Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The BEST cheap eats in Placencia Village!! (with guest writer Dave)

My husband Dave offered to write a blog post today, as he was eating a street food burrito, that he said deserves its own blog post.... So, here it is, with some "editor's notes" at the bottom...
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Much of travel surrounds eating. Meals out, new experiences, delicious exotic dishes - travel and food go together like rice and beans.

And while Placencia has a number of restaurants that I think can go toe to toe with any international travel destination’s finest dining options (Ricks, Rumfish, Maya Beach Bistro) wherever I am, I gravitate to the cheap eats. No doubt, my favorite part of travel. Below is a quick sampling of my favorite cheap eats, and how to do it like a local!

Breakfast burritos….

A can’t miss! Look, if you’re headed out on a tour, getting ready to spend the morning kayaking beautiful waters, or want a great, quick, cheap meal for the next leg of your journey, breakfast burritos are the best. Stop at any street stand by the police station and make your order. They prepare it right in front of you, fresh, tasty and cheap. Burritos are $5 BZD. They are prepared with a large homemade-in-front-of-you flour tortilla, and include eggs, ham, onions, and sometimes the following – coleslaw, peppers, chicken, and Marie Sharps. So delicious! You’ll need to approach the counter and order – don’t expect a menu or any chit-chat. The staff is at work and they’ll probably make 150 burritos that morning - so keep it brief. Just order a breakfast burrito, with everything – they’ll put it together for you, wrap it in foil, and you walk away with it. Cash only, USD is fine if you have it, and you can eat there.
 And here are two tips: 
1. Place your order and then walk to the small grocery store that is close and get a coconut water while you wait. It will take about 10 minutes to prepare your burrito. And tell the cook you’re going. They won’t respond, but be sure - they heard you. 
 2. Get a few extra. Keep them in your hotel room fridge - they reheat wonderfully! Perfect for a late night snack!
Here's my favorite place:
And here is the burrito that inspired this post...the breakfast one...

Chicken rice and beans ….

Every dining blog and article about Belize food talks about this dish. I won’t be another that goes on and on. But, Mim’s on the road is my favorite. It also happens to be right near our place. But really, they’re all great and all around $10 BZD. 
So, if you’re going to have lunch at a roadside stand that has this DELICIOUS dish, here are two tips: 1. Show up early. Lunch is served 11 to 1 and if you get there at 12:45, they’ll be out of everything you were hoping to have. Get there about 11:30 and you can ensure you’ll get your pick of what’s on the menu. 
 2. You can ask for extra chicken for a price. Staff will normally oblige and it’s worth it!
It will be some iteration of this...
Tamales….

This one is buyer beware. There are a number of vendors walking with 5 gallon buckets of fresh, hot, just made tamales - $3 BZD. When I first saw this three years ago, I couldn’t have been more excited. Daily hot tamales to my doorstep – what more could a boy want? Here’s what…………… Belizean tamales are cooked with all the classic ingredients – masa, corn husks, spices and seasonings – and the meat is chicken. Sounds delicious right? The problem is that the chicken is “bone-in” as-in – don’t bite directly into that sucker or you’ll lose a tooth! And even if you want to eat the chicken, you’ll need to dig out the bone with your hand as it’s packed inside the masa. So, buyer beware – tamales are cheap and tasty, but too much work for this guy!
Chabilmarvillas.com
These are my favs, and I hit them all (except the tamales) several times a week. But actually, I do sneak in a tamale in every now and then – only when I know no one is watching :)
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Editor's Note - we have a lot of enthusiasm in this family; as he was writing I was shouting out other things that are cheap that he eats all the time, and it was exhausting for him, so I'll finish this. SO, to add a few more cheap eats that while he did not write, he does agree with...

