A Beautiful Orchard in Cayo: Lychees, Coconut and Jatropha in Cristo Rey, Belize
Just outside of San Ignacio, Belize, there is a turn off that heads up into the hills, the Maya Mountains of Belize. The road, paved and then unpaved takes you to Cristo Rey Village, to San Antonio (where lots of Belize’s peanuts are farmed) and then farther up to where the landscape totally changes – to the Mountain Pine Ridge.
Cristo Rey is a beautiful place – huge trees, beautiful manicured gardens, homes along the river and this sign. I’d driven past it before on the way up and made a mental note to find out if I could have a look around.
The village is also well known for these signs along the road. The Sleeping Policemen.
Before returning to San Ignacio just a few days ago, I searched the world wide web for information. And found a real estate listing – “Buy A Lychee Farm in Belize”. Through the real estate agent, a friend of mine, I was put in touch with the 101 acre farm owner – and set up a time to visit.
Someone in Western Belize growing an Asian fruit (I saw them fresh for the first time in Thailand – and a second time, just a few weeks ago, in a fruit shop in San Pedro, Belize)…I wanted to know more.
A 15 minute taxi ride and I was there – have you seen a more beautiful front gate?
It’s quite a drive-way – I’m SO glad I didn’t take the bus…lined with coconut palms and then by lychee trees. Dense and green…perfect for climbing.
There is a smaller house and then up the hill a larger one. With an amazing view…
But I was after one thing…lychees and maybe a lychee tree or two to bring back to Ambergris Caye. To plant at the farm.
But first…the lychee. It’s a delicious fruit related to the rambutan (I had these in Cancun) and to the Belizean, kinep. It’s like sweet kiwi surrounding a large seed. The kind of fruit, like a cherry, where once you start…you just can’t stop eating them.
The lychee is originally from south east Asia – and very popular in China. You may have seen them as the lone dessert option on Chinese food menus. Those are the canned ones…and like a canned grape? They don’t taste like much.
The lychee is quite fragile – once they are picked, they need to go to market quickly.
Time to get to the trees.
You bite in lightly and peel off the outside.
And inside…you eat the clear/white flesh.
The farm has 650 lychees trees – all planted over the 20+ years that the owner has been working the property.
The trees are a bit fickle and this year aren’t giving as much fruit as they have in the past. In a good year, the trees are bursting with fruit – it hangs in huge clumps. Each tree can produce hundreds of pounds…
I will be forever on call – for the rest of my days. For the time when the trees are ready…I’ll bring a tent and just eat…nap and eat.
There are also bees at the farm – making lychee honey. I can’t wait to try that to.
There are 3500 coconut palms – and the coconuts – hundreds a week – are sold for coconut water.
The last crop is the jatropha tree – a tree native to Central America. A tree that produces a nut that is up to 40% oil – oil that can be used as bio-fuel. Planes have been flown using jatropha oil.
It can also be processing into briquettes for cooking. You can plant 1000 trees per acre…well…I’ll let you look it up. There is an amazing amount of information on jatropha on-line…
The crop of the future? Who knows. All I know is that this property is absolutely gorgeous and that I can’t wait to run through it, stuffing my face, when the lychees are out in force.
Perhaps I’ll be singing something from the Sounds of Music.
If you are interested in more information on the property, please check the real estate listing.