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#261172 - 01/02/08 02:48 AM Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22
JRinSC Offline
Trip Report -- December 15 – 22, 2007 (LONG)

This is pay everyone back for their trip reports -- most of which helped me tremendously in learning about this lovely land long before I first arrived. Kinda makes you wonder about how they did this stuff before the message boards... anyhow, here is the first installment of our first trip to "Isla Bonita".


Saturday, 15 Dec 2007

Flight was normal and we arrived on time in Belize City at noon. Our flight with Maya Island Air was at 1 pm -- no problem -- we had flight # and confirmation with Maya so no problem -- except no one allowed for the wonderful people ahead of us in the Maya line to check in. By the time we did get to the Maya counter our 1:00 flight was taking off. For once "island time" didn't work and so we settled for the 2:00 pm flight. At least that way I got a chance to meet Mr. Jet at Jet's Bar. He may be short, but he has a great heart!! We enjoyed looking at all the places in the departure lounge, but we were really ready when we finally got to go... of course, the first plane they took us to wasn't correct, for the young lady led us back to the terminal sidewalk for 3 minutes and then out to a different plane. This one was the right one!!

Twenty minutes later we landed in San Pedro -- I had already taken 20 pictures (I have three memory chips for the camera - 128 MB, 256 Mb and 1GB) and a short movie of the landing. Wow, all those movies on YouTube set me up perfect. My two companions, my wife Karol and our friend, Jean, began to actually believe I knew something about SP and the island after all!

We had booked a condo at Paradise Villas with Nellie Gomez and, sure enough, her people were there to meet us at the Maya Air terminal even though we were an hour late. We jumped into a cart and off we went. Wasn't long and we pulled into the gate and onto the lovely grounds at PV. (One note here -- both ladies said over and over that although we saw some lovely and more expensive places in our travels all week -- Paradise Villas has the best grounds, and the best location for being in San Pedro. It is truly a wonderful tropical paradise!) Nellie's people did a great job and went the extra mile (opening an unrented villa to let us use the porch furniture stored there).

Thanks to the msg board, I set up a delivery by Simon's company (Lagnaippe Provisioning - http://www.lagniappe-belize.com)- to have some important things be waiting for us when we finally arrived - stuff like a bottle each of the local rums (One Barrel & Carribean Dark), some limes (which were huge!), some coke and a case of bottled water. Didn't tell the girls and it was a big hit! By the way, we did drink the local water in the coffee pot and for brushing teeth but decided to play it safe and used the bottled water all week – no problems for anyone.

Once we got unpacked and settled in we decided to head over to Wet Willy's (which happens to be next door)! Stopped and met Rick at Reef Adventures, talked about several of the different tours and trips available. Rick is a big, big guy, but as friendly as they come. Then on out the pier (which still showed damage to the planks from Felix. (This was fixed during the week while we were there.)Willy's was a great choice in that we found they make very nutritious, economical and healthy rum punches (5 $BZ) that are best drunk out by the tables on the pier. Karol found out that it is a mark of "good luck" when a sea gull graces you with an offering as he goes by -- she was not impressed with her luck but we had a great hoot!! I even when in an got her a damp napkin (need to keep up the "brownie points").

After several efforts to rehydrate, we wandered down the beach, with my goal on this first day being to at least catch a glimpse of BC's before turning back. We ambled along with me giving a blow by blow description of the places I recognized. I'm not sure how accurate I was but I'm sure the girls were impressed, maybe! We just managed that before the girls gave up from a long day (got up at 4 am) and we stopped at Lilly's for supper. It was alright -- but just alright -- no one was really impressed with supper. I had the seafood sampler and enjoyed it. Staggered home and lights out by 10:00 pm.


Sunday
Woke up, made coffee and went out to tour the grounds and walk our pier. Clouds over the horizon took care of any great sunrise, but like most mornings during the week, the sun broke through and most of the clouds did a boggie by 9 or 10 am. Dragged the girls, when presentable, down to Estel's Dine by the Sea for a great breakfast -- the best Bloody Mary's I think I have ever had -- one was not enough. So much for no alcohol before noon!

