Sunday, January 20, 2008

You'd Better Belize it! (Part Two)

Last post took us to the Wednesday night of our holiday. Thursday morning we got up in a leisurely fashion, with tea and cookies and leftover pizza for breakfast. It was a mostly grey day again but the sun peeked through here and there. Mike unfortunately had an Imodium morning, but the rest of us took a walk up the beach and I took a series of photos while Aaron fished, casting and tying flies. We called in on our neighbour Genie about snorkelling (yesterday’s conversation had been “no mon” – “too stormy?” – “yeah mon”). We decided to go to Mexico Rocks, a popular snorkelling destination where we could also do some reef fishing. At 1:30 Genie picked us up and we boated up a short ride in a sea that was a bit choppy but mostly ok. Dave, Aaron and Mar fished while the rest of us snorkelled. We saw a shark about 5 feet long swim about 4 feet underneath us, and saw rays and lots of smaller colourful fish – angel fish, parrot fish, coral, tons of plant life and conch. When we got back into the boat, we were freezing! Aaron and Mar snorkelled while the rest of us tried fishing. No luck for me, but altogether the guys caught a few so they decided to go out fishing again after dropping us girls back at the villa. We warmed up with tea and blankets and had a short siesta on the couch, then the guys returned with Genie, his girlfriend Alexis, and the snorkelling guide Randy. They had groceries and all the fish they had caught and Genie announced that he was ready to cook! We sat back and relaxed (and tried not to wonder when Genie had last washed his hands) and before long our first dish was ready – fresh fish and vegetables all cooked together and served with tortillas to wrap them up. I had promised to eat the fish they had caught, so I made myself a burrito and although mentally my vegetarian mind had a hard time eating it, it was absolutely delicious. Our second course was local lobster caught that morning (I couldn't do it), and then we had some delicious BBQ potatoes before finishing with a roast chicken. All of it was prepared over coconut husks on the barbecue and we loved it all. We had sweet buns for dessert and chatted for a while with Genie, Randy and Alexis. We played cards again, but had an earlier night after Aaron and Mar brushed up on their SCUBA signals for the next day.
We had a light breakfast Friday, then Kim and I went for a run on the beach. It rained a little on us, and it certainly wasn’t hot! We had cheesy scrambled eggs on toast and made the final decision to go to Shark Ray Alley for more snorkelling despite the weather. The sun peeked out, so the girls threw off our clothes and ran outside to soak up 20 min of sun while we could! Genie picked us up at 1:30 again, and we pulled up to the Hol Chan reserve, our first site. Three nurse sharks were circling before we even got into the water! Aaron and Mar’s SCUBA boat was there too, and we waved back and forth, then all got into the water. We spent about 45 (freezing) minutes snorkelling with tons and tons of amazing fish. There were ten times more than Mexico Rocks and it was beautiful. We saw eel and grouper, too, before getting back into the boat to move to our second spot – Shark Ray Alley. I was starting to feel sick despite Gravol and my wristbands and I was shivering violently, but as soon as Genie said “Pool’s open, guys” we all jumped in and next thing you know we’re swimming with sharks and rays, petting them – they were everywhere! Randy dove down and brought them up, holding them gently so we could touch them. I only stayed in 5 minutes because I was so cold my legs stopped working. Dave went to feed the rays, and was looking around for them when all of a sudden they nibbled at his toes – Mike said his expression was priceless! Gene scraped both hands and the back of his leg and was coming back in when I started puking. As soon as I hurled over the side of the boat, sharks, fish and rays were churning the water underneath jostling to eat it – their mouths were out of the water and it was a feeding frenzy! Mike and Dave swam over to see the fuss and I was trying to call to them to tell them not to swim in my puke, but they couldn’t hear me. Mike realized what was going on and soon everyone was back in the boat. It was raining, I was freezing and I felt like death but I was so happy to have done it!!!
We got back to the villa after dropping Rae and Dave; Marzia and Aaron arrived home shortly after. We ate Kraft Dinner (so satisfying) and I tried to settle my stomach but the room was still rolling around. We took the golf carts down to a restaurant called Capricorn, recommended to us by Genie. It was a great beach-side location with friendly staff and great food. Some had filet mignon with either shrimp or crab, Kim had crepes, I had pasta and Gene had the stuffed grouper speciality. We finished with amazing Rum Chocolate Cake or Key Lime Pie for dessert. We got home before the torrential rains hit, and packed our things for the morning departure.
On Saturday morning we met the gecko who lived behind the picture on our wall and we had our showers. The boys left around 9 with the golf carts while we confirmed our Tropic Air flight off the island. Armando said he’s coming early to beat the weather – oh no! As we pulled away from Rae and Dave’s dock, Armando said “Uh oh, big rain” and whoosh – next thing we know we were wetter than we’ve ever been. Buckets of rain and seawater were dumping over us, and everything was soaked through. All our luggage, camera bags etc. were up front and it was too torrential to even get to them. I was turtled over my purse but the rain was running straight off me onto my things. We were laughing because it was so ridiculous how wet we were, and the irony was that we had all saved one warm outfit for the way home – and here we were soaked to the skin in our “warm” clothes. We met up with the boys and presented our soggy passports for our flight on Tropic Air to Belize City. Our bags all went with Rae and Dave on the first flight, and the rest of us boarded a 14-seat single prop plane for the 17 minute flight. We were seriously overweight and barely made it off the runway, and we only flew at 900 feet, but it was an easy short flight to the International airport. We quickly changed out of our sopping clothes in the crowded bathroom and stuffed our wet things into our luggage to be checked. We sent our postcards then went through security to begin our Belize airport hell. The flight was supposed to leave at 1 pm, but we got runaround stories for 5 hours before we finally took off at 6 pm for Charlotte. The only thing to eat inside the terminal was hot dogs and beer, and they ran out of both quite quickly. They kept saying, “you will be boarding in 17 minutes” when we could see there was no airplane even there. When the US Airways flight landed at 5:15 the whole airport applauded!
Of course we had long since missed our connection, and didn’t get to Charlotte until 10 pm. We called the boys and Susan to tell them we wouldn’t make it home, and then spent an hour trying to get us rebooked on different flights. US Airways got us hotel rooms and meal vouchers and after a crowded shuttle to the hotel we ordered pizza and ate it at midnight. The cabs came at 6:15am and 6:30am and we checked in at American Airlines no problem. We all got selected for “special screening” and got the glass room and extra pat down. We used our meal vouchers for breakfast at Starbucks and the Tequileria, and we boarded for Dallas. We had to fly Dallas to Seattle and finally landed around 2 pm. We finally got home by 5 pm and got a million hugs and kisses from the boys! It was a great trip with lots of memories, but it was also really good to be home and see the boys again. We loved travelling with Aaron and Marzia, Gene and Kim – same time, next year, anyone???

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