We had our first official visitor this week! Well, not really. My mom was technically our first visitor, but she’s family. 🙂 And the visitor we had this week didn’t necessarily come just to see us. My friend S that I used to work with in Antarctica was stopping off for most of the day while on a Caribbean cruise with her father. But still!! I hadn’t seen her in a year. And it was fun to catch up.

They came ashore around 9am, and the last tender left at 3pm, so we only had a few hours. But I met them in Belize City, and we drove an hour back to Belmopan. They got a whirlwind tour of the roadside attractions of Belize, including two guys that were handcuffed on the crumbling asphalt shoulder and being stood over by another guy with some kind of automatic weapon in Hattieville, the truck on top of the “careful driving” sign that’s riddled with bullet holes, and the remains of a charred horse. NO idea what the story was behind the last one, but it was pretty nasty.

After that exotic drive, I dragged them around sleepy Belmopan and showed them our housing compound, introduced them to the baby, picked up my mom, and then we went to lunch at a little hilltop restaurant with a view over the town. It’s a quirky little place, and I quite like it…although I haven’t had much luck with the food yet. The first time I went I didn’t really care for what I ordered. The second time they brought me something completely different than what I ordered. But the atmosphere and the company are always good. And they do have great ceviche. Maybe next time I’ll try the coconut shrimp. Shrimp always seems to be a good bet.

After lunch we stopped by the zoo. S was hoping to see a bit of Belizean flora and fauna, but things are surprisingly spread out in this little country. So we thought we’d get a guaranteed glimpse of some of the local wildlife. Plus the Belize Zoo is somewhat famous locally for its conservation efforts, so we were happy to patronize it. We were also a little pressed for time, and the zoo is on the way back to Belize City.

It was hot and sweaty, and in the future I’ll remember to apply bug spray beforehand. But it was fun to observe a few things I’d never seen before…tapirs, coatimundis (mammals in the raccoon family)…and some I had seen, but not here…jaguars, deer, spider monkeys, crocodiles, scarlet macaws. We just paid the basic entrance fee, but for $100 BZD ($50 US) you can do the “jaguar encounter” and sit in an enclosure and feed and pet one of the jaguars.  Apparently, if you have short hair, it will also lick your head…they discourage that for people with long hair as it gets caught in the jaguar’s teeth, and he could end up dragging you around. I guess we’ll just save that for our next visitor…any volunteers?!