My first experience of Paradise – well, I probably couldn’t live there since I’d pine for the urban niceties of life like Thai food and art galleries etc. but the sun, the water, the warm night breezes, the ‘laidbackness’ – oh my. My friend Trish and I landed at Belize International and were met by the driver sent by the Crooked Tree Lodge where we spent the first two days. He regaled us with his view of Belize, the roads and his background (Welsh, UK military, married to a Belizian) as we made our way an hour north to Crooked Tree Village for the rain forest and birding part of the trip.

The first morning we took an early morning boat ride to see birds with commentary from the guide. We spent the rest of the day and half of the next taking long (hot) walks around the area, photographing buildings, cooling off in a thatched roof bar, visiting the visitor center and hearing about the conservation efforts, getting a little lost, meeting some horses and cows, and occasionally lazing in the hammocks just outside Trish’s door.

On Monday afternoon we were driven back to the airport for our 30 minute flight to Placencia, a peninsula in the south. The plane proved quite small and due to a broken seat, I was put into the co-pilot seat. Quite an adventure at least in my nervous system. All went well of course and we were met at the other end by Angie, our ‘landlady’ for the week who had a taxi waiting and helped us get acclimated to the large studio apt that would be homebase until we left.

The anticipated snorkeling had to be put off for a day due to high winds which murks up the water and fills the beach with seaweed and makes the sea too choppy for boating to the cayes. Instead we booked a trip up the Monkey River where we learned about medicinal purposes of various tree barks, saw some more birds, one boa constrictor and the bottoms of several howler monkeys. The short tour through Monkey River Village where about 200 people live was interesting and produced lots of good photo ops.