We were up and checked out of the hotel by 7:15am. It took us about 10 minutes to get to the airport AND find a parking space. Man, I love the Charlotte Douglas International Airport! There are different places to park with different rates. There is hourly parking, daily parking, valet parking, remote parking, and satellite parking. There are complimentary shuttles to pick you up from valet, remote, and satellite parking. Remote and satellite parking were the least expensive at $2.75/day. We ended up parking in remote parking. As soon as we got our luggage out, the shuttle was there to pick us up. It took about 5 minutes to get to the airport and in another 10 minutes we had gotten our boarding passes and gone through security. I had fallen in love! It would have taken us 2 hours to do all of this at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. We made it to our gate with no problems. Oh, we didn't check any of our bags since they were all small enough for carry on. The smell of Cinnabons was calling me and so I had a Cinnabon and orange juice for a total of about $5.85. Hubby had a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit and a Mountain Dew.
We flew with Continental for this trip. This was our first trip with Continental and IMHO they are the greatest. I have flown with Delta, US Air, American, and Northwest and none of them can compare to the service we received with Continental. From the beginning of our trip to the end of our trip everything was handled professionally and with warm hospitality. We only had one issue with the way they handled the loading of the plane leaving Belize City and I'll get to that in a later report. As you can probably tell, we will definitely fly with Continental again.
The flight from Charlotte to Houston was uneventful. When we arrived at the Houston airport, we discovered that we had to walk quite a ways to get to the E terminal (or was it gate E). We walked forever before the signs we were following finally ended at a shuttle station. We were told we needed to take the shuttle the rest of the way. The shuttle actually let us off on the tarmac, where we then had to make our way back into the airport.
Once again the flight from Houston to Belize City was uneventful. I sat next to a really nice lady by the name of Melissa. She was heading to Ambergris Caye to stay with a friend of hers (Carrie?), the owner of Sol Spa. We chatted for awhile and she gave us some good info on AC. I was actually hoping to get a massage while on AC but as you'll see later time kind of got away from us.
When we exited the plane in Belize, I thought I was still in Georgia. The humidity was immediately noticeable, but not unbearable for us because we're used to it. It took us about 15-20 minutes to make it through customs. I mentioned to the lady at customs that she looked liked my sister back home. She responded by saying, that my sister must be a beautiful lady
. I knew I would like Belize! As we're standing in line for customs a dog (looked like a yellow lab) came trotting through the airport without a leash or apparent owner. Of course he was a topic of conversation for the tourists standing in line because you would NEVER see that in our airports. Upon further inspection, I noticed the dog seemed to be almost imperceptibly sniffing the luggage and I noticed what appeared to be an agent standing far off from the dog but watching his every move. Once through customs we headed out to look for our shuttle to Black Rock. We couldn't even get out the door because of all of the taxi drivers waiting there. We told them we had transportation and began to look for the guy with the Black Rock sign. We found him almost immediately and he took our bags to the van and informed us that we were waiting on another group that was flying in from Lamanai Outpost Lodge. We told him we would walk around the airport for a bit and check back with him later. We took a few pictures and browsed some of the shops. We tried to get to Jets bar but couldn't since we weren't flying Tropic or Maya Air
. Oh well, maybe another time. We waited about 30-45 minutes for the other group. We all climbed aboard the van and headed for Black Rock. Because there was another group to split the transfer cost our portion was US $75 for the both of us. If there hadn't been another group it would have been US $150
for the both of us and we most likely would have made other arrangements
. We had toyed with the idea of taking the bus to San Ignacio and then a cab to Black Rock but after an exhausting day of traveling we were thankful for the ease and efficiency of the Black Rock van. The drive to Black Rock was pleasant enough. The scenery was interesting and beautiful. One of the people in the other group spoke Spanish fluently and talked with the driver in Spanish the whole trip. Hubby and I were a little tired and fell asleep after awhile only to be abruptly awakened by a bone jarring bounce. Apparently our driver had just run over one of those 'sleeping policemen' at about 50 mph. Sleep, for now, was on hold. We stopped by Caesar's Gift Shop on the way in. Caesar\'s Gift Shop #1 Caesar\'s Gift Shop #2
I was really glad we did because I really wanted to see what they had to offer. It was a really nice gift shop with an abundance of amazing items. We didn't buy anything because we were at the beginning of our trip and didn't want to drag stuff all around Belize just yet. From what I could see of Caesar's Place Guesthouse, it looked pretty nice and well maintained. But then again, we only saw it from the outside. I got a chance to meet Ophelia who had helped me with our reservations and who had answered all of my questions so patiently. I was really happy to get a chance to meet her and thank her in person. We also got a chance to meet Caesar who seemed really proud of his place up at Black Rock. He enticed us by saying if we thought the pictures on the website were something, just wait until you see it in person. Oh boy! We couldn't imagine that it could be any better than what we had already seen. We stayed at the gift shop for about 45 minutes or so before we headed on to Black Rock.
Driving through San Ignacio, I was intrigued by everything: the sites, the shops, the people, the smell of the food. I really wanted to stop and spend some time in town. But of course that was not to be because we had other people traveling with us. I made a note to try to get back into town before we left. San Ignacio Market in San Ignacio Life in San Ignacio
As we turned down the road to Black Rock, the excitement level went up 10 notches! We're almost there! Sign to Black Rock Lodge
The first thing that's noticed is that this must be the worst road in all of Belize and our driver apparently is used to it as he barrels along pretty fast. It's a long dusty, bumpy road to Black Rock Lodge. Ladies hold on to the twins! Road into Black Rock Lodge
The drive through the orange groves was really nice. The aroma is extremely pleasant and almost cured the headache I had gotten from the bumpy ride. Orange Groves Along the Road to Black Rock Lodge
As we drove deeper and deeper, the road seemed to get narrower and narrower and the jungle seemed to close in on us. The closer we got to Black Rock the darker it became. The surrounding vegetation was extremely lush and very beautiful. By the time we actually reached Black Rock my headache was completely gone.
