TRIP REPORT, 11-17 TO 11-24 San Pedro and Caye Chapel
Up early on Saturday morning and off to the airport. This trip we are traveling with immediate family. Dianne and the Bobber, son Rob, daughter Hollie, grandson Spencer and Hollies husband Bo. AA to Miami, a short stop and then AA to Belize City. The outbound trip went off without a hitch and we were at BZE early afternoon. We had made our Maya reservations through Caye Chapel, and apparently they carry some weight, as Maya had a guy to escort us right to the plane (happened on the return flight also). This was our 6th trip to AC for my wife and I, Rob’s second, and the first for the daughters family. Naturally they tagged Hollie to ride co-pilot, and Spencer was really impressed by his first small plane ride and the scenery. We arrived in San Pedro and caught a cab to Banana Beach. How they got all that luggage in was amazing.
We checked into our top floor rooms, verified that the Belikin was in the fridge (but no bottle opener). Tapped a few anyway, unpacked and headed out for a look around. Checked in at the office for our 6 passenger golf cart, and made sure it was ready. Everybody headed down to the pool for a cool off, and I wandered around a bit, ending up at the beach entrance, and saw none other than Leah-Ann and klcman getting off Tulu’s boat at the pier. She naturally had to run up and hug me, and I took her in to make the other intros to the rest of the family. We had planned to have dinner at BB, so we made plans to meet in the dining room. A whole bunch showed up. Leah-Ann, klcman, KCJayhawk and his wife Laura, 2milesnorth and his wife Tona, Tacogirl and Travel Queen. Needless to say, it was an enjoyable evening. I was impressed with the boarders I had never met before, having to deal with the fact they were actual people, and not only that, interesting and much more entertaining in person. We ate, talked, laughed and drank a little. I got to buy TQ the drink that somehow I felt I owed her.
Rob, Hollie and Bo left with Spencer for hermit crab hunting and ended up at the beach bar next door and tipped a few. Then they came back and closed down the bar at BB. They made fast friends with the bartender and a bb waitress They were still a bit happy the next morning. That’s what a vacation is for.
Spencer was given three tiny hermit crabs by another tourist on the beach and they were lovingly sheltered in a live box he had prepared with sand, water, fruit and parsley. After a sleep over they were released to their natural habitat.
Sunday morning we did breakfast at BB and got ready to head out for our usual tour of the island. We naturally wanted to show the kids the lay of the land. We carted through town, over the bridge and headed north. We ended up at the Palapa Bar (funny, that’s usually as far north as we make it). We took pictures and just enjoyed the weather and the whole experience. We had a few beers at the Palapa, I met Palapa Papa and also scored the Kelly McGuire CD (wow, I love it). Kids all wrote names and messages on floor of the bar. We headed back and toured through town a little and stopped for just a little shopping. Lazed around the pool with Belikins in hand, collected sea shells and just enjoyed BB. Bo thought he had the best steak ever the night before at El Divinos and Spencer was craving a second meal of fettuccini so ended up doing a repeat meal. Everyone was a bit jet lagged and we made it a rather early evening after finding a hermit crab for another sleep over.
Monday morning was breakfast at BB and then off for fishing, snorkeling and barbecue. Thanks to Leah Ann for playing tour director and hooking us up with Tulu. He was great fun and full of educational info. While we all caught something, grandson out fished the bunch. He landed 38 fish, including one we had never seen before. When we asked Tulu what it was, thinking Spencer wouldn’t catch on, he spelled (s l i p p e r y d i c). Spencer’s spelling is superior and he immediately started laughing and thought that was the best name for a fish. We of course had to have a picture of the slippery dic. We all got to participate with Tulu in the hunt for lobster. Waters were very shallow but had a lot of current and rookies that we are at lobster hunting only Rob actually spotted one. In spite of our failure at spotting lobsters it was a great snorkel for Spencer before hitting the deep waters. Tulu then brought us to Mata Grande Recording Studios while he prepared a fabulous meal. We were entertained by owner Ebbe. In her teens Hollie spent a lot of time in Denmark and with her Danish soccer friends and got to practice her remembered Danish with him. When she told him she had lost a tape of her favorite Danish vocalist, he asked who it was.(Anna Linnet?) Turned out Ebbe had produced all her recordings and that she was a very good friend of his. Ebbe then offered to cut a CD of the missing tape. He brought the CD down to the bar and played it for us. The girls got dancing and the boys got drinking. While it really made the day special for Hollie, Ebbe was truly amazed and was going to call Anna that night and tell her he had a gal from Minnesota in his bar that requested her songs, knew all the words in Danish and danced on the beach with her mom to her music. Oh it is a small world. Rained all the way back to BB and became very heavy. So it was another night at El Divino and they didn’t seem to be sick of us. And yes our menu stayed the same. No critters for sleep over, rain made it to hard to find.
