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Toledo Farmstay with Kids

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

This place feels like one of the worlds best kept secrets. It’s truly a hidden gem and way off the beaten track, devoid of people, cars and noise (just like most of the fabulous Belize). Two hours drive south of Hopkins we stayed with a Mayan family for an immersive cultural experience. We always try to do a home stay with locals on each adventure and this one felt really special. Elario and his 15 children have a traditional Mayan farm, past the countries last electricity supply station and into the wilderness proper.

Farming for the Morning:

We began the day with a trek around his organic farm. This was NOT a farm as we in the west (especially the kids) would know it, but a mile square of rainforest with edible plants seemingly haphazardly dotted about. There was method to his madness though, as he had been working his land for 45 years, companion planting, refusing to use any chemicals whatsoever.

Elarios passion for sustainability was amazing as we trekked for hours through his lands tasting raw cacao (chocolate), papayas, sugar cane, bananas, lettuce roots, coconuts, ginger, tea leaves, pineapples, spices, corn, rice, limes and all sorts of fresh produce. We also investigated a medicinal garden along a hillside. The kids were so excited foraging about and the food was utterly incredible, Maxs favourite was pulling up the ginger, mine was certainly the limes and the lime tree leaves. We got a glimpse of the wildlife abound as vultures circled above and snakes slithered in the undergrowth.

Tortilla Making in the Village:

The 100% humidity and temperature teetering around 40 degrees, we stopped at his camp in the middle for a breather and some freshly cracked coconut water. When we had our strength back we milled some corn and one of his daughters taught us how to make tortillas, which we then ate for lunch. The kids really loved this activity. Our 3 year old claimed it was “just like playdoh” as she did a great job rolling and pressing a ball of dough and throwing it onto the hot plate (I love the all natural material stoves in the middle of the jungle!!). The baby enjoyed clucking with the chickens!

Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Journey:

In the afternoon we spent a few hours on a bean-to-bar journey through raw chocolate making with another of Elarios daughters (Victoria), from splitting the cacao pods and sucking the flesh out to fermenting and roasting the beans, eventually husking, grinding and mixing with chili, milk and water for tasty drinks and snacks, the kids absolutely loved it. It's a shame I didn't get a picture of the most skillful part of the process; the way that Victoria winnowed the chocolate nibs from the papery skins/casings - it was so memorizing that I couldn't take my eyes off it - she sort of threw it up in the air and blew gently towards it, the paper cases flew out of the stream of them and she caught the nibs in the bowl! Incredible! We also loved how the family have a grinding stone and pestle that they have handed down for literally hundreds of years. It smells and looks incredible, what an heirloom. We also loved the gourd-bowls and actually bought one off them as our chosen keepsake from Belize (as well as a bar of the chili chocolate to scoff while the kids were in bed that night!).

Chasing Waterfalls (again):

To end the day we got a ride to jump into San Antonio waterfall. This one was quite shallow all the way around right up to the foot of the falls, perfect for littler children! Max and I managed to squeeze under them for a few minutes and listen to the wall of water crashing around us, which felt pretty special. Quinn, who is the messiest mud-loving child I've ever seen really enjoyed scraping her toes through the squidgy banks!

In Summary:

Today was another tough one to beat, might in fact be too many photos! What an incredible day, the kids learnt so much and I really felt like this one will stick with them forever.

If we had more time we would have also gone to the bigger Rio Blanco national park falls and cave systems in Toledo, but sadly we had to cut it in order to fit in the seven countries on our journey.

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