Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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#80229 - 02/12/04 06:20 PM Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
Bobber Offline
Sat, Jan 31. Got up at 4:30, temp is -17 here in Minneapolis. Loaded the 6 of us (Myself, my wife Dianne, her sister Patti, Pattiís husband Denny, my son Rob and his friend Kevin) into Pattiís Ford van with luggage and headed off to the airport. With delays in DFW, we got into BZE about 4 in the afternoon. Some gringo misappropriated one of our pieces of luggage, but brought it back about a half hour later, so we were delayed there. Patti and Denny had all their stuff so they caught Tropic to AC while the rest of us had to wait for the last flight. Beautiful flight to the island as usual. When we hit the ground, Patti and Denny had already checked us in at The Palms, and Denny met me at the luggage area with a cold Belikin. . Hauled the luggage over to the Palms, about a hundred yards, and checked into one of the upper executive suites. Much better accommodations than I would have expected. Our unit had 2 bedrooms and two baths, with a great view of the beach. By this time it was about 6:30 and we were starving, so we did an initial unpack and headed up the beach to Calientes. Had an extremely good meal, preceded by an order of the best conch fritters I have ever had. Calientes gets a thumbs up. Only negative was the use of spiced rum in the rum punch, which my wife doesnít care for. Wandered slowly back to the Palms and finished unpacking.

Sunday, Feb 1. Up about 4:30, couldnít sleep any longer . Had coffee on the veranda and just hung out until the sun came up. Headed to Estels for breakfast with the always necessary great fry jacks. Smiled a lot. Monchos sent a couple of carts over for us and we headed south on a sightseeing tour. Canít believe how much the area has grown. Stopped in a couple of places and walked the beach and just looked at things. Saw a number of iguanas from the road as we sped (?) past, and even a big black snake crossed the road directly in front of us. Waved at everyone and they waved back.. Had a great time soaking up the sunshine. Headed back north, over the cut and up to the Palapa bar. Got there ahead of the crowd and got good seats at the bar. One of the carts was just barely moving by the time we got there (no warning, it was good at the cut) so the bartender called Monchos and they had a replacement cart out there within a half hour. (tried to get gas carts, but none available when we needed them). Had a couple of big orders of nachos and beers as we waited for Dennis Wolfe to get going. He showed up by himself, but by that time a number of people were there to accompany him from the audience. One guy was good on the keyboards and his wife could really sing. Had a ball. He sang a song I had never heard before, probably one of his own composition, ďSave the ManateesĒ which was a hoot. Too bad it isnít on any of his CDís (bought both of them uptown a few days later, great entertainer). Headed back to the Palms late afternoon. Went to Papiís for dinner, probably one of our favorite spots to eat. Had some of the absolute best grilled snapper I have ever laid a tooth into (not big on fish anywhere but AC). Headed back and hit the beds about 8;00.

Monday, Feb 2. Estels for breakfast again. Did some snorkeling off Ramons pier. Surprised at the amount of fish hanging out under there. Also a big moray eel tucked under one of the woodpiles. Patti ďbrokeĒ her fins, short cheapies incompatible with her power strokes, so her and Denny went into town and picked up a set of split fins and booties. Dianne tried them and was so impressed that she had to have a pair also. Snorkeled and Denny and I dove Hol Chan (Denny had new gear he wanted to check out shallow before we hit the deep water) Then on to Shark/Ray alley. Rob had never been in the water with sharks before and he enjoyed the whole thing immensely. Had a boat and crew (Amigos del Mar) all to ourselves. Went to the Reef for dinner. They got rid of the linoleum and are back to a sand floor (good thing). Denny is convinced their stewed fish is the best around, and we all had a great meal.

Tuesday, Feb 3. Today is fishing day with Capt. Bicho for Dianne, Patti, Rob and Kevin. Went to Rubyís for Johnny Cakes before they were picked up (delicious as always, and cheap). Denny and I went for a stroll all the way up to Paradise Villas, where we normally have stayed, just to see what changes if any had occurred since our last visit. I see the Blue Tang had extended their grounds out a bit, and a lot of lush foliage around the pool area. Very nice. The Aquamarine also looked a lot more inviting now that it had occupants. The cemetery looks like it got a new fence and the whole thing had a lot of really nice looking monuments in it. Stopped in at Hustler and said hi to Billy, about the only familiar face we saw.
The fisher folk returned with a good pile of trigger fish and a few snappers , which Bicho and his son cleaned for us and tossed in a dozen small lobsters. These would be our late dinner. For a late lunch we popped over to Jerryís Crab Shack. Good food, but nothing spectacular. Went out and picked up the necessary additions for dinner. Got everything ready to cook and headed down to the barbecue (a converted to gas local thing). We had been warned to stand back when we lit it or we could lose a little hair. Fine and good, but when we fired it up, the burner was screwed up and it was pumping raw gas out so that the whole thing was a ball of flame even with the top closed. We tried finessing the control a bit but no luck. Finally turned everything off and it remained a ball of flame for another minute. Had to do everything in the oven, but it was still very good.