We went back to PV and were planning on trying the snorkeling at the end of our pier (never did get around to doing that, darn it) when I remembered the B-B-Que on Sunday afternoons at BC's Beach Bar! Boy, am I glad I remembered, because once there we jumped on stools at the bar, had some great ribs, several drinks and watched the band setup.

Once again, my months of painful research on this trip, country and island paid off. I took one look at Drummer Dan and Dennis Wolfe walking down below and "knew" it was "The Usual Suspects". We now had a reason to continue sitting on the stools and ordering more drinks - rum punches for the girls and "cubre libre's" for me. We eventually moved down to a table in the sand where the band eventually set up shop during the breaks. We have several long talks with Dennis -- he is a nice guy! As he put it, he came down on a 3 week gig and that was 21 years ago! In talking with D. Dan I found out that he plays 7 nights a week! Now that will keep you out of trouble!

At another table was a lady sitting with a bunch of 2008 Calendars and a sign saying to "please help us help the children" on the island. I had, once again, prior knowledge from this group about the calendar and the women and the good things done with the money generated -- so I walked over, sat down and met a fellow Aries, the graceful lady that is April -- Eve. Eve is a great ambassador for AC. In 5 minutes we were friends (fellow aries will do that) and my two women wandered over, met Eve and stayed to talk. She gave us several pointers that proved useful during the week and, although we tried, we didn't spot her house when we went North over the bridge.

Sometime later (I know it was dark and the band was gone) we walked back to the first street (I guess Front Street) and headed north. After a short distance I saw a familiar sounding sign (once again, good research) that said "Pasta La Vista" and in we went. They had a special that consisted of one large pizza and a second smaller one free. Had to try that. I got to carry the remains of the large and the whole small pizza all the way back to PV. (Never eat pizza with two women that can't pull their own in the slice count!!). Turns out the the girl in the "Usual Suspects" is the owner and later in the week I was able to thank her for a great pizza! I did manage to eat most of the rest the next day.


Monday
Today was turning out beautiful so we though we'd rent a golf cart and tour the island. But first, because I could see how time was managing to slip away with the usual quickness of a great vacation I convinced the girls that we had better book our trips now (this am.) and then get the cart. For once they agreed and my friend Jean went with me to Reef Adventures. We decided to go to Lamani the next day, Tuesday, go to Caye Caulker on Wednesday and go snorking to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley on Thursday. Did all that, wandered back to the villa where Karol shot holes in our plans. How, she wanted to know was I going to rent a cart for 24 hours at 9 am when we were leaving on the trip to Lamani at 7:00 in the morning? Just who was going to turn it in? I couldn't turn it in early as we wanted it to go down to Road Kill Bar that night to hear the Usual Suspects and not have to walk all the way back late. I do really hate it when Karol is sooo right....

We had a little discussion and I came up with a new plan... how about taking the Island Ferry over to Caye Caulker today, Lamani tomorrow and the Golf Cart on Wednesday??? All agreed and off we go. Turns out that we were just in time to jump in the boat and off we went. I should have sat further up and not on the back bench. Good thing that clothes dry quickly in the sun and wind *grin*. It was a fun and fast boat ride and the water is absolutely stunning. I had a lot of fun trying to pick out places on AC as we flew south. I did correctly point out Victoria House (pat on back) from pictures I had seen during my "research". One thing I really wanted to do at Caye Caulker was to visit the bar at the split – The Lazy Lizard. I had used a pic of the bar for my background on the computer at work for the month or so before we left and I had “promised” myself that I would do that.

