For the ancient Maya, caves served as portals between the surface world of the humans and the underworld of the gods, a place called Xibalba. Deities and ancestors resided in the caves, and holy water dripped from their stalactites.

Because vapor formed at the mouths of caves, people believed they gave birth to the clouds, wind, rain and thunder.







Designed the 196-page 2005 edition of Ulrich Communications' official in-room guide for the Belizean hotel association and tourism board. As managing editor, traveled and photographed every district of Belize for a month in 2005, then wrote the 85,000-word US English text of the 2006 edition and updated it for 2007. Below are some sample manuscripts.




Dining and nightlife

Cuisine runs mild to wild, but always fresh and tasty.

The same way Belize creates a melting pot of cultures, its restaurants create a melting pot of cuisines. Maya, mestizo, Garinagu, Creole, Chinese, Indian, and Lebanese flavors all season the melange. Creative chefs fuse traditional dishes with local Caribbean fruits like papaya and mango, to produce new flavors, aromas, and zest.

Seafood caught this morning becomes ceviche served tonight. Citric juice “cooks” the ceviche, often served with tortilla chips as an appetizer. The fresh local specialty mixes diced lobster, shrimp, or conch together with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and spices.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2007, Dining section, main text.

Stalking the wild cats

Hear jaguars roar in Cockscomb Basin.

Once upon a time in the Cockscomb Basin, poachers hunted the powerful jaguars, loggers cut the mahogany trees, and hurricanes toppled the old-growth canopy.

Just 20 years later, the jaguars rule, the trees grow dense, and the only threat that remains is from hurricanes. Today, the five wild cats of Belize — jaguars, jaguarundis, margays, ocelots, and pumas — all thrive under the protection of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1986 as the world’s first jaguar preserve and now home to the world’s largest concentration of wild cats.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2006, Welcome section, feature.




Snorkel and dive

America’s longest coral reef spawns underwater adventure.

The extravagant submarine scenery of Belize, more colorful than any Hollywood film, really gets a diver’s mojo flowing. Dazzling neon creatures, subterranean gardens, and coral jungles put on a show that no one should miss.

Featuring the largest, most prolific barrier reef in the West, plus three rare atolls, 500 species of fish, 65 stony corals, 350 molluscs, assorted sponges and crustaceans, and one celebrated Blue Hole, Belize makes divers and snorkelers wet.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2007, Diving section, main text. Photo above by Jeff Borg.


Some mammals do need a hole in the head.

Movie-goers worldwide know Free Willy, the killer whale, and TV watchers know Flipper, the playful dolphin. But the most famous cetacean in Belize would be Pita, the friendly bottlenose dolphin of Northern Two Caye at Lighthouse Reef.

First spotted during a 1987 shark fight, the wounded Pita became emaciated. Fishermen began to feed her, and she began to accompany their boats. The lone female sought human contact for the next six years, following dive boats and becoming quite popular.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2007, Diving section, sidebar.




Adventure quest

Inland or offshore, mountains or wetlands,
Belize and adventures have a natural attraction.

In Belize, where Indiana Jones meets Jacques Cousteau, endless adventures await both above and below the sea. Belize combines Sea World, Animal Kingdom, and Jurassic Park all in one, measuring its history not in hundreds, but in thousands of years.

Some destinations have beaches. Some have mountains. But unlike others, Belize offers world-class land and sea adventures in the same day — east for water sports; west for jungle life; north for wetlands; south for mountains. Or go any direction for ancient Maya cities.

Download PDF files of the complete story and the custom map, Destination Belize 2006, Tours and Attractions section, main text.



Ancient Maya world

What happened to a million Maya?
New excavations pry open secrets.

Amazingly, early explorers mapped Belize unaware of the huge Maya cities hiding just under the leaves, vines, and roots they trod. Triumphant buildings and sculptures waited patiently to testify about an advanced people, who once numbered a million. Where the jungle thrives today, a great Maya civilization endured longer than Rome had.