Wed. Feb 4. Estels for breakfast again. This seems to be our normal routine. Mark, Estels son, treats us well, nice guy. Paid our respects to Estel, we eat there so many times over the years that she is always glad to see us. Patty and Denny headed up north on a gas cart to see how far they could get. Made it as far as Sweet Basils before very heavy rain hit, so they pulled in and had a bite while they rode it out. The rain was so heavy they put up tarps, but then it came in through the roof a bit. Never stopped there before, but they said it was very good. The rest of us just hung out at the Palms and took naps and read. The rain cleared off and P and D headed north again and apparently made it all the way to Capricorn.. Another front moved in and they managed to stay ahead of it all the way back.. Dinner at El Patio. Also, never patronized them before. Pleasantly surprised, the rum punch and marguerites were excellent, as was the food. Great sautťed conch. and a great ambiance. Service was extremely good and the personnel were even a touch friendlier than the usual (where exceptional is the usual). Great salsa and chips.

Thur Feb 5. Patti, Denny and Rob went fishing with Vince Dawson (works out of Rubyís) We have fished with him for a number of years and always have enjoyed him very much, along with successful fishing. Came back with a number of snapper and grouper and a 3 ft Barracuda Denny caught (Rob also snagged a seagull who wanted to fight for the bait). They left the fish with Vince, as we still had leftovers from the last fishing trip. We surrendered the golf cart, and also had to move down to a 2 bedroom unit. Actually liked this even better although we went from a 2 bath to a 1.5 bath unit and the view was diminished a little. We now also had a rear veranda that didnít catch the breeze as much and better protection during rainy spells with a view of the pool.
Dinner at Cochina Caramba, which was pretty well recommended here on the board. Not impressed. The food was good, prices were reasonable, drinks good, but it didnít have the right feel. It was crowded, extremely noisy and brightly lit. More of an Americanized/Cancun feel to the place. A number of patrons were drunk and very loud, and some idiot wandered in with nothing on but a bathing suit (with a gut hanging over), carrying his own beer and loudly speaking with some of his buddies at one of the tables. Sorry, no second chance for a first impression.

Fri, Feb 6. Went out for the day with Bobby Holiday for a fishing/snorkeling/beach barbeque (set up by Ana at The Palms). Winds were high in the morning and vis was down on the seaside, so we headed into the north lagoon for fishing, putting off the snorkeling till last to see if things improved. Caught a whole bunch of snapper and headed for south Ambergris on the lagoon side for the barbeque. The wind was down quite a bit on that side, and Bobby cleaned the fish and threw in a lobster tail for each of us. Wrapped the whole thing in foil with his special touch and seasoning (we had started doing fish this way a few years back after a beach barbeque up at Basil Jones with Hustler crew. Everyone does it a touch differently). Added some spuds done up in foil and some coleslaw and tortillas and it was fantastic. Headed back through the cut and ended up snorkeling just inside the reef a little south of The Palms. Shallow spot, but very pretty and a lot of fish. Dinner at Ambergris Delight. First time here also, food very good.

Sat. Feb 7. Got up early and Patti, Denny and I walked the beach south almost as far as Banana Beach. Then back to Estels for breakfast. Lazy day today, sat around the pool and snorkeled Ramonís pier again. Walked around town and did a little shopping. Dinner again at El Patio, once again excellent.

Sun., Feb 8. Up early, Denny and I go out to Turneffe with Amigos, and Patti Dianne and Rob doing the Lamanai tour with Searious. Kevin stayed in to watch a movie.. Windy, rainy trip out to Turneffe., Heavy seas. Did the Elbow first (immensely big is the only way I can describe it), then into Calabash Caye for SI. The sun then came out for awhile and we then did the Calabash Wall. Pretty dive, awesome wall, lot of fish. Lunched at Calabash and it rained heavily, we were inside the dining hall there so we just waited it out. Off to north Turneffe for the final dive. Denny and I sat this one out, along with another seasick dude, the seas were heavy and it got cold The rest of the party came up exhausted. A long rough ride back but the Amigos crew handled it very well. Amigos is definitely a class act, rain gear for all. In spite of getting beat up by the weather and sea, we enjoyed the trip immensely and the dives were great.
The group to Lamanai also hit the rain. They enjoyed their trip also, and their main gripe was a few fellow passengers who were outraged that the fig vines were strangling innocent trees and the locals were burning sugar cane and creating smoke polluting our atmosphere, and why couldnít the government do something to stop it. Heavy sigh, some people just donít get it. Apparently these were the same people who didnít even tip the tour crew. Patti spent most of the trip biting her tongue. Thatís a first. Got back to the Palms about 6:00, showered and cleaned (and warmed) up, we grabbed a cab to Papiís for dinner. Up to the usual great standard. Friday we had arranged with Estel to get a key lime pie for Saturday. Mark delivered it to the Palms in the afternoon, so we had great key lime pie for desert when we got back from Papiís.

