We were currently docked at Tijax farm, a rubber plantation, hotel and Marina. We were expecting to move in a couple of days to RAM marina a boatyard, to get some boat work done since the price for labor here is crazy inexpensive. We wanted to take advantage of our time here at Tijax.
We signed up for the 3 hour horseback tour of the farm for $20 US per person. David and I took Isabel, Calvin, and Savannah. The kids were so excited to go on a “real” horse back ride, rather than the pony led by someone walking it in a circle “ride”. Of course the horses we were riding were well trained trail horses that know their route and just plod along, but the kids still had to learn a little steering and stopping. They did a great job.
The scenery thru the farm was beautiful and hilly. Our guide was Raul, who had worked for the farm for 16 years. He spoke a little more English, then we did Spanish, but we still managed to communicate and learn quite a bit, including a few new Spanish words, like left and right. He took us for a short hike on the property over a long suspension bridge that crosses a valley 50 meters below. The kids were a bit ahead of us when we heard that Calvin had tripped, and gratefully had not fallen off the narrow bridge. We made them slow down and reminded them to hold on tight to the railing. We all made it safely back to the horses to continue our ride thru the plantation.
We saw young rubber trees and mature rubber trees and learned how they harvest rubber. This was a fun learning experience. Both Savannah and Calvin had recently learned different things about rubber in their school work, so I guess you could count this as a “field trip”. Calvin had been studying how different products are imported to the US because we don’t and can’t grow or harvest these products in the US, rubber being one of these products. He had learned about different things made from rubber. Savannah had been learning about Charles Goodyear and his lifelong pursuit of finding the right chemical mixture with rubber to make it useful.
Rubber trees are tapped like maple trees. They score the trees on one side and it causes the bright white rubber sap to run down the score mark to the little “faucet” placed in the tree to drip into a bucket. Each season they alternate the side of the tree that they score. 1 workers can tap 600lbs of rubber sap each day. Raul scored one of the trees to show us exactly how this is done.
We also rode the horses to the top of a hill to a lookout tower. In the distance you can see the mountains of Belize. The surrounding scenery is just beautiful. We also stopped and made a short hike to a natural spring pool. The sun was going down so we didn’t stay long but was told we could come back and swim in the natural spring another day. The kids loved their horseback ride and when we returned to the boat, Benjamin was sad that he did not get to go on the horses.