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#428816 - 01/26/12 07:54 PM Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me
lakerat Offline
Dear Hubby (DH) and I have returned for our 6th or 7th (depending on who you ask) One week only this time, so we knew we had to pack a lot in a little time. †Here's how it's gone so far:

The AA flight from Tulsa to DFW started out badly because a passenger saw a puff of smoke come out the engine. †Delayed about 40 minutes (it was exhaust), I called ahead and let DFW know we would be delayed. †After landing, we took the train instead of walking, as recommended by the crew. †Ran from the train to our gate where they were holding our flight and greeted us with smiling faces. †We apologized to everyone on board and were pleasantly surprised how supportive and friendly they all were. †The flight from DFW to BZE was uneventful. †Landed and found out none of our bags made it on the plane...went to Miami, Florida instead. †Yikes!!! †Checked in with the lost baggage desk and were assured our bags would be on a Tropic Air flight the next morning at 11. †(yea right) †We quickly made it through entry, purchased items from duty free, then went through customs with no problems. †Got to the Tropic Air desk to check in. † Remember at Tropic, all your bags are checked except for the small personal carry ons, so shift whatever you are uncomfortable with checking out of your carry ons. †The planes are small the there is little room, except on your lap. †At the plane, customs handed us our duty free items. The Tropic flight was uneventful, but provided gorgeous views, as usual. †

Walked a couple of blocks from the Tropic terminal to our condo and checked in, assured they would go get our bags at the Tropic terminal the next day and deliver to our room. †I'm about 50-50 on whether all these moving parts are going to end up in our favor. †

Our unit was glorious, as usual †(more on that later), but we don't have time to enjoy it. †Quick shower, change out of flight clothes, and hoof it to Wet Willys for the cocktail party, meet and greet, for those of us with tickets to attend Jerry Jeff Walker's †'Camp Belize' this week. †It's always fun talking, drinking rum punch, and hanging out on day 1. †Stopped on the way back at Lily's on the beach and shared conch ceviche. †Delicious! †Ordered rum punch, but did not like them. †

Made our way back to the condo, spent some time relaxing on the balcony breathing in the night air, listening to the wind blow the palm trees, trying to forget the hubbub that is life back home, the lost luggage, slowing our pace, realizing our hearts never left this magical place. (to borrow a phrase from a JJW song)...

Hey come away to Belize with me, show you how simple life can be
Long hazy days in the sun,†
Where it seems everyone has a smile when we meet
Under blue skies and emerald seas, warm winds and those coconut trees
They say your heart never leaves, once you've been down to Belize

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#428824 - 01/26/12 09:47 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: lakerat]
tahunt Offline
Sorry to hear about your bags missing. If you want to PM me your last name and bag tag numbers I can keep you updated with the status of your bags. American does scan bags so I can tell you when to expect your bags.

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#428870 - 01/27/12 02:31 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: tahunt]
lakerat Offline
Day 2 Beautiful sunrise, not much wind...we really wanted to do a couple of dives this morning, but all our gear went on vacation to Miami:) Instead, we took a long, refreshing walk on the beach and ended up at Estels for breakfast. Huevos Rancheros with fry jacks was the perfect way to start the day. It was delicious!

After walking to the Isla grocery store, where locals shop, (south of the big, pink market) we did some price comparisons on our way back. It was cheaper by about 30 per cent on the items we purchased.

Back at our condo to check on our bags, we were shocked to get a call at 11 ish that they were at Tropic and on the way!!! One of the bags contained school supplies we will be donating, so we rented a golf cart. The cart and bags were delivered 10 minutes later! They delivered them to our room and we left, deciding it would be more fun visiting the school and touring the island than unpacking so off we went.

Heading north, we passed by many of our favorite places and finally made it to the bridge. It costs $10 bz for the round trip. Just over the bridge on the left is Holy Cross School, a private school, where the supplies will be going. Being a former teacher, it does my heart good to see so much emphasis on education on this tiny island. There are MANY choices here, including one academy that has the reputation for being the finest in Central America.

After dropping off the supplies and chatting with Miss Linda, we kept heading north, ruts and all, to check out all the new construction and old favorites. Very fun.

Drove back to town and ate at our favorite restaurant, Elvies. It was just OK this time because their new afternoon menu did not have any of our favorites on it. We shared chrispy fish tacos. They were good, but small portion size. We really wanted conch ceviche, but all they had was Italian ceviche...really?

