Every culture has their own unusual ‘delicacies’ and Belizeans are no exception. Maybe due to the mix of cultures that settled here; the escaped Africans slaves as well as the German Mennonites, Maya (and more) over the years who brought their own customs and traditions. Mash that into one melting pot and you have a plethora of bizarre!
1. Meet the Gibnut or Paca, also affectionately known as the Royal Rat (since served to Queen Elizabeth II on her Belize visit some years ago). Many Belizeans will tell you its a must-try delicacy. Check out Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern gibnut feast here.
2. Split pea soup with Pig tails or Pig Snouts – served with handmade flour dumplings over white rice, this Belizean comfort food is dear to our hearts.
3. It’s no secret that Belizeans love game meat and the Peccary is no exception. Stewed, roasted, smoked or any other variation – it’s an exotic dish that begs to be tried.
4. Armadillo – also known to the Maya as “Wech” is often roasted and served in tacos (with a twist of lime, yum!), as sal-picon (a roasted meat ceviche) and a variety of other ways .
5. Cow-foot or Cow-tongue soup – a famous Belizean response to a hangover is exactly what it says it is.
6. Hickatee or River Turtle is prized meat – already an endangered specie and with a limited hunting season in Belize, consider yourself lucky if you get to try it.
7. Bamboo Chicken or Iguanas – Definitely an acquired taste and mostly consumed in rural areas, but if your taste buds crave the rare and exotic – this is a must try! (Don’t worry, our resident iguanas are perfectly safe from our kitchen!)
8. Bukut or Stinking-Toe (Cassia Grandis) – Not all the bizarre food in Belize are animals; this lovely tree that showers Ka’ana’s guests with its tender pink petals as they’re shown to their rooms, produces pods with sticky, jam-like sections surrounding the seeds. The odor leaves much to be desired (hence its Belizean name) but it’s well known for its medicinal and nutritional values.
The jade head was discovered at in the Belize District’s Mayan site of Altun Ha in 1968 by Dr. David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum of Canada. The head, along with forty other objects, had been placed within a large tomb that was located below the stairblock on the Temple of the Masonry Altars. At the center of the tomb were the remains of an elderly adult male. This elite person was likely an important ruler of the site during his lifetime and may have commissioned an artist to produce the large carved object. We do not know the exact date that the head was carved, but analysis of cultural remains within the tomb suggests that the burial, and accompanying grave goods, were deposited in the structure sometime between 600 and 650 A.D.
Weighing 9.75 pounds and standing almost 6 inches high, the jade head remains the single largest carved jade object yet discovered in the Maya area. Its crossed eyes, fang-like elements on either side of the mouth, and the ahau glyph on the forehead all identify the head as a representation of the Maya sun god Kinich Ahau. Along with Chac (rain god) and Yum Kax (corn god), Kinich Ahau was among the most important deities in the Maya pantheon.
The Kinich Ahau head is truly a remarkable object and exquisite work of art. It is the only one of its kind in all of Mesoamerica. Because it was carved with nothing more than stone tools, we know that it may have taken many months, if not years, to produce. It was also carved from one large solid piece of jade that was imported from the Motagua River Valley region of Guatemala. Jade was also the most precious of stones to the Maya. Beside its exotic origins, its green colour reflected that of water and the corn plant, the two most precious, life sustaining substances to the ancient Maya of northern Belize.
As it undoubtedly was to the prehistoric inhabitants of Altun Ha, the jade head continues to be a most important icon to the people of Belize today. It is prominently displayed on all Belize currency and has become an important symbol of our nation.
Where is Belize? That is the question most people ask when first hearing about Belize. Contrary to what some people think, Belize is not in South America, nor Africa. It is, however, situated in the heart of Central America.
Most people don’t know that this Caribbean wonder is just a hop, skip and a jump from the U.S. Right under Mexico, next to Guatemala, welcoming the waves of the Caribbean Sea in the East. But that is part of it’s charm.
For the most part, only a small portion of the world’s tourist population has been to Belize; that has kept Belize’s Barrier Reef, Maya ruins and pristine rain forest “unspoiled” for all to enjoy.
Wilbert has been with Ka’ana from the onset of the company in 2007, but has been a specialized tour guide even longer than that. He is an outgoing people-person who loves nature and the great outdoors (to say the least)! I caught up with him and shot off a few questions just before he headed off to his newest adventure of the day.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is showing off my beautiful country and sharing some of its secrets with guests the way I would with my own family. Knowing that many of them have never been in a jungle environment before makes me even more eager to teach them as well as learn a bit about the world they come from. Its a win-win situation.
What are some of the popular spots most people like and why?
ATM caves, Tikal, Xunantunich & Cave tubing are the most popular tours. People love it because they are having fun as well as learning even while they are immersing themselves in the Maya culture.
I’ve heard many guests comment that you are a walking encyclopedia. Where do you get your knowledge/inspiration?
(Laughing heartily) I believe my own grandfather is the real walking encyclopedia, I’ve learned so much from him while growing up right here in the heart of Maya country – and I am an actual Maya descendant! I add to my knowledge by reading history, watching documentaries on TV and believe it or not, also from my guests. I still truly believe that I learn something new everyday and my biggest inspiration – the love of my country, the land and my family.
I live by my own motto – “I do what I love, and I love what I do!”
Want to impress your sweetie this Valentine? Or maybe just impress your sweet tooth? Here’s something a little different from your ordinary box of chocolate.
1. Milk Fudge – This candy is a Belizean favorite made from boiled sweetened condensed milk, sugar and spices. Peanuts, cashews, coconut flakes or raisins are sometimes added.
