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Postcard :: You better Belize it {Caye Caulker}

By Friday, April 22, 2011 , , ,

From the Jaguar Inn at Tikal, we were shuttled to El Ramate where we met up with another, mostly full, shuttle. We recognized some familiar faces as we climbed in - we were back on the common trail and on our way to Belize.

At the boarder it was everyone out of the van with all our stuff. We first paid and got our passports stamped to leave Guatemala. Then we walked over the the Belize immigration and customs. On the immigration form we got a kick out of the question about what our interests were - nature, history, and the likes were the options to choose from.

On the other side we waited for the van to come across. An old guy came to chat us up as we sat in the shade. "Make yourselves at home, you're in heaven now. In heaven we speak English."

In Belize City we pulled up directly in front of the water taxi terminal. Sweet, no need to figure out how to get there since that's where we needed to be. We bought two round-trip tickets then sat down to wait for 1:30pm when the boat would leave for Caye Caulker. From a little stall across the street I bought us a whole fried fish with rice and beans. Here the beans were red, not black like in Guatemala. The fish was seasoned well and pull off the bones good.

The boat ride took us through rain and deposited us at the dock on Caye Caulker where we collected our backpack and made our way to the second street from the water. No one was at the office when we arrived at the yellow Maxhapan Cabanas. From the group of people sitting under the trees, Luis came to great us.

"Welcome! You'll have to excuse me - its my birthday and my friends are here. This is not a normal day. You must have a drink with me once you are settled." She had the pep of the aerobics instructor that she was. We settled into the nicest place we stayed at so far. All the modern convinces, bottled water every day, a hammock on the porch. A little piece of paradise. To top it all off for the day we found a place to have our laundry done. We picked it up later - washed, dried and folded. It was nice to be on vacation!

We skipped sunrise the next morning - living the island life - and grabbed breakfast at Glenda's. The food portions were definitely bigger since leaving Guatemala. We were lured to Glenda's by the reputed cinnamon buns, but the rest of our breakfast was better than the buns.

After breakfast we headed off, loaded down with sunscreen, for Carlos's Snorkel tour office. We'd signed up the day before by putting our names down on the list tacked down to the closed office door. This morning Romero fitted us with masks and flippers and with eight other we headed to the boat. Romero met us there with a cooler and we were off.

The first stop was only for about 15 minutes. As Romero said, "just so we could get a feel for the snorkeling." Then on the way to our first real snorkel spot - Hol Chan Marine Reserve - Romero squirted some anti-fog solution in our masks. One of the women said, "So this is better than spit." Romero gave a small hint of a smile. "No, this is bottled spit. A combination of spit."

We duck-waddled our way back into the water and followed Romero for a guided tour. He pointed out and named all the different fishes. We saw spotted green turtles and large rays. The neatest was the eagle ray. It was brown with white spots and had a big beak.

"There's a swim through cave. You can follow me if you want," Romero said. I dove down to check it out but had to come up for more air. As I came up Romero went down. I grabbed a quick breath so I could follow him. My ears hurt and so I hurried through the tunnel so I could come up and release the pressure - we must have been down at least 15-20 feet. But I went up too quickly and scrapped my head on the top of the tunnel. While it hurt and was bleeding a bit, mostly I was embarrassed that it had even happened.

There were two more snorkeling stops after lunch. First up was shark ray alley. Romero tossed fish in the turquoise water as nurse sharks swarmed around the boat. The passengers showed apprehension, but Romero eased the tension by letting everyone know that the sharks only eat people with blood in their bodies. Ha! Into the water with the sharks we went. For the sharks part they were completely uninterested in us and when the food was gone so were they.

Our last stop was to the coral garden area. Here Romero left us to explore on our own. Lukas and I took off the check out all the corals and fishes. We had fun swimming on our own away from the group. When we got back to the boat Romero had sliced up fruit waiting for us - watermelon, pineapple, papaya - the perfect treat!

On the way back the flying fish put on a show for us. They skipped across the top of the water. Some staying in the air for impossible amounts of time clearing the swells. Romero took us around the back side of the island. We spotted a dolphin and Romero let me drive the boat. He took over and captained us through the split and back to the dock.

Dinner that night was a story all on its own...

{click here for: Postcards #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6}

*Note: I know when we were planning this trip we were hunting down any details we could find. So, if someone doing the same thing happens on this little blog of mine and would like more information and specific details shoot me an email. I may not have the answer, but I can tell you what we did. megan{dot}a{dot}wenger{at}gmail{dot}com

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