The following is a letter that we received from the Winter Solstice Contest Winner. Enjoy!
Dear Chaa Creek,
Thank you SO much for our wonderful vacation! I feel extremely lucky and fortunate to be the winner of the Maya Winter Solstice Competition! The trip was so full of awesomeness that I almost don’t know where to start…
I traveled with my husband, Adam, and our first stop after arriving into Belize was the Belize Zoo. We have visited this zoo a few times before and find it to be a must see on every trip. The zoo habitats are the most natural I’ve encountered with wonderful views of the diverse wildlife that inhabits the country. Adam loves to visit the tapirs and my favorites are the spider monkeys and the jabiru storks. We were impressed with the new walking paths at the zoo and updates since our last visit.
After the zoo we arrived by shuttle to Chaa Creek. We were greeted with a welcome drink and were immediately impressed by the friendliness of the staff. We headed to the camp with Docio, who instantly became one of my favorite people ever. He was kind and caring for the duration of our stay. The camp casitas were pristine and serene. Every night I could hear howler monkeys howling in the distance and frogs croaking. Before bed we would go out with a flashlight to see what we could see. We noticed that when we shined the flashlight around that there were many eyes looking back at us! We bravely went over to see what creature the eyes belonged to and found out that they were wolf spiders. We had no idea that their eyes would do that!
The casitas are so cozy and we wouldn’t have wanted them to be any different, they were fantastic. The bed and pillows were perfectly comfortable and we loved having lighting by lanterns. Adam said he slept like he was a kid staying at his grandmother’s house in the country with the fresh breeze and soothing sounds. Each morning, I would wake up and go lie in the hammock on the front of the casita to bird watch. I saw many kinds of birds but my favorite was a toucan that was in the tree just out front of our casita. That was so cool!
In addition to the camp being a great place to stay, we found it to be the best place to eat in Belize. The food that Docio’s wife prepared was hands down the best food in Belize! We wished that we could fly to Belize tonight to have the pork chops and mashed potatoes again! I did cook stew chicken tonight and it wasn’t quite as good as the food at the camp but it was a close second thanks to cooking advice I received while staying at Chaa Creek!
I gained many new skills in addition to learning how to prepare stew chicken. I believe I was the first guest to put in the time to make my own small basket from start to finish. I was very proud of it and motivated other guests to spend their time to learn to do the same. Adam learned how to throw clay pots and how slate is carved. We also made corn tortillas from organically grown corn and thought that was very interesting. My favorite thing I learned was how chocolate is made. I had no idea what the tree looked like, the fruit, the beans or really anything about the chocolate making process. We purchased enough cocoa beans that we could teach our families about it over Christmas. They enjoyed it as much as we did!
We really loved all of the tours we were able to do. Caracol was awe-inspiring and we felt privileged to have Mr. Hugh as our tour guide. He is so passionate about Mayan history and archaeology. Barton Creek Cave and Rio Frio were also breathtaking and turning the lights out while sitting in the canoe so deep in the cave in total darkness was bone chilling. The morning of December 21, 2012 we woke up and took a ride to the stables. I was a bit nervous about riding a horse through the jungle because I had only ridden a gentle horse in fields in the past. It took me about ten minutes to warm up to riding and the horses all ride in line so well.
The organic farm was most impressive. Seeing the farm makes it clear why the food at the camp is so delicious. On our way back to the stables it started raining SO hard. It was invigorating to trot in the rain. Our favorite tour was probably the trip to South Water Caye. We love to snorkle and Adam had rigged up his GoPro cameras for underwater videography. He also bought me a new camera before the trip that could take pictures under water, too. The reef in Belize is really pristine and we love sun and surf!
Lastly, one of the most memorable moments of our trip was the Mayan primicia ceremony to ring in the new Maya era. We look forward to viewing the stelae on our next trip to Chaa Creek to commemorate this day. We had so many great experiences and our next visit to Belize will hopefully include a stop at Chaa Creek!
Thanks again SO much!!!!
Amy R. Nelson
and J. Adam Barwood