Carmen hotels, and that doesn’t only include condo-hotels.

 

Rates at Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen start at around $180 per night per one-bedroom condo suite during low season. To find out more about Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen, please visit www.condohotelsplayadelcarmen.com.

 

Other links: At Rocky Mountain Vacation Rentals, a one-bedroom Vail condo apartment with hotel services starts at $350 per night (www.rockymountainvacationrentals.com); at Tara del Sol in Belize , rates for two-bedroom condo start at $225( http://romantictravelbelize.com/select-properties/ambergris-vacation-rentals).

Posted on July 25, 2011

RTB featured in Courier Post Newspaper

Romantic Travel Belize was recently interviewed for a newspaper article on Condotels. The Courier-Post is a morning daily newspaper that serves South Jersey near Philadelphia. It’s Sunday circulation is 82,911 plus thousands of views online.

“Maybe you want to watch a football game while you’re on vacation, and you want to do it while lounging on a nice, comfortable sofa. At a condo-hotel, you have that feel of home without having to water the lawn,” says Lara Goldman, a Philadelphia native who founded the Romantic Travel Belize concierge service five years ago. “You can even tell the kids to go to their room.”

Read the full article here>>

Belize condominium

Posted on July 23, 2011

Luna's New Ride

As some of you might know, i have given up on motorized vehicles.  I simply give up.   Golf Cart maintenance is a bitch.  And that bitch is expensive, so its been about 4 months now, and i really dont much miss having a golf cart…except when it comes to Luna.

Luna the Wonder Puppy (LTWP) is my dog.  Well, i’m her owner/feeder.  She is a very social animal and likes to come with me places, and frankly, i like her company.  Now that my only wheels are peddle powered  however, she can only run but so far. And while Thelma the Blind Deaf Cat fits in my bike basket (see profile pic on Unbelizeable Weddingsand Honeymoons Facebook page), LTWP does not.   If i want to go hang at one of my favorite places, the Palapa Bar, which is one mile north, i cant run her that far.  I live south, and a 55 pound, black dog cant run 5 miles, one way, in this heat.

So alas, LTWP (Luna the Wonder Puppy) was getting very sad and lonely as i was leaving her for more time than she would like.  To solve this, i bought a trailer in the states.  I went to FC’s Aluminum (please note: it is NOT aluminium), and they told me i was better off getting something pre-made versus custom made, even with duty.  They are so nice and honest there, i love them.

Anyway, i went online and i bought the trailer you see above.  It carries a dog up to 55 pounds which means LTWP now has to constantly watch her figure cause she has a tendency to put on weight, and then she wont fit.  ( And who said animals dont take on the traits of their owners?)  I had it shipped to a friends in California who know some folks who charged me $1.25 USD including duty!  Cant beat that with a bat, so i paid my money and waited.  Today, the trailer arrived :)

I unpacked the box, and it was basically about as easy as a Pup Tent.  Just sorted set itself up, i inflated the tires, put them on…put Luna in the thing, and away we went.   It is AWESOME!

So, if you see a big pink thing behind a bike, thats me and LTWP.  We even have a little flag, but perhaps i’ll change it out for a Belizean or Pirate flag.  :)

Wave when you see us go by!

xoxo!
Lara

Posted on July 11, 2011

The Astronomy behind 2012


21 December 2012
THE MAYAN CALENDAR END-DATE
Information Made Easy for the Everyday Earthling to Understand

Jim Papp a.k.a. Rock Boy
Seattle, Earth – December 9, 1998

Most of us are not archaeologists or astronomers, anthropologists or astrologers. Yet the majority of what is written about one of the most exciting and relevant subjects of our day – the approaching Winter Solstice 2012 end-date of the Mayan Calendar – appears in words aimed at specialists and couched in language that can be hard to read. This article is written for the Everyday Earthling who may be hearing a lot about the Mayans, their calendars, hieroglyphs and mysterious temples scattered throughout the jungles of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.

Let us begin with some questions. Why is there so much talk about the “end of the Mayan calendar” and what does it mean? Is there something significant we should know about the Winter Solstice date of December 21, 2012? How were the Mayans able to track long periods of time and why would they want to? Why should we care about the Mayans today? Is there anything we can learn from them? I’ll begin by sharing how my own interest in the subject developed and go on from there.

I first learned about the Mayans in 1987 from Jose Arguelles’ book The Mayan Factor. It was during the months leading up to the event known as Harmonic Convergence that Arguelles, artist and visionary, introduced me to the 20 Mayan daysigns and the thirteen Mayan numbers – and to the wonderfully engaging and mysterious 260 day Mayan ceremonial calendar, called the Tzolkin (pronounced chol-kin). My pursuit of knowledge about pre-Columbian culture had begun.

