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[personal profile] evile
Day 1: 4/12/16
Fly from Austin TX to Houston TX
Fly from Houston TX to Belize City
Taxi from Belize City to Water Taxi station
Water Taxi to Caye Caulker

Leaving Austin:

On the ground at the Belize Airport:

This went off without a hitch; it was a long day and we got the last water taxi of the day. We booked online, so they got us in a regular taxi from the airport to the water taxi station, too. We had a few minutes at the water taxi area to sit and collect our thoughts and get cold drinks (Belikin!) Food is allowed on the water taxi, but alcohol is not.

The ride out to Caye Caulker was bumpy, especially for those sitting near the bow of the boat. However, your choices are generally up front under cover for shade, or closer to the back for a smoother ride out in the direct sunlight. I'm happy with my choice, though I did bounce. At some point I ended up having to sort of hold down my bosom, which entertained some of the other passengers to no end. We met up with one of them later, who remembered us (me especially, wonder why...) and let us know he was a doctor with his own pharmacy....Dr Ganja, at your service. Um hm.

Caye Caulker has no paved roads, only packed sand; most people use bicycles or golf carts. I saw one van during our stay; no idea how they got it on to the island. Beer and food were inexpensive and mostly very good. Our first night we were walking along the street and smelled something good; we were invited to come eat at the gentleman's restaurant, which was a collection of picnic tables around a small building on the beach. The dinner menu was fish, chicken, or pork, prepared with curry, barbecue, jerk, or garlic butter, mashed potatoes, salad, and chocolate cake for dessert. Plus unlimited rum punch. We were starving and the punch was good. By the time the food arrived we kind of didn't care that it didn't taste as good as it had smelled.

Most of us had an early night; it had been a long day. A couple of our party ended up sitting out near the shore all night in some swinging chairs furnished by one of the many, many restaurant/bars on Caye Caulker. The sea breeze was lovely and cool, kept the mosquitoes away, and kept the humidity feeling tolerable. Our room at Yuma's House was small and stuffy and there wasn't any hot water. There was a shared bathroom and kitchen and a great view of the ocean. Wouldn't stay there again, but it was an experience worth having at least once. And, yeah, sleeping outside on a hammock or in a comfortable swing chair would have been a better option than the hard bunk beds. Ah well.

Day 2: April 13
Caye Caulker
Fry Jacks, The Lazy Lizard, Conch Ceviche, Fruity umbrella drinks at the Banyan Tree, new friends (two and four legged), and fish with the heads still on.

The light of the sunrise and our companions returning to the room at dawn woke me. I felt refreshed enough, or at least as though trying to sleep more wasn't going to help anything, so I got up, showered quickly, dressed, and went off to have a morning walk to photograph the sunrise and the island.

Met a few other early risers, mostly on their bikes, either headed to work or going to fish. One jogger. By the time I got back to Yuma's the sun was up and starting to feel hot. I went to breakfast at Ice & Beans, a spot recommended by trip advisor as good coffee & breakfasts, and good people-watching. Their house specialty is mini doughnuts. These are heavy little lumps of dough with an almost sourdough flavor to them, sprinkled in sugar. The breakfast special that morning was something called a 'bubble waffle' with your choice of toppings. I had banana and Nutella for my toppings. Very excellent breakfast.

Eventually everyone showed up at Ice & Beans, we hung out for a bit at the picnic table out front, chatted with other tourists, and just had a nice morning.

Some of us tried House of Fryjacks for breakfast. (One of the people we met on the plane coming to Belize had told us we should try fryjacks, and he was not wrong. He also mentioned conch was in season, so we made a plan to try that, as well.) What's a fryjack? Well, if you've had a sopapilla or Naan bread, it's kind of like that. A crispy-soft fried bit of dough, which the kind people at House of Fryjacks will stuff with beans, cheese, chicken, ham, eggs, or any combination thereof. Very delicious and inexpensive.

