Barebones Tours was started by Craig and Lynn, brother and sister adventure team!
Craig Pearlman: ex-union glazier, construction foreman, snowboarder, ATV rider, and experienced partier
Lynn Pearlman Cohen: Publishing editorial manager, website designer, snowboarder, and scuba diver
We made our first trip in September 2004 to look for beachfront real estate in Belize. We wanted to take a Jungle Tour up Monkey River, so our real estate agent’s skiff operator Martin recommended Percy Gordon, the most popular guide in the village. And that’s how it all started…
After arriving in Belize, Lynn and I rented a Suzuki Samurai at the airport and went to our real estate agent’s office in downtown Belize City. We spent two hours talking to John from Texas and Moren from the Dominican Republic at Regent Properties, who were very helpful and hospitable. John recommended a really nice bed and breakfast outside of the city called Villa Boscardi, and even drove us there since we were not familiar with the Belize City.
Moren invited us out for some drinks and a tour of Belize City that evening. We jumped at the opportunity to see Belize City through the eyes of locals. Moren, her husband Russell, and his cousin gave us a great tour of Belize City – we saw some historic sites, did some gambling at the casino, and had dinner and drinks.
The next morning my sister and I were off to Monkey River Town, five hours south of Belize City, to look at some properties. On the way we contacted Ray from Canada, who was the real estate agent in that area of Belize. We arranged to meet him at Monkey River. The drive was great. We stopped at a couple of National Parks along the way. Along Hummingbird Highway, we visited St. Herman’s Cave and swam in a natural blue hole. The last 14 miles was an unpaved, rutted road that ends at the mouth of the Monkey River. There, we met Martin, the skiff captain, and Ray.
We took a short boat ride south of Monkey River to check out the beachfront property. Lynn and I had spent a lot of time on the Internet looking for beachfront property and talking to lots of agents – now we finally got to see the properties in person.
Martin took us back to our car, and we asked him if he knew anyone that could give us a jungle tour. He highly recommended a great tour guide for us: Percy Gordon, a.k.a The King of the Howlers and Rambo. First, we had to get across the lagoon to Monkey River, and make our way to Anna’s Guest House, where we planned on staying. We had to leave the car behind because the town has no car access or roads. Martin told us in order to get across the lagoon to the town, we should call across the river for someone to give us a ride. While we were getting our bags together, a man and a woman were loading groceries and diesel fuel from their car onto a boat to go across to Monkey River Town.
We hesitated asking them for a ride, but they were very friendly and offered us a ride first. When we arrived on the other side of the lagoon, we helped unload their things. Lynn asked where we could find Anna’s Guest House. To our surprise, the woman that gave us the ride informed us that she was Anna! What a small town! In addition to running the guesthouse, Anna also ran a grocery store in Monkey River.
While she was setting us up at the guesthouse, I asked her where we could find Percy Gordon for a jungle tour in the morning. It turns out that Percy is Anna’s brother! Percy came over five minutes later and filled us in on what we would expect to see on the tour the next day. Then he led us over to his mother’s restaurant for a great home cooked meal. At Alice’s Restaurant you don’t place an order – Alice just brings out what she is cooking that night. It’s like going over a friend’s house for dinner. We had an absolutely delicious fish dish with all the trimmings. After dinner, we went next door to Ivan’s Cool Spot Bar to do some drinking, partying, and playing pool until early morning with the locals. With only 300 people, Monkey River is a very close-knit, friendly community.
The next morning, Percy knocked on our door to let us know breakfast was ready at Alice’s. Soon after, we were off on our adventure up the river for the jungle tour. And what a tour it was! We were both amazed at what we saw in such a short time in the jungle. Percy was an excellent guide and it seemed that he trained the monkeys, bats, and tarantulas to appear at his will. It was amazing to see him in action – the jungle is second nature for him. Rambo almost has a sixth sense when it came to finding wild life and vegetation. After lunch at Alice’s we went back out with Percy to do some snorkeling and didn’t return until dusk. Before returning to the village, Percy showed us a property that was for sale by owner, which wound up to be the property that I purchased two years later. This is the view of the cabin from the boat the first time we saw it.
We stayed in Monkey River for two days. What an adventure! The weather was magnificent, the people are friendly, and the jungle was utterly amazing. A year later, I returned and continued my friendship with Percy. We talked a lot about helping Percy to get more business, and Lynn and I decided to start Barebones Tours with Percy as our head tour guide. We host the Barebones Tours website, organize, arrange and create custom tours, and handle deposits and bookings.
As of May 2011, I live in Belize full time, on the beach north of Monkey River Village. Lynn lives in the states and runs the financial, marketing and operations side of the business, and is also the webmaster.
I hope to see you in Belize, for an adventure of a lifetime! Check out our tour packages and book your vacation with Barebones Tours. Life is too short to wait!