To get a sense of authentic Belize, present and past, call Lyra and sign up for the Chocolate Tour/Mayan Ruins. Lyra knows the country intimately, having grown up on a cacao farm herself, and she will soon complete her PhD in Anthropology; she is a unique combination of home-grown common sense and intellectual sophistication.
On this tour you learn not just about chocolate but about geology, astronomy, ecology, economics, herbal medicine, archaeology, and, of course, politics. Ixcacao Chocolate is a family-run operation, and the visit includes a short walk among the cacao plants, a cup of hot chocolate, a sampling of several different types of finished chocolate (salt, coconut, ginger), grinding cacao beans with ancient stone tools, and a tasty, ample lunch of tomatoes, yams, pumpkin, and callaloo, as well as chicken prepared with a rub that contains both chilis and chocolate. It's unique and delicious.
Part 2 of the tour is a stop at Nam Le Pinut, one of the small Maya sites known for its remarkable artifacts and exceptionally large and ornate stele, or carved stones. We had the place almost entirely to ourselves, and it was peaceful and haunting. Lyra told us as much as we could absorb about Mayan history and culture. Every step of the way, it comes through how deeply she cares about Belize and its people.
This tour makes for an unforgettable day, one that will enrich your appreciation of a beautiful country.