Later, we went to the Lazy Lizard and some of us snorkeled in the water near the Lazy Lizard, drank beers, and watched the boats & one parasailer go by.

At some point we were befriended by a little dog with a big attitude, who hung out with us from time to time as we moved around the island.

There are a lot of dogs on Caye Caulker, most of them look pretty similar, sort of a fluffy almost Corgi body type. They don't seem to belong to anyone, but they aren't in bad shape, and they aren't much interested in food or petting. They just kind of hang around in the shade, napping wherever they like (scaring those of us who think we see a dead dog in the road!), and trotting about the island on various dog-errands. Our little guy peed on Thax's foot, so I guess he considered Thax 'his' at that point. Ew.

A few of us tried conch ceviche at one of the restaurants; it was extremely lime juice-ified, but the conch was sweet and tasty.

We met a scuba diver and renfaire enthusiast from Colorado named Victoria. Her experience of Caye Caulker was of being incessantly hit on since she was a lady traveling by herself. We had met her at breakfast time at Ice & Beans, and then ran into her again later. We had beers with her out on a pier owned by one of the tour companies; since we didn't want a tour, we just bought beers from the guy and he said we could use the pier. Belikins and sunsets & new & old friends are a good combination.

Later that night, we had supper at a little shack near where 2 of our group were staying, Juan's. When you order a fish in Belize, you get a fish. Head and all. It was good, but pretty different. 'Our' dog was there. He was barky toward some other dogs and some people....I didn't like people thinking he was our dog at that point, because he was being a little butt-head. And some of the locals yelled at 'our' dog pretty aggressively and said some pretty ugly things, so that was unpleasant.

Oh, yes, and at some point in the afternoon, we went to the bar at the Banyan Tree, which is only open for 3 hours a day. It was lovely and there were fruity umbrella drinks.

Day 3: April 14, 2016
Caye Caulker to San Ignacio
Water Taxi from Caye Caulker to Belize City
Bus from Belize City to Belmopan
Transfer to bus from Belmopan to San Ignacio

Another sweaty night at Yuma's*, another dawn walk on the shore (this time with Thax), more fryjacks, more Ice & Beans, and we also found a bakery on Middle Street. We took it as a good sign that there were people in line outside before they opened. We got a cinnamon roll and a piece of what the older guy in front of us told us was 'breakfast pizza'--puff pastry sheets with cheese and things between the layers, all crispy and warm.

(*One thing I will say about sleeping without a/c is that I woke up every morning at Yuma's looking refreshed, if not necessarily feeling it. No dark circles or bags under my eyes. Something in the air conditioning does that to me, I guess. Probably mold/mildew in the air conditioning system.)

Once we were all up and breakfasted and checked out of our respective lodgings, we took the water taxi back to Belize City, then shared a cab to the Belize City bus station, where we'd just missed the express bus to San Ignacio. We had been told 10:30 and it actually left at 10. So we caught the regular bus to Belmopan ($5 Belize $2.50 US), and then switched buses to San Ignacio (I think that was $3 Belize, $1.50 US?). In all, it cost less than $5 US per person. It was a long, sweaty bus ride across a good deal of the Belizean countryside. Worth trying at least once, but probably won't travel that way again.

We arrived in San Ignacio at probably the hottest part of the day, about 1:30 pm? We got off the bus and this small tour guide fella started asking us where we were going, where we were staying, and if we wanted to book tours with him. All while standing in the blazing sun, on a humid day. I was pretty blown at this point, just from being hot and hungry. I couldn't even think straight enough to read our map. I just kept telling the guy NO and trying to leave while the rest of our group tried to get oriented and go to their hotel. Eventually I handed the map off to Thax and he figured out where we needed to go. Up a hill. Walking on hot pavement. 97 degrees and 80% humidity. It was a miserable trudge.

