Why Belize? That’s the question so many asked when we announced our destination for our vacation in February. Unless you are a dedicated diver/snorkeler, it seems that most sun worshippers have yet to discover this paradise and many don’t even know where it is.
Having taken to the underwater world in a big way for my first time last winter in Jamaica, I was hooked on snorkeling. Alan already had a love of sea life and a passion for reefs. The Belize barrier reef was calling him and a need to escape another upstate New York winter, if only for 10 days, made the decision easy. For us, Ambergris Caye combined so many elements of a perfect winter getaway. Answers, advice and encouragement received on this message board confirmed our decision again and again.
Over the last days of February, after a brutal January with plenty of winter still on our horizon, we were able to answer the question - why, out of all the hot, sunny places a traveller can visit on this planet did we choose a place many can’t even point to on a map. We have also become unofficial ambassadors, singing its praises to any and all who will listen to our stories and endure another link to an online photo album.
(This is my story...to be told in several parts...with a link to all our photos online soon)
We left Rochester, NY early in the morning with snow falling and waited for plane de-icing on the runway. We arrived about 6 hours later in Belize City after a very brief stop in Charlotte, NC. A Tropic Air flight was leaving immediately, so we only had a glimpse of the airport as we hurried through customs and boarded the plane. The last seat left was beside the pilot. I eagerly accepted the invitation and we were airborn for the last 15 minutes of our journey to San Pedro.
Breathtaking colour…our first glimpse of the cayes.
Touchdown and feel the tropic heat. We are really only a few degrees from the equator. One of our two bags didn’t make the connection and we have to wait 15 minutes for the next plane to bring it. No problem – we’re on Belize time now!
A quick taxi ride through town, soaking in the sights, and we’re checking in to Banana Beach with huge smiles on our faces - matched by those of the wonderful staff who were so accomodating during our stay. Step into our room and head for the balcony and the view we will have for over a week. Don’t pinch me; if this is a dream, they don’t come any better!
We change into beach attire, order dirty bananas from the beachside bar and just sit there in the full sun to decompress in silence and awe - with the sun, breeze and knowing looks from others on the beach who have been there awhile.
Eventually, we realize we aren’t dreaming and we have time to walk the beach and search for a place to eat our first meal. We head north with nothing but 10 days stretching ahead of us and no hurry. We pass all the resorts we have seen reviewed and recommended. The reality seeing them up close makes me point and say, “Oh, look – there’s the Crazy Cannuck’s Bar… Ramon’s…” and on and on.
It’s still fairly early and our chosen spot – Blue Water Grill – isn’t open for dinner yet. So we find Mango’s with it’s open air palapa and great view more than inviting. A fresh fish meal is what I’m after and the bacon cajun snapper dinner doesn’t disappoint me. Alan orders a burger which is only OK…but the environment we’re eating in makes up for anything the cuisine lacks (he doesn’t generally rave about food anyway, and unlike me, eating is NOT a passion with him).
As the sunlight begins to fade (and our energy as well), we head back down the beach towards “home”. Oh, to experience a hot “summer” night in February, the walk is a delight. We go for a quick swim in the pool, sit out on the balcony for awhile and we’re in bed by 9:30. Tomorrow will be our first full day and we’ll surely be up before the sun…
To be continued…