A great deal of scientific and visionary research work has been done about the Mayans, so I started reading. I learned that the Mayans tracked cycles within cycles within cycles of time. Their calendar acted as a harmonic calibrator, linking and coordinating the earthly, lunar, solar and galactic seasons in an aesthetically simple and elegant manner. The provocative simplicity of the daysigns and the sheer harmony of the calendar drew me in. Then a landmark article by John Major Jenkins appeared in Mountain Astrologer magazine in 1994, revealing for the first time in our era the true meaning of the end-date.

Is there something significant we should know about the Winter Solstice date of December 21, 2012? Yes. On this day a rare astronomical and Mayan mythical event occurs. In astronomic terms, the Sun conjuncts the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. The Milky Way, as most of us know, extends in a general north-south direction in the night sky. The plane of the ecliptic is the track the Sun, Moon, planets and stars appear to travel in the sky, from east to west. It intersects the Milky Way at a 60 degree angle near the constellation Sagittarius.

The cosmic cross formed by the intersecting Milky Way and plane of the ecliptic was called the Sacred Tree by the Maya. The trunk of the tree, the Axis Mundi, is the Milky Way, and the main branch intersecting the tree is the plane of the ecliptic. Mythically, at sunrise on December 21, 2012, the Sun – our Father – rises to conjoin the center of the Sacred Tree, the World Tree, the Tree of Life..

This rare astronomical event, foretold in the Mayan creation story of the Hero Twins, and calculated empircally by them, will happen for many of us in our lifetime. The Sun has not conjoined the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic since some 25,800 years ago, long before the Mayans arrived on the scene and long before their predecessors the Olmecs arrived. What does this mean?

Due to a phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes, caused by the Earth’s wobble that lasts almost 26,000 years, the apparent location of the Winter Solstice sunrise has been ever so slowly moving toward the Galactic Center. Precession may be understood by watching a spinning top. Over many revolutions the top will rise and dip on its axis, not unlike how the Earth does over an extremely long period of time. One complete rise and dip constitutes the cycle of precession.

The Mayans noticed the relative slippage of the positions of stars in the night sky over long periods of observation, indicative of precession, and foretold this great coming attraction. By using an invention called the Long Count, the Mayans fast-forwarded to anchor December 21, 2012 as the end of their Great Cycle and then counted backwards to decide where the calendar would begin. Thus the Great Cycle we are currently in began on August 11, 3114 B.C. But there’s more.

The Great Cycle, lasting 1,872,000 days and equivalent to 5,125.36 years, is but one fifth of the Great Great Cycle, known scientifically as the Great Year or the Platonic Year – the length of the precession of the equinoxes. To use a metaphor from the modern industrial world, on Winter Solstice A.D. 2012 it is as if the Giant Odometer of Humanity on Earth hits 100,000 miles and all the cycles big and small turn over to begin anew. The present world age will end and a new world age will begin.

Over a year’s time the Sun transits through the twelve houses of the zodiac. Many of us know this by what “Sun sign” is associated with our birthday. Upping the scale to the Platonic Year – the 26,000 year long cycle – we are shifting, astrologically, from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. The Mayan calendar does not really “end” in 2012, but rather, all the cycles turn over and start again, vibrating to a new era. It is as if humanity and the Earth will graduate in the eyes of the Father Sun and Grandmother Milky Way.

Why should we care about the Mayans today? Is there anything we can learn from them? The trees give us oxygen to breathe and help create the nourishing rains upon which we depend, sustaining life. We are missing these rains in places where the trees have been cut down or burned. Fires begin that nature can no longer extinguish. For the Mayans, trees were intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds, and absolutely essential to life. They believed that without the tree man could not survive and that “with the death of the last tree comes the death of the human race.”

The ancient carved stones and the stars themselves tell us we are on the brink of a new world age. There is no reason not to take a leap of faith into imagining what may be in store. We may trust that it is time for humanity to awaken into a true partnership with each other, with the Earth, and the Cosmos. By accepting this partnership we may claim our birthright and become Galactic Citizens who care for and sustain the planet, thus sustaining ourselves. This is clearly the challenge of our times. Yet, arriving just in time and on schedule is the Winter Solstice dawn on the day we may remember that we are truly Children of the World
source: www.planetpapp.com

Posted on July 10, 2011

My Maya Ruin Obsession

I am originally from Philadelphia.  I have an obsession with Rocky, the Flyers, WaWa and Tasty Kake.

I am now from Belize.  I have an obsession with coral reefs, rice and beans, and Maya Ruins.  The Reef is an obsession because,  well, the second largest in the world, and its ours, all ours.  This tiny country has one of the biggest most important things in the whole wide world.  I live on an island on the coast of Belize, so when i walk my dog on the beach, i’m looking at that amazing reef.  I’ve been here for over five years and have looked at that reef just about every day.

My Chicken Rice and Beans obsession, is well, less of an obsession and more of an obligation.  Once you live here long enough, you somehow become infused with the stuff, and realize its a part of living here.  non negotiable.