The office at the Midas Resort was blessedly cool and dark, but unfortunately we were not able to check in. The lady at the front desk told us to come back at 3 for check in. But at least we got to leave our bags. Back down the hill to meet up with the rest of our gang, who had booked a place in downtown called "Bellas Backpackers"...I had originally intended to stay with everybody but a couple weeks before the trip, I started to wig out a little when I was reading reviews in tripadvisor, things about 'no hot water', 'bedbugs,' and 'rude staff having arguments' and 'rude management dunning us for spice $ every time we used the salt in the shared kitchen," By way of nice coincidence, I got an email from a company called 'getaroom' that offered a really cheap rate at Midas. Basically for about the same as I'd paid for 1 of 4 bunk beds, no a/c, no hot water, no privacy at Yuma's. So I had reserved the room at Midas after checking their reviews, and finding that they had hot water, A/C, and a pool. I felt tremendously guilty 'splitting the party' but I just had a bad feeling about Bella's.

Got to Bella's and found out that others of our party had a bad feeling about it once they saw it, especially about the wide open screenless window into their room, easily accessible from outside by anyone who could climb up on the nearby shed. The guy at Bella's said our friends had gotten upset and left already....so Thax and I were kind of at a loss as to where to find everyone now that they weren't where they agreed to meet us. So we wandered around a bit, and then found one of our party, who showed us the new place they'd found, the Hi-Et (not Hyatt. Not by a long shot!) . Also no A/C but more secure and less sketchy looking/feeling. At this point, I was pretty cranky and didn't really care to get the tour. I had been walking in hot sun for a while, hadn't eaten since 7:30 or 8am, and was just DONE. We went around the corner and found shade, Belikin, Sorrell Tea, lunch, and other wonderful things at Cenaida's.

Eventually I got my head out of my butt. It was a challenging afternoon. Went back up the hill, and got checked in at Midas. They gave us a free upgrade, which involved giving us a private cabin at the very back of the property. Lots of privacy, but a bit of a hike from the front of the property, and no wifi signal* to our little cabin.

[*A note about telecomm in Belize: There is Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere in Belize, restaurants and even the shabbiest hostels have it. Sometimes it is slow, and at some places they don't seem to want to give you the password, or, like Yuma's, the password is posted up with such bizarre handwriting that you are hard pressed to discover if something is a Z, an F, or a 2. Likewise with zeroes and letter O, etc. The mobile phone network in Belize is held in a monopoly by one company whose (format? frequency? I don't know what it's called) is not compatible with either US or European cell phones (when the phone says it is CDMA, etc). So you can't really use your phone as a phone but you can access wi fi and send friends Facebook messages or email to keep in touch. It generally worked pretty well on our trip.]

We cranked on the A/C, took a glorious nap, and met the gang for supper at Ko-Ox Han nah , which was delicious. Two of our party had a curry that was almost too spicy to eat, but delicious nonetheless. One or two of our group got margaritas & I got a Belikin or two. Everything was very good. However, even after several meals and being in Belize for a few days, none of us could put our finger on anything on a menu and say definitively, "THAT is a Belizean dish!"....I'm not sure if we were just hitting too many tourist traps, or if Belizean food is more like the variety of skin tones and facial features around us; a really serious melting pot of heritage and ethnicity that puts coconut rice and plantains next to lasagne on a single restaurant menu. We saw a lot of Italian food on menus--pizza, spaghetti, and lasagne, for the most part. We saw a lot of curries on various menus as well. Jerk chicken, jerk pork, and stew beef and chicken seem to be possibly traditional Belizean foods, as well as rice & beans and plantains. I didn't see Gibnut on any of the menus where we went; I was kind of curious about it but not terribly disappointed. After seeing one of these cute little guys at the Belize Zoo, with signage asking visitors not to eat them, I'd probably have felt guilty about eating one.