======

I'll gladly post more later if anyone wants to hear the rest of our trip…
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#261183 - 01/02/08 04:12 AM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22 [Re: JRinSC]
Bill Mc Ghee Offline
Of course we want to read more !!! smile
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Never Use money to measure wealth

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#261184 - 01/02/08 04:14 AM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22 [Re: JRinSC]
Bobber Offline
Definitely smile
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Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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#261188 - 01/02/08 04:26 AM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22 [Re: Bobber]
Shopgirl Offline
Ditto!! Toes are tapping, anxiously awaiting! smile
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"All people smile in the same language"

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#261189 - 01/02/08 04:26 AM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22 [Re: Bobber]
azbob Offline
PLease continue!
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"Hold on Tight To Your Dreams" ELO

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#261190 - 01/02/08 04:34 AM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22 [Re: JRinSC]
gailtor Offline
Of course we want to hear more.. you have a great talent for capturing the feel of San Pedro. cool
So did you get that picture of the Lazy Lizard updated to include you in it?
Gail
PS Yes the message board is a great source of information and so addicting. Especially now that you have met some of the people and have been to a lot of the places, it will be even more addictive fun.. When are you booking that next trip?

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#261202 - 01/02/08 01:58 PM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22 [Re: gailtor]
Sun&sand Offline
Please continue. Great report so far!
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Live so that when you arise in the A.M, Satan shudders & says..
'Oh sh t..she's awake!'

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#261204 - 01/02/08 02:33 PM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - 22 [Re: Sun&sand]
Nova Offline
More, more, more!!!!
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It's never too late to have a happy childhood!

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#261322 - 01/03/08 03:02 PM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - [Re: Nova]
JRinSC Offline
Trip Report – Part 2 (Monday continued) smile

We hopped off the Island Ferry and right away you could tell you were on a different island – kinda what I would have thought AC & SP were 10 or more years ago. Everything was just a little slower and more laid back. We thoroughly enjoyed walking south down the beach for a good ways, stopping to look and take pictures and just slow down and stroll along. We passed the Post Office and I had to take a picture of the hand written note outside that said “The following people have parcels inside waiting for them:” There were about ten names on the list. Talk about “general delivery” – that was it! But I’ll bet it did the job.

We stopped at a Sports Bar that had neat six sided picnic tables, each with a round seat out on a spoke. Each table came with one or more dogs curled up and sound asleep beneath them. We had some rum punches and they were perfect. After a while we managed to get up and head back north to the split. We passed a whole group of vendors showing their wares and had a great time checking everything out (women like to do this – even when they don’t really want anything – I think it is bred into them in the DNA) with me watching people – a great pastime.

One thing I’ve noticed is that there were a lot of young people in the cayes – in their early and middle twenties. Couldn’t tell if they were married or not, not that it mattered. Karol left all her rings at home and they may have done the same. We met a nice couple at the bar and they were ending a month’s swing through CA, and were going to be leaving in a week or so. Wow, wish I could have done something like that when at that age!

We did eventually end up at the Lazy Lizard and all the people swimming, diving and sunning all around it. One note – try one of the Lizards special drinks (the lime tropical drink of the house) – it tasted like liquid cilantro ( the herb or spice). Whatever – we ordered three and we threw three away. Yeccch!! Only bad drink of the week and it maybe just preference – but be warned, try one first!

We managed to drift around until we saw by the schedule that we missed the ferry that hour and that the next ferry wasn’t until 5:15 so we marched straight back to the Sports Bar and had dinner. Probably the best thing I had all week – Fettuccini Alfredo with Lobster. Excellent….. Then it was talk and more rum punches until time for the ferry. We didn’t want to be late but we shouldn’t have worried. The worry was that we began to wonder if it was really going to show up. At first I saw a high speed boat approaching from AC at about the right time but it went right by us and tied up a couple of piers further south. Then nothing for a long time, maybe 30 minutes -- it was long enough that the young couple with us went back to check and they found that A) they could get a room for $25 and B) that the boat was indeed coming - just running on island time. Sure enough here it came, but from the south (Belize City) and not from the north. No wonder I never spotted it.

Quick ride back with a pretty beginning of a sunset – days are short right now. Once back at SP we… you know I don’t remember exactly what we did at that point! In checking my pictures I took the last one that night at 6:32 and the next one is Tues am. I’ll fill in if I can later. I know we must have eaten something somewhere!

