Started off very good, everything right on schedule, but I didn't have time to meet Jet before catching my Maya Air flight. I really enjoyed the flight over. We dropped a passenger off at Caye Calker, and were quickly airborne in a matter of minutes. It was nice getting to see CC, but the view coming up was even better - that beautiful water! I arrived on AC mid afternoon, sunny day, nice and warm. I was met by the lovely Nubia from Playa Blanca, who gave me the warmest welcome. Other folks going to PB were arriving on the flight after, so instead of leaving me sweltering in the heat, I was taken to Cholos to relax with my first ICE COLD BELIKIN! Ahhhhhhh! May I have another please? I met Shlomo, the new chef at PB, on the dock, and immediately enjoyed his colorful personality. When the other couple arrived, off we went to PB. Loved the ride up the coast, such a beautiful coastline. Gaz was attending a dive show in NJ when we arrived, so Andy the DM, gave an orientation and showed me to my lodging. I had asked that the fridge be stocked with a case of belikin and sodas, and so it was. I kicked off my shoes, scrunched my toes in the sand, enjoyed the belikins, gazed at the beautiful water, and decided life was very good. I chilled right there for the rest of the day.
I awoke the next day to find a norther had come to visit for a few days. It cooled things down some, and the sun disappeared. What to do, what to do? Go to San Pedro, of course! Off I went, and was sure glad I had packed that windbreaker! At SP, I went straight to BC's for the BBQ. It took some time to get the food, but was worth the wait. There was quite a wind, and some rain, but fortunately, I was seated at the back on the southside - and nothing distracted me from my BBQ! It was delicious. I looked around for Hope and the gang of banditos, but may have been early. Missed meeting you, Hope. I did however, get to meet Charlene, and what a warm, friendly person she is. Rented a golf cart and went as far south as I could, turned around, found my way to the soccer field and watched some young girls play for awhile. I started north again, determined to cross the cut. I passed Coconet and took note of it, so I could drop in to meet Peter on the return south. Within a few blocks, I spotted a beautiful white dog, accompanied by a gorgeous lady. I stopped to ask if the dog was Peter's, and found that it was indeed Charlie, and the great looking babe was Tina. Very nice talking to her. I got an invite to join them for drinks, and said thanks, I might on the return trip south - I was on a mission to see what was north. Peter, you better nab her, what a sweetheart! Sorry I missed seeing you, but definitely was glad to meet her! Onward! The wind made crossing on the hand ferry an adventure of it's own. Mine was the last golf cart allowed over that day, and everybody had to help pull. Bumping along the golfcart path, I stopped at Palapa's for a quick belikin, then to Sweet Basils to put in an order for on the way back. I went as far as Capt. Morgans, then back to Sweet Basils. YUM! By the time I got back to the ferry, the crossing was even more difficult. None of the ferrymen had gloves, and one had suffered some nasty rope burns. Everybody helped pull again, and at the other side, folks had to get off quickly, it was hard to hold the ferry in place. Started south again, and went to the Water Treatment Plant to see if Satan was hanging around. I stayed for a short time, but no sign of him. I turned in the golf cart, caught a ride with Andy, and went back to Playa Blanca.
Monday was another dark and windy day, but who cared? I was off to Lamanai! I was picked up early by Rico of Searious, and was taken to SP to meet up with the rest of our group. Rico was both entertaining and informative. The crossing over to the mainland was wild, the wind really had the water roughed up, but we made it fun with various sound affects everytime there was a good bump. Of course we hit a sandbar right before we got to the river, so what else could we do but get out of the boat to pull and push. We pretended we were doing the scene from "African Queen", so even that was enjoyable. Finally got started up the river. The breakfast of fruit and delicious johnnycakes hit the spot. So many birds to see, and Rico knew them all. I wish I could remember the names, especially those HUGE storks we saw flying around. Must be the storks who bring the multiple babies. Got to Bomba with just enough time to take a gee whiz, then into the bus for a fantastic road trip. I enjoyed hearing the history of the road, and how Bomba got it's name, loved seeing the farms, the Mennonites have a large one here, and the brahma cattle ranchers. More flora and fauna were described, so very interesting. We switched from the bus, back to a boat for a trip up, or is that down, the New River. We were not the first boats on the river that morning, so were told not to expect to see crocs - and we didn't. The boat stopped now and then to point out more of nature's sights. It was cool to see locals, sometimes in dugout canoes, and Mennonites fishing along the way. When we got to Lamanai, we enjoyed a tasty lunch prepared by the guide's mother. After lunch we began our tour of the ruins. The history of this site is amazing, with incredible restoration work being done, but funds might run out in a year. If the project should stop due to lack of funding, it would surely be everyone's loss. I saw a family of howler monkeys, complete with a little one, and could have watched them for hours. The howls of monkeys in the distance were eerie. The ruins are so impressive, and it was wonderful getting to watch the restoration in progress. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone. You get a river trip, ruin tour, nature outing, and countryside tour all rolled into one. The bus brought us back to Bomba to shop at the vendors set up there, and then back into the boat. The trip back was much quicker, and I returned to Playa Blanca in time to shower and enjoy a delicious dinner. Gaz came back that day, and I had the opportunity to talk to him over dinner. What an interesting guy. Over the remainder of my stay, we talked about environmental issues, diving, politics, education, housing, and his love of AC. I learned much from him.
The next morning was even more of the relentless windy weather, even the water inside the reef was very rough. I had planned on diving, but wasn't sure if I wanted to try it in these conditions. I had put off diving long enough though, so I took Seashell's advice, took my anti-chum pills, and went diving. Much to my chargrin, they really didn't help, and I was in the water and had to abort the very first dive (after swallowing a mouthful of seawater, and feeling some panic). The past few years of diving had not been in seas like this. I had forgotten what diving in swells 6-8 ft. could be like. With the help of Andy, PB's DM, I was soon in the water (which was a good thing, because the swells only got bigger with each passing day) and enjoyed diving the Pillars where I saw the biggest jewfish I had ever seen, a big turtle, jacks and groupers. Spent our surface interval snorkeling Shark Ray. There were many rays, 3 sharks, and lots of jacks. Then on to Victoria Tunnels. Viz wasn't the best, but not bad. I sure wish the sun would have been shining to see all the color, but it was good diving all the same. Before dinner, I walked the golfcart path, and then beach south to Mata Chica, then north past the condo construction, checking the lagoon for critters along the way, and walked back on the beach. Nice and peaceful. I cancelled the night dive at Hol Chan, but I heard it was great. I love night dives, but not in those conditions. What a wuss!
to be continued.......