Every place we ate in San Ignacio was really good. Midas resort had a great breakfast menu--Traditional Belizean Breakfast plate of beans, eggs, sliced ham (almost like Canadian bacon but thinner and a bit more salty, almost like real bacon), served with fryjacks and fresh squeezed OJ. Midas' fryjacks were much smaller than the ones we'd gotten in Caye Caulker, little half moons of savory fried dough.

The second night, we had dinner at Erva's

The last night, we went to the town's most upscale location: The Guava Limb.

It is located about halfway between Midas Resort, where Thax and I stayed, and Hi-Et where everyone else was. It is a beautiful location and everything was wonderful. The prices were on the low side of what you'd pay at a restaurant in the US, but expensive for San Ignacio. No complaints. We again tried the conch ceviche, and theirs was better than the one we had in Caye Caulker. More veggies, but the conch in the ceviche was more tender, less chewy, and the flavor came through better because there wasn't quite as much lime juice. Good stuff.

Day 4: San Ignacio
Scattered Adventures with a chance of crankypants

While in San Ignacio, some of our group went to the ATM cave tour. This is a physically challenging, all-day event. They hiked in the jungle for hours, waded through water and finally went into a cave which required hard hats. Many places in the cave were also submerged in water so they had to hike in cold water, in the dark. The payoff of this activity is a fantastic cache of archaeological treasures--pottery and sacred items left in sacrifice to the Mayan gods, along with some human remains that have been crystallized and calcified by the passage of time in an active limestone cave. A hell of a way to spend Tax Day, I say.

Thax and I took a less active but still challenging day trip--first to the Belize Zoo, and later to the Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Reserve for cave toobin'! (yes, we brought cheezy poofs!).

We got to the Zoo in the morning while it was still cool, walked around for about an hour and a half. We were almost all alone at the zoo--there were a few other people here, but mostly it was just us and the zoo employees. No screeching children! Amazing! It was really lovely; not a big zoo, but very nice habitats for a variety of local wildlife. All of the animals are rescued, either taken from people who had them illegally, rescued orphan animals from wildfires, or injured animals that can't be released into the wild. It is set up in such a way that even though the zoo is small, it feels pretty expansive. We got up close to some amazing creatures, including a gorgeous black leopard named "Lucky Boy"...he was lovely. I tried to record him roaring but couldn't get my camera turned on in time. I did record him taking a little swim in the pool in his enclosure, though, and he was not more than 5 feet away from me. Amazing experience. We also heard howler monkeys but never saw them. That is also an eerie, creepy noise.

After the zoo, we went down the road a bit for cave toobin'. Our guides, David and Eric, had brought boxed lunches--homemade and delicious. Chicken with a green curry sauce and rice & beans. Also rum punch. Very good! I busted out the cheezy poofs and we had our 'toobin' sacrament'.

Then we got our toobs (very much like the big yellow ones at the Lions Club in San Marcos, just a different logo), life vests, and hard hats with lights on them. Then off into the jungle for an hour hike over some nasty rocks, through some amazing jungle paths, across a shallow river crossing, more jungle, then finally the first cave. We had the option of hiking further to the second cave but since we were in aquasox and not heavy hiking shoes, we were kind of tired of hiking. We hopped into the water, swam and rested for a bit, then David clipped us together with ropes and small aluminum carribeeners (just like toobin in San Marcos!) and off we went.

The water was clear and cold, but not too cold. We passed from the bright sunlight into the darkness of Xibalba. Our lights were OK, but not great, and we were able to see some cave formations here and there, dark water, and one critter I thought might be a bat, but was actually a swallow. After a few minutes of floating in darkness, we heard a rushing sound, the wind got very heavy, and we came into some light--one of the caves had become a sink hole/Cenote and we could see greenery and sunlight pouring in from above. Here are some short videos of our cave toobin' adventure: Entering the cave Cave toobin! Floating past a sinkhole one more: https://goo.gl/photos/p16SrB6A7eQwLD9G8

There was also a waterfall across the edge of the cenote, flowing quickly over some more cave formations. Eventually we passed that, the wind died down and it once again became quiet. I can't really describe the feeling of being in that cave. I wasn't afraid of anything, but there was definitely a sense of quiet awe there. A very deep peaceful stillness. A cold and otherworldly calm. I could really understand why the ancient people would hold these caves in respect and fear, and consider them the dwelling places of Gods.

