Okay, I’ve been meaning to do this since we got home. It is really long (sorry Marty!) and I left out so much. It’s been two weeks and the tan is fading, but the memories linger strong. . .
Thurs 9/2/04 Can hardly concentrate at work. Manage to get through the day’s depositions and pray I asked all the right questions. Head home, load up the car, kiss the dog good-bye and drive to LAX. No need to stop for dinner on the way - we’ll just eat at the airport - NOT! Arrive at the airport a good 2½ hours before our flight and stand in the TACA line for about an hour. By the time we get checked in at TACA clear security and find our way to their terminal located waaaaay off the beaten path (with food nowhere in sight), another 45 minutes has passed and it already feels like we’ve left the country. We stand in another line until they load us like cattle onto one of those little buses where we stand for another half an hour until they cart us even further away from the main airport. Get off the bus and onto the plane. Our flight takes off on time at 2 am - by 2 am, who needs food? The seats were considerably wider than most domestic flights and there were lots of empty ones so we stretched out and went to sleep. The food cart woke us up - wish I’d stayed asleep - that was the worst sandwich I’ve ever had, but that’s the only complaint I have about TACA and I’ll be flying w/ them again. Change planes in El Salvador and an hour later we’re at Belize International and it’s 9am Friday morning.
Fri 9/3 First things first - loose the jacket! Clear customs, no problems with the school/library supplies, but lots of interest in the salami packed in my carry -on. Stop by the counter at Maya Island Air and drop off a box of school supplies to be flown to Debbie in Dangriga. One less piece of luggage. Grab a cab and head for the water taxi. The Taiwanese premier is in town so there’s a 20 minute wait in traffic - so glad the taxi has air conditioning! Wait around for a bit at the water taxi station, buy some plantain chips from an adorable kid (the first of many) and chat with the locals. Grab our seats on the water taxi and off we go. Love that breeze! Chat w/ Colin, a tour guide from the mainland, and get the rundown on each Caye as we pass including the whole Battle of St George history. Learn that large people in Belize are not fat - they’re fluffy! Arrive in San Pedro, taxi to Banana Beach, love our room, love our welcome rum punch even more! Check out the hotel grounds, unpack, then more rum punch. Meet timalpr & wife (Tim & Wendy) who tell us about feeding the crocs and invite us for a ride on their golf cart. Out to the swamps - what an experience! - hope my pictures post - that Manuel is one brave kid. Into town for dinner - just made the BBQ at the Lion’s Club - yummy. Walking back saw the beauty queen contestants on the stage at the central park.
Sat 9/4 Sleep in - (maid arrives - can you come back later?) yummy late breakfast at El Divino then off to get the lay of the land. Great beach walk, more rum punch, first Belikin - not impressed - back to rum punch. Check out the shops, pick out fabric and skirt style at Isla Bonita - “you can pick it up in two hours!” Stop in at Fido’s, check out the shops, make a few purchases and give the Belikin another try - Hey this stuff’s not so bad . . . Dinner somewhere - can’t remember where, but it was good ‘cause we never had a bad meal. Off to Coconuts - Wizausse, where are you?
Sun 9/5 Mass at St Georges - definitely loooonger than in the states - very old-school priest, that Father Jim, but very welcoming. Back to the room, into shorts and off to B.C.’s Walked along the beach - long walk, boy were we thirsty! Vic had the seafood combo, I had the meat combo - leftovers abound! Great value on the food, but how did that bar tab get sooooo big? Started yelling “Is there a Ron & Heather here?” Wizausse wave from across the bar! Decide we’ll hook up for dinner later in the week. No dinner that night - too full from lunch. Just more rum punch . . .
Mon 9/6 Off to the library to drop off some supplies. Met Emma and Iracela, the librarian, and got some great tips on more things to see and do. Off to Lili’s for lunch, another stroll through San Pedro town. Back for a dip in Banana Beach’s great pool, nap, Papi’s for dinner - I can still taste that grilled lobster . . . Popped in at the Palace, cute, dropped the obligatory $20 on the slots - what no free rum punch?
Tues 9/7 Time to learn to drive a golf cart - that reverse stuff is kinda tricky
Drove south to the end, coming North saw Victoria House and decided we needed to check it out - they obliged w/ a tour and if money were no object, I’d have to think hard about giving up my comfy room at Banana Beach! North to the hand pulled ferry, Sweet Basil’s closed for the season
, signed in at the Palapa Bar - great view of the reef, chatted w/ the owner of Rendezvous at the bar at Journey’s End - coldest Belikins on the Island, drove North as far as the golf cart would go - lots of new construction (don’t tell the rental place - learned later we weren’t supposed to go that far!) Saw the HUGEST, most GINORMOUS iguana on the road, gave the Portofino matre’d a ride to work, headed for the ferry about the same time as the construction crews, so we loaded up the golf cart with as many as could fit for a ride back to the ferry and more great advice on things to see and do. Note to self: just because a golf cart has a roof doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen. Who knew a left arm could get so red? Picked up our first 5 gallons of water at Nancy’s supermarket. Late afternoon massage with Carrie at Sol Spa - sooooo fine. Cooked pasta in the room w/ the leftovers from B.C.’s.
Wed 9/8 Water taxi to Caye Caulker, walked around in the rain, ducked into a little cafe for the best coffee and banana bread, walked through the cemetery, talked to a lot of very friendly locals, lunch at a beachfront restaurant, Sea Beeez I think, tasty lobster quesadillas, more cold Belikins, please! Back to San Pedro, shower, met up with Ron & Heather at Casa Picasso for a dinner that defies adjectives - and dessert that was even better - not to mention those divine martinis. Met Chris and James, such nice guys! Introduced myself from the board and Chris recognized the name and got the explanation/definition.
Thurs 9/9 7am water taxi to Belize City - meet up w/ Colin and we’re off to Lamani. Shipyard - the Mennonite village, was especially interesting to me as I am Mennonite. The river was beautiful, the ruins a must see, my husband the history buff was in heaven! The lunch was so good, the mosquitos were so bad, the termites were frightening, the howler monkeys adorable, the toucans unbelievably bright, the “tourist tree” hilarious and the new museum a nice surprise. Full day, an unscheduled tour back through and around Belize City - oops, we missed the last water taxi! Taxi drives like mad to muni and we catch the last Tropic Air flight back to San Pedro. Why should I be nervous that the pilot is reading a book instead of looking at the air in front of him? We land, exhausted, but happy, tuna sandwiches in the room and HBO for the evening!
Fri 9/10 St George’s Day - small parade in town, lazy day at the hotel, in the pool, on the beach, first novel down - three more to go! Dinner at Carumbas - ceviche on the house - hey, Ron & Heather again! They join us and clue us in on the free rum punch - apparently always available, but ya gotta ask for it. Dinner was great, dessert not so much - who needs dessert, another rum punch please!
Sat 9/11 Story time at the library. The kids were so cute and so talkative and like kids everywhere, so ready for grown-up attention just for them. Definitely one of the highlights of my time in San Pedro. Lots of stories, a couple of bags of Hershey Kisses and out to the beach to blow bubbles. Thanks to the boarder (whoever you are) who gave me that idea! Marty, thank you so much for the article in the paper - that was so generous and I can’t tell you how special. More time in town, tacos from the street vendors, coconut ice cream at Celi’s Deli (too late for meat pies - come back tomorrow!) another dip in the pool and Jambel Jerk Pit for dinner - how do they do that? Where can I get that seasoning - that stuff is great! We sat by the door and started calling people in off the street, telling ‘em this was the place for dinner. I loved the framed article from the Washington Post - the description of the semi-comatose island dogs was perfect!
Sun 9/12 Mass? Oops - overslept. Air conditioner went out, move to the room next door. Back to BC’s - pork chops, please! Another dip in the pool. Too full for dinner, microwave popcorn and more HBO!
Mon 9/13 Woke to the sound of waves - wait, there are no waves here. Walked out to the beach in my PJs to see - you guessed it - waves!!! Really BIG WAVES!! Our share of Ivan, no snorkeling today. Beach walk instead. How many conch shells can you take home? (My extra bags held 8 no problem!) Another afternoon in the pool, so glad I brought that blow up raft! 2nd novel down. Down to El Divino for appetizers - quesadillas and nachos and more rum punch and Hey! The electricity went out, can you still make rum punch? Yeah? All right then, who needs electricity? Back upstairs for Monday Nite football. Time for me to start on Novel #3.
Tues 9/14 I refuse to think about the end of vacation. We’re going cave tubing! Taxi picks us up in front of Banana Beach, we stop and pick up two other couples, they’ve already met - Tracey & Jennifer are from So Cal and Nick & Amy are from New Jersey. Way fun group! On the way to the jungle we Californians try to explain Raider Nation to Nick & Amy. The walk to the river was easy and the river spectacular. Our guide was great and since it was a small group and we weren’t combining the cave tube with anything else, he took us in a little deeper and we went through five caves. The water was clear and you could see fish. For some bizarre reason my husband did not float. It was so weird - the rest of us glided down the river and poor Vic had to paddle or he didn’t move. We stopped on the way back at a screened in restaurant out in the middle of nowhere for lunch. The best coconut rice yet! Back to the room, tired, but hey I’m game if you guys are. Realize I lost my camera - either on the plane or in the taxi back. Just had a couple of pictures on that roll. We hook up with Tracey & Jennifer at Carumbas for dinner and this time it’s our turn to clue them in on the rum punch deal!
Wed 9/15 Big plans tonight, better take it easy, but I’m out of novels. Off to the library where Iracela loans me a book - and hey - I don’t even have a library card. While we’re in town we check out the jade museum - they wrap the jewelry I pick out in a hand woven basked with lid. It’s almost as cool as the jewelry. Met Tim of Banana Beach and he was patient enough to answer all kinds of inane gringo questions. Back to the pool, then at 4:30 we meet up w/ Nick & Amy and head for Happy Hour at Tracey & Jennifer’s room at Ramon’s. Cute rooms, but I’m glad I had the suite at Banana Beach. Finally put that salami to use, coupled with olives, fresh fruit from the street vendors and goat cheese and crackers we picked up at Wine Divine, it was the perfect amount of food to keep us from getting too drunk too early! 5:30 off to the Pier Lounge - gotta get those Chicken Drop tickets! Had a great chat with the new (four months) owner. Popped down the street to buy a disposable camera. In San Pedro those cheap cameras aren’t. More food at Caliente’s, more drinks from everywhere, more shell anklets from those cute little kids selling ‘em up and down the beach. Boy do they have the lines. Lady, I make you a deal- buy two- get one free! A volunteer to drop the chicken? - pick me, pick me. What do you mean I have to blow up the chicken’s ass? Off to Fido’s - more drinks. Then off to a bar (can’t remember the name, can’t remember a few things after about this point . . .) for Karaoke - hey wait a minute - I don’t Karaoke - we name ourselves Team Belize and our rendition of the Beach Boys “California Girls” was - well not what you’re used to . . . If you sing a song you get a free shot - okay, we can sign again, and again, and again, and what you mean no more shots for us? Off to Wet Willy’s - crowded and hot and time for me to go home. night night . . .
Thurs 9/16 Maid - Can you come back later? - way later?? Poor Selfa, she always accommodated us! - no breakfast - water pleeeeeease. Is my non-drinking husband laughing at me? We snorkel at 2 - sure, I’ll be ready. Actually, I am and off we go. The water, the color, the fish, the reef. A Must Do. We went with Bottoms Time and were quite happy. Hol Chan first, then Shark/Ray Alley. Swam, floated actually, out past the reef, amazing drop off, spectacular sights. Back to the room - our last dinner in San Pedro, Casa Picasso, no question. Convince Tracey & Jennifer they have to come. Still not up for martinis, but the Sangria was perfect! Tried everything on the menu we didn’t have the first time. Yeah, the desserts are big enough for two, but this time I want my own cracked coconut!
Fri 9/17 Breakfast our last one - no more seafood omelets for Victor, no more orange/pineapple juice for me. Pack up - three suitcases lighter! Drop off gifts for our girls in the restaurant at Banana Beach and go find Selfa. Even three suitcases lighter, we realize we packed too much, don’t want that to happen again so we leave extra T’s, shoes and the pool float with Selfa, along with the extra groceries and a good tip! Thanks for always “coming back later” and for the flowers you left in the glass on my table. Off to Nancy’s to get the deposit back on our water bottle. 10+ gallons - that’s a lotta water! Just a few of those not so great Belikins and the matching glasses to take home, pick up last minute gifts, don’t forget the rum, one more ice cream cone at Celi’s, drop off the last of the DEET at Tracy & Jen’s, finished that last novel, back to the library. Iracela, thank you so much for the seashells - they are on my livingroom table and make me smile every time I walk by. Turn in the golf cart, load up the luggage, hop on the water taxi and wave goodbye.
Parting thoughts: As I sit here finishing off a Belikin I want to thank all of you who answered my initial questions on this board, or didn’t answer and made me go search so that I ended up finding things I wasn’t even looking for. Actually, thanks to everyone who has ever posted on this board. Our trip would not have been the same without your input. Several years ago Vic & I developed this vacation plan - it’s a big world and we want to see all of it, so we visit a new state in the US one year and a new foreign country the next. We love all of the places we’ve been - some more than others - but there’s a lot to see, so the next year we move on to something new - we don’t go to the same place twice. Vic is my best friend and we have such a good time together. I always make an album when we return and we pull them out often to re-live the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve made. For reasons many of you will understand, San Pedro was different. We still want to see the rest of the world - next summer is North Carolina - but we’ll be taking a slightly shorter trip, ‘cause next September we’re heading back to San Pedro.
Leah Ann & Victor