The Maya Ruin Obsession, however, is bigger and badder than any other (well, except for Rocky).  I cannot help but marvel at Maya Ruins.  “They were smart little suckers”,  I always say.  The more you study them, the more you become immersed in their very real  culture, the more you realize, ‘they were smart little suckers’.  The Egyptians, the Maya, the Aztec, the Indian, all built temples thousands and thousands of years ago.  we dont know how, to this day.  But they are still here.  I get to live in a place where i can run amouck in those ruins any ole time i want.   For those of us that have chosen to make Belize our home, this realization is often …  astonishing.  At least it is for me.

So, here i find myself, astonishingly, in the middle of el Mundo Maya.  Not only am I here, but I’m here at an amazing time.  The Maya believe that come December 2012, the world will enter another cycle.  NO one here really thinks the world is coming to an end… thats just for hollywood (thank you john cusack).  It’s a time of rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings.

In the coming weeks, and months you will see more and more from me about the December 2012 Event.  I will try to post facts and opinions, and also, a few little bits on how fantastic Belize is for your 2012 wedding.

No where else can you have the Ruins and the Reef.  Only in Belize.

oh, and i bet i can get you a plate of chicken rice and beans too :)

Posted on July 6, 2011

Fink Family Testimonial

THANK YOU Soooo much for everything, It was a GREAT week!  We loved our time in San Pedro, we didn’t want to leave!

So here’s how we spent our week:

On Sunday it was drizzly so we took a boat into town. We found it to be real quaint and clean! We bought a bunch of stuff, wood carvings, jewelry, and clothes.

On Monday we did Ho Chan snorkeling and saw a 30 year old turtle, nurse sharks, huge rays and tons of fish! We went into town and ate at carambas.

On Tuesday we watched the construction workers balance on rebar (crazy!) as we hung around the resort. We went up to Portofino’s for dinner, real good!

On Wednesday We went fishing, together the 4 of us caught 37 red snappers. We had them for lunch…  Well not all of them!

On Thursday we went snorkeling again. This time it was an a day affair with a picnic on the beach! While the family was snorkeling the boat driver and his buddy caught lunch (more snapper, grouper & lobster) I got burned ;(.  We went Into town for the chicken drop and ate at Blue Water Grill.

On Friday we headed to the mainland for a trip to the zoo and cave tubing. The cave tubing was awesome! It was sooooo hot on the mainland, we were really glad we stayed on the island.

Posted on June 27, 2011

First Same Sex Maya Ruin Wedding with Shaman a success!

Yesterday morning at 630 am, Jose Luis Zapata Photography and Dorian Nunez, from Ambergris Today Newspaper arrived at my house to pick me up.  Awful early for us, but we had to catch the 7 am flight to Municipal Airstrip and pick up our rental car.  We arrived at Maruba Spa and Resort right on time, 9 am.

Briton and Danielle were waiting for us in the super cool lobby area of Maruba. Danielle was just finishing her first Bloody Mary, which she apparently needed quite badly!  You see, this whole thing was a surprise arranged by Briton and I.  Danielle went to the airport in Houston on Tuesday thinking she and Briton were heading to Cozumel.  It wasnt until they got the airport that she found out that they were coming to Belize.  But that wasnt all of the surprise.  Briton and I had arranged a Maya Commitment Ceremony on the Altun Ha Ruins, presided over by Shaman Rosario Panti.

At Maruba Before leaving for the ceremony

Briton had packed for both of them, and Danielle didnt know that she had white linen pants in the suitcase :)  Briton had a lovely simple cotton dress (she listened to my advice…anything else would have been MISERABLY hot).  When Briton laid the clothes out in the morning, Danielle kept asking why she had to get all dressed up to go to the pool! She had no idea what lay ahead.  Poor Briton was so nervous, that she sputtered out that she had to get ready cause “they” were coming.  Danielle, of course, had no idea who “They” were, and when she asked, Briton couldnt hold it in any longer.  She blurted out “Lara and the photographer and the videographer!”.  Poor confused Danielle still couldnt understand why all these people were needed to simply go to the Maruba Pool :)  Briton filled her in.

Jose Luis Zapata Photography was on hand to get photo’s of the historic event, and Ambergris Today Newspaper’s own Dorian Nunez came to videotape the event.  I Do Belize Weddings arranged for the paperwork and offered to provide a bouquet, but I said I’d make a bouquet for them from flowers found at Maruba.  Turned out beautifully :)  Thanks to all for the back-end support on this!

On Maruba Grounds

So, we piled into my rental car, and off we all went to Altun Ha Maya Ruins.   Rosario’s car was acting up, so she said she’d be a little late.  What to do when your Maya Shaman is running late?  Well, i suppose its time for a belikin or two!  We had some beers and stayed cool while we waited, and this helped to calm poor Briton’s nerves.  After a short while, Rosario arrived, and we all entered the Plaza.

Rosario had asked us all the be in white to represent purity.  She had Flor and a man with her, and together they gave a blessing in Maya.  At one point, Rosario, Danielle and Briton held hands making an arch under which those in attendance (me, jose, dorian, and the maya couple) walked.  There was Copal (incense) burning, and the entire ceremony was about 35 – 40 minutes, and was very interesting and lovely.  Danielle and Briton both cried a wee bit, and i must admit, i welled up too.