One person in our group of 6 ended up making the day for herself--she went to the Botanical Gardens and an Iguana sanctuary all by herself. She did not book a tour through one of the many trip companies in town, but contacted the resort where the iguanas were and arranged a ride with one of the resort's employees. She had a wonderful day, too & learned a lot about the local plants and wildlife.

Day 5: April 16, 2016
San Ignacio
The Saturday Market & meeting the Goddess Ixcacao

Saturday morning, we were up early again. We went down to the town and checked out the Saturday market. It put our Austin farmers markets to shame; there were dozens of booths piled high with fresh fruit, crafters with their handcrafted items, people selling more 'flea market' type trinkets: lots of clothing, makeup, perfume, hats and sunglasses. At the center of the market, there were ladies making fresh tortillas, grilling meat and veggies, and everything just smelled heavenly.

We had coffee and shared a cinnamon roll across the street from the market at a place called the New French Bakery. An older fella came and parked his motor scooter in the shade next to the bakery. We said good morning, and he wandered off to the market. We met up with him again later, selling handmade and hand carved items--small wooden sculptures and jewelry. We picked up a couple of pairs of earrings for Thax's sisters and went on our way. We stopped at another booth selling local beers and wines; the guys running that booth were Australian expats. They were nice, but, as we discovered later, their beer was nasty. What a disappointment.

At 10am, we all met up at AJAW chocolate shop, where we were treated to a short truck ride up the hill to a gentleman farmer's cacao farm/permaculture experiment. Marco, our guide and the farm owner, had 30 years experience in growing cacao for large commercial ventures and now he is retired and has his own little farm. He has chickens and a turkey to keep the insects under control and provide fertilizer. He grows banana, papaya, orange, soursop, allspice, cinnamon, avocado, and moringa trees as shade and windbreak for his cacao trees. He is also trying sugar cane, but so far it's having a hard time at the farm. There are also several varieties of orchid growing on the trees in his farm, including vanilla orchid. He had been able to get his vanilla orchid to bear fruit. Our friend who had toured the botanical gardens mentioned that the folks at the botanical gardens had not been having any success with their vanilla orchid. I thought that was interesting. (And how cool it would be to have a farm where you grow your cacao, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla all in the same place and make 'estate grown' chocolate bars! that's not what he wants to do, but wow, it would be cool) He also has dragonfruit cactus and black pepper plants growing among the trees. He's bored with making chocolate, so he sells his cacao beans to the AJAW store, gives people an up close view of cacao growing, and uses his beans to make cacao wine, cacao liqueur, and vinegar. I believe there are two types of cacao he has--regular and something called Balam or Bicolor. After touring the farm, he gave us tastes of everything. We all ended up buying wine, liqueur, and/or vinegars from him before we went. For $5-10 USD, how could we pass up such a unique item??

Then we piled into the truck and back to the AJAW shop for a lesson in grinding cacao beans and making Mayan cacao drink. We all took a turn on the grinding stone, then the owners took over and showed us how it's *really* done. We added hot water to our ground cacao, ground habanero, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, local honey, sugar, whatever, and got to try it a few different ways--traditional first (ground pepper, cinnamon), then with sweetening, and then we got to mix and match our own third cup of chocolate with the spices, honey, and sugar. We each got a bit of the ground cocoa to take away with us. I put mine in my coffee the next morning. Pure cacao is almost intoxicating. It was really good. and I was glad that all of our group found at least one thing to all do together that we enjoyed. Here's a quick animation of our Chocolate Adventure: https://goo.gl/photos/2wtdRtdcSnso3GTaA.

