After our enjoyable visit to the Banana Farm, which in every way was a left field, well choreographed tour (our tour guide was actually the wife of the owner’s son and I have never seen anyone more enthusiastic about bananas than Evin was) we were entering a new chapter of our Belize travel, Riversdale.
Riversdale is a small, almost insignificant little corner, the first village, of the peninsula. When one drives along this stretch of land towards Placencia, they might not think much of Riversdale “only the first village” they might even think “further towns will definitely be more exciting, more interesting, more palm trees, more …. err something”. A build up to perfection as it were. This is what we thought of it at first too. But we could have not been more wrong.
We were invited to Riversdale, by an American couple Steve and Rhoda, to stay on the piece of land they were parking on with their RV, building their investment house. As we rolled up Steve and Rhoda just arrived back from their weekly shopping from town but that didn’t stop anyone for being ready for the evening with endless food, beers and margarita cocktails. For the evening few of their friends, neighbours joined us too. Steve is also working on the local resort’s swimming pool and John offered his help. Then the evening blurred into one big pink margarita cloud.
Steve and Rhoda, though are in their late 50’s are a youthful and super fun couple. Steve is a creative technical builder with a good sense of humour and a great passion for what he does and for spear fishing. Rhoda is a wonder woman. She is everything for Steve, his partner, lover, wife, secretary, production manager and all. She is also the mother of the village’s youngsters. Most of the kids in town, whether they’re in their teens or thirties, call her Mama. Rhoda is delightful, she is unstoppable, full of energy and does everything for everyone. Particularly to Aussie an eleven year old brother of many (not to mention all his nephews and nieces) from the top of the village, a super cute and bright kid who adores Rhoda and everything she does. He is almost always around, helping watching, learning. At the same time he is also “teaching” Rhoda about all that an American woman should know about Belize and taking everything in a Belizean kid could know about cooking and baking! It’s a match made in heaven and I really enjoyed hanging out with them.
The following few days it was constant rain and the mud flooded half of the village. The only thing we could do is chat all day long or drive down to Placencia for shopping, cooking and baking all the delicious fresh fish and lobster we got everyday from the fishermen or from the boys then it was late afternoon again and the “bar” opened. Everyone were gathering at Steve and Rhoda’s place and the drinking started again.
Each night, after a couple of glasses of cocktails all seemed great and fun and we agreed to stay one more day. And another. and another. But in the morning light all seemed slightly different. Of course, the lovely hospitality of our new friends was hugely appreciated but we are here to Travel and felt that it is time to move on.
Steve and Rhoda said they would organize a boat for the four of us to go out snorkelling and spear fishing in the next few days. So we decided to go away for a couple of days to visit the jungle and come back for the boat ride.
So off we went to a small national park in the jungle not far from Riversdale. We arrived after closing time, though the gate was open, but discovered that there was a resort/ hotel/ restaurant in the park, hence the open gate. So we rolled up at the restaurant and asked if we could stay there for the night. It was OK. The next morning we moved over to the park’s camp area and paid a small fee for camp a night. We spent the day hike up to one of their beautiful waterfalls. It was exceedingly humid and hot with millions of blood suckers so that took away the shine of the otherwise really lovely hike. Though as a reward, at the top, there was a stunning fresh, cool water natural pool of the waterfall so we cooled ourselves in it which made a lot of difference for the hike back. We also did a short hike to another waterfall but it got dark on our way back which made me a bit nervous as all we hear is to be careful with the snakes and spiders!
We really enjoyed this little park and all it offered to us. It was raining heavily over night and in the morning, before we left we laid down our sand ladders before we would’ve gotten stuck on the slippery grassy mud. It was a good move and very much needed and just about got out of the grass land. Said goodbye to the nice guy at the park and headed back to Riversdale.
We arrived in the early afternoon hours and everyone seemed to be just as happy to see us again as we were to see them. Needless to say we had a celebratory dinner and cocktails that night bearing in mind our boat ride in the morning. The following day by 9AM we gathered all our snorkelling and fishing gears, packed some lunch, drinks and off we went to meet Manuel, our captain.
Manuel took us out first to the reefs where we snorkelled for a while, the boys were warming up for fishing and generally enjoying the stunning underwater wildlife. If you’ve seen Finding Nemo and remember the opening scene…. that was what we saw there. Then we headed to an island where Manuel introduced us to his mate, an unhinged, young US couple (plus 1 year old toddler and two dogs) who bought this mangrove island 10 years ago, not having an actual land they built a wooden path system all over it a couple of casitas and a restaurant. Dustin (the husband) goes out every day, catches the fish, lobster and all that his wife cooks and serves at their restaurant. An absolutely brilliant and well designed, hand built place that is not advertised yet always busy, right in the middle of the Caribbean. It was very inspiring to see it.
We did some more snorkelling and fishing for the whole afternoon. At the end of the day, on our way back to the mainland, I don’t know how, Manuel managed to get a dolphin family appear. It was an unexpected surprise and we all got stunned to see these wonderful creatures play around our boat for a while. This was a perfect ending of a perfect day, of a perfect week.
For the last time, that evening I hunted Roy down, the fisherman and friend of Steve’s and got some more fresh fish from him to fill up our freezer.
We really had a great time here in Riversdale. People like Steve and Rhoda are the point of our travel.
We said our heartfelt goodbyes to them and Aussie the following morning and headed north-west.
Next, Barton Creek, Spanish Lookout and Clarissa Falls