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While much of the country's food source comes from the Caribbean Sea, many native and traditional dishes have little to do with the ocean and more with abundant fruits, vegetables and seasonings of the region.
Just as Americans need their ketchup, Belizeans need their habanero sauce. A bottle of Marie Sharp's Habanero Sauce is found on every table, and a few dashes make it into every dish. Real cooks, however, make their own, but watch out. Homemade habanero sauce usually comes with a serious kick.
Next time you're touring this Central America hotspot, make sure to taste these top 10 items:
1. Rice, beans and boiled chicken are to Belize what fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob are to America. The chicken is boiled for several hours with garlic, local seasonings and recado, a root that gives the dish its red coloring. The Mayans used recado for tattoo ink, but it is more commonly used today as coloring in lipstick.
2. Cashew wine does not come from the cashew nut but instead a cashew apple, the fruit that surrounds the nut. It produces a very sweet wine, and the best advice is to sip in small doses (the hangover it produces is a doozie).
3. After recovering from that hangover, try some 1 Barrel Rum. It's a dark rum and the nation's official drink.
Each year since 2000, about one-third of people who cruised chose to do so in the Caribbean. However, from a high of 42% in 2002, the number of travelers dropped to 32% in 2009, suggesting that the Caribbean may no longer have the appeal it once did.
Significant increases in nights spent aboard a cruise ship by travelers were recorded in those choosing the Mediterranean as a cruise destination. In 2000, the Mediterranean represented 12% of the cruise market. In 2009, it was chosen by 16% of travelers.
Niche markets growing fast
The largest gain, however, was reported in small ship cruises to Antarctica. In 2000, the destination was chosen by less than 1% of all cruisers. By 2009, Antarctica saw a 23% gain in cruise travelers -- though the total number of cruisers to Antarctica remained at less than 3% of all cruisers.
Weak Economy Was Good for Park Visitors
During a phone interview with David Barna, the chief of public affairs for the park service, he talked about several factors that contributed to the increase in visitation, including:
1.) publicity generated last year by President Obama's family visit to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon;
2.) buzz created by the Ken Burns PBS documentary that aired in September;
3.) three highly publicized weekends in 2009 when entrance fees to the parks were waived.
Sometimes the markers explain a point of geology. Sometimes they provide insight to the name of a highway or region or valley or mountain. We've found the sites of shoot-outs with Bonnie & Clyde, of stage coach routes and of unbelievable natural disasters, and through each one have felt a little more in touch with the journey.