After that, some folks went off for naps and whatnot, Thax, Michael, and I went up to Midas to enjoy drinks at the pool. I went swimming. There is a grotto that you can only get to by swimming under the waterfall. There's a little 'pirate cave' display in there. Very fun and cool. Wish I'd gotten a picture of the pirate cave, but I didn't have my waterproof camera at the time. I felt like a Goonie :)

One last note about San Ignacio--in small towns, gossip travels FAST. As I mentioned, the original plan was for all of us to stay at Bella's Backpackers, which I backed out of before we arrived, having read some sketchy reviews and gotten a really good last-minute deal from getaroom.com/tripadvisor for Midas Resort. So, the remaining 4 travellers went to Bella's and upon seeing it up close, THEY also changed their minds. Mel sort of saved the day by pitching a hangry-fit and saying they needed to leave NOW. Then they found Hi-Et, we found them, and we all went to Cenaida's for lunch and rehydration.

The next day, the proprietor or an employee of Bella's ran across one of our party and asked why they'd left so suddenly, while also begging her not to leave a bad review on TripAdvisor. She lied and said that the dogs at Bella's had scared one of our bunch, who was afraid of dogs.

When we toured the Cacao Farm with Marco, he refused to let his dogs off their chains in his yard, even after we said we wouldn't mind, and we'd petted the dogs, and some of our group puzzled about this, but having also heard about our group's misadventures at Bella's from the tour desk guy at Mayawalk when we checked in to take our Zoo/Toobin' trip, I fully understood what had happened. News of our gang's upset at Bella's, and the convenient lie about one of us being 'scared of dogs' had travelled through the whole town and Marco wasn't going to risk 'scaring' our group by letting his dogs off their tethers. Small towns, man.

Day 6: San Ignacio to Belize City
In which Mel is our hero & finds us an air conditioned, wi-fi equipped comfortable ride back to Civilization.

We got up early again to beat the heat. I was not looking forward to another long, hot bus ride. Mel met us at Midas and we enjoyed one last glorious breakfast at the resort. Mel told us that she'd been online and found a tour bus that goes from Guatemala, through San Ignacio & to Belize City. Bonus: the bus was air conditioned & equipped with Wi-Fi, as well. She had made email inquiry and they got back to her and said the bus would be at Hode's Place, just down the hill from Midas, around 10:30 am. Perfect!! After breakfast, we took one last walk through San Ignacio, across the suspension bridge, and then had a Belikin at Hodes while waiting in the shade of a HUGE Mimosa tree out front of Hode's Place.

Our lovely ride to Belize City.

Meanwhile, the other 3 in our party had decided to catch a tour to Tikal, just over the border in Guatemala. They'd spend another night in San Ignacio and catch up with us in Belize City later.

The air conditioned, wi-fi equipped wonderwagon dropped us at the Water Taxi terminal, and from there it was a quick, pleasant walk to Chateau Caribbean. We checked in and enjoyed lunch overlooking the sea, with an incredibly lovely sea breeze cooling us. It was at least 10 and maybe as much as 20 degrees cooler in Belize City than in San Ignacio. Makes a huge difference.

After a delicious lunch, Mel went on to her hotel and Thax and I went up to our lovely air-conditioned room. We ended up napping for a bit, then waking up for a bit and doing nothing, then back to bed for more sleeping. This was the most comfortable bed & pillows we'd had the whole trip.

Day 7: April 18, 2016
Belize City
Breakfast, post office trip, dinner with the gang

Up with the dawn again, and Thax and I headed to le Petit Cafe at the Radisson for coffee and pastries. I had read that their journey cakes were terrific. I'm afraid I was underwhelmed. After the bakery in Caye Caulker, the bakery in San Ignacio, and amazing Fry Jacks all over the place, it just didn't measure up. But the coffee was fine and we enjoyed sitting in the cafe.

Then we bundled up some of our heavier purchases and took them to the post office, where we were able to mail them home for just over $50.