Tuesday woke to heavy rains and our sailing trip with EL Gato had to be canceled. Decided it would be a great time to bring the suitcase of books that Spencer brought with for the library. He was very stunned by the difference in his local library and that of San Pedro. Leaving the library we saw the school kids across the street out in the muddy yard buying food through the fence. Spencer was on the verge of tears and said he felt very sad for the kids. We told him to look at the faces of the kids and see if they looked sad and once he realized they were all smiling and happy living without all the luxuries Spencer has been fortunate to have, I believe our whole reason for bringing him to San Pedro was accomplished. He had worked very hard putting together books that he thought kids would like to read and also donated two leap pads with learning to read guides and the smiling faces of the beautiful San Pedro kids was his best reward. He also decided the kids of San Pedro have the best thing of all, the ocean. Next stop was the Saga Society. We played with baby kittens and dogs and made our usual donations. Rain stopped for a bit in the afternoon and we did some snorkeling between Paradise Villas dock and Wet Willys. Decided to cab it back into town and went to Blue Water Grill for drinks and dinner. Pizza and lasagna night. Grandma D ended up asking for a to go box for Spencer’s latest critter. He found a land crab and was able to coax it into a clear box without getting pinched. Mr. crab got a cab ride back to BB but Spencer was warned they are great escape artists and no one wanted a case of crabs in their bed. He set the box on the deck and true to form within one minute the crab opened the box and scurried off. Yeah!!!!
Wednesday morning was bright and clear and Rob and I decided to leave the rest of the crew behind and head off to Estels for breakfast. We took the cart and headed off through the road construction and mud heading for town. We made it to within a couple blocks of the Island Market and noticed three kids in school uniforms, two girls about 7 and a boy about 5 walking down the street, I toyed with the idea of giving them a ride and had just slowed down when I heard one of the girls yell “ride”. We stopped and waved them up and they piled in. All the way to the school the little boy was singing the ABC song, mostly correct. They were so happy, not just for the ride, just…happy. We dropped them off and they thanked us and waved as they headed off to school. We hit Estels, and I don’t care who might disagree, she has the best fryjacks on the island. Estel had this screwy little dog running around (she said, half Chihuahua and half Pekingese) with a little stuffed shark he was hauling around. What a hoot. We made a stop so I could pick up the Calendar Girls calendar, and then headed back to pack up for the trip to Caye Chapel. We finished packing, did our checkout and turned in the cart. The desk called us a couple of cabs and we headed off to the Maya terminal to catch our flight.
It was an eight minute flight to Caye Chapel. Bo and Hollie are avid (rabid) golfers, and as we banked around to land, they got a good look at the island from the air and were very impressed. We rolled up and found a rep waiting for us with three golf carts. They loaded our luggage up on another utility cart and had them delivered to our Villa while we went to check in. As a matter of curiosity, I asked the young lady if there was anyone famous or interesting on the island at that time. She replied “there is now”. We checked in and signed our Crocodile waivers and headed back to the villa to unpack. We were astounded. The place was right on the beach, 3 bedroom, 3500 square feet and beautifully decorated. Wow. Bo, Rob and Hollie didn’t even bother unpacking anything but their golf clubs and headed out to play. Dianne and I went for a little lookaround, then we took Spencer over to the pier for some snorkeling. There were a lot of fish living under the pier, including a whole school of foot long barracuda. Spencer had a lot of fun. After the snorkeling we went over to the pool for a dip to wash the salt off (and had a few drinks). Dianne and Spencer played some ping-pong and I just soaked up the sun.
The meals were served in the clubhouse, or we could have them delivered anywhere we wanted. We chose to take a look at the clubhouse dining room, and it was impressive, beautiful, and the service was second to none. The menu was somewhat limited but had enough choices to have something for everyone. The food was very good. Both the villas and the casitas all have fully stocked refrigerators, everything from Belikin (all versions) and plenty of bottled waters to sodas of all kinds. Again something for everyone.