I almost fell out of the van in my excitement to get out and see the Lodge. WOW! I was already in heaven and I hadn't even seen the best part yet. As we all got out of the van, we were greeted by a really sweet lady by the name of Chantal. She welcomed us to Black Rock and escorted us down to the reception area which is also the Dining/Relaxing area. Once there we met her husband Wim. Wim and Chantal are the managers there at Black Rock and are some of the nicest people we have ever met. We already miss them and hope to see them again very soon. After we get checked in, Chantal shows us to our cabana. On the way there she says we have a very special cabana, Cabana #12. I was told by someone on the boards to request Cabana #12 since it was our anniversary. I had no idea what was so special about Cabana #12 but I was about to find out. As we walked to the Cabana we were told that it is the only cabana that sits away from the others. I was absolutely floored at the beauty that surrounded us at the Lodge. Not even the most eloquent of writers could accurately portray the beauty surrounding Black Rock. It was amazing! My pictures don't even begin to do this place justice. Our Cabana #12 Our Cabana #12 Scenery around Black Rock Lodge Scenery around Black Rock Lodge
Cabana #12 was absolutely perfect for us. It was basic but clean and charming. The floors appear to be made of slate which I really liked. There were two queen (?) beds in the cabana and the bathroom was immaculately clean. There were fresh flowers on the beds, on the desk, and in the bathroom. Inside Cabana #12 Bathroom of Cabana #12
We quickly threw down our bags and headed back to the Dining/Bar area for drinks. We decided to have our first go at a Belikin. Hubby said it reminded him of a cross between a Budweiser and a Corona. Not out of this world good, but we were hooked. Hubby started talking with Wim and I went over to talk with the other guests we had arrived with. The two guys were having Belikins as well and I found out that they were Robert and Jeff. Jeff said Mary, the other person in their party, was speaking with Chantal because there was some sort of mix up with their room. I was hoping they would get it resolved so their vacation wouldn't be tarnished.
Robert, Jeff, and I spoke for quite awhile. They had been traveling up and down Belize taking in all of the ruins. That was the main purpose of their trip. They filled me in on their trip so far and I filled them in on our plans. Darren joined us after awhile and joined in on the conversation. As it began to get darker Darren and I excused ourselves and went back to our cabana to get flashlights. On the way back to our cabana we noticed for the first time how far away we were from everyone and how incredibly dark it was around our cabana. We hastily made our way to our cabana almost knocking each other over to get out of the dark. We grabbed our flashlights (thanks again to the board members for the suggestion) and jackets and headed back for dinner. We were told breakfast would be served between 7:00am and 9:00am (?), lunch between 12:00pm and 2:30 pm (?), and that dinner started promptly at 7:00pm. If we weren't going to have dinner, we needed to let them know first thing in the morning. No big deal, or so we thought (more on that later). For breakfast and lunch, you could order off of a menu. A full breakfast would run you US $9 per person. A full lunch would run you about US $10 per person. Although there were less expensive items on the menus as well. Dinner was US $17 per person. On the breakfast menu were items such as Belizean Omelettes, Cheese Omelettes, Fruit Plate, Pancakes, French Toast, Bacon, Sausage, Eggs, and your standard coffee, tea, and juice. On the lunch menu were items such as Quesadillas, Salads, and Sandwiches. There were other things but I can't remember since we never got a chance to eat lunch.
Dinner was excellent! We had squash soup, a salad with a vinaigrette dressing, pasta with bacon bits for a main course, and a cup of assorted diced fruit for dessert. Wim and Chantal joined us for dinner and were a delight to talk with. I really enjoyed the family style dining. After dinner, Robert, Jeff, and Mary headed in. Wim, Chantal, Darren, and I had another Belikin and more good conversation. Afterwards we headed back to our cabana to get some rest before tomorrow. There were little tiki torches lighting the way to our cabana but they stopped a ways away from the cabana. Past the tiki torches it was pitch black dark. We couldn't even see our cabana in the darkness. Darren shined his flashlight towards our cabana and we could finally see it. I told him not to shine the light so far because I was afraid of what else we might see in the darkness
. We hustled to our cabana through the darkness as fast as we could laughing at ourselves the whole way, only to find out it was only about 8:45pm. What????? Surely we couldn't be going to bed THAT early! We decided that we were actually tired and hit the sack. There are windows all around our cabana with screens and glass slats (?). We decided to close the lower slats and leave the top ones open so we could fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle. As I began to doze, I could hear the rush of the Macal River right outside our cabana. It was loud, yet refreshing. I remember thinking 'This is almost better than being on the beach' and then I was in the most peaceful sleep I've had in a long long time.
Note on driving to Black Rock: If you're renting a car and driving to Black Rock (which I would suggest, we will next time), I thought the drive seemed really easy as far as following directions. The only place I thought I would probably have trouble was right in San Ignacio but once on the dirt road to Black Rock it's pretty much a straight shot. As long as you see road in front of you, you haven't reached Black Rock. The road literally dead ends into the Lodge so just keep going. There are friendly people all around San Ignacio and I'm sure any one of them would be happy to point you in the right direction if you got lost in town. Link To All Pictures From Day 1
Coming soon: Saturday, October 30th – Day 2: Physical Challenge