It wasn't a day when cruise ships were in port, so it was pretty quiet in our area of Belize City. Unfortunately, that meant that the craft market wasn't open, either.

Mel met us at our hotel and the three of us took a Tour bus that included a Belize city tour, City Museum tour, a tour of the Travellers Rum distillery, lunch at the Black Orchid Resort, and then back to our hotel. We had a very excellent time. Here's a photo animation slide show thingy from our day.

We popped into Spoonaz Photo Cafe for a quick pick me up, and to use their Wi-Fi to coordinate with the rest of the group, who had made their way by city bus once again from San Ignacio to Belize City. The folks at Spoonaz recommended Celebrity for dinner, so the rest of the gang met us at Chateau Caribbean, and off we went.

here's a photo of the outside of Celibrity that I took the next day:

And here's two of the Tikal crew inside at dinner:

After supper, it was discovered that one of our crew had lost her phone. That kind of put a damper on the evening. (But Serendipity* blessed us the next day and it all turned out just fine.) The 4 who were staying at Villa Boscardi went ahead and headed on back and Thax and I went to bed.

Last day. April 19, 2016
last minute shopping & serendipity
flying: Belize City to Houston
Houston to Austin.
Home & bed.

Mel and Sami decided to stay at Villa Boscardi, which is on the ocean, and soak up a few last rays and swim in the ocean one more time.

Thax and I had breakfast & coffee at Spoonaz, which everyone in the area assured us was the best coffee in Belize. They also had a breakfast sandwich called "torta" which was excellent, especially with local hot sauce!

Sam and Mike came in to Belize City to purchase handcrafted wooden bowls, a gift of one from the craft market with which I'd lured them into making this trip in the first place, many moons ago. Luckily, the cruise ships were in port and the markets were open. We were asked many times if we wanted taxis, water taxi, hair braiding, and tours. It was not as bad as the first time we cruised to Belize City, left the 'tourist village' and were swarmed by Belizeans, but after almost two days of being in a very quiet and calm Belize City, it was a little annoying. Luckily, many people recognized me and Thax as having been walking around the city before the Money Pinatas on the cruise ships arrived, so they almost treated us as locals. We finally got our rum-filled coconuts, one last lunch at Chateau Caribbean, and our taxi took us to the airport, where we went out on the tarmac, took the stairs up to the plane to board, and my last view of Belize was the pristine ocean under our plane's wing, and then nothing but clouds as we flew homeward.

*Oh, yeah, the Serendipity! Remember the phone that was lost somewhere along the way when we went to supper at Celebrity? It was left in the cab which brought the gang from Villa Boscardi. The cab driver found it and spent Tuesday trying to find us--he went to Villa Boscardi, then to Chateau Caribbean, left a message and his card at both places. When we returned from shopping and were headed up to lunch, the lady at the front desk helped us call him, and we arranged for him to return the phone and take us to the airport that afternoon. So it all worked out perfectly.

It was only a week, but I feel like we were gone forever. I went new places, saw new things, did new things, ate new things, drank new things, learned new things..and now I'm forgetting most of them. So I'm glad I got pictures and I'm glad to be writing them all down here. Hope you enjoyed! I know I did.

something interesting...

Date: 2016-04-21 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bramblekite.livejournal.com
A couple of the people we travelled with are definitely different than me and Thax. They prefer travel that is challenging and even unpleasant, for the sake of having the experience, testing their limits, and overcoming adversity.

I enjoy travel that is comfortable and pleasant. I like new things but not unpleasant new things. I will taste new foods, drink new beverages, see new places, and learn new things, but not to the extent of a 3 hour hike through jungles and rivers, into a cave that is full of sharp things and narrow squeezes and more wading, or a 3 hour bus ride over a hostile country's border in 90+ degree heat to climb up the side of a ruined Mayan temple.

