Belize gets 2 more thumbs UP and 2 more people who WILL return!
Our first day didn’t start off as planned because we arrived on the morning of June 20 - right smack dab in the middle of the floods. We had planned to rent a 4WD and spend some time at Banana Bank before heading to Placencia. It was barely raining at the airport and we had no idea about what was happening in the western part of the country. We went to pick up our Jimny at Thrifty and was greeted by Jolene who informed us that she was upgrading us (at no extra cost) to a Trooper because the small vehicle would never make it to our destination. She also told us to stay tuned to 95.1 on the radio for updates on weather and road conditions (a real life- saver in this case). BTW…I would highly recommend Thrifty to ANYONE for renting a vehicle. We stocked up on a few sodas for the drive and headed west. By the time we made it to mile 24, it was starting to rain pretty hard (the turn off to BB is at mile 48). We began hearing reports of bridges being under water and about a mother and child being swept away. Another change of plans – we decided to skip the zoo (mile 28) and try to get to BB as soon as possible. By the time we reached JB’s Watering Hole at mile 32, the rain had gotten so intense we decided to stop and try calling BB. We waited in our Trooper for a while hoping the rain would let up a bit….no luck. Our best guess is that it rained about 5 inches in about 15 minutes. JB’s had lost electricity and we were also unable to reach BB on the phone. We weren’t thrilled with the idea of spending the night in Belize City but decided it was our only option. We headed back east toward BC and stayed tuned to the radio for further updates…. hoping to hear that conditions were improving (no such luck) 5 tourists were swept off the road in their vehicle and they closed the road at mile 45 due to a severely damaged bridge. Thankfully, all 7 people were rescued! Knowing that BC isn’t the nicest place to be after dark, we got a room at the Biltmore (Best Western with a restaurant on the premises). After numerous phone calls, we realized we would not be able to reach BB or Placencia by car. The next morning, we arranged to fly to Placencia. Before turning in our Trooper, we drove back to visit the zoo…glad we did. Like everyone told us, it is WONDERFUL. Thrifty came through again…they met us at the Municipal airport to return the vehicle (making our flight cheaper).
Marcia from Mariposa Beach Suites met us at the airport and drove us to our little piece of PARADISE. I can’t say enough about the accommodations. The suite was gorgeous with the Italian tile floors, and exotic wood throughout the suite. Marcia had stocked our fridge with everything we needed and had dinner waiting for us when we arrived. We had 2 sets of double doors that opened to our private beach with lovely palm trees and private palapa. We didn’t close those doors for the entire week we were there….we never felt unsafe in the slightest. There’s nothing like falling asleep and waking up to those wonderful ocean breezes. Marcia and Peter truly made us feel like family. Each day, Peter printed out the satellite images from weather.com and brought them to us. Marcia tended to our every need….making all arrangements for trips, flights, etc. Coco and Bella (their 2 dogs) even did their part in making us feel at home. Coco came by regularly for pats on the head and quite often would take her little siestas on our kitchen floor. The beach was gorgeous (lined with palms and sea grapes) – you could easily see where OUR beach started and ended because Hector raked up all the sea grass every morning.
The village of Placencia still shows a lot of devastation from Hurricane Iris, but they are repairing and rebuilding constantly. For great seafood, go to the Galley, which is located across the soccer field from the Purple Space Monkey.
We took a wonderful trip up the Monkey River. Because of the floods, we weren’t able to do the hiking part of the trip, but it was still well worth our time and money. After coming back down the river, we had lunch in the little village of Monkey River (fish balls with rice and beans). On the boat ride back to Placencia, Jason, our boat captain, stopped in the middle of nowhere and told us to be on the lookout for manatees. Lucky us…..we saw several including one that came very close to the boat showing us his entire body for several seconds.
