Heading back through the “building boom” of Maya Beach we go looking for the world famous Miss Emma’s Kitchen and Farm. There are no signs for it, but I’ve read about it in travel blogs online.
Down some gravel roads, we pull into a property to ask directions, and we’re told, “You’re here. That’s Miss Emma over there.”
Miss Emma is a tiny little fireball of a lady from the Phillipines. She was the cook for the Philipino Embassador to Belize. During her time in Belize she developed an amazing garden for fruits and vegetables to use in her cooking, and once that appointment finished, the land owner (a commercial shrimp farm) allowed her to stay on to feed his workers.
Today she is much sought after for plants for landscaping around resorts throughout Belize, and for cut flowers for special occasions. While we toured the gardens with her she took 3 calls for orders of plants.
Now, a tour with Miss Emma is a whirlwind. She’s never stops moving, and even though she’s under 5’ tall, you have to really motor to keep up with her. She had us tasting, touching, and smelling everything in sight. If it’s exotic in the produce section back home in Canada, she was growing it here!
Then, after the tour, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch with the best, fresh limonade (with cane juice) I’ve ever had. We finished 2 pitchers!
She recommended on the way to Punta Gorda that we stop at the Belize Spice Farm for a tour, so an hour later we’re stomping around another garden tour. This one features only a few crops: Vanilla, Nutmeg, Coffee, and Cinnamon. Seeing all the steps necessary to produce vanilla it becomes obvious why it is such an expensive food ingredient. It takes a full year for it to be ready for market, and the whole process, from hand pollination of the orchid plant, to the drying and heating of the beans, is done by hand.
With my horticultural fix satiated, we head into Punta Gorda. We’ve been warned that it’s a rough and dirty outpost town, and on first impression, I’d agree.
We get horribly lost within minutes. There are no road signs, and all the roads are deeply potholed sand and gravel. We ask for directions several times from locals to get to Hickatee Cottages. Some don’t know the place, and in one instance, we simply couldn’t understand the guy’s directions because his accent was so thick! Then, lost once more, we stop a young guy (18ish) on a bicycle. He says that we’re on the wrong road, and to follow him. He then takes us almost 20 minutes out of his way to ride us all the way out of town to Hickatee Cottages. Punta Gorda may not be as rough as we were told.