Belize: iguana meat and spider monkeys
Belize, the small country between jungle and corals
Belize lies like an island between the Caribbean Sea and Guatemala and the capital Belmopan is unknown. Since Belize was an English colonial territory under the state name British Honduras until 1981, the official language is not Spanish, but English. Garifunas (dark-skinned Creole population), Latinos, Europeans (many Mennonites), Americans, Chinese etc. live closely together here.
Our entry was completely easy. However, we only received a personal visa for four weeks.
Belize City, the largest city in the country with run-down neighborhoods, no noteworthy sights and very high crime rate, left us cold because we didn't visit it.
The city is dusty, hot and noisy. We spent the nights right at the river. Unfortunately, during our stay, the meadows of the Lamanai Riverside Retreat campsite were all under water.
Near Belize City there are the Maya ruins "Altun Ha" and so we were not very surprised that hordes of cruise tourists visited the complex. Beautifully situated in the middle of palm trees and lush greenery, however, one searches in vain for the famous “Green Jade Head” of the Mayan sun god, as it is in a bank safe in Belize City. As it was quite hot, we quickly visited the ruins and left the bus loads of the flip-flop tourists behind us.
A varied drive took us over the Hummingbird Highway past the Maya Mountains through colorful landscape to the small village at the Caribbean Sea. Your will find sandy beach stretching for miles but the washed ashore trash is cleaned only in front of the tourist hostels. There are no attractions here, but a visit to relax is still worthwhile.
The main tourist town, a village, extends only a few kilometers at the tip of a 25 km long peninsula. A road runs along this, on one side a Caribbean sandy beach and on the other side a lagoon with mangrove forests and marinas. Luxury hotels, villas and large construction sites are close together by the sea, which makes you speechless. Nowhere a public beach where you could camp.
The hotels in the village are connected via a so-called sidewalk, a small paved path reserved only for pedestrians. This is a great place to stroll from section to section of the beach and from one souvenir stand to the next. And all this without any street noise. However, tourists can also be seen hurtling through Placencia with rented golf caddies.
Belize's best restaurants are also to be found here. We preferred a visit to the Tutti Frutti ice cream parlor and really enjoyed the very good Italian ice cream.
In fact, we wanted to see one of the famous cayes and wanted to go there for an excursion, but when we watched the preparations for one of this tours with a sailing catamaran, we lost interest in it.
Belizeans eat iguana meat
Hunting iguanas is not allowed during their breeding season (February to June)!
The iguana meat, which is delicious for the Belizeans, is also called «bamboo chicken» and is very popular in Belize and is used in many recipes. Eggs are considered as special delicacies.
Iguanas take on a different color depending on their age and gender: younger ones have shades of green and the larger, more mature males are orange colored and can be up to 2m long. Sunlight is a must for these cold-blooded animals. They show aggression by moving their heads up and down vigorously and inflating their skin fold under the chin. A cool feature of the iguana is the third eye, a transparent membrane on the back of the head, which is a unique early warning system for survival. Iguanas can also swim.
The animal with the spider tail is called a spider monkey. The tail has a hairless strip of skin at the lower tip and can be used like a "fifth hand" to grab. Thus, the animals can hold on their tail alone and have their hands and feet free to collect fruits and leaves as food and swing athletically from tree to tree.