Tomorrow Briton and Danielle will come to San Pedro from the “Reef” portion of the “Ruin and Reef” wedding week.  The always fantastic Portofino Beach Resort will be their host for the remainder of their week long “Surprise Wedding at the Maya Ruins”.  I am very proud to be a part of the team that made this happen, and i am very excited to be able to bring this amazing experience to others out there looking for a place to come to feel truly blessed in their union.

May this be the first of many! email lara@romantictravelbelize.com to plan your dream Maya Ruin Ceremony

One love. Namaste.

Posted on June 23, 2011

Same Sex Ceremony on Maya Ruin

When i started on the path that led me to belize over 5 years ago, i never could have imagined how things would go.  I never could have imagined Lemon Crush Belize and certainly not Romantic Travel Belize.  And i am sitting at my desk with an immense sense of pride that i am part of the team that is bringing what i believe to be, the first same sex commitment ceremony on the Maya Ruins, presided over by a Maya Healer.

I do not believe we choose who we love, but rather are subjected to it, and when we are, should we be lucky enough to seize it, would be foolish to squander it.  I’ve always believed that people should be able to marry whomever they choose. In Belize, like most of the world, it is still illegal for gay couples to marry.  I’ve never been a big proponent of “no”, i’m a bigger believer in “yes”, so…how do we get around this persnickety point and help people to feel they’ve been officially united?

I suppose the answer lies not in how you’re united, but rather in how you define united.  That’s the goal, after all, isnt it?

When i was in corporate (8 million years ago),  i’d ask my team to do some thing or another.  Invariably, someone would come and tell me they could not complete the task or reach the goal for whatever reason.  I would look at them and say “You are telling me you’ve hit a wall.  The goal has not changed.  You may have to blow up the wall, go around it, under it, scale it, ooze through it…i dont know, but you still have to get to the other side”.

So, for the sake of argument, you’ve gone your whole life and you have hit this wall of “marriage”.  Because you happen to be the way you are, that you happen to love who you love, you are being told “No.  You may not legally be united to that person”.  That would suck.

However, in a ‘trump’ of narrow-mindedness,  we are pulling together something better.  What could be cooler than a blessing on a 3000 year old temple, by the grand-daughter of a great Maya Healer?

Through a fortuitous chain of events (arent they all?), i find myself in the proud position to be able to help a friend realize her dream and have a commitment ceremony that will make them feel truly welcomed and special.

First thing tomorrow, I will be joined by an amazing team of people to make this event come to life.  I’m holding back the details until tomorrow, though…so stay tuned!  Photo’s and deets to follow….

Posted on June 21, 2011

Dan and Michelle-Dempsey Rist Testimonial

Dan and I decided on Belize to celebrate our honeymoon in September 2010. We chose Belize because we wanted an exciting vacation that wasn’t too far from our home in Philly and a honeymoon that was not a “cookie cutter” all-inclusive vacation that we could get anywhere else. During our search for information about Belize we came across Lara and her company, Romantic Travel Belize. Not knowing anything about Belize, we told Lara what we wanted to do and she set it up for us. Not only did we stay in one of the nicest resorts we’ve ever been to (The Victoria House in San Pedro), we also had some of the most memorable experiences of our lives. These included touring the Mayan Ruins, cave tubing, and snorkeling in Hol Chan Marine Reserve to name a few. Lara’s personal attention and care on our trip was second to none. She even met us at the resort only about a half hr after we arrived to Belize to welcome us and go over our itinerary for the week and make sure we had everything we needed. We had the most amazing honeymoon ever and it was because we used Romantic Travel Belize. We owe many thanks to Lara for setting it up, taking good care of us and making sure everything went as planned. We recommend using Romantic Travel Belize because no one else has the first hand experience and knows more about Belize than Lara! Thanks Lara!

Posted on May 10, 2011

Nanette- Day Trip from Cruise Ship

Hi Lara – We are back on land! We had such a wonderful trip and the side trip in Belize was a great highlight of our trip. What a wonderful vacation and thanks for making it special. Can’t wait to come back to Belize and do the waterfall sometime!

Nanette

Posted on April 8, 2011

Megan and Matt – March 2011

Dear Lara,

Where do we begin?  Thank you for not only luring us to Belize, but for planning our amazing trip!

It was so serendipitous that we got your adorable package and that we were able to connect. From Maruba to Hidden Valley to Portofino; cave tubing to zip lining and snorkeling- everything was amazing!

It was such a welcome relief to have things planned out, especially by a local expert. You introduced us to so many fabulous people and places and we can’t thank you enough.

You are right that Belize is just waiting to be discovered, and you now have us on board to help get the word out!

I can’t wait to come back down, for a client’s wedding, or maybe even our own.

Looking forward to working with you in the very near future.

Keep in touch, and thanks again.

