A Car Massage en Route to the Hidden Valley Inn and Reserve in Northern Belize

Timotea Mesh makes tortillas in San Antonio, Belize.
Timotea Mesh makes tortillas in San Antonio, Belize.

 

We woke up this morning in the brilliant tropical sunshine, after a few very loud birds and some howler monkeys chimed in.  A giant tree branch fell in the forest, waking up a few of my compatriots but I never heard a thing.  We had breakfast at the Chaa Creek Resort and then our driver from the Hidden Valley Inn and Reserve showed up and told us we were about to experience a car massage.

That meant that we’d be driving on bumpy roads for the 90 minute ride between the two locations. Belize is an extraordinarily empty place, on the pockmarked bumpy roads so few cars passed that we were able to swerve all the way over and back with no fear of what might be coming around the corner.  On either side of the road, six-foot tall grass grew wild, and the forest looked nearly impenetrable, a green fence that no one could enter without swinging a machete.

Travel writer Lydia Bailey working the potters wheel in San Antonio.
Travel writer Lydia Bailey working the potters wheel in San Antonio.

We were bound for San Antonio, a small village of about 3000 where Mayans predominated.  We visited a place called the San Antonio Woman’s Group, where nine local women have joined forces to create a way to generate income.  They teach cooking, make handicrafts in their homes, and their efforts bring locals together and help make money in an poor community.  We watched Timotea Mesh make tortillas by grinding corn on an ancient stone grinder, and then she made tamales which are made with corn tortillas, mashed boiled corn, and layered with chicken anchote and more corn.

We also got a chance to watch a skilled potter throw pots on a wheel and then watch some members of our group man the wheel. We set out after a filling lunch on the road and soon found out that recent rains had washed out the road where we were supposed to drive to a cave.  A long detour and tortuous bumps forced us to change plans and we ended up at Hidden Valley Inn and Reserve, a beautiful place in a remote pine forest.  With 7200 acres and two spectacular water falls, this resort at this time of year is nearly empty but during the season starting in December fills its

Rough road in northern Belize.
Rough road in northern Belize.

 

12 rooms with guests.

We settled into our cozy rooms and enjoyed the wifi, and got  a chance to take a dip in the pool . Dinner was my favorite kind of meal–a long repast with lively conversation about immigration, local Belize politics, and the future of relations between Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Tomorrow we head for Caracol, a Mayan site and we will get to take a dip in the waterfalls that are part of this beautiful property in remote and wild Belize.

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