Drove south to the lagoon, looked for crocs, and drove back to our condo. Gotta get unpacked and get gear ready for the next day's dive. It was a fun and rewarding day and, although tired, we are energized by the island vibe and ready to take on the week.

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#428902 - 01/27/12 10:54 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: lakerat]
lakerat Offline
Day 3 First dive of the trip, we decide to go inside the reef to Hol Chan for a check out dive. We had bought a package of 5 2-tank dives each with Ramones with our condo. It turned out to be a fabulous dive! At only 29 feet, we stayed about 50 minutes and saw nurse sharks, an eagle ray, tons of sting rays, reef fish galore, and more eels than I've ever seen on a dive before. Afterwards, our dive master took us to Shark Ray Alley to snorkel, which was a big surprise. We had no idea we were going there, but we went with the flow. He chummed the water with fish which attracted about 20 or so sharks and 5-10 rays. We then jumped in with our snorkel to get up close and personal. Not a fan of this type of situation. Enough said.

Came back to the dock, washed our gear, laid it out on our veranda, and rushed to the nearest restaurant, Blue Water Grill. Lunch was about over, but they let us order anyway. We both got the fish sandwich and it was delicious. Not sure if it was really the food or if we were sooooo hungry. Tired also, we took the longest nap ever. Dive, eat, sleep....that's my kind of a vacation.

It was time to get ready for our first Jerry Jeff concert at Wet Willys so we had to hurry, which I DON'T like to do on vacation. The way it works is this...get there with pre paid laminates around 4, find some masking tape and a marker, locate a chair you wish to sit in for the concert and write your name on the tape and stick on the chair. That is your reserved seat! You are then free to go eat dinner somewhere and be back at 7 for the concert. We met some other people from Oklahoma, started chatting, and decided to stay at Wet Willys for their authentic Belizian meal of stew chicken, stew beans and rice, slaw, and chip and salsa. At $10 US, I thought it was a bit over priced, but really good food.

Promptly at 7, JJW appeared and started playing. He had a cold and the sound system was not set right, but we all enjoyed it very much anyway. He quit early because he simply could not sing any longer. We stayed for a short while and listened to Dennis Wolf, which was great. A good time was had by all. Slept like a baby.

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#428903 - 01/27/12 10:55 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: lakerat]
lakerat Offline
Day 4 Went to Ramone's to check in for diving. They put 5 guys and me together as a group and off we went. It was quite choppy, but we assured our dive master none of us get seasick so we carried on. 7-10 foot swells greeted us beyond the reef! We went diving once in St. Marten with 10-12 foot sweets and half the boat got seasick, so I was apprehensive. Thankfully, nobody got sick, but our next worry is getting in and out of the boat in those conditions.

After a back roll off the boat, we gathered at about 35 feet and started toward The Canyons. Our first swim thru was at 92 feet, which was fun. The rest of the dive was just ok. A couple of sharks and another eagle ray were about the extent of it. The reef does not look as healthy as usual to us, which might be why more sea life isn't present. Everyone came up to 15 feet for our 3 minute safety stop before surfacing, then the fun began. They threw a line out so we could stay with the boat. As we inched out way toward the boat, one by one, they crew took off our BCD's and tanks, then we had to hold on to the ladder while removing our fins. Everyone made it back on board, but with a few bruises from the ladder.

Instead of going out for another dive in the treacherous waves, we all decided to go back to Hol Chan, inside the reef, since we'd had such a great dive earlier. Big mistake! This time, the water was murky and the current was REALLY strong...trying to pull divers out beyond the reef. I let air out of my BCD and got down on the bottom and belly crawled against the current. No way could I have finned my way back to the boat. Everyone was exhausted and to make matters worse, we didn't see much this time. DH did have an encounter with a big eel who didn't want his picture taken, however.

Back at the dock, gear washed, we were again starving. This time, we remembered a little place near our condo that advertised whole fish, which we love. Went there and for $13 BZ, we got the delicious fish plus coconut rice, stew beans, plantains, and coleslaw. It was wonderful! Exhausted, we took another long nap, read, and really enjoyed our veranda. About dark, we took a walk down the beach to Hurricanes to listen to Barefoot Skinny. We shared a seafood platter, which was divine and enjoyed the music very much. Another fun day!

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#428904 - 01/27/12 10:56 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: lakerat]
lakerat Offline
Day 5 Ramone's cancels all diving due to the wind, so we borrowed bicycles from our condo and rode south, stopping along the way to go check out the beach resorts. Went all the way to the lagoon to see if there were crocs, but couldn't find any. We stopped at Maria's for something to drink, checked a few prices, and decided this is the place to shop for groceries next time.