Tuesday - Lamani

We were up and ready to go at our PV pier at 6:45 am and sure enough here came our boat. It was an awfully small boat to take us all the way to the mainland, but what do I know. I know that I found out quickly that we were on the collector boat and sure enough we picked up another couple before pulling into Seaduced. Now we all got in a bigger boat – with twin Yamaha 200’s on the back. I thought, no this is more like it – and it was. They rev’d them boys up to a notch or two short of full throttle and we just sorta bounced over the tops of the little waves as we went flying by Caye Caulker and Caye Cooper ?? (where the golf course is) and then pass all kinds of little spots of islands until the coast drew very close. Everyone held their breath as we steadily flew right at what appeared to be a dense shoreline of mangroves and trees – our driver cut the throttles just in time to quickly drop to a crawl just as a small opening led into a slough off the main river. We slowly putted up the closed in channel for about a quarter of a mile and then hit the main river. Now we went up on the speed again and traveled up a couple or miles before pulling over to a landing. Oh, they served us a neat breakfast during this short trip and it was great… some kind of ham or chicken biscuits and fruit and coconut filled pastries. This was just what we needed.

At this point our party split up and those going caving or zip-line got in one van while those of us going to Lamani got into another van. We had two guys with us at this point, one from the boat and the driver of the van. Sorry, can’t remember their names but, as usual, they were friendly and seemed to enjoy explaining things and answering our many questions. We traveled approximately 45 minutes before turning off onto a small road that led about a quarter mile back to a parking area besides another river.

Here we boarded a smaller boat with a Yamaha 65 on the back. The boat had a Bimini top and bench seats and could hold probably 12 people but we on had 5 of us on this trip. Our captain and guide was Carlos and we really got a great guy. He really knew his stuff, both the animals and plants going up the river and the actual site at Lamani. He got us loaded and the weight distributed how he wanted and off we go. This trip was to take a little over an hour and it went by rapidly, with Carlos spotting something and stopping to show it to us. All kinds of birds, animals and plants – quite a river and Carlos knew it like I know my backyard.

We passed a Mennonite community which resembled farms back in SC – carved out of the jungle and Carlos said that the Mennonites produce 70% of the agricultural products in Belize – 70%! Amazing as there are only about 40,000 of them in the country. But I digress – back to the river trip.

All too quickly the river opened up into a large bay and we continued out into the open water, staying near the right side. Carlos cut the engine and pointed at the jungle and up over the top of the trees was the stone top of something with little people carefully standing in a tight group – like they were on a solid top of the trees. It turns out this was the High Temple – tallest yet found of the Mayan pyramids. We continued on and came to a pier, tied up and walked into Lamani. They have a nice setup with a couple of big palapa huts for picnicking and several permanent stores where they sell souvenirs of Lamani – proceeds benefiting local schools, etc.

The main building, very modern, open and bright was the museum. Here Carlos showed us a lot of artifacts discovered here and wove them into the story of Lamani. We spent maybe 15 minutes in there before starting up the trail. We didn’t get 100 yards before he stopped, pointed up into a very large, high tree and said, “howler monkeys.” Took a moment and then we could see flashes of black moving through the canopy. Here Carlos had a ball – he cupped his hands and made some very strange sounds. Turns out the male monkey just can’t stand another male near his tree and really began to tell us about it. Between the two of them the jungle really jumped!

After a few sessions Carlos gave the male a break and off we went down a beautiful rain forest trail, under huge gorgeous palms and all kinds of trees, vines, etc. all creating a tunnel through which we walked. Everyone kept tripping over the rough trail because we were constantly looking at the jungle, seeing something new and different almost every time we looked in a new direction. At one point Carlos walked off the trail, bent down and came up with several bright green leaves. He carefully tore them into pieces and gave us each one. “Crush it and then smell the leaf.” Turns out it was the allspice tree – and the leave smelled wonderful. I put my leaf into a pocket of my camera case and I smelled it yesterday and it still had a little of the scent left.

On we went through the jungle until we came out at the Mask Temple, named for the huge stone carved mask at the bottom of the temple. In order to protect it from the elements they have built a shed type roof over it. Carlos was passionately of the opinion that the original should be removed and preserved and a presentably copy put in its place. It seems that it still needs periodic maintenance and, as we all agree, each time a little of the original is lost.

I could go on and on about Lamani but you really need to see it yourself. Carlos said that the city (Lamani means “submerged crocodile”) extends two mile in from the river and ten miles along it and so far they have had the funding to only excavate 7 buildings. Just seven. But, one of the seven is the “High Temple” – at 110’ it is the highest of all the Mayan ruins found so far. And climbing up and down it is a real trip. It is steeper than it first appears (and that is steep!!) and the darn steps aren’t made for humans, period. The “rise” and “run” is all fouled up. I found going up was easy if you used both arms and legs and didn’t look down. Did I mention that the women elected to watch me from a stone seat they found? Well, at least their calves and thighs didn’t bother them the next day! But, all in all, the climb to a site above the jungle canopy was really well worth it. You could see for miles and the river was spread out before you. What a view! I took regular pictures and then decided to take a movie, turning in a slow circle but the footing was really rough so I ended up going as far as I could go without moving my feet because I wasn’t going to do that without looking down!

We eventually moved on several hundred yards down a flat corridor with mounts on either side – more temples awaiting future excavation according to Carlos. We then came upon the “royal place ruins” and the Jaguar Temple… all mysterious and beautiful. I took a ton of pictures, of course. The whole place had quiet air and a real sense of antiquity to it, not sinister, but just a feeling that time had stood still there. I would love to revisit after more mounds have been excavated, but there is no telling how long before that happens.

We came back down the trail to the park buildings and Carlos gave us a few minutes to visit the shops and then we went through the entire trip in reverse. The only thing of note that occurred on the way back was humorous (to most of us) and should serve as a warning to all. It is a long boat ride back from the mainland to the island – long and bumpy ride! Be careful how much beer and rum punch you drink. And be very sure to visit the restroom when getting off the van before getting on the boat with the Yamaha 200’s. I didn’t and before very long the fast and bouncy ride began to make life very uncomfortable and then very painful. A young guy across from me in the boat asked the guys about a pit stop and they laughed and one of them jumped up and climbed over the stern and stood between the motors in “the position” for a moment. Every one laughed (except him and me) and then the torturer showed how some women had managed to squat sideways back there. All this time the damn boat is jumping from wave to wave – each jolt causing me to wince and wonder how long 60 year old bladders can hold together. I kept waiting for the other guy to give in but he appeared willing to suffer on in silence so I elected to make it easier for him. I politely yelled at the driver and made him realize that I was ready to make use of the potty. He cut power and up I went into “the position”, trying to avoid the engines as best I could. Sure enough, even amid the snickering the other guy followed me. Everyone had a good laugh, but I really didn’t’ care at that point!! The other two young guys said “no problem” – but I noticed that they did not appear happy and they fairly flew off the pier to find a restroom (as did my ladies)!

Again, I can’t remember right now exactly where we ate that evening – but it must have been good – we didn’t have a bad meal, ever! Ah hah! Now I remember. We decided, once we got back PV’s and cleaned up, that we needed to go to Wet Willy’s to have a rum punch or two and decide where to go that night. Fate decided things and there was the “Usual Suspects” starting up just we walked in. We grabbed a table, ordered some fries and something and talked to the band again during the breaks. Had a great time! The day had worn us out so it wasn’t really late when we headed back to PV. smirk
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#261339 - 01/03/08 04:12 PM Re: Trip Report to AC and San Pedro -- Dec. 15 - [Re: JRinSC]
lil'red Offline
Well hello from "The Usual Suspects"! It is good to see you made it back home okay, and that you had such a good time here in Belize. Glad we kept you entertained, it was a pleasure to meet you all.
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http://gringoinbelize.com


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