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Trip Report - Part 1

Posted By: dbdoberman

Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 10:57 AM

Day 1

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.  

Day 2

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.   

Day 3

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.

Day 4

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.......
Posted By: Axeman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 11:43 AM

Another one hooked....
Posted By: o jackie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 12:19 PM

lined and sunked......

Glad you enjoyed it DB. smile
Posted By: NYgal

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 02:14 PM

Looking forward to MORE

Fun in Belize. It's a sitcom at times. smile
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 02:20 PM

hahaha, NYGal, I am long-winded for sure, but the sitcom part comes later wink
Posted By: Mel S

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 02:22 PM

Really wonderful report ! The Belizean bush is so wild, and beautiful. This summer i will have to check out the internet-cafe and send some e-mails to my family and friends. I am very happy to hear you had a great adventure. Best-Wishes, Mel.....
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 02:36 PM

thanks all. You sure are right Mel. I cannot wait to get back to Belize and spend some time on the mainland. I was awestruck so many times. I want to go to 5 Sisters, or Ian Anderson's, so badly. There are so many places that I want to go, I don't know where to go first. Guess it's a reason to return! I definitely will spend more time on AC, as well. What a magnificent little country.
Posted By: Marie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 02:40 PM

Hi Dobbie! Sounds like you had more than four days. Good, short trips do make a problem, as any bad weather blowing in could sure impact on the trip more than it does on a long trip where it all generally evens out. But, I love your generally upbeat attitude about the place. Weather doesn't make the country, it's just a pleasant or irritating factor.

The seas were rough, indeed, this spring. Sylvin wouldn't take us out several days. And one day, a wave just flew over us, and there I was a minute later sitting on the floor of the boat. Didn't hurt a bit, I just floated off in a NY minute! Another of those quirky memories of Belize that amuses me.

Just remember, once you get below the surface, you won't notice the swells. My ears fuss with me (thanks Seashell next time I will try all you suggested), so try to be one of the first to get off so I don't hold other people up. But, that would also help if the waves bother you. In my early years of diving I used to find the first dive stressful after a long year, and wanted to go to Hol Chan because it is shallow. Big mistake with that current. That can be a tough dive, oddly enough. Next time ask your dive master about Esmeralda Canyons, depending on how deep you are certified to go. The most exquiste blue water and really interesting. I was humming to myself, "crusing, on a Sunday afternoon"! It really is beautiful. And a pleasant dive.
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 02:53 PM

thanks Marie, I am fairly well certified, I just wasn't prepared for my orientation dive being my first dive in those conditions. I was fine after that first one. The swells got so large, and although the water stayed nice and warm, the wind was damn cold, it made for some exhausting dives. Not impossible dives, just tiring. Nothing like timing your entry back onboard to swells that large, and they got bigger as the week progressed.
It was dark, cold and windy - kept things stirred up a bit. There were a few places I wanted to dive up North, but it was even worse up there. That's for next time. Alot of the diveboats through the week stayed at sites fairly close to the cuts. I truly enjoyed the AC dives that I did, but loved those on the Blue Hole trip even more. Ahhhhh, the outer atolls, now that be diving. Axe and the others who go on the overnight trips definitely have the right idea. Combine the best of both places.
Posted By: Marie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 03:08 PM

If you do get scary re diving, I can no more than highly recommend Sylvin Forman for your next trip. He's been there forever. He's really a dive instructor (he's at Bottom Time), we learned with him, nine or ten years ago. Some days, we do have to piddle around with him and a new diver, but actually I find that helpful to renew my skills. Amazing what you forget over a year. But when we really go out, he knows everywhere. And, just the kindest soul you would want to know. Trust me, he nursed me along for awhile. I tend to be kind of claustrophobic, so diving was a bit of a trial at first, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. Now I just flop off the back of the boat, and away I go. I would not have been doing that if it were not for Sylvin. Trust me you will love him, and he's so capable.
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 03:19 PM

uhhhh, no Marie, I usually don't find diving scarey in the least - those were just unusual conditions for somebody who was chumming on the way. Maybe I shouldn't have posted that part - was trying to point out how rough it was. Those swells were probably no more than 30 or 40 feet apart, maybe less. They might be nothing for folks who dive there on a regular basis, and divers who have like conditions where they live. A bunch of folks diving from PB were from N. Calif. - they really didn't find it all that unusual. Just had been a few years for me. Not diving, I mean diving in seas like that.