Best,

Megan and Matt

Posted on

10 Wacky things to do with Vinegar

On my very first trip here just over 5 years ago, i was no different than any other tourist:  I got FRIED in the sun.  My boat Capt. Boxer pulled out a small bottle.  He said the vinegar will take away the sting.  I truly thought he was teasing me, and was preparing me for a marinade, but i acquiesed, and allowed the anointing by vinegar.  While i stunk to high heaven, the sting really did go away.  Since then, i’ve come to realize in their truly ingenious, problem solving way, Belizeans have many uses for vinegar, but some people know others.  What uses do you know of that arent on this list?

Published today on www.wisebread.com

10 Weird and Wonderful Ways to Use Vinegar

by Mikey Rox on 8 April 2011 0 comments
Photo: Spiderstock

What comes to mind when you think of Easter?

Baskets, probably. Or perhaps the Resurrection. Maybe even cute little bunnies.

Not for me. I think of vinegar, much more so than any other time of year. It’s used to dye the requisite hard-boiled eggs, and in my family we pour it on top of boiled cabbage at Easter dinner.

When I thought about vinegar for a moment, I knew there had to be tons of applications for the acidic accoutrement. And there are. A quick search will reveal plenty of practical ways to use it. (See also: 30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace and 254 Uses for Vinegar)

The practical posts have been done to death, however, which is why I sent out a query to my contacts asking for unusual uses for vinegar. The responses I received were quite surprising — and one of them might have made me blush. Take a look at the tips.

1. Fix Anemic Plants

“When your large garden plants like rhododendrons and andromeda are showing signs of anemia (that would be pale leaves but darker green veins), soak rusty nails (not the Drambuie kind) or rusty anythings you might have around the garden in white vinegar for a few weeks. Then dilute the solution and pour it around the plant as far out as the leaves spread.” — David Eisner

2. Remove Salt

“Diluted vinegar is a great way to remove salt residue from suede and leather shoes.” — Allison Dent

3. Try to Have a Girl

“My friend, who is a midwife, after having two sons and desperately wanting a girl, gave herself a vinegar douche…It’s a fact — something to do with changing the chemical balance of the womb lining, which increases your chances of having a girl. It worked!” — Caroline Cheshire

4. Eliminate Sunblock Stains

“To remove sunblock stains on sheets and clothing, boil the vinegar, then dissolve baking soda in it. Dip the stained area in the mixture, set it in the sun to dry, and the stain will be removed.” — Lara Goldman

5. Banish Blood

“To remove blood, use room-temperature vinegar, dissolve baking soda, soak the stain, and rinse. Do not use warmed vinegar, as it will set the stain instead.” — Lara Goldman

6. Soothe Sunburns

“To reduce sting of sunburn, pour vinegar on it, and the sting will go away.” — Lara Goldman

7. Remove Bruises

“To make a bruise disappear, put vinegar in microwave until it’s as warm as you can take it. Put sea salt in the vinegar and soak a cloth. Compress for five to seven minutes or until the cloth cools. The bruise will go away.” — Lara Goldman

8. Settle Your Stomach

“The best use for vinegar: Use it instead of antacids. A couple of tablespoons will help your digestion. My friends who have used antacids have confirmed this. Furthermore, a couple tablespoons will stabilize your blood sugar.” — Susan Schenck

9. Define Dye

“Half to one cup of distilled white vinegar in your laundry helps set the dye on clothing the first time you wash the item. Works great for dark denim.” — Leslie Crook

10. Eliminate Epoxy

“Boat builders use vinegar to clean up uncured epoxy.” — Dana Carini

Posted on

Is It The End of The World As We Know It? Dec 21, 2012

This was sent to me by my friend at www.honeymoons.com.  He will have to be on my trivia team at Pedro’s one of these days, and he randomly knew that Voltan was the Mayan King that some interpret as having foretold the end of the world.  We shall see…all i know is this: watch this space, I plan on saving the world with Love that day…BIG TIME  :)

Excerpted from www.endoftheworld.org.  I personally dont agree with this interpretation, but it’s an interesting read anyway.
The Mayans viewed ‘time’ and ‘dates’ as a meshing spiritual cycles. The Mayan calendar was sacred and religious, each day had it’s own patron spirit.

The Mayan grand cycle of evolution will culminate on December 21, 2012 AD. The 2012 Apocalypse.

This time now has many names “The Time of Trial on Earth,” “Judgement Day,” “The Time of Great Purification,” “The End of this Creation,” “The Quickening,” “The End of Time as We Know It,” “The Shift of the Ages,” “The Apocalypse” and “Armageddon”.

As keen stargazers, the ancient Maya were familiar with astrological cycle we call the Precession of the Equinoxes. This is close to a 26,000 year cycle in which Earth passes through each of the 12 signs of the zodiac for 2000-2152 years each. Each of these astrological ages represents one month of the Cosmic Year.