After several hours of bike riding, it was again time to shower and walk to Wet Willys to reserve our seats. Got our same seats, visited with some great people, then went in search of pupuas in town. Evidently, there is quite a rivalry with two small restaurants across the street from each other. One store was in the middle of remodeling so we went to the one across the street, Waruguma. Ordering a lobster and a chicken pupuas to share, we enjoyed the local flavor of the place while waiting. We did not enjoy them at all and wished we had ordered the huge burrito or even bigger seafood ceviche to share instead.

Walked back to Wet Willys, visited with several people, then, again, promptly at 7 JJW began. He was in rare form! Voice strong and clear, guitar picking and playing exceptional, and very funny comments made this concert our all time favorite. Afterwards, he invited everyone to take pictures with him and he signed our laminates. VERY fun day!!!

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#428948 - 01/28/12 04:54 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: lakerat]
Seachange Offline
Sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for keeping us posted!

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#428956 - 01/28/12 06:18 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: Seachange]
lakerat Offline
Day 6 The wind died down so today is a dive day!!! We plan to do 3, one at 9 followed by a surface interval back at the dock, one at 11, followed by a SI, and the final one at 2. We have several to make up because of our lost luggage on day 1 and the canceled dives yesterday so we plan 3 today and 2 tomorrow.

This time it's 8 guys and me. We head for The Canyon Reef dive site near the Canyons, which we did the other day. 4-5 foot swells are more manageable today so we start gearing up when my dive buddy (DH) notices my pressure gauge cap is loose. Uh oh! This is the gauge that tells you how much air is left in the tank. The dive master said it was ok to go ahead and dive, but just stick close to my buddy, so I do a back roll off the boat and start my descent. We cannot descend! I try all the tricks, nada! DH is having the same problem so we decide to abort because by this time we and the boat has drifted far away from the launch site and we don't want everyone waiting on us. The driver of the boat talks us in to letting him drive us back to where the others are and dropping us in. Mistake number 2... we agreed.

We've already burned a lot of air trying to descend, are tired from fighting the waves on top and taking off our gear and climbing in the boat, but we gear back up and back roll back in. Descent works this time, but my gear is not right and in our hurry, we forgot to defog our masks, and we are now tired from finning to our awaiting group of divers...mistakes numbers 3, 4, 5, etc. I am uncomfortable the rest of the dive because I worry about my air pressure gauge, mask is fogged, and my regulator is under another line so it's tight. Thankfully, this dive is over and back to Ramone's dock we go. In the boat, we find out others have had the same problem with the weights on descent, but got weights from the dive master for their pockets. We quickly decide, this is not our idea of diving for fun so cancel our dives for the rest of the day and week. We are spoiled by liveaboard diving and will come back in December for a week of fun diving on the Sun Dancer. Lesson learned about cattle boat diving!

Back on land, we are starving, so we go back to the little place by the condo. It is Dianeita's Restaurant. It's hot inside, so we take our food to go and enjoy our jerk pork chops, coconut rice and beans, slaw and plantains in the comfort and air conditioning of our condo. Delicious!

Another long nap and reading later, we hit the beach for a walk. After checking several places, we decided to try Carumba! In town, it had been recommended to us by some people at the JJW concert. It did not disappoint! Fun atmosphere, clean, great service, and amazing food...it has become our new favorite. The rum punch and conch ceviche was exactly like we like it. There were two menu pages of various preparations for whole fish, our favorite meal here. We finally settled on coconut/garlic with fries and potato salad. Delicious! We are going back today for another version of whole fish and hoping to save room for Key Lime pie this time.

This day was full of ups and downs, but in the end, was perfect! We reestablished why liveaboards are the only way to go for true dive fanatics like us and found a new favorite restaurant. Both reminded us of how much we appreciate individuals who risk their money and establish businesses, work hard to earn our business and OUR hard earned money, and thrive in the free market.

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#428959 - 01/28/12 07:28 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: lakerat]
PSUhorty Offline
Originally Posted By: lakerat
We cannot descend! I try all the tricks, nada! DH is having the same problem

Don't understand... how can one not descend? What would cause this short of a malfunctioning BCD or the absence of a weight belt?

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#428962 - 01/28/12 08:42 PM Re: Real Time Trip Report-Come Away To Belize With Me [Re: PSUhorty]
lakerat Offline
We had asked for the same weight in our integrated pouches as the previous dives and believe it was not done. After putting the correct amount in, we descended without a problem.

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