Our family

Last day in Belgium

Final day of 2018, and our last night together in Belgium. 10 years of memories and friendships here. The last box is packed and tomorrow we’re off to a new adventure in Cambridge.



Family portrait from Li Chen:



We just arrived home from a wonderful family holiday at Table Rock Jungle Lodge in Belize. Our beautiful home away from home in the rainforest of Belize. A luxury cabin in the rainforest, complete with swimming pool (where Hayden took his first real solo swim), river for tubing and farmyard animals. Wonderful.





My friend the iguana



The Mayan city of Xunantunich. First settled 500 BCE, it grew into a major centre until 600 CE. It was abandoned in 750 CE for 30 years, for reasons that remain unknown, but it was reoccupied and lived on until ~1000 CE, when it was one of the last Mayan cities to fall.


The rainforest at night

I love the symphony of a rainforest at night. The gentle flap of wings as bats unfurl and fly out into the night, the chirping of territorial geckos, the soft coo of an owl hooting and the patter of rain falling on the canopy, all set against the background chorus of insect calls.

Relaxing to go to sleep to, sheltered in our rainforest cabin. Slightly nerve-racking to walk around in, with all the creepy-crawlies; scorpians, toads and thousands upon thousands of spider eyes glinting at you.


The ancient Mayan city of Tikal

Yesterday we hiked through Tikal, the capital of the ancient Mayan kingdom Mutul from ~200 to 900 CE. Mutul was once a thriving kingdom that controlled much of Guatemala. The city contained at least 10,000 structures and had a likely population of ~100,000. At its peak, Tikal was the centre of Mayan culture, art and technology. Tikal collapsed in the end from climate change and environmental degradation, with the land no longer able to support cities, and the civilisation degenerating into isolated villages. What remains of Tikal are largely the temples built of stone, rising up out of the jungle that has blanketed them for a thousand years. We can imagine the lives of the high priests, living in splendor and making human sacrifices in these temples; the lives of the common people of Mutul are much more ephemeral and we may never know what their society was really like.


The civilisation collapsed, the city was retaken by the jungle. A thousand years and more has allowed the forest to return and with it, wildlife. During our walk we saw a pair of spider monkey leaping through the trees, a coati sniffing out bugs to eat, a woodpecker feeding its chick and an Emerald Toucanette guarding its nest.



Our family went ziplining in Guatemala today, and now Hayden has a new passion in life.



Mayan cooking

Leaning how to cook tamales, corn tortillas and hot chocolate from scratch. Turns out it all involves an awful lot of grinding, no wonder the Mayan women all developed arthritis. Hayden became good friends with the local ducks.


Black Howler Monkeys

Black Howler monkeys. In Mayan myth, the gods tried to create humanity three times. The first attempt was from earth, but the new people were washed away during the floods. The second attempt was from sticks, but the people burnt in the fires, creating the black howler monkeys. It was only the third attempt, from maize, that was successful.