hey hey everyone
i am counting down to my summer trip...leaving june 15, bright and early. i came across my trip calendar from last summer and since i hadn't done it yet i thought i'd jot down my highlights in case anyone cares to read them.
last summer i was interviewing for new teaching positions as the school year ended, and i was in the midst of searching for a new house mate! i was a TAD STRESSED out and ended up departing july 6 instead of in june, as soon as summer break started, as i normally would.
i arrived at goldson and immediately was whisked through immigration by my pal COLLEEN, who works for BELIZE TOURIST BOARD at the airport kiosk. (stop by & say hi, ask her for maps and stuff, she can help with lots of questions!) my luggage arrived intact and i gave her a few presents and she gave me my big bottle of welcome to belize one barrell rum. aloha! i snuggled it all the way to san ignacio on the bus and arrived in town just after dark. roy wasn't waiting at the bus stop, so i waited to get off the bus closest to his place and then walked round the bend to SMITH FAMILY FARM. roy took me to "my" favorite cabin, i showered and then he drove me to town to celina's market for basic groceries. when i was a bit unpacked i called PATRICK WARRIOR, who came over for a drink on the porch and we made plans to visit EL PILAR ruins the next day. el pilar was beautiful and quiet, we were the only people there besides the singing birds. patrick played digereedoo (sp?) up on the hill as we watched birds of prey swoop over the valley. later we swam in the river. wet season was delayed last year and the greenery was quite droopy in cayo, the rivers lower than i'd previously seen. patrick lent me his bike and i was able to visit friends in bullet tree whenever i wanted. i bought a beautiful souvenier expenditure silver and turquoise ring from a colombian guy named WALDO who was selling outside EVA's. went a couple nights to see the one world band play at the upstairs club across from the taxi stop. (sad to say the wee park with swings is gone.) just biked, swam in the river, read and chilled that week. i traded some books at the excellent used book store in town and was able to make good email contact at the community center across the street. before my first week was out i had accepted my new job through email and i was able to totally relax after that.
next was an early morning bus ride from san ignacio to seine bight village. i was booked at MISS EFFIE'S GUESTHOUSE in the northern end of seine bight. the locals call it something cocos because there are lots of trees at that end. i will never find another deal like miss effie's place! i had a private bath with hot/cold shower, a fullsize bed (i brought a mosquito net for it) and a kitchen with fridge and fullsize stove with oven. i had tables to work at and chairs. this was one of two matching apartments downstairs from four guestrooms with shared bath upstairs. there was a big veranda upstairs, loads of coco palms and hammocks. i paid, get this, $100US for 15 days. it was wonderful, very private, lots of laundry lines, smack on the beach, nice breezes and sunrise. i made cookies and popsicles with local kids i know, did art projects and cooked. miss effie's nephew, patrick, aka "snapper" is a famous local fisherman and he'd go out in his dory and bring back fresh fish. i'd pay $1 belize for each one and cook 'em right away. while swimming one day, i bought lobsters from a couple guys passing in a dory and broiled em with garlic butter that night. incredibly yummy! had access to borrowed bikes occasionally or thumbed to placencia when i felt like going down that way. saw folks i know and made firm plans with LEE and JAPS for a later sailing trip.
next i bused back up to dangriga, loaded up on happy hour and snack supplies and caught a boat out to tobacco caye lodge. everything was as i had left it in december and it felt like being home. the next day my friend from the states, SUGAR, arrived and COLLEEN from BTB came with her family for their annual summer holiday on the caye. yikes we had fun! much rum, many belikins and tons of laughs! colleen's aunt, MISS PHILIPPA from placencia, is currently living on the family property sewing her belizean gal dolls. they can be seen on the destinationsbelize web page, check em out. miss philippa and miss brenda (colleen's mom) have been staying on tobacco caye since birth and they had loads of funny stories as well as scary shark tales that were pretty creepy. personally, i had never seen much but nurse sharks in the area but before the week was out a fisherman on the island hauled in a 12 foot HAMMERHEAD shark in his net! it was the ugliest smelliest thing i have ever seen and it proved the island ladies were not makin up fish stories about big sharks in the area! after that we didn't let ourselves drift quite so far on our floatie rafts! i went dock fishing several nights but caught nuttin. another PATRICK who fishes took me out boat fishing one night at the channel. (i use a hand line.) i got slightly sea sick but i could not stop pulling up fish! i caught a dozen snapper of various types and the mechanics of fishing were the only thing that kept my mind off hurling. soon as i was done with chores and just waiting for a bite, the nausea would swell up. icky! i never really experienced seasickness before. the raggamuffin cruise boat to placencia passed through thrice and we were were right where they left us every time they returned, pretty funny. the crew of that boat was really nice, gave us rum & cokes while they cooked on the boat & we floated around them. the captain had to confiscate the harpoonish spear gun of an errant frenchman in a speedo with a grizzled ponytail hanging off the back of his balding head. he just couldn't seem to understand it's NOT ok to spearfish around the dock where people are swimming! international dork alert!