-$.50usd plantain chips in the little baggies at all the grocery stores. These are awesome, just the right size that you don't feel cheated/pretty full, he eats them about once a day.
belizeadventure.com
-farmer's markets all through the village - go get a couple tomatoes, onion, lime, jalapeno, and cilantro, chop it all up, and get a bag of local tortilla chips at the grocery store. You can do this for like $6usd and have a ton of fresh salsa, and the chips here are all amazing.
belizeadventure.ca
cute farmer's markets everywhere
-coke out of a real glass bottle.....it just tastes different here, you have to try it...
alamy.com
-"Squash" - this is concentrated fruit juice sold at the grocery store, for some reason it is amazing and makes a TON of juice or rum punch 
belizeadventure.com
-quick, cheap meal - ground chicken, shredded cheese & taco seasoning from the grocery store (maybe plain yogurt or sour cream, block olives), plus lettuce, onion, green pepper, maybe an avocado and the above salsa...makes a spectacular taco salad that we eat at least once a week. 

-if you see someone walking around with a bin on their shoulder, stop them! Especially if it is Justin with his little bakery things or the Mayan lady with donuts, they are cheap and awesome.

These are enough tips to eat cheaply for a week and not get sick of it....and then for dinner, you can eat at Omar's, Dawn's, or Wende's, J-Dees,, the Galley, etc.....nice local sit down places, and get the special, you can eat dinner for about $5-8usd!


Friday, July 14, 2017

What low season? Belize breaks records, Lobsterfest, & the newest pics around the village!

No surprise to read THIS article - Belize has broken its overnight tourism records - smashed them in fact! In April the overnight percentage went up 24% compared to last year!!!!!

You can tell in the village, the energy and buzz is much higher than in past years during low season - mid July feels more like late November as far as the people. It is still NOT crowded - you can go into any restaurant and not have a wait, and you can have the beach to yourself most days, which is one of the draws of this village (paradise without overcrowding!). But, the amount of tourists in the village can be seen in far more filled up seats at the bars and restaurants.

The village recently enjoyed Lobsterfest, so lobster is back on the menus, yay! Here is a montage of village images from the last couple weeks - even if you are enjoying your own summer across North America, the exotic and rustic look of this place can make you want to come back...

Lobsterfest:
Gotta get a pic with the lobster.....
Get your face in this board....
CBC's own Carlos Vasquez won the Amateur Rum Punch Contest with his "famous" racecar rum punch!!!

Lobster pizza, lobster rolls, lobster omelettes, lobster bisque, lobster fritters.....
Here are some images on Main Street from the last week....
Love the Central American-style grocery stores....you never know what you will find!
Pretty painted fences down Main Street...
 Street art can be found throughout the village
 Charming, tranquil, exotic are some of the words that come to mind, everywhere you look

 Belizean "fast food" - love her burritos!

 Bicycles are a sight you will see everywhere throughout the village, always a pretty picture:)
 A visit to Pickled Parrot is a high point of a vacation here!
 The newest restaurant in the village - The Vineyard!
 And everyone's old favorite.....Rumfish :) (never get sick of seeing this in new pictures!)
 One of my favorite souvenir shops!
 More cute storefronts
 Reclaimed nautical signs :)
 Local favorite Dawn's grill
 Secret Garden is hidden behind this rustic wood building...
 Pretty shops tucked off to the side of Main Street

 Great Asian soup and stir fry here, with great people watching!
 Never get sick of these tropical colors!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

What guests say they wish they knew before they came to Belize...26 tips from past guests!

We like to revisit this topic periodically - facts change over time, and we aim to keep our guests as well informed as possible so you can fully enjoy and relax during your time with us! Here is some recent feedback, right from our past guests, about what they wish they'd known before they got to Belize/Placencia:

I wish I'd known that...

