Coffee Grounds are great for gardening!

It may look like dirt, but coffee grounds are a great natural insecticide.

If you have ever tried your hand at gardening, you’ve surely run into some sort of critter getting at your precious plants. Ants are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to outdoor gardening, but there’s a natural way to battle them! Coffee grounds can be an effective, natural, deterrent for bugs on plants.

Save your coffee grounds for the garden!

Getting up with sun sometimes requires a little help, and we’ve been collecting our coffee grounds in an old tin. We wanted to make sure our freshly transplanted tomato plants weren’t going to be eaten by all the hungry jungle ants.

Place the coffee grounds around the base of the plant.

Placing coffee grounds around the base of the plant, once a week or so, will keep the ants, and other land critters away from your plants. This works for all types of plants, not just fruit producing plants. If you have a garden with just flowers, give it a shot.

The key is to wait until the plant is clear of the seedling stage, and has a healthy stem. Bugs don’t like the taste of coffee, and the smell can even deter those pesky airborne critters.

Protecting the tomato plants from ants!

So, next time you enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning, think about saving those coffee grounds and using them in your garden. Not only will it keep the bugs away, it’s great for the soil, and the next time you plant, you’re soil will be even richer with nutrients.

Garden on!

Medicinal Plants of Lower Dover : Nopal aka Scoggineal

Nopal Tree at Lower Dover

In the lodge area of Lower Dover, we have a mature Nopal tree that has been a favorite among guests. Although not native to Belize, it grows well in the tropical conditions, and  has many medicinal uses, including a treatment for hair loss, bladder infections, and high blood pressure.

Nopal Flower

The following information is taken from Rainforest Remedies by Rosita Arvigo, D.N. and Michael Balick, PH.d

“Creole Name: Scoggineal

Spanish Name: Nopal, Tuna

Mopan Maya: Pa’kam

Scientific Name: Opuntia cochenillfera

Plant Family: Cactaceae

Traditional Uses: A fresh Opuntia pad is peeled, sliced and tied around the head to relieve headaches and fever. High blood pressure fever, and malaise are treated by boiling 1 pad in 3 cups of water for 5 minutes and drinking 1 cup of the decoction before each meal. Crushing and soaking 5 fresh pads in 1 gallon of water makes a rinse that is used to prevent falling hair and a tea to drink for bladder conditions. Drinking 1 cup of juice from a fresh pad at onset of childbirth is said to ease delivery. Peeled, steamed, and chilled pads are eaten in salads to alleviate arthritis. For skin ulcers, the pad is sliced in half and applied over the sores until they heal. To alleviate pain in the internal organs, the sufferer cuts out a mold of his or her foot on one of the skinned leaf pads and hangs this over the fire hearth, when the foot mold is dry, the pain will go away.

Pads of the Nopal tree.

Scoggineal fruit is used as a hair conditioner, producing soft, lustrous results. A peeled, mashed fruit is spread on the hair; after being covered with plastic wrap for an hour, the hair is then rinsed thoroughly.

The fruit is edible and highly esteemed- the spiny, outer portion is peeled off and the red or yellowish seedy center is consumed. Caution must be taken to avoid eating the small hair-like spines on the outside of the fruit.”

Previous experience at Lower Dover: Thanks to our friend and local guide Edgar, we found out the pads of the Nopal can also be used to treat bruises and sprains. When one of our workers, sprained his foot, we skinned a pad, and wrapped it around the bruised area over night. The next morning, the bruising was gone, and so was his limp, amazing stuff!

Pads of the Nopal- so many uses!

Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

Part of the Jungle Lode at Lower Dover

Located in the beautiful Cayo district of western Belize, Lower Dover Jungle Lodge is the perfect getaway for adventure travelers wanting to experience “Real Belize…the Right Way”.

Aerial Shot of Lower Dover

Lower Dover is the easiest to reach of all Belize jungle hotels. We are situated on 100 acres of old growth rain-forest, along the Belize River, on top of a recently identified Mayan ceremonial center, and only 1/2 mile from the main highway.

