Pictures and stories from Belize pt 2 - Tiger Cave

6:42:00 PM BB 0 Comments

*In Part 1, I shared my experience meeting some wonderful people in Belize City. Read hereAll the photos from my trip can be found here!*

Punta Gorda & Tiger Cave.
Punta Gorda is in Southern Belize. Cotton Tree lodge is located deep in the jungle about 45 minutes from the bus terminal in Punta Gorda.

Sebastian picked me up from the bus terminal in the mini bus and we began our trip to the lodge. The view was beautiful. So much clear blue water. We got off the highway and began the 20 or so minute ride into the jungle on the most bumpy rode I’ve ever ridden in my life. Despite the bumps, it was a beautiful experience. Sebestian told me about his family and life in the jungle. No-wifi, no cellphones. People grow their own food. He just got one recently because of the job. We drove through many small mayan villages, I got to wave at kids LOL.

I get to the lodge and oh my lord. So cute. Everyone who works at the lodge is from surrounding villages. The lodge serves 4 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, appies, and dinner). Each meal was so delicious. The chef (Mrs. Bo’s son) trained under a Le Cordon Bleu chef for 2 years while he worked at the lodge. A lot of the veggies are grown on the property or closeby so super organic and fresh. So good.

I got some good sleep and got acquainted with the sights and sounds of jungle living. Howler monkeys, the noise of crickets, fireflies, etc etc. The next day I was ready for an adventure in Tiger Cave.

We drove about an hour or so to the cave. A hydroelectric dam was recently built  next to the cave, which Sebastian later told me the villagers were not happy about due to its effect on fishery.

I never thought I would go inside a cave, not to talk of hiking or climbing one. The cave was discovered by Mayans, and inside we saw a few Mayan artifacts. Check out my outfit. Hiking boots, headlight, helmet. Very ready. Or so I thought.

Not my photo.

My photo. So creepy!

Inside was very very dark. You can barely see what’s in front of you. So many bats! Very hot. Very muddy. Very slippery. On the adventure with me is Pop and an intern from Germany (who’s living in the lodge for 4 months). Pop explains to us the history of the cave and points things out. Everything is going well. I haven’t fallen yet. I’m paying attention. We get to this beautiful shimmery rock formation and I’m in complete awe and pose for a picture.

Look at that shimmer!
It’s hard to explain the magnitude of this cave. It’s one of those things you have to experience to truly understand. Pop tells us to turn off all our lights off and meditate in silence over this truly magical experience. Umm, what? We do.

I don’t get a lot of meditation in but the experience of being silent in the dark of that cave is something I will never forget. Very beautiful but very uncomfortable at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced pitch black like that before. I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. So many very sounds, the bats, the water dropping, the insects, and the noise of silence. So weird. Hautingly peaceful.

We keep hiking and take a water break and pop asks us if we’re ready to get more sweaty and muddy. Umm sure. We’re all pretty sweaty and muddy at this point. He says we have 30 minutes more to go. We hike some more and pop points towards the other side of the cave. It’s way up. Up as in you have to climb rocks to get there. I wish I had a picture. I’d given up on pictures at this point due to mud and sweat.

I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. I ask him how we’re going to get there because it’s literally the top of the cave. He says that’s what the rocks are for. They’ll guide us up and we have to use our arms and legs. I reluctantly agree and we start the climb. Oh God. Scariest thing ever. We’re doing rock climbing with no ropes or safety equipment. In a cave in the middle of nowhere. In the middle of nowhere in the jungle of Belize that’s already in the middle of nowhere. If I fell, I would not survive.

During the climb, I stopped and I saw how high up I was. I looked up and saw how high there was to go. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. I started crying. Not real tears (ok, maybe 1 or 2 dropped) but tears of despair and fear and sadness of the family and friends I would leave behind if shit goes wrong! I can’t just stand there clinging to rocks for my dear life so I keep going up because Eladio and Miren are already going up. 

Anyways, I survived and lived to tell the tale. I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. But I highly recommend Tiger Cave. Not the insane rock climbing at the end part, but the sweaty muddy hiking part.

After that hiking struggle, we got out of the cave and washed the mud off. I also thanked black Jesus for sparing my life #therealG. We sat on the banks of a river nearby and had a delicious chicken veggie rice and fruit salad that the lodge had packed for us. So delicious. Everything I ate in Belize was so fresh and unbelievably good.

We got back to the lodge and I had some quiet time on the hammock with my MackBook Pro watching Gilmore Girls. 

MacBook Pro not pictured.

The next day, I got to harvest cacao beans and make chocolate with Eladio Pop. Read about it in Part 3.


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