My husband Bob and I are just back from a poor man's/woman's trip
to Belize. I booked the trip through Belize Transfer Service,
but Harvey (the agent) got sick and the person who took over for
him did not do a good job of implementation, which caused a great
deal of aggravation.
Feb 26 -The day before: I went to the library and got 'Belize A
Natural Destination' and 'Guide to Belize', which I took with me.
The Guide to Belize was *extremely* helpful. I also took copies
of relevant pages from 'Central America on a Shoestring' and a
couple of other books. Their city maps were helpful. It took me
most of the day to pack. I sent Bob out to get more sun screen,
- we used it up on our last trip. I had stopped the snail mail,
but mindspring wouldn't let me sign on. I had to get up early
(4am) and get the last minute e-mail on Feb 27, the day we were
Feb 27 - We're off!! The taxi came early, and we are at the
airport before 5 am. for a 7am flight. They were offering $300
for people to stay back, but in the end, we had an empty seat
between us. Bob has two softside bags of carryon size, and I
have a carryon size roller bag, and another softside carryon bag.
Inside my bags I also had a fabric cooler, and another smaller
bag. Bob has a small waist pack, and I have a very very large
one. We checked all the carryon bags except the one with my dive
computer and dive camera in it.
The connecting flight was an hour late getting to Miami, and
was full. We arrived in Belize (late) about 1:30 pm. We were
sitting next to a Belize national who said that all the boats to
Caye Caulker would have left by the time we landed (not true), so
we decided to fly. The taxi fare was reported to be $15 US to go
to Belize City, and about $7.50 US for the two of us to take the
boat, and the price to fly was $42 US each. So it wasn't such a
great difference and was much faster.
Very quick getting luggage & through customs etc.,- we
practically were running through the airport from one plane to
the next. First flew (Tropic Air) to the municipal airport, and
then hopped onto an even smaller plane for (according to the
pilot) approx. a 12 minute flight to Caye Caulker. It wasn't
very far from the airport to Ignacio's Huts where we are staying,
but it is really hard to roll a heavy bag in deep sand. Got a
lift partway from the Belize Dive Services people who happened to
be there with their golf cart and took pity on me.
The lady at Ignacios there wasn't pleased to see us with our
voucher, (She didn't think we had a reservation) but she did give
us the key to #14, saying sternly "No hot water", as she did so.
We dropped our bags, and coats, and then walked slowly (It's
hot) up into town to check out the next day's activities. I was
barefoot (mistake - the sand is very abrasive and, even though I
go barefoot a lot and have tough feet, my heels got sore). Got
directions to the Driftwood Snorkel Shop from the PO. Driftwood
said 'No problem', although they didn't know we were coming
either. Asked about renting a golf cart - $15/hour. Ugh. Out
of our range. Had a nice talk with the Belize Dive Service folks
where I am diving on Sunday though.
Stopped and bought a Belize map at Seeing is Belizing (a good
bookstore and the only one we saw in Belize), and had dinner at
the Sand Box, which was very good. The floor inside is sand too.
We ate outside. Discovered that in Belize there is a charge to
use credit cards (6%), which you don't pay if you use traveler's
checks or cash (either American or Belizian).
Bob bought some water on the way back to Ignacios. Stopped
and talked to Ramon who manages Ignacios. He gave us toilet
paper, and (under protest) towels. The lady there during the day
is his mother. He apparently has another job during the day.
It's very windy tonight - the surf is crashing on the reef. We
went to bed right away. The bed is very bouncy. Bob doesn't
like it. I don't care. Don't really need the overhead fan now.
Feb 28 - Got up early and sat in the bathroom (which has a night
light as a light) to write my journal. Discovered that while
there is electricity in the bathroom, there's no mirror. I tell
Bob that he's been shaving for 40+ years and surely he knows his
face by now. We walked up into town and had breakfast at The
Other Side of the Moon. I had fried jacks, which are very good.
They are like a cross between donuts and funnel cakes. I think
they are really sugar tortillas deep fried.
We are going snorkeling and to see the manatees with
Driftwood. I thought we'd have lunch provided for this snorkel
trip, but there is a mix-up, and there is no lunch for us. By
the time I find this out, it's too late to get one. Oh well. We
got our fins (we have our own mask and snorkels). There are 9
people who are together - ending up a 3 week tour - mostly Brits,
but one German girl and one Canadian. Also we pick up a woman
and her daughter from a pier - she was supposed to go with
someone else, and at the last minute they said they weren't
going. She had a mask but nothing to hold the snorkel on with.
