The American Dream Is a Reality in Belize

By Perrin

Alan and Colleen start the day in the Tablerock dining pavillion.

Table Rock co-founders Alan and Colleen Spring hold a breakfast meeting.

Colleen Spring hears a noise in the bushes and asks her husband Alan to add a log to the fire. Extra light never hurts when you’re warding off jaguars.

Muscled four-legged ambassadors formed part of the welcoming committee when the young Floridian couple first made camp on eight acres of Belizean property in 2002.  They had set out to create a new home for themselves, but they brought little more than a tent, a 4×4 jeep and a machete to clear their path.

“The first night was sleepless,” Colleen recalls. “There were many unknown noises, and at every one I thought, ‘Is that a jaguar? Is that a jaguar? Is that a jaguar?’”

On discovering Colleen and Alan nestled in the brush the following morning, the astonished locals laughed. “Crazy foreigners, why aren’t you at Saint Ignacio Resort?” one implored.

But the Springs persisted with their plan to build a jungle resort for eco-travelers. They are among a growing number of young entrepreneurs whose business goals are more to finance a lifestyle than to make large profits.

“We are trying to make money so we can live a certain way,” Colleen explains. “We get to live here.”

The Springs’ ability to face down jaguars and build from scratch has paid off.

Today, Colleen and Alan preside over 105 acres, 15 citrus crops, and six sturdy cabanas at a lush retreat they have named Table Rock Jungle Lodge. They have over $500,000 invested in their business, and their Belizean entourage has expanded beyond felines to include 19 employees, seven donkeys and a flock of hens – as well as three 4×4’s and two machetes.

All of this sprang from a marriage vow.

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GUEST POST | How Australia Proved I’m No Indiana Jones

By Julius Wright

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It’s not often that my wife and I manage to go on a vacation that does not center on our two children. I’ve spent the last five summers taking trips to Disney World, Six Flags, and various other “family friendly” destinations. It’s been…well, to be honest, it’s been miserable. Heat rolling off sun-baked asphalt, overpriced fried food, and lines so long I thought I’d be eligible for an AARP membership before I reached the end.

For my 39th birthday, my wife surprised me with a trip meant just for the two of us: we would depart on an Australian tour and I would spend 3 days on a gritty, manly adventure like my hero, Indiana Jones. My wife even bought me a replica of his trademark hat.

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GUEST POST | The Job That Ruined Your Travel Plans

Local adventure to feed your travel bug.

PR guru and recovering (?) travel addict

PR guru and recovering (?) travel addict

By Savannah Marie

What happens to your travel itinerary when “real life” calls you back to a routine of steady employment and regular paychecks? That’s the question I have been trying to answer for the last few months.

The travel bug bit hard the summer after high school graduation, so I wandered. As a college student, I dedicated every spare break and every saved dime to traveling. That is, until I was offered a position in PR that I wouldn’t dream of passing up.

I understand that full-time employment requires full-time work. And my job certainly makes funding my trips easier in the future. It’s just that traveling was about whim, and work is about consistency. There’s little room for error, little room for deviation and a lot of room for excel sheets.

Instead of being morose about my full-time employment lot in life, I got proactive. All I wanted was a little adventure, right? Well, I put my wanderlust to good use and set about experiencing all the cool things my new city has to offer. Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, and for once in my life I don’t need a passport to chase it!

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Firetruck Stands By As Ramon’s Resort Burns

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Eastern shore of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye

By Perrin

San Pedro, Belize | Wednesday night, foot and boat traffic drew like moths to the flame to watch as one of the largest resorts on Ambergris Caye burned to the ground. The sole firetruck on Ambergris Caye arrived momentarily but couldn’t get close enough to battle the flames due to roadworks at the hotel’s entryway. (A likely issue: of the nearly 1,600 miles of roadway in Belize, only 303 are paved and easily accessible, according to NationsEncyclopedia.com.)

Awestruck tourists produced iPhones to document the fire (exhibit A above) and self-possessed locals produced sticks and marshmallows to make s’mores. I couldn’t make this up. Luckily, no one was injured and part of the hotel may be salvaged.

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Photos of the Day: Ladies of Peru

 

 

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Inca Trail Packing List: Tested and Refined

The 15-18 things you need to hike 

By Perrin

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Each morning on the trail I cast a sidelong glance at yesterday’s SmartWool socks, which were festooned with a frieze of sweat and blood. I inched them on with the alacrity of a new dad changing his first explosive diaper. Clever though hiking footwear may be – some brands even claiming to last 3 days without need for a wash – no sock is a match for the Trail.

As you fill your pack, consider carefully whether you want an extra candy bar or extra socks in addition to the following items.

Every ounce that counts:

1. Hiking boots

  • Ubiquitous recommendation from REI, guides and Trail Know-It-All’s is to buy a half-size too big to avoid jamming your toes on the downhill segments. This is sound advice.
  • Break the boots in well before you hit the trail.

2. Thick but breathable quick-dry socks (2-3 pairs) – There are socks meant to last days without needing a wash. Per my preamble, this seems more conversation starter than fact.

3. Breathable, waterproof, convertible hiking pants (1 pair)

4. Quick-dry short-sleeve shirts (1-2)

  • Ladies, it’s good to have one with a built-in bra. I was well-served by Athleta’s aptly named and seemingly magical “Equator” Tank, which wicked moisture away even quicker than I could sweat and seemed impervious to odor.
  • I did realize that short sleeves are better if you’re carrying a pack; the Yama Tee would probably do the trick.
  • Athleta: If you would like to send a selection of workout clothes in appreciation for this unsolicited endorsement, let the record show that I accept.

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Swinging Through Trees in the Amazon (While Wearing Deet of Course)

By SarahAmazonian WomenIt does exist!  Blackberries have no service bars in the Amazon!  Considering the work-connected crew of us occasionally caught a few bars on and between islands in the Galapagos, I think the Amazon is one of the rare connectionless places left on earth.  It feels special to visit such a place.

I joined a group of my fllow NYU Stern students for a Spring Break trip through Ecuador.  I was late due to work but caught them in Quito just before they left for the Amazon portion of the trip.  We departed for the “Oriente” early in the morning so we could finish the 6-hour journey through the Andes highlands while there was still daylight.  The roads were fairly well paved, though bumps and hairpin curves frequently threw us two inches off our seats and forced us to abandon a poker game when we couldn’t keep the cards from scattering.  We were perfectly content to gape out the window at the stunning bright green mountains, waterfalls and granite cliffs.  I imagined the Incans, nearly 500 years ago, trying to defend their lands from the Spanish while running up and down the steep hillsides. They must have been attractively manly.

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It was almost sad when our ride came to an end, just outside the city of Teno.  There, a carriage of long canoes and a crew of quick-moving Ecuadorian men waited to take us down the Rio Napo to our resort.  We felt guilty loading our oversized American suitcases onboard until we realized there was a motor on the end and the Ecuadorian boaters would not actually have to row us themselves.

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