Thanks for your concern though, but I was diving with a great guy who in my mind has no equal. Think I will again.
Posted By: Marie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 03:22 PM

Hi Dobbie...well there you go...that's what counts! Maybe this post will help someone who is "scary".
Posted By: Chloe

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 04:33 PM

DB, I just knew you would love Ambergris, and you did. Good to spot all the places you have read about on this board, from posters and home page.
Love the way you live life, dwelling on the positive even during negative uncontrollable situations. You have sunshine when others are under cloud cover.
Glad you took Chloe's advise on taking a windbreaker. Always good to have it, even if never used, one is even happier.
Bet the beautiful fish loved seeing you.
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 04:36 PM

thank you Chloe, you are truly magnificent! laugh
*unlocks jaw*

I loved seeing them at any rate, but the eagle ray I tried to get a pic of ran away from me!
Posted By: Teenah

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 04:50 PM

Db,

I've been reading your enthusiastic posts and hoping that AC would turn out to be everything you hoped it would be. It sounds as though it was! I'm sorry the weather wasn't better, but as I would expect from your upbeat nature, you made the best of the situation. I'm looking at booking trip #7 and good weather or not, I love being in AC! Thanks for the trip report.

Teenah
Posted By: seashell

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 07:16 PM

db, this is exciting. I can't wait to hear the rest of your report. And yeah, diving with Andy is great!! And those swells . . . yeah, pretty common. I'm quite used to them now and find I really enjoy hanging in them while waiting to get back into the boat. Sometimes though when I'm close and right near the boat it can be a bit scary. Don't want that boat coming back down ON me.
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 07:26 PM

Thanks Teenah, it was all that I thought and more, I love the place! I cannot wait to come back. It's easy to see why you keep returning! smile

Seashell thanks so much, Andy is great. I don't think it take too long to get use to those swells, I was loving the next few dives. I absolutely love surge. It's just the coolest thing. You are so fortunate to get to dive there on a regular basis.
Posted By: klcman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/11/03 11:14 PM

Great report Doooooooooble - all of us are eagerly awaiting your next installment ( dont EVEN ask me where mine is - atl east until after tax tiome is over wink and then I'll find some other procrastinating excuse). We KNEW your time there would be awesome & enchanting!

By the way, where do you dive in OH - the Scioto ?? laugh
Posted By: seashell

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 12:54 AM

db, I love surge too. smile And don't forget, as for me being lucky, sometimes we have to make our own luck.

Eagerly awaiting part II.
Posted By: denverdan

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 04:22 PM

Looking forward to part 2 myself!
Sorry we missed ya... my little injury was on Sat the 29th, but geeze ya coulda stopped by Caribe Island and said Hello! wink Looks like you were down that way a few times!
Hey... did ya meet Pedro at BC's?
Soooo glad your first trip went well and you are HOOKED!
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 05:34 PM

thanks klc and hope. I sure am sorry I missed you hope, I was thinking I would bump into you at AC's, the chicken drop, or Fidos. I have no excuse for not stopping in at Caribe Island, sorry. I even meant to because I wanted to see the place! Nope, I didn't get to meet Pedro, and was in Fidos a couple times - if he was there, I didn't know it. Drove by his place a few times as well, so no excuse for that either. It just seemed like time slipped away so fast - so many things I meant to do, and people I wanted to meet.
NEXT TIME! smile
Posted By: o jackie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 05:41 PM

KLC asked you where in Ohio you live?? Do you know? if not ask the neighbor. No really, where do you live,I want to know,also.
Posted By: klcman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 05:43 PM

actually, I asked where he dives...I know where he lives.
Posted By: o jackie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 05:46 PM

Duh, so I still want to know? :p
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 05:48 PM

sorry, I missed that part. The Scioto, cute klc wink In the summer, I dive quarries close to Bowling Green, and sometimes Lake Erie, and Lake Storm in WVA. I do not like cold water at all, so mostly dive the Caribbean, and Florida of course.

I live just east of Columbus, Jackie. If you toss those belikins out passing over CMH, they just might reach me. laugh
Posted By: o jackie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 05:53 PM

one way or another there gonna getcha,

getcha,getcha getcha

one way or another there gonna finda,

finda,finda,finda

one way or another there gonna reacha,

reacha,reacha reacha.
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 06:03 PM

you can use that for the talent portion of your playboy interview, jackie laugh
Posted By: o jackie

Re: Trip Report - Part 1 - 04/12/03 06:07 PM

What me trying to hit east of Columbus with a Belikin or my singing career, hehe.

I am so late for work, gotta go, be good boys and girls. See ya at 1030.

I am out for real.
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