after a quick week, JAPS picked us up like moviestars on the tobacco caye lodge dock and we sailed off for a three day tour. unfortunately that day my seasickness came back and i hurled over the side of the boat a half dozen times. those altoids sour tangerine candies are nice to suck on when yer mouth & stomach are in the throes of such misery, i found. as soon as i puked i'd feel better, but the urge would soon creep up again. by the time we stopped at the teensiest little caye one can imagine, just getting on solid ground made aworld of difference. we made camp in nice tents with fresh sheets and cozy mats and then japs made us a yummy vegetarian dinner. there was this small bent coco palm that stretched out to the sea and looked just like a "meditation tree." i was quietly sitting there in the almost full, liquid silvery moonlight when i shifted just slightly and PLOP! tipped right over into the shallow water! DOH! we all laughed like mad, it was so stupid and so typically ME. luckily we had brought along one of those solar camping showers and we had enough water left to rinse off again! the next morning we had coffee and fresh tortillas and eggs and leftover rice and veggies from the night before. by 9 am we were packed and sailing away. this time i tried dramamine with my breakfast and only felt completely sleepy all day instead of sick. this was low drowsiness formula so i have no idea what regular dramamine is like, i imagine something like an elephant tranquilizer. we had wind challenges the whole trip; i was worried in advance about storms and forgot to worry about still days. we got where we were going but it was full time 9-5 sailing for 3 days. the second night we camped at half moon caye in the lighthouse reef area. i have always dreamed of coming out this way and it was every bit as beautiful as i had seen pictured and imagined since. i bought us a ton of fish fillets for $10BZ from one of those boats with a dozen spanish guys and dories and ice coolers packed on top that you see sailing everywhere. we barbequed under the full moon and showered and set up camp and had a lovely evening just talking till bedtime. the next morning was much the same as the one before, our "early start" we talked about each night was never before 9 am. (we had to walk to the light house and "climb" it before we left and we made the rangers open the gift shop so we could buy the same things that are for sale everywhere else in belize.) it was sunday morning, all systems were go, we had a bob marley cd on the deck, sailing along the turquoise caribbean: i called it church. this day was the best sailing for me. i took HALF a dramamine and drank the right amount of coffee. we didn't have time to snorkel in the area or pass over the blue hole, which was a disappointment for us, but the day was gorgeous, the wind was up and we sailed up to the dock at SEAVIEW HOTEL at 5 pm, quittin time! it was the best sailing trip ever.