  1. I didn't need to pack so much - no need to haul things like sunscreen, SPF, etc, as these were available readily in the village. No fancy clothes/shoes/jewelry needed!!
  2. Nowhere would really take American Express - Visa and MC were ok. Also call your cc companies/bank and let them know you are traveling so your card is not declined here.
  3. More of an fyi for future guests - if you like the all inclusive resort style, this will not be for you. Exploring the village and beyond is what Belize is about.
  4. Sea grass - it comes in pretty frequently, especially in late afternoon. You want to stay somewhere that keeps it raked. There is no telling when it is coming, but it doesn't need to ruin your trip. Belize is known to have seagrass from time to time because they are close to the reef. There are always beaches around that won't have it, or stay somewhere with a pool.
  5. Belikins are strong - but they are also only about 8-10 oz. However there is no calorie, carb count online, or alcohol content - and it is very easy to overdo it. Also, you can just order a "beer" at the bar as that is the same thing as ordering Belikin. The napkin on the beer is to wipe it off because they recycle these bottles and the caps can rust a little from the metal caps with salt air.
  6. Barefoot makes STRONG drinks - they aren't kidding. One drink is the equivalent to 2-3 in a US bar.
  7. I should have worn a shirt and stronger spf while snorkeling - didn't realize how bad my butt would get burned on the water.
  8. Sand fleas - forgot that they come out after a rain and at night/when there is no breeze- if you are around mangroves make sure you wear baby oil on your legs.
  9. I didn't need to stress so much over the forecast - it says rain almost every day in Belize, but it isn't rain like in North America - it usually means a short shower or rain at night.
  10. I should have taken the snorkel excursion when the sea was calm - the sea can get wavy and crazy within a day and it is uncomfortable to be on the water when it is rough.
  11. The very best time to kayak and paddleboard is FIRST thing in the morning - the water is usually at its calmest and prettiest, and gets a little more wavy throughout the day.
  12. It is really important to stay where there is A/C at your hotel.
  13. I should have bought tickets for Belize when they were around $400 - under $500 is still a pretty good price and it includes your exit fee of about $50 (usually).
  14. I should have packed way less clothes - but more swimsuits, less dressy stuff!
  15. I should have brought a change of clothes and shoes for my excursions.
  16. I should have taken an extra second to buy a bottle of liquor for my room at the arrival duty free - very cheap there and nice to have once you are settled in.
  17. I should have taken one extra excursion - it is one of the things I remembered most about my trip. They are all so unique, even if they are expensive and a lot of work, it is worth it!
  18. I wish I would have gotten up to see the sunrise. (sun rises about 5:30 - very worth it!)
  19. I should have stayed longer - 3-5 days is not enough. 7-10 days would have been perfect.
  20. I wish I would have had the following on me - hand sanitizer and toilet paper on excursions, and a wet cloth in a baggie sometimes when walking around in the heat of the day.
  21. Lobsterfest, Sidewalk Art Festival, etc are really fun times to come, I'll check the dates next time.
  22. On Easter, Good Friday - a lot of things shut down and liquor isn't sold that day. Also, Easter Monday, the village is recovering and a lot of things are shut down. Easter weekend is really crazy and busy in the village. 
  23. Belize time means not to rush around with urgency - if you are supposed to be picked up at 8am, 8:15 is normal. 
  24. Water and power outages can happen unexpectedly - and this can happen when you are expecting to be able to get ready for your flight - it is a developing country and you have to be willing to be flexible sometimes (baby wipes!)
  25. I would want to have brought more cash - sometimes you are at a restaurant and they will tell you their credit card machine is down, and then sometimes the atm can be not working, so I would have felt more comfortable with more cash as a back up.
  26. I should have waited to book my excursions until I got there. The tour guides don't book until week of unless it is a specialty tour, and I changed my mind a lot when I was here about what I wanted to do.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Placencia Carnival, Hopkins Mango Festival, and some gorgeous pics in the village!

So Placencia had a super charming, old-fashioned (and I mean old - like the rides and games you'd see in a movie from the 50's-70's - some might even call it reminiscent of a horror movie.....anyway...) we were thrilled to have it and I wish we had this permanently. Here's some pics to take you back to old school carnival days (thanks Sue for the great pics!!).....

 This look super complicated and mystical.
 I've definitely seen this in a horror movie.


Who doesn't love old school carnival games???
 Looks totally gorgeous.....
 However - I bet we'd all be making this face, getting on a Ferris wheel from around 1950....
And more cotton candy...
Also this week was Mango Festival in Hopkins....this is pretty self explanatory. If you are headed here, you MUST get a local mango from the farmer's markets scattered all through the village, they are truly one of the greatest things I've eaten here.....




And finally, here are some gratuitous pics from around the village, too charming not to share!





FYI - If you like to follow pics from around the village/Belize - you can follow us on Instagram here! https://www.instagram.com/caribbeanbeachcabanas/