I guess that's a good thing to know. Many times along this trip I felt like a failure, for not planning well enough, for planning too much, for getting hung up on having AC and hot water, for being a soft fat white first world princess... I felt like my more adventurous companions were sort of patting me on the head for being a good sport and at least trying to be a little bit adventurous, even though they viewed my efforts as an abject failure.

But at the end of it all, I am who and what I am. In my own small, whiny and brittle way I did test my limits and exceed them at times, failing more than I succeeded, but overall I am glad I went and glad I had the experiences I had, and OK with not being as hard-core as my friends. If it means we don't travel together again due to incompatibility of expectations and what we find worthwhile to do, that is also something I will have to learn to be OK with.
Edited Date: 2016-04-21 10:16 pm (UTC)


Date: 2016-04-22 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bramblekite.livejournal.com
New things I tasted:

Sorrel tea (very similar to hibiscus tea)
Seaweed drink (tasted like eggnog)
bubble waffle
fry jacks
Conch Ceviche
Cinnamon leaf
Cacao fruit
Cacao liqueur
ripe Custard Apple (cherimoya)
Moringa leaves
Craboo liqueur
Gifitti Rum bitters

Things I wish I'd seen/done that I didn't:

Sunset Yoga on Caye Caulker (http://randomyoga.com/)
Cahal Pech (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahal_Pech) just outside San Ignacio

Things I packed that I didn't need:

card deck
Uno deck
Yatzee score papers
Paracord and binder clips for drying laundry
dress I only wore once
pants I only wore once
shirt I only wore once
stupid hat I really didn't like
hair styling product I only used once
permanent marker with duct tape wrapped around it (the packing list I downloaded said to take this. still no idea why)
toilet paper/tissues (still glad I took this, just in case)
a pair of black Dr. Scholl's ballet flats that pinched my toes and left blisters. I was under the delusion that they'd 'break in' and become comfortable, but they maimed my feet in Caye Caulker and I tossed them because I realized they were never going to become comfortable.

Things I'm glad I took:

photocopied maps of each town we planned to travel to
XL spreadsheet I made showing each day's itenerary and reservations (if any)
headbands - kept sweat from going into my eyes, hid my badly-cut bangs (never get a haircut just before a vacation....)
chilly towel (http://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/frogg-toggs-chilly-pad8482%3B-hot-pink-cooling-towel?repChildCatid=26646) & headband.
microfiber quick-dry towel, for beach and after shower at Yuma's House
liquid laundry soap
single use sunscreen wipes
Cedarcide brand sunscreen spf 30
bug spray
bug repelling glow in the dark bracelet
single day contact lenses
single day vitamin packs
dry bag
space bags for packing
Water filtration cup (https://www.rei.com/product/105576/grayl-quest-water-filtration-cup-trail)
cash--many places we went did not take credit cards, which was a problem for a few of our group
These shoes (http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/91601?feat=Water%20Sandals-SR0&page=women-s-vacationland-sport-sneakers-mary-jane)

Things to do next time:
Pick one spot and take trips from there
or just pick one spot and stay there (Caye Caulker, San Pedro, or our cabbie suggested Placencia)
The Belize Chocolate Festival (http://chocolatefestivalofbelize.com/)
Edited Date: 2016-04-23 06:13 pm (UTC)

businesses that could do well in Belize

Date: 2016-04-22 03:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bramblekite.livejournal.com
lots of people liked my reversible wrap skirt (http://i00.i.aliimg.com/img/pb/024/693/110/110693024_958.jpg) on Caye Caulker. I didn't actually see much in the way of clothing shops or even just beach wear/swimwear on Caye Caulker.

electric scooter or electric bike rentals. Did not see any and would have done well pretty much anywhere we went, except maybe Belize City (that is a crazy town to drive in, would not want to try).

toob, kayak or canoe rentals for the Macal river in town at San Ignacio

Date: 2016-04-24 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emmainfiniti.livejournal.com
Thanks for sharing.


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