"Man...sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
Hopkins, Belize is a small Garifuna village on the coast of Southern Belize. Natasha and I rented a beach cabana for two nights from Jabbar and Dorothy, the people who run the Lebeha Drumming Center. Unfortunately there was no drumming scheduled on the nights we were there, but we still enjoyed ourselves, spending most of our time lounging on the seaside patio, reading, and walking the village.
For tips on how to create better architecture images, go to my post 10 Helpful Tips for Striking Architectural Photography.
Not far from Hopkins, Belize is the Mayflower Bocawaina National Park, which contains three different waterfalls. I was unaware of these falls when we were in Hopkins, but we made a trip here specifically to hike up Antelope Falls, climbing 1,000 feet through lush rainforest. This was one of the harder hikes we endured in Belize, partly due to the humidity that day, but also because the trail at Antelope Falls requires the use of ropes, at times over slippery rocks. The natural swimming pools at the top, and of course the view in the image above, make the hot hike completely worth it! There was a bit of cloud cover on this day, but I'm told you can usually see the Caribbean from here.
Birding in Belize is filled with spectacular species! It's so stunning to me, since I come from a place where the bird life isn't so extravagantly colored. Nearly every morning I would awake to parrots flying overhead, squawking loudly as they do their morning flyby to find a decent resting spot. Carlton, who we befriended and stayed in a cabana on his property our first month in Belize, mimicked the noise that a toucan makes, and I was always on the lookout. But it was over a month before I finally spotted a Keel-billed Toucan, the National Bird of Belize. Brilliant! Of course that wasn't enough, and I set my sites on the Collared Aracari, which seemed to be a little more shy. Finally, after three months living in Belize, at our third rental in Bullet Tree Village outside of San Ignacio, I spotted one. It was early morning and I was already out shooting birds when I saw this guy! By looking at them, you wouldn't think these birds can blend in to its surroundings, but he was well hidden. This aracari made a trip from the more dense part of the tree out onto this single limb to eat its berries, and I snapped this shot.
The trip to shoot Butterfly Falls was one of my fondest memories from Belize. I headed out at 4am driving into the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest, planning to shoot Thousand Foot Falls. However when I got there the entry gate was down and the park was closed due to the foggy conditions. I still went over to the viewing area but nothing of the waterfall was visible. After a few moments the on-site park employee came out and we started chatting. He told me about Butterfly Falls, which is located within the property of Hidden Valley Inn. I had actually stopped there earlier since I passed by it, and asked the worker at the front desk if I could go take some pictures of the waterfall. He told me only guests were allowed, and the cheapest room was $300. Ya, right! In comes my new friend...the park ranger. He described how to drive to it, snaking along two-track roads that lead to a path taking you down to Butterfly Falls. I followed his directions, hiked down the steep, fairly difficult path with all my heavy gear, and came out to a small clearing in the rainforest. My eyes followed a tiny stream slightly uphill into a crystal clear pool, then were led straight up into the sky and this 80 foot waterfall. It was magical!
We visited Placencia twice while we were living in Belize. The first time we only stayed for a couple of nights, and one day booked a snorkel excursion to Laughingbird Caye. This tiny island is a great place to explore some of Belize's pristine reefs, and do some birding, as the Caye was declared a protected area in 1981 under the National Parks Systems Act.
One of my ex-pat friends told me of this abandoned Mennonite village within the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest. I like how this shot subtly leads you into the frame with the old two-track lines coming from the bottom right, running right into once was the main house. Forgotten farm equipment is left behind scattered about the image, and that big beautiful tree smack in the middle.
Shower Falls is just outside of San Ignacio, Belize, on the way to Cristo Rey Village. When the heat got oppressive, Natasha and I would sometimes make the 15 minute drive to this small watering hole to cool off. There she is reading on the edge of the pool while I shoot the scene. While writing this part of my post, I searched for a link about Shower Falls, and found this one.
Located just west of San Ignacio Town toward the Guatemalan border lies Xunantunich Maya Site, one of many Mayan ruins in Belize. Pictured above is El Castillo, which rises 130 feet above plaza level making it one of the tallest buildings in Belize.
Another one of my favorite spots in Belize, Rio on Pools, not surprisingly lies within the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. I captured this image one day when I travelled alone to the falls to shoot. I spent the day there trading time taking pictures and swimming in the pools. Throughout the day groups of people came and went and I chatted with different ones, hearing stories of how they came to be in this extraordinary place. It was nearing dusk and I wasn't particularly excited about having to make the drive home in the dark, and I was deciding if I should leave. Everybody else had left. Man, am I glad I didn't take off, because I got to enjoy this serene sunset all alone, standing amongst a series of cascading waterfalls and pools...in the middle of a forest...in. Belize. Dig it!