Back in Belize after the Guatemala portion of the trip, we devoted one of our final days in Toledo district to some of the sights in and around Toledo’s nearer villages. Originally, we had planned to take them out for a swim/clammer through Blue Creek Cave and for a look at the Lubuntuun Maya archeological site, but opted for a bit more relaxed pace after a whirlwind two weeks.
Map: Forest Home out to Santa Cruz village via San Miguel and San Pedro Columbia.
Our first stop was one Lori and I have made many times over the past year: Back-a-Bush guesthouse, owned and operated by the infinitely hospitable Elsbeth Lam with the help of coffee roasting extraordinaire, Rod Nowlan. As usual, Elsbeth whipped up an incredibly tasty and unique lunch and gave my parents the grand tour of her organic farm and grounds.
Tiny, vicious, sleeping beasts…shh.
A vine-ripened gord. Gords in Toledo are used to make all sorts of things, including tortilla keepers.
The farm boasts coffee, cacao, jippy joppa, cohune palms, citrus trees, allspice, papaya, ginger, lemongrass and an array of less exotic offerings such as onion, tomato, cucumber, etc. It’s always fun taking someone new to Belize through the Back-a-Bush farm for the first time, as they get to get up-close and personal with a number of edible delights unique to the region.
Two more vicious wild jungle animals. Don’t be fooled by their cuddly appearance!
This is Nitro. Quite possibly the world’s cutest, cuddliest Dibnut (Canus Cuniculus), one of the rarest animal species found on Earth!
Rod, founder and head roaster of Belizean Coffee Roasters is known throughout the region for his coffee. But he also likes to dabble in cacao roasting as well.
His coffee, however, is phenomenal. The dude essentially roasts the stuff by smell (doesn’t taste it himself), and every cup I’ve ever poured from his beans is exquisite, and when I say exquisite, I mean this is the good stuff. I’ve spent some time in nearly all the great coffee growing regions of the world, spent some time in Rwanda drinking the good stuff, Italy drinking the good stuff, four years in Seattle drinking the good stuff, so I know a thing or two about coffee, and Rod’s stuff is no joke.
Grab a bag or a cup of his dark roast at Belize Chocolate Company in San Pedro, Ice and Beans in Caye Caulker, TEDS Bakery in Punta Gorda, or head directly to Back-a-Bush in San Miguel, of course. No need to add any of that cream n sugar BS here — good coffee doesn’t need it, trust me on this one — and sit back and watch heaven and earth collide in your mouth.
Enjoying some lively after-lunch conversation under the Back-a-Bush palapa.
Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm
Butterflies! My mom was so excited when we stopped here on our way out of San Miguel. Lori and I had been wanting to come here for a while but never got the chance…until today.
And it’s quite the little operation, raising Blue Morpho butterflies for export, mostly to the U.S. What they do with them in the U.S., I still don’t quite understand, but there’s quite the demand nonetheless.
The gentlemen who was working there when we arrived nurtures the butterflies through all of the stages of their brief pre-butterfly existence, shipping them off prior to their emergence from their little green pod. Some, however, remain behind, which are the butterflies we saw on our visit.
After the butterfly farm, we made one more stop at Eladio’s Chocolate Adventure, a small family chocolate making operation in San Pedro Columbia. When we were finished sampling Eladio’s product, we took my parents out on the new highway towards Guatemala, where the landscape changes significantly from PG and surrounding areas. After reaching Santa Cruz, we turned around and headed back to Forest Home to rest up for the next surprise leg of my parents’ journey.