First we go to see the manatees. It's really hot in the
boat, and the canopy is not up. Rocque stops the engines and
poles the boat in (like a punt). We see the shapes dimly through
the water, and then just their two nostrils when they come up to
breathe. Not even the eyes. We pole out, and then head for
Sergeant's Caye, but there are so many people there, we go to
Goff Caye instead. There are (we counted) 19 palm trees.
Everyone has lunch (except us- I have some raisins and a
couple of breakfast bars in my pack, and water, and some of the
others share fruit). Then we snorkeled. I swam around the whole
island. Lots and lots and lots of staghorn c***- also some
elkhorn and some fire coral. Good numbers of fish. Find that we
should have brought towels. Oh well. Get into the boat and come
back to Sergeant's Caye and snorkel there. I found out later
that something had gotten into my T-shirt and stung me under the
arm. Since we have so many people in the boat (13), the Rocque
isn't sure we'll have enough fuel to get back, so he buys a can
of gasoline from another boat. I think we needed it too.
They let us off at Ignacio's pier, and we shower and change
and walk back up into town. The lady at Driftwood called for us
to Rubie's (our next stop) to be sure they knew we were coming
(They said they did-but they were practically the only people who
did for the whole 2 weeks). We were to have dinner at Rocque's,
but there was a slide show about the reef at Seeing is Belizing,
so we went to The Other Side of the Moon for drinks and wings (we
were hungry since we hadn't have lunch), and then went to the
show. It was very informative. Then on to Rocque's. It was one
of the best dinners I've had - lobster tails, potatoes and cole
slaw. Bob is sunburned inside of his elbows, and has a scrape on
March 1 - Sunday - most of the breakfast places are closed. I
bought a juice box and an individual box of cereal for breakfast.
Bob went to get me a sandwich for lunch and got his breakfast at
Castaways while I got fitted for a BC and weight belt for diving.
(Bob doesn't dive yet.) Made $1 donation to the dive chamber.
There was a couple from Holland and a guy named Chris who were
doing their 3rd and 4th PADI OW checkout dives and a couple from
Alaska. There was to be another man, but he said he thought the
weather would be too bad and didn't go. Actually it was perfect.
Had two really nice dives. On the way back we saw some bull or
blue (?) sharks chasing a baby eagle ray. They ray was doing
some spectacular leaps out of the water, but I think the sharks
got it in the end. Rinsed off the equipment, and walked back to
Ignacio's and showered.
Bob spent the day walking around and looking with binoculars
at sailboats, taking pictures of oil tanks, shopping (bread, soft
drinks and water) and sitting on the pier. We walked up to
Popeyes this evening and got pizza, but our eyes were bigger than
our stomachs, so we took most of it home with us (in foil, as
they want $1 for a box). We usually walk along the beach on the
way home, and there are some big fiddler crabs. I have my camera
with a flash and take a picture of one of them. Had the fan on
most of the night.
March 2- Monday - We've discovered BCB (Belize radio), and we get
the weather forecast during the 7am newscast. 10-20 knot winds
today. Packed and checked out. Driftwood sent a boat down to get
us and our luggage. We got fins. Driftwood will fill up your
container for $1, and I have a 40 oz. camel that I get filled.
There are 9 other people on this snorkel trip to Hol Chan, and
Julio is the guide. First we went to the area with small nurse
sharks and rays. The rays 'buzz' you, and Julio picks up the
sharks and carried them around and pets the groupers. One of the
guides coaxed a green moray out and fed it a fish (at the end of
a long stick). I don't like this kind of thing, but I guess it
is what most people want.
Then we went to the Hol Chan area and paid the ranger our $5
BZ, and did some more snorkeling. Bob packed the 3rd snorkel
camera (we've used up the other two - they are disposable) so I
don't know where we'll use it. They put the dive ladder on the
back of the boat so it is easier to get in than when it is on the
side. We saw a blue trigger and lots of other fish.
We all got back in the boat - some people cold and everyone
wet. They let us off at Rubie's pier and we checked in. We got
room #2 on the second floor, but it wasn't made up yet, so we sat
on the deck overlooking the beach and had breakfast rolls.
I have a C***Beach dive shop voucher for a two tank dive
plus a night dive. So I go to the hotel and then the dive shop
to check it out. I try to call ahead to places from the hotel
phone, but I can't use my phone card to call except back to the
states. I left my
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