At its peak around AD 800, the density of Maya cities exceeded 2,000 people per square mile, similar to Los Angeles County today. By AD 950, however, the population had declined by as much as 95 percent.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2006, Culture section, main text.

Raves for caves

Ghosts of ancient Maya share timeless caves and caverns
with wide-eyed spelunkers and subterranean creatures.

Belizean caves and caverns — the largest such system in the Americas — lead visitors on a journey through time. Explorers witness the geological formation of the planet, the great civilization of the Maya, and the peculiar animals of today, all inside the caves.

In these eerie mazes of silent darkness, giant limestone stalactites drip from the ceilings. Mica-studded formations sparkle like crystal as beams of light from headlamps land on them. Echos from distant walls play with one’s senses of time and space.

Thousand-year-old artifacts of Maya shamans still lie in some caves, as if waiting for a ritual to begin. Cool breezes from deep within the earth suggest the arrival of ghosts.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2006, Caves section, main text.

San Ignacio

Adventure junkies get high in mountainous western Cayo.

Cayo means the opposite of coastal. Waterfalls thunder down mountainsides into glistening pools. Vacationers bob on inner tubes and careen over rapids. Echoes bounce off the walls of crystalline caves. Forest canopy shields hiking trails from the tropical sun.

Choirs of birds perform avian melodies. Mysterious temples reach for the sky. Crisp mountain breezes invigorate the body, while high mountain vistas rejuvenate the soul.

The largest district geographically, Cayo covers more than 2,000 square miles of diverse terrain, from rolling ranches to rugged ridges. It ranks second in population, with 63,900 residents.

The capital, San Ignacio, with its sister town of Santa Elena just across the Macal River, form the country’s second-largest population center, with 16,100 residents. Mestizo (Spanish-Maya), Creole, Maya, Mennonite, and other cultures all speak their own languages, in addition to English.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2006, San Ignacio section, main text.




Zillion-to-one shot

Infinitesimal polyps build reefs
big enough to see from space.

Marine life in Belize — from fish and mangroves to humans — depends on the Belize Barrier Reef for survival. Largest reef in the northern or western hemispheres — so big astronauts can see it from space — this huge biological structure is actually a zillion tiny animals called polyps.

Charles Darwin called it “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies.” But why are such reefs important? Who uses them? How do they live?

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2006, Welcome section, main text. Photo above from NASA Johnson Space Center.

Ambergris Caye

Laid-back Temptation Island launches
a thousand water-sports adventures.

An astute traveler coined a saying for this laid-back hideaway, “No shoes, no shirt, no problem,” and the motto stuck. Although it offers the most resorts, best variety of restaurants, funkiest shops, and livliest bars, Ambergris Caye remains light years away.

Explore the fabulous reef. Pet a graceful stingray. Land a fisherman’s trophy. Or just lounge by the brilliant turquoise sea.

Narrow Bacalar Chico channel, dug by ancient Mayas, separates this largest, most popular of Belize’s 200 cayes from Mexico. Known as la Isla Bonita, meaning “beautiful island” (from the Madonna song), Ambergris retains its Caribbean charm.

San Pedro Town blends Caribbean with a touch of Mexico and a dash of Old Key West. Tiki bars and seaside restaurants dot the waterfront, shaded by palms.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2006, Ambergris Caye section, main text.

Atolls and Outer Cayes

Superlatives cannot describe
these precious gems of coral.

A refugee from the world could not get farther away than the atolls and outer cayes of Belize. These 450 precious gems, set in a sea of shimmering aquamarine, range from mere specks of coral awash at high tide, to exotic resorts with hot water and air-conditioning.

Snorkelers breathe in colors unimagined. Divers plunge into world-class dive sights. Boaters hallucinate on blue vistas. Bird watchers flock to see 98 species. Abundant waters lure anxious fishermen.

Download a PDF file of the complete story, Destination Belize 2006, Atolls and Outer Cayes section, main text.



Art directed the editorial sections, designed several ads, and managed production for the 2004 issue of Destination Belize.



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Banner illustration by Jeff Borg