We really appreciate that our guests take the time to write to us. Here is a beautiful article written by Dave:
"The road-sign shouted in large print: Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch
. However this veteran traveler has learned to pay attention to the “fine print” too. And there it was at the bottom of the sign: jungle adventure. This sign’s trailer fairly screamed at me, given that the one-hour-plus trip from Belize City encountered unspectacular landscape.
Like the work of a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon, my skepticism was peeled away one layer at a time as the long driveway to the lodge enveloped us under a canopy of lush growth.
Being somewhat late for dinner, we were ushered immediately into an open-air dining room, where a sumptuous buffet awaited us. Immediately, a question arose in my mind: why were there no mosquitoes, no bugs...not even around the lights?
The “guided tour” to our tree-house room
was a combination of breath-taking views and hiking. This two-bedroom unit was lavishly decorated, featuring an oversize king bed which, I thought, would require an eight-dollar taxi ride from one side to the night table on the other side...I walked.
While there was an indoor shower, I was intrigued by the outdoor shower, which had running water, but was “jungle-authenticated” by water streaming out an old-looking pail above your head, and was open to the foliage, and starry sky. Another layer of skepticism removed!
The night air was alive with a cacophony of wildlife all speaking their own dialect, punctuated occasionally by animals crashing through the vegetation far below us. The morning light revealed the true beauty of nature, with palm trees towering a hundred feet or more, even higher than our hillside quarters.
Now on one of several cave tours, after a hearty breakfast, our old bus bounced us over rocks in a shallow river bed, through orange groves, to arrive at the grandiose mouth of a cave system. As we tubed down the river, inexorably being drawn into another age, the fading light of the cave entrance gave the impression of being swallowed alive in this behemoth.
Artifacts left by the Maya civilization centuries ago completed the disconnect with the twenty-first century that we left behind. Although not a novice cave visitor, we were overwhelmed by the plethora of stalagmites and stalactites. In a small cavern we were awed by what resembled a frozen waterfall encrusted by diamonds. Yes, this cave was outstanding. Another layer of scepticism gone.
Upon meeting our host, Ian Anderson, we soon recognized the respect he had for the nature that surrounded him, and that he cultivated. He explained that there were no bugs because nature took care of that balance. We were informed that the facility was totally off the grid: their own power generation, water/sanitation system, everything. In fact they had just started to use goats, seventy of them, for milk, which immediately solicited my suggestion to make goats’ milk cheese. Ian was way ahead of me; they already started doing just that!
Along with mentioning my admiration for the outdoor shower, and to subtly challenge their “off the grid” premise, I noted that the rooms were stocked with name brand soap. Ever the promoter, Ian countered that they were starting production of their own natural glycerin soap, crystal clear, which was imbedded with bits of natural flowers, etc. for fragrance, and it would be in all the rooms shortly.
Ian Anderson reminded me of the TV character MacGuyver who could make anything with almost nothing, but Ian does it with a passion for nature. My suggestion: you need to put that soap in the gift shop too. Again, Ian was way ahead of me. A little cottage apart from the main lodge was full of cartons containing several fragrances. Subsequently, the women in our entourage resembled parched desert travelers finding an oasis. They purchased every available fragrance and then displayed looks of dismay when it was suggested that there were luggage weight restrictions. Realizing the no-win situation, we resigned ourselves to paying the overweight charges on the return flight.
Leaving the lodge, we took one last look at the botanical gardens that enthralled us the previous day, and bid adieu to a place that would leave us with an unforgettable experience. As the sign’s trailer wording, “jungle adventure
” disappeared in our rear view mirror, I was tempted to phone Ian to suggest those words be enhanced in bolder size, and surrounded by superlatives like enchanting, unforgettable, etc. But, I resisted the temptation. I would not give the affable Mr. Anderson a chance to upstage me again, perhaps, explaining that a newer, bolder sign was already in the works. I didn’t want to know. It was enough to know that this place was, indeed, a jungle adventure, and much more."
Thank you Dave for this beautiful article!