2. Tablata – Another Belizean favourite, this candy is made from the grated young coconut meat mixed with thin ginger slices and sugar.
3. “Wangla” or “Jojoli” – This exotic tasting confection is made from toasted sesame seeds and sugar and pressed into a crunchy bar.
4.Cotobrute – Here’s another version of coconut sweets – this one is made of chunks of coconut and melted sugar.
5. “Tambran” – This is Tamarind mixed up with sugar and rolled into bite-size balls. Its sweet and tangy taste will make your mouth smile!
6. Coconut Tarts – Yeah, we never run out of goodies to make from coconut… A sweet coconut concoction is cooked with milk, sugar and spices and baked into this little beloved pastry.
8. Sweet Potato “Pone” – Some say “Pone”, others say “Pound” – whatever you want to call it, you’ve not tasted a true Belizean dessert if you have not tried it.
9. “Stretch-mi-guts” – Belizean coconut pull candy - not quite so common in Belize anymore so consider yourself lucky if you get to try it.
10. “Supa” or “Cocoyol” – This sweet stewed candy can make for a special treat as it is one of Belize’s traditional sweets derived from the Mestizos. This treat may is sticky, gooey but plenty delicious.
A picture can say a thousand words right? We handpicked our top 10 Belize Travel Images that depict everything from flora, fauna and everything else that makes Belize – well, Belize. Send us your favorite images!
1. The ‘Mother of all Caves’ .. Actun Loch Tunich ! This expedition starts off with a vigorous hike into the foothills of the Maya Mountains. The edge of the Actun Loch Tunich sink hole sits over 300 feet above the basin below, 200 feet above the rainforest canopy that grows out from the sink hole basin.
2. Jaguars are found throughout Belize in the lowland forests and along the coasts. Adult jaguars are solitary and only come together for a short time to breed. Belize, however, has one of the healthiest populations in Central America, and the Jaguar is protected from hunting throughout Belize. You can book a tracking expedition with us to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
3. This flashy and iridescent blue butterfly is the beautiful Blue Morpho that is widely known throughout Belize. Look carefully and you will see them all around our property.
4. The green iguana, known locally as “bamboo chicken”, is the largest lizard in Belize and one of the largest in the world. It is often found perched on a branch overhanging a river, and when threatened will plunge into the water for safety.
5. They are one of 3 types of rays inhabiting the waters of Belize. The spotted eagle ray is covered with large white and cream-colored spots on dark background and has a white underbelly. These rays can be found along reefs, walls and sandy areas, including shallow areas. Spotted eagle rays generally swim alone, although they are sometimes observed in pairs and occasionally schools.
6. Belize’s national flower is the Black Orchid. The flower is actually not black at all but deep purple or violet in color. It is one of the few Orchids that flowers all year long.
7. The Maya are just one part of the rich melting pot of cultures that exist in Belize. Their vibrant Maya history and culture is respected and celebrated in Belize and the world.
8. Red Eyed Leaf Frog: The red eyed leaf frog lives on leaves. This frog is nocturnal; hunts at night and sleeps during the day. In the forests of Belize, the Red-eyed tree frog minimizes water loss by resting underneath leaves and tucking its limbs up close to its body.
9. The falls here at Davis Falls are about 500 feet high and are the second highest in the country (after 1,000-Foot Falls in the Mountain Pine Ridge), and the natural pool at the base of the falls is 75 feet deep. The swimming is wonderful, and the undisturbed forest around the falls is great for a picnic or enjoying nature.
10. You never know what color palette the sunsets in Belize will bring you. It is ever-changing, ever so beautiful and nothing short of spectacular each and every day.
It’s amazing and pretty fun to see what puns you can come up with using the word “Belize.”
We couldn’t help ourselves, and we thoroughly enjoyed making a list of our favorites to share with you:
2. Don’t stop Belizing.
3. Belize it or not!
4. Do you Belize in love?
5. You better Belize it!
6. Belize you can, and you’re halfway there!
7. The less you know, the more you Belize!
8. Do you Belize in magic?
9. I can’t Belize I ate it all!
10. “Belize Navidad” – Merry Xmas!
The tradition of celebrating the life and death of lost loved relatives dates back to the ancient Maya, an indigenous culture of Belize and Mesoamerica. November 2nd is the Day of the Dead for the departed spirits who passed on beyond the age of 12 while on earth and through adulthood and into elderly age
Families always make sure they have delicious traditional Belizean foods such as Bollos, Caldo de Gallina local, Chirmole and Ishpasha Atole. Here in the Cayo District, Tamales are called Bollos. While many may argue that there is a distinction between a Bollo and a tamale, what they will not argue about is that it is definitely an all around favourite throughout Belize and the world for that matter!
November first begins the Dia de los Muertos (also known as “Day of the Dead”) festivities with All Saints Day in which the deceased children are honored and remembered. November second All Souls Day is for the remembrance of the adult dead. Dia de los Muertos combines these days to celebrate the the deceased and enjoy their memories.
A hot cup of masa gruel known as Ix-pa-xa (pronounced Ish-pa-sha), otherwise known as Atole made from purple corn is used to nourish and warm the spirits when they return and/or when they leave on these special days.
Here’s the recipe for this tasty Maya treat: Ixpaxa
3lbs purple corn (not on the cob) – this is to be left 1-2 days to “spoil” while being softened in the water.
1 tin condensed milk
1 habanero pepper
Blend corn and some of the water with condensed milk and habanero pepper.
Strain to remove husks,
Boil and add sugar to taste.
Historical note: Before the invention of condensed milk, ripe plantains were used to sweeten this dish. Hence for authentic taste substitute ripe plantains for condensed milk.