The Mayans were known worldwide for their architectural, artistic, mathematical and scientific achievements. With great attention to detail they constructed stone monuments and pyramids with precise computations. Built with purpose, these dates were left to ensure that future generations would be alerted to the end point of this great 26,000 year cycle – The 2012 Apocalypse.

A cycle which corresponds also to a 26,000 year relationship of our Sun orbiting Alcyone, the central star of the 7 Sisters Pleiades constellation. According to the Maya, the “future” which lies beyond this end date is literally a new world age – a new creation – an Apocalypse.

The Mayans believed that December 21, 2012 AD is the culmination of a series of events over time that leads to towards an the ultimate spiritual awakening of the world ( The 2012 Apocalypse ). They believe the changes are underway and will continue steadily accelerating as we head towards this date.

Sunspot Cycles; Adrian Gilbert and Maurice Cotterell, in their book The Mayan Prophecies, say that the end of the Great Cycle is the culmination of a series of long-term sunspot cycles which will flip the sun’s magnetic field, causing earthquakes and flooding on earth and an apocalypse in the year 2012.

The Mayan King Pacal Voltan was known for his prophecies and was known for his knowledge of numbers. Pacal Voltan speaks about the end of the world on December 21, 2012, a year which many believe is the year of the apocalypse.

Part of the 2012 mystique stems from the stars:
On the winter solstice in 2012, the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years. This means that “whatever energy typically streams to Earth from the center of the Milky Way will indeed be disrupted on 12/21/12 at 11:11 p.m. Universal Time,” according to Lawrence Joseph.

Others believe gravitational, magnetic, and solar energies will go awry when this galactic and planetary alignment occurs, causing an array of natural disasters, including the weakening of our magnetic field, allowing solar radiation to penetrate our atmosphere and the 2012 Apocalypse.

Posted on April 7, 2011

Not April Foolin' – These Packages are Super!

  • San Pedro Sampler
    Port terry gruber
  • Round Trip Airfare from Belize International To San Pedro Airstrip for 2
  • Round Trip transfer from San Pedro Airstrip to the Resort for 2
  • 2 Stop Snorkel (Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark/Ray Alley) with Caye Caulker tour for 2
  • Altun Ha Mayan Ruin Tour for 2
  • 7 night/ 8 day basic accommodations (slow season rates shown):
    • At a basic full studio apartment, including one week golf cart rental, local cell phone use: $742.53 per person, double occupancy
    • At 5 Star Resort ranked Top 10 in Central and South America, with golf cart and continental breakfast: $1167.95 per person, double occupancy
    • At Chic Euro resort, accessible by boat only, one day golf cart rental, full daily breakfast: $984.05 per person, double occupancy
    • Totally remote, amazing seclusion Resort, one day golf cart rental, daily breakfast: $1076.28 per person, double occupancy



Rejuvenation Weekend Package

VH Massage

photo by Terry Gruber Photographers

  • Round Trip Airfare from Belize International to San Pedro Airstrip for 2
  • Round Trip Transfer From San Pedro Airstrip to Hotel
  • 2 Stop Snorkel (hol chan/shark ray alley) and Caye Caulker Tour
  • 60 Minute Massage for two
  • Mani/Pedi for two
  • Facials for 2
  • Bottle of Wine
  • Cheese and Fruit Plate
  • 4 Nights/5 Days Accommodations for 2 (slow season rates)
    • At basic full studio apartment, including one day golf cart rental and local cell phone use: $726.05 per person, double occupancy
    • 5 Star Resort ranked Top 10 in CA and SA, continental breakfast, and one day golf cart rental: $969.15 per person, double occupancy
    • At Euro Chic resort, boat access only, $1005.45 per person, double occupancy

Posted on April 2, 2011

Sean and Maia Carney

We were looking for a unique honeymoon and by happenstance we stumbled on Lara’s website. After an initial email inquiry, she shouldered the workload and customized a trip that hit all of our interests. She gave us tips and things to consider in anticipation of our travel which proved to be extremely useful. It was great to have an adviser with an American perspective to ensure we knew the pros and cons of our options. Upon our arrival, Lara was right there, providing personal service. She checked in on us every so often to ensure everything was going as planned. Her flexibility and determination to make our trip memorable was unparalleled. She even altered our itinerary mid-week, at our request, so that we could do a beach bbq/snorkeling trip that had just been scheduled that week. We believe she is the reason our trip was so successful. Lara has been to every place she recommends, and recommends it for a reason – it is the best offered at the price offered. Our trip was no-hassle and ended up under budget. It was an amazing time and we couldn’t imagine having done our honeymoon anywhere else.

Sean & Maia Carney, Jan. 2011

Posted on March 31, 2011

Magazine Spotlight

Romantic Travel Belize has been featured in a variety of magazines over the last month including Vermont Vows, Well Wed New York, Well Wed Hamptons, Well Wed Martha’s Vineyard and Lakes Region Bride

Posted on March 24, 2011

Destination Wedding Favors – my new obsession

I have to say, i absolutely love this little business of mine.  It is incredibly fulfilling to be able to help couples plan their dream Belize weddings.   It brings me equal joy, though, to see the many small local businesses which also benefit from those weddings.

