The Yucatan peninsula of Mexico is very flat. Most of Belize, which is pretty much part of the same landmass, is very flat. With so many new things to see and do all the time, I don't miss home all that often, but I do find myself missing mountains. Sometimes I just need something, other than a tree, to break up the horizon. Maybe it makes the world seem a little more manageable.
We had gotten a taste on the Hummingbird Highway. Spanish Lookout had some nice rolling hills, but with the hurricane and all, my thoughts were other than on the scenery. We hadn't camped in a secluded mountain location in months. It had been HOT and HUMID for a very long time. In short, I couldn't wait to get to the slightly higher elevations of the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve.
Our first stop was Checo Hill Guest House. The owners, Adam and Kate, and us had been following each other on Instagram for a while, and the pictures they had posted of their property were simply gorgeous. We really wanted check it out, but they were still a few months from being ready to open. However, after getting in touch, they told us that they had a flat spot that we'd be able to camp on for a night. Camping on their land isn't a service offer so it was incredibly gracious of them.
Adam was a wonderful host, unfortunately though, we didn't get to meet Kate who was away for work. He showed us around the property and soon-to-be-finished guest house, which is going to be beautiful when they're done, and he even gave us access to their completed kitchen and bathrooms.
We helped him clear some brush and downed trees from the hurricane, and later cooked him dinner and had some beers. It was great hearing his stories of living in Belize, and he gave us some tips for exploring the Mountain Pine Ridge area. Thanks again guys for letting us enjoy your beautiful property, and hopefully we'll come back someday as proper guests.
The Mountain Pine Ridge is in a contested area near the border with Guatemala. There have recently been some small scale skirmishes, and we had been told we should check in with a local military outpost to let them know that we'd be camping in the area. After driving around a slightly creepy abandoned town, we finally found a couple of guys wearing camo and somewhat carelessly carrying M-16's. When I explained that we wanted to spend several nights at Big Rock Falls and Rio On Pools, their blank stares told me they had no clue what I was talking about, and their bloodshot eyes told me they were sleep deprived....or high. They exchanged a few words with each other and it was clear that one of them didn't even know the places we were talking about even though they were just a few miles away. It was very different than the interaction our friends had just a few weeks earlier where the guards knew exactly what and where they were talking about. It's a good example of how fast things in these parts can change with a change of the guard. Eventually they told us it wasn't a problem and to enjoy ourselves.
We spent one night in the small parking lot that was just a short walk down to Big Rock Falls.
The beautiful waterfall flows down into perfect swimming holes. It felt like being home, except the water was much warmer than the icy mountain streams of the Smokies.
From there we moved on to Rio On Pools. Equally as beautiful but different, it's a series of terraced drops with pools on each level. We hardly saw another soul the whole time we were there, and the temperatures were much cooler.
I couldn't have asked for a better ending to Belize.