Summer school: Belcampo’s artist-in-residence program turns a Belize resort trip educational

“We made history today,” says Antony John, bouncing back from the telescope. That double-crested cormorant is not supposed to be here,”

I home in on the yellow-faced bird with its great black wings outstretched. John — a gangly Welshman in safari garb, with spiky salt-and-pepper hair and rockstar piercings — explains its natural habitat is coastal.

“If this is the first local sighting, who should we report it to?” I ask.

“Nobody. We’re going to shoot it,” says John.

As well as cracking jokes without mercy, John is at Belcampo jungle lodge, near the seaside town of Punta Gorda in Southern Belize, to share his expertise as a birder, painter and organic farmer. The former host of Food Network farming show Manic Organic, from Stratford, Ont., is the inaugural chef in Belcampo’s artist-in-residence programwhich allows visitors to learn skills from wrapping tamales to mixing mojitos alongside some of the world’s leading food experts.

It is part of a program launched by Californian CEO Anya Fernald and Canadian General Manager Mara Jernigan at the 16-suite, 1,000-acre eco-resort that has its own farm, education centre and 12,000-acre wildlife reserve.

Jernigan, former Slow Food Canada president, left her own farm, inn and cooking school on Vancouver Island four years ago to help transform this jungle lodge. A dynamo in Wellies and a shirt dress, she manages everything from agri-tourism activities for guests to the expansion of the farm — key to maximizing the resort’s self-sufficiency, already at 70 %.

Eager to experience the artist-in-residence program for myself, I get up with the howler monkeys at 5:30 a.m. for an outing with John and some hardcore birders. Our surprise sighting of the double-crested cormorant happens at a roadside lagoon, still hazy from the morning mist. We’d stopped the land cruiser there to drink bright Guatemalan coffee and eat breakfast burritos, loaded with orange-yolked scrambled eggs, tomato salsa and spinach-like callaloo — every ingredient farm fresh.

From there we drive on to Lubaantun, where pyramids and ball courts from the Maya Classic Age lie in ruins under fig trees, ferns and creepers. We’ll have checked off 70 species by noon, including the belted kingfisher, with its bad-boy blue Mohawk; the rare emerald toucan, which has the birders doing high fives; and the painted bunting, which looks like it was invented by a child with a wild imagination and a bumper box of crayons.

“I saw six lifers,” announces Madeleine, a retiree from Texas, triumphantly, as we debrief later in the lounge, referring to birds she has never spotted before. Local guide Emmanuel Chan is glowing too. John has been teaching him about the summer serenades sung in Canada by migratory thrushes, warblers and orioles, which are monosyllabic in Belize. In turn, Chan has been explaining the medicinal uses of jungle plants to the artist-in-residence. It’s a mutually enriching exchange.

Read more:

Top Places to Stay in Belize

Belize Tour Companies and Travel Agents

Belize Real Estate Opportunities

April 20, 2018

Marriott Hotels to debut in Belize with a 203-key oceanfront property

ECI Development today announced plans to introduce the Marriott Hotels’ namesake brand to Belize with a project designed for customers...
Read More
April 15, 2018

7 beautifully convincing reasons why Belize should be your next destination

Perched on the eastern coast of Central America, with beautiful Caribbean Sea shorelines to the east and dense lush jungle...
Read More
April 14, 2018

Belize Tourism Arrivals Continue to Set Unprecedented Records

Belize City, Wednesday, 11th April 2018: The latest tourism statistics for the first quarter of 2018 indicate that Belize’s popularity...
Read More
April 14, 2018

Want to go to Belize? What? Sure!

This was the actual conversation that started the journey for this green commercial pilot. Read more:
Read More
April 13, 2018

Four Seasons Announces New Island Resort in Belize

This spring, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts announced plans for the development of Caye Chapel, a private island that’s right...
Read More
April 13, 2018

Why is Belize considered a Caribbean country?

Aside from geography as pointed out by Shaun, the more important reason for why we are considered a part of...
Read More
April 11, 2018

Cayo Espanto, Private Island Resort in Belize Offers One Free Day In Paradise

Celebrating 20 years of providing an unforgettable experience for every guest,  Cayo Espanto, the private island resort that has redefined...
Read More
April 11, 2018

10 unforgettable things to do in the “forgotten” district of Toledo, Belize

There are 5 major Maya sites in the Toledo district and many others that remain unexcavated. Read more:
Read More
April 7, 2018

12 Things to Know When You Cruise to Belize

Excited about your cruise to Belize? Well, you should be. Belize cruise port is a growing attraction among cruise-goers with...
Read More
1 2 3 15



1 Comment

Leave a Comment


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Don't have account. Register

Lost Password


Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better

Get E-mail Updates on Belize!

We will send you the latest information on Belize travel, vacation deals, places to stay, things to see and do and much more to your inbox daily. We promise to send you only the good stuff!

Sign up now and receive FREE information on Belize!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe.