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#32268 - 12/12/00 09:46 PM Trip Report
Parrothead Offline
Well, here it is. Our much delayed Ambergris Caye Trip Report. It's amazing how much things can fall apart at work when you are gone for 2 weeks!

We were so excited to get to the island! After a wait at the Belize City Airport (and a $4 US Belikin), we finally squeezed into a little plane and finally made it to Ambergris Caye around 2:00. They are still doing some repairs and clean up, but it is so beautiful!

We found our way to the Hideaway and "the Texas Ladies". They had just gotten power back to the hotel. They've had power in the bar. Marie was tending bar (they've taken that over since the hurricane) and we met Pat and Joyce. We ended up hanging out at the Hideaway a lot. We really enjoyed it there.

We spent a lot of time during our two week stay looking at some property with Jesse. He really knows everything and everyone around the island. He was a great person to talk to about what you're thinking about property and things and he'll give you good honest answers and advice. We really enjoyed getting to know him and are hoping to work on buying some property with him. He showed us things on the South end and also on the North. He arranged for a boat to look at the North end. For us, we think the South is better.

The most important thing we learned from Jesse is the pricing on Belikin! Apparently the Belikin Regular is price controlled by the government. Nobody is supposed to sell them for more than $2.25BZ but the price is always $3.00BZ. So, Barry Bowen (the guy who owns virtually every beverage in Belize) came out with Belikin Premium and Lighthouse. Two kinds that aren’t price controlled. That’s how Jim paid $4US for a Belikin at the airport – when you ask for a Belikin, you will get a Belikin Premium so they can charge you more. From then on Jim only ordered Belikin Regular!

As for places to eat, we got lots of experience! There is a restaurant guide from our point of view at the end of this report. For us, a big part of a trip is to meet local people and experience local culture and food. We very much preferred eating local rather than the places that were catering to American tastes. The extra added benefit is that eating local, while tasting absolutely wonderful is much less expensive than eating American. We liked the food everywhere we ate, but like I said, we really preferred the local places. There were some times we wanted American food and when we did, there were great options.

Jim went diving with Gaz Cooper's Dive shop and thought it was a good operation. He thought that Blue hole is touted as one of the best dives in Belize and it is interesting but, he thought it was just good. It is a giant cave that the roof caved in on when the Ice Age began melting and the sea level rose. There are a lot of huge stalagmites and stalactites. Judging by the talk on board the boat, the best part was the sharks. You could look over the edge of the wall down 450 feet into the darkness and see sharks come out of nowhere rising up to meet you. I would recommend it to my family and friends. The only thing for those who might get seasick – it is a very long ride. About 2 ˝ hours and 70 miles each way!

We found it very interesting on the trip that even though we were there for two entire weeks, we woke up early every day. We were usually up between 5:30 and 6:00. We began our trip staying at the Sunbreeze. It was nice and we liked it. But, we preferred our time at the Mayan Princess. This was where we stayed the majority of our time. The set up with a small kitchen so we could use the refrigerator and living room area were really nice and comfortable. The best part, though, was having a balcony right on the sea. We spent so much time watching everything that was going on and relaxing there. We got a hammock from the front desk and it really was nice. We will definitely stay there again. Our only suggestion would be that they invest in some cushions for their chairs on the dock. Boy! They are really hard!!

While we were there, they had Garifuna Settlement Day Celebrations. We didn't care for the music too much from the one band that played all of the music. It sounded like the same song over and over to us. But, what do we know? We're gringos! We did see examples of Punta dancing. It was too wild for Jim. It was kind of a "baby got back" kind of thing.

Our big adventure day was when we rented a golf cart and went exploring.. It was quite an adventure Thinking ahead, Jim made sure we got one with the big ATV knobby tires in case we go mudding. We started out all excited and went the wrong way on a one way street! You don’t pay attention to such things when you are walking everywhere. You just walk whichever way you need to go. We got yelled at by a guy in the police station’s yard. He wasn’t dressed in a uniform but Jim decided he better stop just in case. It was no big deal. Just another stupid touristo move.

We heard at the Hideaway that the hand pulled ferry across the cut was open for golf carts again, so we headed North. It's these two guys with a little floating thing that they hand pull with ropes back and forth.

The "road" on the other side was really something. This huge area had gotten washed out in the hurricane, so they had piled sandbags and sand along with some plywood patches here and there.

We stopped at the Palapa Bar but it wasn't open yet. It looked very nice. Fantastic location! Then, we drove until it got really muddy. Fearing we’d get stuck, we turned around. We came back a little way and watched two fishermen catching and harvesting conch. One showed us how to get the snail out of its shell and clean it.

We went back across the pull ferry and headed south toward the property we had looked at with Jesse. We noticed some clouds and didn't think much of them. While we were walking around on the different lots, it started raining a little so we went back to the cart and thought we could make it back to the Hideaway before we got too wet - WRONG!! We got completely soaked with very cold rain

We also made sure we made it to the "World Famous Chicken Drop". They set up a board with 100 numbered squares on it with a big net around it. You can gamble on the numbers and we bought 4 numbers. They then put a chicken in the pen with the numbered board. Everyone cheers for the chicken (actually, a rooster this time) to poop on your number. He didn't poop on any of ours . The winner gets $100 BZ and has to clean up the poop and has to catch the chicken. He got pecked a couple of times and it's not easy catching a chicken (or rooster).

One of our nicest experiences was Thanksgiving Day. The girls at the Hideaway invited us for dinner and it was wonderful. They did a fabulous job! Everything was delicious and we ate until we were miserable!! The menu was traditional American Thanksgiving and we really enjoyed everyone's company.

It was truly a wonderful vacation and we can't wait to go back!!

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#32269 - 12/12/00 09:56 PM Re: Trip Report
Parrothead Offline
Here is our restaurant ratings. I don't know if this formatting will work because I just copied and pasted it from an Excel file so we'll see. If it doesn't line up, I'll figure out another way.


Ambergris Caye
Dining Guide

Pricing guideline: A=American prices M=Moderate L=Local; very inexpensive

Restaurant No. of Stars No. of Meals Pricing* Belikin Reg.? Comments
Celi's * * 1 A ? Good Atmosphere; Little Pricey; Flavor only good; Good service; portions kind of small for the price you pay
Los Cocos * * * * * 4 L n/a Hole in the wall local joint; slow when they're busy, but excellent; They cook one order at a time; Excellent, Excellent! Very, very inexpensive. Can't say enough! Our favorite!
The Reef * * * * 1 M Y Very good food and service; large portions
Cannibals * * * * 2 A Y American Menu - Potatoes, salads, burgers at American prices. No locals here. Breakfast is better.
Rubies * * * * * 6 L n/a As my dive boat captain said "This island would shut down if Rubies ever closed"; get there early, they sell out!
BC's BBQ * * * * 2 M Y Everybody is right! The BBQ is delicious! Fairly priced, fun bar!
Waruguma * * * * 2 L n/a Excellent food and prices; you'll be the only gringo there as we were
Fido's * * * 1 A N A little to touristy for our taste; expensive compared to other places in San Pedro; popular night spot
Estelle's * * * 1 A ? Great atmosphere, right on the beach; food was good; American pricing
Mickey's * * * 1 M ? Food was good and tasty; only thing holding Mickey's back to us is price when compared to Los Cocos and The Reef
Hideaway * * * * 3 M Y The Texas ladies are good cooks! BBQ was not quite as good as BC's; their kitchen wasn't open yet; had delicious biscuits and fabulous Thanksgiving feast!
Jambel Jerk Pit * * * * * 2 M Y Yummy! Yummy! Yummy! Love that Jerk cooking! Even the Coconut Curry Chicken had a kick to it; friendly; chicken dishes are the best.
Lily's * * * 1 M Y Food was tasty & probably a little cheaper than other beachfront places; view is right into Amigos Dive shop; we had particularly aggressive flies
Papi's Diner * * * * * 1 L Y Food is excellent! Papi will take good care of you. Keep walking, don't turn around, you didn't miss it; even has a wood floor!
Street Cart Ladies * * * * 1 L n/a Very, very tasty! A lot of food at less than local pricing! Better than Celi's and Pam had the exact same food.
Elvi's ? - - - Major damage; a would-be waiter said they'll be open Dec 15; they have a long way to go
Lions' Club BBQ * * * * * 1 L Y Wow! Delicious and half a BBQ chicken w/beans, slaw & tortilla all for $4.50BZ! Plus, the money goes to a good cause. Fri & Sat. nights only
Ambergris Delight * * * 1 A ? Only had appetizers and drinks, but the service was friendly, food was good; no complaints
La Popular Bakery (around the corner from the Post Office) * * * * 4 L n/a Yummy! Great ham & cheese filled pastry things & delicious pineapple upside down cake!

Doesn't look the best but I think you guys can figure it out. I do see that we left off the pricing legend so I added it at the top.

Parrothead.


[This message has been edited by Parrothead (edited 12-12-2000).]

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#32270 - 12/12/00 10:24 PM Re: Trip Report
Brion Offline
Thanks Parrothead! I'm leaving on Thursday for my first trip, the restaurant ratings are awesome! I can't wait! I copied 'em back to Excel, formatted and printed it, it's coming to the island with me. Now I know I won't starve. Thanks again!!!

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#32271 - 12/13/00 12:24 AM Re: Trip Report
mina Offline
I have to also add that Caruso's at the Sunbreeze Hotel was outstanding for reasonable Italian food! We went two nights in a row...also Capricorn was good, though extremely expensive to get to and to enjoy. We also enjoyed Jambel's Jerk Pit but didn't like Fido's or Celi's all that much, very average food.

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#32272 - 12/13/00 12:34 AM Re: Trip Report
geral Offline
Sorry to hear about Elvi's Kitchen... That place was my Number ONE recommendation!!! I hope it will be up and running by Dec 26!

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#32273 - 12/13/00 07:33 PM Re: Trip Report
caribbean soul Offline
Thanks for the great trip report,....we will be in A.C. Jan 8-18th. I am looking out the window at snow and can hardly wait. The restaurant guide you included will be helpful I am sure as we like the local hangouts. Glad to hear you enjoyed your stay at the Mayan Princess as that is the hotel we will be headed for too,....have been a little worried about the downtown location,and the hustle and bussle that has to exhist around the docks and Fido's (Of coarse I am one of "those" who can worry about most anything.)
Did you take any trips to Caye Caulker? We snorkle and are looking at all the options for day trips. Would like to try diving but have been having too much trouble with my ears post bronchitis to risk screwing them up more. Maybe they will be better by then.
You said you looked at properties. We too are looking for a change of latitude for our retirement years. Don't know if we can afford on A.C. but maybe Belize coast. Did you look at any of that? I just need to be WARM and near the water.
I'm anxious to meet local people and see if maybe I can fit in, have been trying out different islands. This may be the place for an old want-to-be Hippy and Buffett fan.
Thanx again for all your info.

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#32274 - 12/13/00 07:48 PM Re: Trip Report
CHOOCHOO Offline
Caribbean Soul,

Where in Indiana? You've got a lot of local info right there. We know several other Hoosier couples who have been going for over 20 years.

CC

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#32275 - 12/13/00 10:50 PM Re: Trip Report
ScubaLdy Offline
Parrothead
Thanks so much for the restaurant table (pun intended). However, I can't seem to move it into Excel. How about sending it as an attachment to http://www.egroups.com/group/BELIZELOVERS
if you are not already on the list just put in a request to subscribe and I'll activate you.
I know a lot of people would find this very helpful. I would like to be able to e-mail it to the 5 people coming with me in January.

You wrote:
it's not easy catching a chicken (or rooster).

Trivia that even Regis doesn't know.

Being an old country girl I would like to let you know that roosters are chickens, as are hens who are female chickens.
To catch a chicken put some feed in a bucket, pan, etc. and hold it in your left hand (if you are right handed) the chicken will come over to eat (chickens are very stupid) and you slip your right hand around it's belly, be sure and keep the beak pointing away from your body.
_________________________
Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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#32276 - 12/14/00 12:19 AM Re: Trip Report
Parrothead Offline
ScubaLdy: Good advice that I will definately use next time I'm trying to catch a chicken! :-)

I emailed the Excel file. You should have it by now. Have fun on your trip!

Parrothead.

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#32277 - 12/14/00 04:43 AM Re: Trip Report
Marty Online   happy
Nice restaurant report Parrothead, I'd love to have the excel file too!
marty@casado.net

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