Not wanting to miss out on seeing the Hummingbird Highway, we decided to take a bus ride to Belmopan via Seine Bight, the Sittee River, Hopkins and Dangriga. I could write a book on this trip alone but I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. We caught the local bus at 5:30 am and after stopping to pick people up all along the way, we arrived in Dangriga around 8:00 am. From there, we took the Premier bus up the Hummingbird Highway. Believe what people tell you….this IS a beautiful road. Be prepared for VERY narrow bridges that don’t look wide enough for a bus. I’m sure there is at least a few inches to spare on each side. Also be prepared to see GREEN….the vegetation is endless. I took several pictures but none of them come close to showing just how gorgeous it really is. We arrived in Belmopan around 9:30 am and originally planned to immediately turn around for the trip back. Instead, while sitting on a bench outside the bus terminal, we met Robert Popper (a taxi driver). He suggested we see San Ignacio before heading home. He informed us he could take us to Xunantunich then lunch in San Ignacio in plenty of time to catch a bus back to Placencia. We were a bit hesitant at first but it turned out to be a great little tour for $70US (for the 2 of us) and Robert was GREAT! When we got to the ferry crossing to Xunantunich, we found out that they weren’t allowing cars to cross (only people on foot). This meant about a mile hike up the road to the entrance to the ruins. Robert didn’t hesitate for a second…..he parked the car and walked all the way up with us. The ruins were beautiful and we had the place to ourselves. There is a wonderful view of Guatemala from there. We climbed most of the way to the top of the main temple but turned back after several claps of thunder. We felt like human lightning rods and thought it was a wise choice to come down. It began to rain pretty hard about this time and we were told that they were closing the ferry completely as soon as we crossed back over. The river was rising pretty fast. We stopped at Martha’s in San Ignacio for lunch (ask for their garnaches – they are not on the menu and they are FABULOUS). Before taking us back to the bus depot, Robert wanted to take us by his house so he could cut a beautiful bouquet of ginger for us. What a special added touch that was. If anyone is interested, I will give you Robert’s phone number. Besides being a wonderful driver, he’s a wealth of information and a very nice guy too! There are trips available from Placencia that will take you to Xunantunich and San Ignacio in a van with a couple stops along the Hummingbird Highway but it runs about $85US per person. Some of you might prefer the van to the buses but we really enjoyed mingling with the locals on the buses.
The week went by way too fast and before we knew it, it was time to head to San Pedro. We were anxious to get to AC, but we were also sad to leave Mariposa. Our flight started at 10:30 with stops in Dangriga and the Municipal in BC. We didn’t know we’d be stopping at the International airport and got a kick out of our LONG flight from International to Municipal (4 minutes, 4 seconds from lift off to touch down – hubby timed it)….hehehe
Soon after our taxi dropped us off at Seven Seas, we set out on foot to explore downtown San Pedro and drop off some donations for Bron at Saga. Our first meal was at the famous Caliente, which was just as good as everyone on the board had described. We wanted to try ALL of the restaurants we had heard about but you can only eat so much. We did manage to eat at our share though. The pier at Ramon’s is a great place to try out your snorkel gear. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of fish hanging out in the shade of the pier.
The Hol Chan / Shark Ray Alley trip is a definite “don’t miss”. I can’t begin to guess how many varieties of fish we saw at Hol Chan…in every shape, size and color imaginable. Even though it was a bit windy that day, the snorkeling was fantastic. No current to fight. The day we were at Shark Ray Alley, there were mostly rays and only a few sharks but we heard from people who went there the next day and they saw mostly sharks. I guess it goes that way pretty often. We petted dozens of rays – what a great feeling that was. The skin on their wings is so soft to the touch but don’t miss out on petting them underneath by their mouths. The skin there is even softer!!!
If someone approaches you and asks you to visit Captain Morgan’s Resort to listen to a sales pitch, go for it (they will pay you $100US for your time). We were picked up at the pier in front of Seven Seas at 8 am and headed up the coast. On the way there, we stopped to watch some dolphins that wanted to play around our boat. Once we got to CM’s, we were taken to a nice air-conditioned office to hear the sales pitch then given a tour of the model condo. No hard sale….we just said it wasn’t for us and we were on our way. At that point, you can either stay and use the pool, kayaks, restaurant, etc, or you can have them take you back to your hotel $100 richer. We were back at our room by 10:30 am.
One day, we took our golf cart to the southern end of the island in search of the “ruins”. Yes, there are some Mayan ruins there but they were a little more remote than we expected and a lot less excavated than we expected. I will post another message about this trip. I’m afraid this story will take a while to tell and I’m trying not to think about it right now. All I will say right now is – the title of this tale will be “OMG Omar”
Party night at Fido’s –
As planned, a group of “boarders” met at Fido’s for a party on July 1. We had a great turn-out with almost everyone showing up (Johnboy, Richard Chambers, Pagodacook, Ellydognme, LovinLife, Ginger (who’s board name I forgot – sorry Ginger) as well as Johnboy’s wife Linda, Richard’s pal Hud, Pagodacook’s hubby Bill, and my hubby Bill. We also met Holly and Chris who WILL be boarders upon their return. I think I can speak for everyone saying we all had a great time. We were entertained by Barefoot Skinny (donning a Texas t-shirt that Richard gave him). It was also joke night…although none of us won a bar tab or even a t-shirt. Fido’s was a perfect setting for our party….and I think even Barefoot Skinny, Rosie the bar hostess, and Paisano enjoyed the party. Sadly, it was the last night in Belize for us and for Pagodacook (Amy and Bill) but we will return!
We have tons of pictures to share, but it will take a little time to sort through them and get them posted.
P.S. Sorry about being so long-winded, but it’s so hard to condense 2 weeks of fun!