For pictures of the ruins click here.

Library on top of a ruin at Lower Dover

Our central location provides easy access to all major Mayan sites, including being the closest to the must see ATM Cave.  Backpackers traveling to Tikal by local bus will find our close proximity to the highway ideal. Travelers wishing to spend their time bird-watching, swimming in natural swimming pools with waterfalls, eating amazing food, or learning about medicinal jungle plants will be right at home in our jungle setting. Don’t waste time driving on rough roads, stay at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge and relax for your honeymoon, friend, family, or group vacation.

One of the Jungle Trails at Lower Dover

For more pictures of the Lodge click here.

Belize River

Belize River as seen from the bird trail at Lower Dover

The Belize River forms the rear edge of the Lower Dover Field Station property in between Little and Big Barton Creeks in the Cayo District of Belize.  The river’s main tributaries are the Macal and Mopan Rivers which spread it’s catchment further across the boarder into Guatemala.  These two rivers meet to form the Belize River east of San Ignacio at “branch mouth”. The Belize River winds through Belize east to west for about 180 miles, which is amazing because the country is only 68 miles wide!  The “Big River” empties into the Caribbean Sea in Belize City.

Big Barton Creek tributary along the bird trail at Lower Dover

In Mayan times, the Belize River was the main transportation network linking major Mayan sites in the Peten/Tikal region of Guatemala with the Caribbean Sea. Mayans used hollowed out canoes called dories to transport goods and conduct trade throughout this major thoroughfare. In fact, up until the middle 1900’s when the Western Highway was built, traversing the Belize River by boat was still the only way to travel between Belize City and San Ignacio (a multiple day trip).

The current theory about the significance of the “Lower Dover” Mayan site indicates its importance as an link in this ancient trading network.  At the very least it was a trading outpost, but perhaps it even served as a “toll zone” as a way for royalty to control the flow of goods to and from the sea.  From the “lookout” ruin it would have been possible to have a 360 degree view of the entire Belize River Valley, and the tributary of Big Barton Creek.

During colonial times, the British utilized the Belize River flood season to send their Mahogany and Logwood logs harvested from Western Belize to the ports of Belize City.  Lower Dover gets its name from the British logging camp located nearby that coined the area Dover because the white cliffs found on the river’s edge reminded them of their home in England. Many of the huge Mahogany trees are now gone because of over-harvesting, but it is still possible to see these trees grow naturally when walking the medicinal plant trail at Lower Dover. We also do our part by replanting as many Mahogany trees as we can throughout the dense jungle found around the Jungle Lodge area.

Friends in the Ruta Maya taken at the Lower Dover.

Every year in March, coinciding with the local holiday Baron Bliss Day, there is a 4-day canoe race that occurs on the Belize River called the Ruta Maya. The race recreates the trip Mayan merchants took when trading goods from the land to the sea. The race starts in San Ignacio and ends in Belize City and caters to both professional and amateur riders in 8 different divisions of competition. Teams consist of 3 paddlers who camp out at 3 different stages before finishing on the fourth day.  It is possible to sit and watch the competitors on the first day of the race from the Lower Dover rock beach along the Belize River.

Friends in the Ruta Maya taken at the Lower Dover.

The Belize River remains at high levels for most of the rainy season, which makes it difficult to navigate due to submerged trees and thorny bamboo lined banks.  However, during the dry season, the River becomes a great place to swim, fish, or canoe. Anglers looking to catch catfish (locally called baca) or even the elusive tarpon can try their luck from the banks of Lower Dover Field Station and Jungle Lodge. Bush-man Dan is a great fishing guide and will even teach you to fish the Belizean way, with hand-line, not fishing poles.

Fishing on the Belize River at Lower Dover

Swimming is also a pleasure because the water is surprisingly warm due to the tropical sun. There is a large sand bar in the middle of the Belize River at our “rock beach” which is amazing to relax at in the afternoon as hundreds of parrots fly overhead to their nesting location.

Rock Beach at Lower Dover