I can't even begin to tell you all how well we slept that night. We had all of the windows in our room open and fell asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing on the reef. Last night it was really quiet around Portofino so we were able to hear the waves. Some nights we weren't able to hear them. I know some have complained about the beds at Portofino. Granted they weren't as nice as the pillowtop mattress we have at home but we didn't have any problems. We never woke up sore or uncomfortable. The mattresses were really thin but they had put another cot mattress on top of the regular mattress. I could see where people with back problems might have some issues. I woke up at the crack of dawn feeling refreshed and not able to believe I was actually waking up in paradise. I could wake up to this EVERY morning! Paradise #1
Darren was still asleep so I slipped out of bed threw on some clothes, grabbed a bag, and headed for the door. Thought I would see if I could do some "shelling" before Darren woke up. As soon as I reached the door, I heard Darren mumble "Where you going?" I told him I was going shelling. His reply, "Not without me you’re not! Like I want to stay in the room.
" So off we go! We decided to head North first to see what was on further up. That's when we noticed for the first time, the trash littered along the beach. It was definitely a sad sight and the smell was pretty bad. We decided to use one of the bags we had to try to collect some of the trash. We quickly discovered this was a lost cause. There was just too much trash. And there were so many shoes! Where in the world does all this trash come from? But believe it or not, even the trash couldn't spoil this place. There is just TOO much beauty here! Even in the simplest of things. Bird in the water Destroyed dock North of Portofino
Walking North we passed a couple of houses that were for sale and one that was under construction. We fantasized about what it would be like to live here as we walked along the beach picking up seashells. We stopped to pose at a palm tree that I'm sure is in a lot of people's photos
. Darren North of Portofino Nikki North of Portofino
After about 30 minutes or so of walking and messing around we decided to head back to Portofino. We were both getting hungry. When we got back to Portofino, it was just a little after 7. Man, we were up early! We headed up for breakfast where we bumped into AJ and Kelly. There was another couple up there as well but I can't remember their names as they were pretty quiet. Actually I think there were two couples there. One sitting outside with us and one sitting inside but both couples kind of kept to themselves. We told AJ and Kelly that we were going to rent a golf cart after breakfast and head into town, what were they up to? Did they want to hit town with us? But they already had a tour scheduled to Altun Ha and Maruba Spa (I think that's the tour). We were getting ready to order breakfast when I remembered Estelle's and I told Darren about it, so we decided to do the complimentary continental breakfast to tide us over until we got into town.
After breakfast we grabbed two cups of coffee and headed downstairs to see if we could secure a golf cart. Kathy was at the front desk. I went up to her and asked her if we could rent a golf cart for a half day. She said they would get the cart ready and it would be good to go by the time we were ready. Good deal! We went to the other side of the bar to check emails and so Darren could check his fantasy football team. I sent emails to my Mom and sister to let them know we were OK and then we headed back to the room to get ready for our adventure into town.
Let me stop right here and give a HUGE thank you to whoever it was that told us about the coffee and One Barrel Rum. We had a bottle of One Barrel back in the room and I remembered someone saying try it with your coffee (I think it was Chooch or maybe CrackerLarry or maybe Bobber) and so we did. Whoever it was that said that started an ADDICTION! I thought I had died and gone to heaven with a side trip to nirvana this stuff was so good!!!! Every weekend since we've been back I've had my coffee and One Barrel. I can't get enough of it! Can you tell I think it's really good? Heck I was pretty much content to just sit there and drink coffee!
I had a fold up bag that I pulled out and we loaded it up with what we thought we would need for the day (bottled water, sunscreen, insect repellant, camera, extra camera batteries, alcohol swabs, bandages, flashlights (In case we got back late. Watch out for those coconut trees!
), small hand towels, and I think that's it). Of course we each had a waist pack also.