once on caye caulker, we moved into our cabana and settled in. JAPS' family was waiting for him at wendy's place. real showers with hot water were such a treat! dinner was delish at RASTA PASTA and we hooked right up with MARALYN for laughs. we perused the cocktail guide and played stump the the bartender several nights, trying all sorts of dangerous concoctions. ("can you put some more rum in this, EDUARDO?") we rented bikes from MARY JO for the week and did laundry at the pay machines and hung our stuff to dry back at our place. we ate at JOLLY ROGER, what used to be called POOR BOY'S GRILL(two story place across from rasta pasta) and the takeaway place alongside CHAN'S MARKET. also had ice cream at the lil snack place directly behind rasta pasta facing front street. i swam across the split on my floatie to have lunch at MISS CLAUDETTE'S one day and we really hit it off. i ended up talking with her about art and men and common acquaintances for several hours. she is a hoot! i went back another day just to hang out. i got just two braids put in my hair by my friend PAULA who is a professional braider along the beach. i tried fishing at the split & didn't catch much. had to get extra help finding sprats because the usual places by the soccer field were out. once when my line got caught and i dove into the split i swooped right under a huge a southern ray! wow! it took forever to untangle my line that day, some fella on shore helped by making it tight or loose as requested while i dove and dove, ack. we ran into one of the andrews brothers, (there are many) CARDINAL, who was working for PARADISE DOWN dive shop just inside the oceanside bar. he convinced us to go BACK to half moon caye on a snorkeling day trip with his dive crew. we attempted to go the next morning but were foiled. the next available opportunity was the last day before we had to go home. this was a slight dilemma, so we decided to spend FRIDAY acting as if it was our last day, do the day trip to lighthouse reef saturday and be ready to just pack up and go sunday morning. well, this all sounded fine till we woke to steady rain on saturday morning. neither of us wanted to spend a day on stormy seas (it takes at least 2 hours by powerboat to get just to the blue hole, so it's quite a time commitment.) we got up and went to paradise down (in the rain) to cancel the trip. but the owner and cardinal insisted so vigorously that the weather would be different out there, we went back home (in the rain) and got our stuff together and went back to the dock (in the rain.) because we were so wishy washy, we missed the buns & coffee part of the morning trip but it didn't matter much. the boat just ZOOMED, the crew was great, always passing out water and snacks and i got to go up to the capatain's perch to see our approach of the blue hole. the day was overcast still, so the colors were not so dramatic as i hoped to see but it was still amazing. snorkelers jumped in and divers did all their rigamarole. i tried to swim the perimeter of the wall all around the hole and it was pretty dang cool. dunno what the divers saw but i was happy. next we went back to half moon caye and snorkeled off the point there. that was lovely too, lots of coral configurations and the HUGEST most GIGANTIC LOBSTER i have ever seen. they really grow massive in marine reserves! this looked like a mutant it was so insanely large; mutant LUNCH. we were picked up after a while and the boat docked at the same area where we stopped with japs. everyone got off and had lunch. sugar and i walked over to our campsite to visit the giant iguana that suns on the log. some people walked into the forested bit to see red footed booby birds. i declined. the boat made a last stop after this at "the aquarium" for one last snorkel and dive. i wish this had been our first stop and the blue hole the third because by then the sun had been shining for a few hours and visibility was improved. i was pretty tired by this time and didn't see as much as i anticipated. maybe this is a better spot for divers or i was just too lazy. the boat zoomed us back to caye caulker and we pulled in around 5 pm or so. we were really glad we took the day to go back and snorkel around some of the places we didn't have time to stop for when sailing. we washed up and packed up things to give to paula and her daughter and went and did "one last" everything we needed to do.
next morning was august 17, departure day. we packed up the last of our things, returned our bikes and had JOE GRIND come with his bike taxi for our bags. the 10 AM water taxi was insanely crowded but we got nice seats right by the capain's steering pedestal on some sort of built in box so we were dry & stylin.
at the marine terminal securing a taxi was a hassle. taxis are generally becoming a drag in belize city. sugar stayed with our bags while i went to find a driver. we had a specific plan to stop on the way at the giant BRODY's market to buy many bottles of hot sauce and jars of jam. i had things all worked out with one guy when some king of the taxi drivers decided i HAD to ride with some other guy. when i walked over to his minivan, it was already nearly full with a couple annoyed looking belizean women and all their bags. i told the guy he already HAD a fare, but he tried to insist he was just going to drop them off then take us to the airport. i was not in the mood for a sardined together meandering tour of belize city before doing our own errand, so i told him no thanks and went back to the jumble of drivers and chose another guy. we were the only ones in this guy's van and he was happy to wait for us about 15 minutes while we shopped. (we brought him a frosty coke.)
at the airport we spent our last cash on beans & rice in the cafe and bought the limit of belizean rum to take home. i left first on my flight to sf and about an hour later, sugar left for sacramento. it was a shorter trip than i usually take and it seemed to go so fast. i enjoyed every minute and felt i had the right mix of activity, adventure and relaxation time. saw lots of kids i know are growing huge, starting school, etc. made new friends & kept up contact with ones i already have.looking forward to more fun this june!