And, i’m a bit of a yenta.  So…of course, i cant help but noodle through ways to continue to bring my clients “The Best of the Best of Belize” in unique, and often delicious, ways.  Kakaw Chocolate is a great example. This amazing labor of love, brings not only 100% organic, 100% Belizean, and 100% fantastic chocolate to you, one of the bi-products is 100% Pure Cocoa Butter.

The chocolate blends like this for days to make it super smooth

Belize is also known for its coffee.  We have fabulous Belizean coffees here, too.   And there is a little business that is just starting up that makes candles.  We are also known for our Hot Sauce, which can be purchased in small bottles.  Um…how about keychains, made of Belizean Hardwood hand carved with your initials? or your guests initials?

Sample of an announcement and customized coffee and cocoa packets

The limit for the options of Hand Made in Belize, high quality items is limited to the reach of my cell phone.  I absolutely love the creative part of the wedding favor process, which allows the guests to truly taste, smell or otherwise experience Belize, but really does help our small cottage industries.

Sample of Custom Sleeve

When thinking of your wedding favors, dont forget that you have lug this stuff to belize.   Boxes and bags are light weight and easy to pack.  Bring a glue gun if you want to embellish.  Working with the Romantic Travel Belize team will help by packaging the Belize Items in a great way before your arrival. :)

So all this Belize Wedding Favor thinking then turned into a Belize Destination Wedding Favor Box/Bag Obsession.  And who wouldnt become obsessed when you realize there are boxes like this to put chocolate in:

With Heart Shaped Kakaw White Chocolate...Super Cute

And then i found these…and thought “Where have you been all my life!”

I'll customize coffee packs to fit in these :)

But in fairness, my real obsession started from www.athankyoufavor.com.  They posted some things on facebook, that really got my juices flowing

Like thesecoffee, chocolate, tea lights or hot sauce.  Whats your poison?

But this is the one that started my obsession.

love the little shell on the ribbon.


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Posted on March 12, 2011

Costa Rican Wedding vs Amber Caye Belize Tropical Wedding

Photo: Terry Gruber Photography

Now, in fairness, I’ve never been to Costa Rica.   I say this on the outset, but there are some things I do know about Costa Rica that do qualify me to say:  Belize is Better – and you betta Belize it!

First, and truly most importantly, we are an English Speaking Country.  The official language of Belize is English as we used to be a British Commonwealth (just like canada) known as British Honduras.  In 1981 the deciding vote was cast by the USA to allow Belize to become a sovereign nation.  English speaking might not seem like a big deal on the surface.  Consider this, however, when you are trying to corral 50+ guests here for your wedding, being able to easily, effectively and efficiently communicating with your vendors is more than imperative, it’s essential.    You want to enjoy your beach wedding as well after all!

Second reason to chose a destination wedding in Belize:  We are closer.   I just did a random search on Orbitz.com from Houston to Belize, and Houston to Costa Rica.   The flights cost roughly the same price (about $50 difference).   “On the beach weddings” can be found in both countries, and both are truly stunning, but why take an additional 2 hours to get to Costa Rica?  Belize is less than 2 hours from Houston, Costa Rica is nearly 4 hours!  Then you still have to get to your resort from the international airport.  You’ve enough to do without spending your precious beach time in an airport, car or bus.

Photo: Terry Gruber Photography

Final reason to chose Belize over Costa Rica – ME! 😀  My no-up-charge concierge service is the key to your matrimonial success!  Consider me the “Email Order Maid of Honor”.  Let me worry about your guests hotel rooms, activities, dinner reservations and the rest.  I’ll handle that…you’ve got a wedding to have fun at, a beach to enjoy and fish to go see!  Off you go…have fun…  I Got This

Photo: Terry Gruber Photographer

Posted on March 8, 2011

Top Three Belize Resorts are all Preferred Properties of RTB

Editors Pick
3 TOP TROPICAL BELIZE RESORTS

Editors Topic
Noted as one of Belize’s most romantic resorts, Victoria House on Belize’s Ambergris Caye is an intimate and exclusive retreat set along the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea amongst lush tropical gaNoted as one of Belize’s most romantic resorts, Victoria House on Belize’s Ambergris Caye is an intimate and exclusive retreat set along the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea amongst lush tropical gardens. A fantasy come true for any couple, Victoria House offers romantic seclusion, decadent luxury and a scenic backdrop perfect for weddings, honeymoons and various special occasions.

Victoria House boasts 42 exquisitely romantic accommodations, among which its luxurious villas and charming casitas are the most popular with lovebirds. When not relaxing together in a Mayan hammock, couples can choose from a range of activities at the resort’s Fantasea Dive Shop, including diving and snorkeling excursions, bird watching adventures, cave tubing and more. Plus, with its premier in-house restaurant, Palmilla, couples can awake to a casual and refreshing breakfast complete with locally grown fruit, and watch the sunset while enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner topped off with live jazz music.