Downstairs, Kathy had the golf cart all ready to go. I had read in our information folder in the room that if you knew the name of a guide that you wanted to do tours with, Portofino would help you schedule with them. So I asked Kathy about Tulu as we wanted to do a snorkeling trip or two with him. She said she didn't know any Tulu and actually seemed to be a little upset that we were asking about another guide and not booking through Portofino. I tried again. I told her his real name is Allan Villanueva and his boat is named the Janel. I think he docks in town somewhere. Then she says "Well, I don't know him and we don't use him." Once again I get the feeling that I'm doing something wrong by asking about a guide other than the one the hotel uses so I pointed out to her the info in the little booklet in our room. The only response I received was a stare. OK, fine! Just show us where the golf cart is so we can get out of here. We threw our bag in the cart and took off! As we took the left from the back of Portofino we were all grins. We were already having a ball and we hadn't even left the property good! As I looked at the body of water across the road, something was nagging at me but I couldn't figure out what it was. I dismissed it and kicked my feet up on the dash of the golf cart and started enjoying the ride. That didn't last long as I almost got thrown out of the cart right off. Had to sit up straight so I could brace for the potholes, bumps, and swerves. I determined right then and there that all roads in Central America were awful. The road to Black Rock, the road to Tikal, and now the road to San Pedro. Sports bra???? HA! Surely you jest! I needed duct tape in addition to the sports bra. Darren saw I was having a hard time and slowed down even more to try to make me comfy but that was a BIG, BIG, BIG mistake. We were in a little area that had trees and bushes on each side and we were completely assaulted by mosquitos! Road through Mosquito Central
Such an onslaught I have never seen in all my years! They came from every direction! It was like one of those B-movie horror flicks. I found myself yelling at Darren to floor it. Once we got out of that area he slowed down again and we couldn't help but look at each other and laugh. I quickly reached for the bag so we could lather up on insect repellant again.
Soon we came to a fork in the road and we were unsure which way to go. One seemed to lead to the beach and I thought I remembered something about not taking golf carts on the beach. So we took the other road, only to discover it was some kind of dumping area. So we turned around and took the other road. It did take us toward the beach but there was a little road there that looked well traveled. Road South to San Pedro
Believe it or not once I got used to the bumpy ride, it wasn't all that bad. I began to enjoy myself and Darren was having the time of his life. I think he had found his heaven on earth. He had so much fun driving the golf cart (I think it's a guy thing). I thought we would NEVER make it to town. At one point we had to pass a construction site and the guys must have been on break because most of them were sitting around. There were a few still working. Darren waves to them and they wave back and call out to him. So of course we have to stop and talk :rolleyes: . I don't think Darren ever meets a stranger! Finally we're on our way again. We come to another area where we're not sure which way to go. One road leads towards the beach again and the other leads through Journey's End Resort. We decided to stay off the beach and take the road through Journey's End since there was an actual road there (not sure if this was the right thing to do). The little individual cabanas at Journey's End looked cute from the outside, not sure what they're like inside. Journey\'s End Resort
The picture of the front of the cabanas didn't come out so I can't show that one. There was also a hotel type structure behind Journey's End. I'm not sure if that was a part of Journey's End or if it was another hotel. Anyone know the one I'm talking about? Journey's End was D-E-A-D DEAD. Not a soul to be found anywhere. I honestly don't think anyone was staying there. They had an awesome looking pool though. Right as you pass through Journey's End there is a small (and I mean very small) area that looks like an industrial area. As we pass through this area a couple of workers pass by and Darren waves at them. They wave back and ask us where we're from (what did they do that for?). Fifteen minutes later and we're on our way again. We passed numerous workers headed to work on our way to town and Darren waved and spoke to each one.
Oh, side note! We noticed the signage was pretty good on our way into town. There were only two places where we were a little confused.
After awhile we came to "The Cut". Looking out across the cut
I was so excited to see the Hammock House. Hammocks are one of my favorite things so this place was right up my alley! I made a mental note to try to stop by when they were open later on. Hammock House
Darren had no problems getting the cart on the ferry even though it was a little crowded. Hand pulled ferry at the cut
It was really fun and interesting to see the different kind of golf carts that some of the locals had. Each one with it's own flavor to suit its owner. Once on the other side of the cut, Darren spied a gym and we stopped to check it out. I think it was called Oscar's? I may be wrong about that. Either way it was closed when we stopped by so we headed on. Soon we started seeing signs of town. Things became a little more congested. Then we passed Papi's. Darren and I both thought the name was cute plus I had read they had good food, so we decided to have either lunch or dinner there that day.
It was early but San Pedro was already bustling. We even had a bit of a traffic jam. San Pedro Traffic Jam
The ride from Portofino into San Pedro took us about an hour and a half but remember we stopped to talk to everyone on the island before getting to San Pedro. Once in town, we couldn't figure out if the streets were one way or not. Some appeared to be but others had people going in both directions. We decided to just follow the crowd and go in whatever direction everyone else was going in. We rode straight through. I think we were on Middle Street and turned around at the end of the street so we could get on Front street and find Estelle's. It wasn't hard to find at all. The view was heavenly, the service unbelievably friendly, and the food OUTSTANDING. I can't remember how much it cost but I do remember how good those fry jacks were. It should be a sin to have food that good! Wish I had some right now! After Estelle's pretty much everything was still closed so we decided to ride as far South as we could and then come back into San Pedro. We rode for quite a while just taking in the sights and sounds. We passed numerous places that I had read about on the boards but we decided to keep going South and stop at some of the places on our way back. We rode on past Victoria House before deciding to turn around. On the way back, we stopped by Victoria House to check them out since we had heard how wonderful it was. The staff was extremely nice and courteous, even taking the time to show us around and let us see a few of the rooms and casitas. Very, very nice! The rooms and casitas were beautiful! The grounds immaculate and the pool was definitely a plus. We're thinking of staying there a couple of nights when we return to AC. We also wanted to experience staying a little closer in town to see which we prefer (staying closer to town vs. away from town).
Next stop, Banana Beach. Darren was looking for Cuban cigars and I read that Monkey Business at Banana Beach had some. Once we got there though Darren didn't like the fact that the cigars weren't kept in a humidor so he decided to check out the Rum House in town. While there though we decided to check the place out. Not really fancy like Victoria House or Portofino but we still thought it was a nice place to stay. The views from some of the rooms are AMAZING! Might have to put Banana Beach on the list of places to stay as well.
Oh yeah! We also stopped by that little development near Victoria House that everyone talks about. Odd looking little things. They seem so out of place. This is a picture of the smaller ones but they were also working on a couple of larger ones that reminded me of mess halls. Development near Victoria House
Somewhere in here we stopped at a little locally owned store to load up on Beliken, Rum, Fruit Squash, and snacks. AC loyalists will know what I mean by Fruit Squash, it's what is used to make many a drink. I apologize for not remembering the costs of everything. I just remember that Beliken was the cheapest here than we had found anywhere else and it was sold individually. We bought 12 bottles of Beliken, a bottle of One Barrel Rum, a bottle of Traveler's Coconut Rum, one bottle of Fruit Punch Squash, one bottle of Pineapple Squash, a few bottles of Coke and Sprite, chips, cookies, etc. There was a small refrigerator back at Portofino so we wanted to stock up as drinking can get REALLY expensive there. As we came out of the store we noticed a gentleman across the street selling his wares so of course we had to head over there. Local selling his wares
I ended up buying a little dolphin statue that he had. Once again I can't remember the price. We ended up stopping at one of the bigger grocery stores closer to town for a few more things but we quickly left there, it felt too much like being back home
Finally we passed by Ramon's and I was SO upset with myself because I had forgotten to bring our snorkeling equipment so we kept on. Heading back into town we had a mission. We had to find Tulu so we could see if we could go snorkeling with him. I had directions to where he docks his boat but they were old and outdated. We were looking for the Courtesea Pier down by the cemetery but apparently they're no longer there. We did see a place called D&W (I think) but didn't see Tulu's boat which didn't mean anything, he could be out on a tour. We walked up to the pier but there wasn't anyone there so we decided to walk around a bit and check back later. As we walked back along the beach, we passed a group of guys sitting outside of a bar/restaurant in front of Amigos del Mar's pier. One of them gets up and comes over to us and starts trying to give us a timeshare pitch for Aqua Marina Suites. This guy is sloshed to the gills and can barely stand up much less stand straight. He keeps teetering around as he's trying to talk to us and he's slurring his words. We keep trying to tell him we're not interested and we try to walk away. He continues to follow us begging us to come to the presentation. Then he tells us he will throw in free diving if we will come to the presentation and not only that but HE himself will take us diving. Darren and I look at each other and start to laugh. Do you think for ONE MINUTE we would trust this guy to take us diving!?!?!?!?! Yeah right! We start to walk away again and he follows us again. This time he comes right up to us, leans in, and whispers to us confidentially that he's also Nubian so we should really help a brotha' out. WHAT?!?!?! I keep walking. Darren says something to the guy and he says OK and Darren catches up with me. I think Darren must have told him we'll be back or something like that to get him to leave us alone.
All of a sudden Darren gets excited and starts to point. I look in the direction that he's pointing and he says "Isn't that the guy you were telling me about? Paisano?" I'm like "Yeah! It is! I have seen the legend with mine own eyes!" Darren starts to take a picture of him. When Paisano realizes what Darren is doing he promptly turns around and begins to scratch his butt. Darren is shocked and I fall out laughing. It was TOO funny! Paisano then starts to laugh himself and takes his cap off to cover his face. We start to walk over to him to ask if we can take his picture when our friend "The Nubian" approaches us again begging us to go to his presentation. By the time we get away from him, Paisano is no where to be found.
Now, we're hungry again. So as we pass by Elvi's we decide to stop in and have a bite to eat. Elvi\'s
Elvi's is a cute little place. It was nice to eat with your feet in the sand as though you were on the beach. I actually took off my shoes! I had the Shrimp Burger which was messy and delicious. Darren had the chicken, rice, and beans which he also proclaimed as excellent. We both have some of the most D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S fruit punch EVER! It was so good we both have another glass (and the glasses were huge) only to find out they were US $5 each!!!!! Whoa! No worries though. We’re on vacation and they were really good.
We decided to do a little shopping and while walking around I see a familiar sign: "Manelly’s Ice Cream". Of course we have to stop and see what all the fuss is about. I'm tempted to order something other than the coconut ice cream but can't resist. While ordering, we ask the gentleman behind the counter if he knows Tulu. He thinks for a minute and then says "No". In the process of trying to help us find Tulu we mention the name of Tulu's boat and the guy says "Oh! You mean Allan?!?!" Yes! Yes! Where can we find him? We're told that Tulu can be found at the Shark Bar most times but also at the Crazy Canuck's (I think it was). We're given directions to each bar and we thank the guy and head for the door when another guy stops us and asks if we were asking about Allan Villanueva. We say yes. It's Phil from Casa Caracol! Hi Phil! Thanks for the info on Tulu! He gives us some other options for finding Tulu and we're on our way. Outside Manelly's we have our first taste of coconut ice cream. I must be a cat because for like the fourth time I died and went to heaven. That is the BEST ice cream I have ever had the pleasure of tasting! Please believe everyone when they say having a coconut ice cream at Manelly's is an AC must do. We walked around in pure bliss for about 15 minutes while we ate our ice cream, then we headed out to find Tulu. Our first stop was D&W Dive Shop (I think that was the name). A dive boat had just returned so they were back in the office. We went in and asked if anyone knew Tulu since we were told he docks his boat there. Yes, they knew Tulu but he had left for Placencia yesterday and wouldn't be back for a few days. Complete and utter disappointment set in. I wanted to go snorkeling with Tulu for many reasons: (1) had heard he was one of the best, (2) had heard he was extremely patient and I needed this because I'm not that good of a swimmer, (3) we were going to ask for a private trip so we could be the only ones. D&W offered to take us snorkeling right then but we didn't have our swimsuits with us. We decided we would do it through Portofino so off we went to finish up some shopping and sightseeing.
It's unbelievable how fast time flies! All too quickly it's time for us to start heading back to Portofino. We stop by Papi's to pick up dinner but they’re closed
. They don't open for dinner until 6pm. As we're sitting outside trying to figure out what to do next, a guy drives up in his golf cart and says "Are you looking for something to eat?" We nod yes and tell him we were going to eat at Papi's as we've heard it's really good. His whole face brightens up and a smile fills his entire face as he says "I'm Papi!" We talk for a few minutes and then he offers to open up a little early so we can eat there. We don't want to put anyone out of their way so we thank him but respectfully decline promising to come back during business hours. We head back into town and end up stopping at Fido's. Nothing's really happening there as it's early but we order dinner and have a few drinks as we look out over the beach. I order the Lobster Fritters, which (once again), are delicious. I can't remember what Darren orders but it has something to do with lobster. I want to say it's the lobster sandwich. This place seemed a little more Americanized and the prices reflected that but it still looked as though it could be a fun place at night.
Onward, to Portofino! We're now loaded down with Belikens, rums, snacks, dinner, and everything else we would need to make ourselves comfortable in our little cabana. Darren had somewhat learned the road after our trip in so he was moving a little faster on the way back. He was moving a little too
fast around one curve and we went skidding a little bit and almost hit another couple coming in the opposite direction who were also moving a little too fast and had also went skidding. Manly grunts and shouts of satisfaction were heard from both men as myself and the other woman just shook our heads. These guys were acting like they were in a drag race or something. Obviously both of the men were having fun. We made it back to Portofino in record time and headed for the front desk to ask Kathy if we could plan a snorkeling trip for tomorrow. Kathy wasn't at the desk so we decided to hang out at the bar with Abi. There were a few other couples there whose names I can't remember. It seems like one of the guys was Mike. He and his wife were from Texas, I think. I think we ended up meeting two couples from Texas while at Portofino. AJ and Kelly came in a little later and we chatted about their trip to Altun Ha and Maruba. Both AJ and Kelly really enjoyed this trip although there was a lady that did this same trip who said she didn't really care for it at all. Go figure! Kelly and I had a Dirty Banana while we chatted. It was Kelly's first one and she LOVED it.
Once Kathy returned to the front desk, we asked about snorkeling. Fortunately she had a trip going out the next day that needed two more people. Yay! We were scheduled for 1:00pm. So we decided we would sleep in and get some rest before snorkeling since we hadn't really had a chance to slow down. Little did we know how much REST we would get.
Life doesn't get much better'n this! Paradise
Coming soon: Friday, November 5th – Day 8: Rain, Rain Go Away... Link To All Pictures From Day 7