Mon. Feb 9. Our last day. Estels for breakfast, returned the pie pan. Got packed up amongst heavy sighs. Ferreted a number of bottles of Belikin into the luggage. Settled up with Ana and headed off to the airport for the noon flight. Routed through Miami from BZE and got our luggage checked by extended security in customs. They did a swab of our luggage and apparently the sand set off their detector. No problem, just a little extra time. The young lady inspecting found the Belikin and just asked ďgood stuff?Ē, I nodded and she repacked it, no problem. Minneapolis was at +18, and we made it back to the house without freezing.

Notes, observations and snapshots in time:

The Palms exceeded our expectations. Ana and the staff are very accommodating and delightful. Groundskeepers and housekeeping included. Good Job.

Amigos del Mar. A very professional and enjoyable outfit to deal with. We have used other operators in our previous trips, and they were all good and competent, but ADM seems to go just a little further in anticipating situations and ensuring you enjoy yourself. Good crews, fun and friendly.

Estels for Breakfast, Four Stars as usual
Rubyís Johnnycakes Four Stars
Belikin Four Stars
Best Snapper Papiís, with El Patio a close second
Best Conch El Patio
Best Conch Fritters Caliente
Best Lobster Caliente
Best Stewed Fish The Reef
The Palms Four Stars, with a special thanks to the staff.
Amigos del Mar Four Stars
Best dude we just
Happened to get
Associated with Bobby Holiday
Best t-shirt an 8 year old (give or take) pudgy girl with a t-shirt sporting an
American flag with the words ďtry burning this one, asshole.Ē

Observations: In spite of the JJW concert, not as many people as we have seen
Previously. Never saw Elviís more than half full. Dive outfits
And tour operators say business is down since the first of the
Year. A lot more cabs around. A lot more folks strolling
Around with a beer in hand with just a bathing suit (in town).
Groups of intoxicated people even bringing their own beer into
Restaurants.

Nonetheless, had a fantastic trip. The people there were fantastic as usual. Sorry I didnít get to meet any boarders, I did have the best intentions of meeting some at BCs Sunday, but went diving instead. Till next time.
_________________________
Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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#80230 - 02/12/04 06:48 PM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
MN Jeff Offline
Bobber- Great report! You picked a good stretch of days to get out of the twin cities, cold as heck, and lots of snow. Let me know if you need help finishing off those Belikins.....mine are all gone, but I still have a healthy supply of One Barrel... wink

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#80231 - 02/12/04 07:02 PM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
mobunny Offline
Really great report. Excited to once again hear good things about the Palms. We are stying there for two weeks this August. Thanks! mobunny cool

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#80232 - 02/12/04 08:38 PM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
captjeff Offline
great post ,you guys had fun .life is short.. and now you have all these wonderful memories wich are priceless ..glad you got to live the dream !!!!!! and boy did you enjoy !!!!!!! do it as much as you can ,and as long as you can .....
_________________________
Living The Dream Every Day!

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#80233 - 02/12/04 10:25 PM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
Laurie Offline
Sounds like a great trip. We are staying at the Palms in May and from your report I think we made an excellent choice.

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#80234 - 02/13/04 12:40 AM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
mikell Offline
great report bobber...thanks for all the dining and tour tips...and the info about snorkeling at ramon's pier...we plan to try that for sure.

soon we will be the ones up at 4:30 a.m. waiting for the sun to come up with our coffee on the balcony! can relate to that...we are early risers...must be something about not wanting to miss minute of sunlight ...living in this cold and mostly grey winter climate!

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#80235 - 02/13/04 12:57 AM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
Bobber Offline
Will post the pics when I get them all assembled. As I stated before, we usually stayed at Paradise villas, and I will admit the Palms was a little more comfey. The units had more room in the common areas and more than one bathroom. And a better view. The pool area in the back is pretty and well laid out. In spite of being more private, it does get sun most of the day but shade is available. Nice place to kick back. The back of the building and pool area are separated from the street by a storage yard for Ramons, so the traffic noise isn't very noticable. I like the place, probably request it next time also.
_________________________
Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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#80236 - 02/13/04 04:52 PM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
Sam Scuba Offline
Hey Bobber, Thanks for the trip report. My husband and I will be at The Palms in one week, our third trip, and I enjoyed visualizing your descriptive views from the condos, your walks down the beach, and your various delicious meals. Although we have considered staying at other places each year, we always end up booking at The Palms. The staff are wonderful there and the condos are very comfortable. We like to dive with Ramon's so that is very convenient. We are definitely looking forward to sharing some of your experiences in San Pedro very soon. I look forward to your photos.

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#80237 - 02/13/04 06:02 PM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
Mel S Offline
Excellent report ! Thanks for writing it up so we could share your adventures. best-wishes, mel.
_________________________
Mel Sinderman

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#80238 - 02/13/04 10:23 PM Re: Trip Report, Jan 31 to Feb 9
Chloe Offline
Bobber loved your trip report, due to enjoying myself so many of your favorites on Ambergris.

Good to hear Reef has gone back to sand floor, instead of that christmas linoleum.
_________________________
Dare To Deviate

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