Thanksgiving day was just another day in paradise. The golfers golfed all day, and D and I got a couple of rods and bait and took Spencer out on the pier to fish. Spencer didn’t have much luck, but I was nailing a good variety of not so big fish. Catch and release of course. I did tag a 14 inch barracuda, and even that small they have teeth and attitude. I got him carefully unhooked and let him go. After that, we basically just hung out, did the pool, drank some beer and freshened up our tans. The meals are at set times, but for Thanksgiving they did a buffet, and it was again something more than we expected. After drinks, they presented a carving station, roast turkey and ham, all the trimmings and LOBSTERS. The tables were all decorated with the theme, and all of the guests showed up. Normally at meals, there were usually only 4-6 others there in the big dining room. It was a fantastic meal, and the drinks flowed. We gave thanks for having all of our family together in Belize, for Belikins, lobsters, lost golf balls and even toasted the crocodiles. It was a lot of fun. This is the first family vacation in years that all of us were present, and it was a very special time for us.
“Friday was very special. Since we got rained out of our trip to Hol Chan and shark ray on Tuesday, we signed up for a tour on Friday to get Spencer out and show him what real snorkeling was all about. We had a big boat for all of us, plus another couple from Great Britian that had been seated with us for the buffet. We first went up to San Pedro for “shopping”, but we just headed over to Wet Willies for lunch. After lunch, back on the boat and out to Hol Chan. As soon as we moored, an 8 foot nurse shark surfaced, came right up to the boat, rolled and then scratched his head on the boat. Needless to say, it took us a few minutes to convince Spencer to get into the water. Once we got him in the water, and he saw what there was to see, he was fascinated. We saw the normal vast amount of fish, large groupers, a five foot barracuda and we had a spotted eagle ray over the edge only about 5 feet below us. Fantastic snorkel. I don’t snorkel very often, and it sure is a lot more strenuous than diving. Back in the boat and off to shark-ray. We were the only boat there for about the first 10 minutes, and the rays were all over. A few sharks showed up, but didn’t stick around very long. The guide was doing the normal dance with the rays and Spencer again was fascinated. We even got him to touch them. This is pretty much what this whole trip was designed for, to get him in the water with the sharks and rays.
After the boat ride back, we still had a little daylight left so the golfers golfed and the rest of us tried out the sea kayaks. Wow, that is labor intensive. Worked up a sweat and headed to the pool for drinks. After dark, drinks and dinner.
Saturday was our day to leave, early afternoon, so D and I decided we should at least get a little golf in so we made a foursome with Rob and Spencer. The course is very challenging, narrow fairways with a lot of water (and crocs). The course is also immaculately groomed with plenty of palm trees, just beautiful. This is a fantastic course to drown golf balls, so if you go, bring some along. We didn’t do too badly considering we don’t golf regularly. It was really fun.
We finished out 9 holes and went back for lunch and packing. Our luggage was picked up and we were escorted to the airstrip to wait for the plane. Maya picked us up on time and we made the short flight to BZE. Once again, Maya had a guy there to coordinate our luggage and get it over to the AA counter, and he walked us right up to the head of the line. None of the other people on the Maya flight seemed to get the same attention, and I wonder what they were thinking. Like, pick up these folks on a golf island and they get special attention. Maybe they didn’t know who we are? He he he.
The flight was an hour late out of BZE, so we got into Miami late and spent so much time in immigration that we missed our connection. Rob, Dianne and I opted to catch a flight to Dallas, overnight in a cheap hotel and catch an early flight back to MSP. Bo, Hollie and Spencer chose to overnight in Miami and caught a late flight back Sunday. Naturally, they spent the day golfing.
All in all, we had a really good time in San Pedro and on Caye Chapel. The two places are very different. The fun and the people of San Pedro can’t be beat, it is a rare and precious place. Caye Chapel was like being in an extremely elegant all inclusive, with a lot of service and very few tourists around. If anyone is into golf, even a day trip here would be a rare experience. Belikin was $2 US, so not that expensive. Rum punches were $8 US. On the other hand, all the facilities plus the golf carts were included in the price, no tee times, no golf cart keys or locks. When I get things together, I will post some pics.
Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt