Well after 13 days in paradise we have retuned to dear old Maine - 20 degrees wind gust up to 50 MPH and wind chill to - 60 below - What are we nuts?

This was our first trip to Belize and AC but if the good Lord is willing and the creek don't rise it will not be our last.

Our stay at Mata Rocks is very easily described - "Wonderful". It is hard to be able to describe just how nice it is and how great the people are. The hotel itself is small, 11 rooms but it was just what we wanted. The rooms are neat, bright, CLEAN, and well kept. We opted for the rooms on the second floor with celling fans and a wonderful ocean breeze, for others there are some air conditioned rooms but this time of year I can see no reason to use them.

The staff at the Hotel is as nice a group of people as you well ever be lucky enough to meet. Ana - the manager, Carlo and Charlene at the bar ( and other duties) Nora and Ruth - house keeping, and Tony and Lionel are the grounds keepers. These people all went out of their way to mke our stay and enjoyable experience. The owners, Liz and Terry are also very nice and friendly people and they should be proud of their staff.

Before I forget, let me mention the bar - The squirels nest. As I said Carlo and Charlene really know how to run a bar - and boy can they make a GOOD drink. There are a number of special drinks they make, the Mata Colada, Ceaser, Pink Squirel and others. Naturally they have Beliken - bottled or draft - Oh how I miss that beer! They also have lite snacks available, after sitting on the beach or being on the water all day a cold drink of your choice and a Hot Dog or Meat Pie is a wonderful experience.

We ate in a number of different locations and that will be part of another thread.

Several people have asked about the walk from this location into town. We walk into town one day, on the beach. Walk is really not the right word, a liesurely stroll is more acurate. My brother in law and I both have medical conditions that won't allow us to do anything like a "power walk". We made it into town in 30 - 35 min. and as I said it was not a hard walk. Should you decide to walk into town I would highly recommend the beach route over that of the road. While walking on the road the bikes, golf carts, taxi's and trucks can make it "interesting" for a pedestrian, and as I mentioned it is much longer than the beach route.

Should you opt for a cab the hotel will call one for you and the wait is usually only a few min. at most. The cab will cost you between $8 and $10 BLz. ( $4 and $5 US) and this is true just about anywhere you want to go.

There is a small beech right in front of the hotel. This area is kept in very good condition by Lionel and Tony. The water is quite shallow and you can walk out about 150 yards and only be in about 5 feet of water. The bottom is a little soft and there is some sea grass but a pair of water shoes takes care of this with no problem. There are lounge chairs, chairs and hamocks to relax in, just take care of the sun, with the wind blowing it will sneak up on you, so make sure you use a good sun block!

While we were there we did several trips, in each case we simply told Ana what we wanted to do and she made all the arraingments for us. Her selection was always excellant.

We went on the glass bottom boat and snorkeled at Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan (sp?). Both locations are great - even for those of use that are not strong swimmers it was easy and very enjoyable. When we first arrived at Shark Ray Alley the water actually turned brown with the nurse sharks, its hard to count them but and estimate of 20 + sharks would be low, and mixed in amoung the sharks were several rays. To actually get in the water with them is quite an experience! At Hol Chan we were lucky enought to see and get a picture of a good sized sea turtle. The turtle did not seem to be very concerned about our being there. There were a number of good sized Jacks, Groupers and small to medium sized Rays as well as a number of smaller reef fish.

We also took two different tours with Suya Tours. One went to Altun Ha and the other was a Manatee and Wildlife tour up the Belize River. Again, Ana was the one that pick this particular guide and her choice was great. Carlos is a lot of fun to be with, his boat is nice, and he himself is knowledgeable about the wildlife and history of the various locations we visited. He is very aware of protecting the environment and the historical sites and will not allow his tours to harm anything.

One thing before I go on. I'm ashamed to admit that on a couple of occasions I observed some prime examples of " Ugly Americanism" being displayed by other tourist. Some people don't have the courtsey or common sense of a rock! People - remember we are guest in their country, their attitudes, mores, beliefs should be accepted and we as guest should govern ourselves accordingly. If you want things like they are at home then STAY THE HECK HOME!

Sorry about that!

Back to Suya Tours, the Wildlife tour was a great trip. We saw Manatee's, numerous croc's, Iguana's ( BIG Iguana's), Howler Monkeys, Birds of many kinds, Toucan's and even a dolphin well up the river in the fresh water! The trip included a lunch at a small village of GrayBank ( sp?) that consisted of chicken, Rice and Beans and potatoe salad and fresh bananna's. The fellow that made the lunch also let us try some home made wine which was made from some type of medicinal vine. It was different - has a way to go before its ready for exportation but really wasn't bad!

We also went fishing one day - the all day trip with a shore lunch. Again Ana made all the arraingments and our guide Lois was a blast! A funny guy who really seems to like the people he is guiding. We fished in the morning and caught a number of snappers, Red, Yellow Tail, Mangrove etc. In addition the occasional grunts or lizard fish and one Jack that kept hanging around and occasionally grabbing the bait and breaking the line ( never did get him to the boat!). After fishing he took us back to Hol Chan (sp?) for snorkleing. While there he fileted our lunch and the groupers and jacks really gave us a show when the remains of the fish were thrown over board. For the shore lunch we had red snapper, potatoes, cole slaw, bread and lobsters. He had picked them up on his was to get us in the morning - what a great meal!

As a brief (?) summary - we have a little less than 50 weeks before we go back, and we will go back - what more can one say. As far a value for your money I don't think you can beat it.

Oh - almost forgot - make sure you go see Barefoot Skinney either at Fidos or Ramons ( on Tuesday nights). His sound is great, he himself is a very interesting guy to talk to and is more than willing to speak with you!