Couples planning a wedding at Victoria House are in store for a stress-free trip to paradise, as personal wedding planners assist with all details including the marriage license, minster’s fee, a wedding cake, island bridal bouquet, floral arrangements and more.

For more information, visit www.victoria-house.com

belize
Hidden Valley Inn – one of the few secluded, luxury hotels in Belize is situated on a 7200 acre private nature reserve in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. Offering an intimate setting fit for any occasion, this eco resort boasts picturesque mountain views, sparkling waterfalls and romantic tranquility in an unspoiled natural environment.

Peacefully tucked away in the Mayan Mountains, Hidden Valley Inn features 12 cozy cottages nestled in Belize’s lush rainforest. Among its unparalleled amenities, the property features bedside wood-burning fireplaces, classic claw-foot tubs, and personal rock showers or waterfalls. Couples seeking a change in pace from this haven can choose from an array of private tours to explore Belize, including horseback riding, river canoeing and cave exploring.
Known for its distinctive wedding locations, including Butterfly Falls, a secluded 90-foot waterfall, or Awat Balam – a breathtaking scenic platform, this resort is ideal for couples seeking a unique locale to exchange their vows. Plus, honeymooners can indulge in all-inclusive honeymoon packages that include a picnic lunch at a private waterfall, specialized gift baskets and more.

To learn more, visit www.hiddenvalleyinn.com

belize
portofinoresort
Accessible only by boat, Portofino is a peaceful resort located in a remote area on Ambergris Caye, offering a true escape for couples looking to get lost in each others’ affection. Featuring a picturesque seaside setting, its stunning views, sandy beaches and swaying palm trees set the mood for any romantic occasion.

Portofino boasts 12 luxury accommodations, including beach cabanas and Tree Top suites that offer stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and the Belize Barrier Reef – the second longest in the world. Its restaurant, Le Bistro, is the only place in Ambergris Caye that offers pier dining at night, allowing lovers to gaze upon the glittery night sky while being served by their own personal wait staff. As the resort is located minutes from the busy town of San Pedro, couples looking to venture out for a bit of fun can explore the area’s eclectic array of shops, restaurants, vibrant nightlife and more. Those interested in discovering Belize’s natural beauty can take advantage of Portofino’s snorkeling, diving and fishing excursions, or inland tours to Maya ruins, waterfalls, rainforest jungle and more.

Couples planning destination weddings at Portofino will receive an expert wedding coordinator who will assist with all ceremony details, including photography, location, flowers and more. Honeymoon packages are equally tailored; offering couples their pick of romantic accommodations, candle-lit dinners and private tours of Belize.

For more information, visit www.portofinobelize.com

Reprinted from www.premierbrides.com :)

Posted on March 3, 2011

Planning a Summer Wedding – or one in hot hot hot Belize! Part 1

from “BRIDAL GUIDE” magazine:

The Best Planning Tips for Summer Weddings

Beat the heat with our expert tips from celebrity wedding planners JoAnn Gregoli and Mindy Weiss.
By:

Jenna Rigert

DÉCOR


Simply put, Gregoli says that “an all white summer wedding is stunning.” The crisp, clean vibe translates well to high heat and long days. But don’t think that gardenias (or roses, or tulips) are your best bet for blooms—you must steer away from delicate flowers, for they will not hold up in the heat. Instead, try heartier blossoms like calla lilies, regular lilies and a variety of orchids.


Another great way to celebrate the summer season at your wedding is to use in-season fruits and vegetables as a part of your actual décor. Try tossing some clementines or cumquats into your flower arrangements, or for a budget-friendly option, fill a vase with bright yellow lemons and vibrant green apples—it’s clean, classic and works well with the heat.
Weiss loves the color combo of yellow, orange and green—an incredibly vibrant trio of colors “that take on a different hue as the sun goes down but still make a statement throughout the evening.”
But don’t forget to take the heat—and thus your guests’ comfort—into account. Going to be standing outside for a while? Gregoli recommends providing at least your bridal party, if not all guests, with super-chic parasols (that you can even monogram). Leave wicker or paper fans on ceremony chairs to ensure that everyone keeps their cool.

Posted on March 2, 2011

Tara Del Sol – on point with the Condo Trends of 2011

02/23/2011

For Immediate Release

Condo-hotels is the new travel trend of 2011

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico, February 23, 2011. While the past two years were among the worst for hotel business in decades, there are signs of recovering occupancy rates and new trends, and the consumers are now expecting more value for the money. Value is delivered in the form of luxury condo-hotels that have sprung up during the last decade – in the US and abroad – and have recently joined the tough hotel market more daringly than ever. Vacation rental market is predicted to grow 13.1% in 2011 by Vacation Home Rentals, LLC, the largest independent vacation rental site in North America, and AOL.com lists luxurious condo-hotels as one of the top “Travel trends for 2011.” After all, condos can offer more space and more privacy, with 5-star hotel amenities and services, but the price of one traditional hotel room.