Sunday, January 30, 2011

We're safe and sound in Belize!

Team one met EARLY Friday morning at RDU and hopped on our plane after a long wait. We got there early enough to avoid the crowds! Good thing, as the plane had been overbooked. Had a good trip to Miami where we spent hours waiting for our connection. The Miami airport has these great fish and sealife sculptures in the airport!
Had lunch and got on board the plane for Belize. This one was only 1/3 full so we got to move around and get some legroom to catch a few winks before we arrived.
A safe arrival and down the ranp we came to go pick up our luggage and go through customs. Our friend Philip was there to pick us up and we headed for the water taxi across town. The traffic was the usual Friday afternoon congested snarl, but we made it in plenty of time. They had eliminated the 3:30 taxi water so we got to wait an hour longer. The 4:30 was crammed, but we arrived safely in San Pedro.
Mr. Victor (our favorite taxi driver) arrived to pick up the suitcases filled with donations to Holy Cross and the rest of us headed for Ruby's Hotel to get settled in. This was the first time we had arrived in the dark. The town is pretty quiet and tourism is way down. As one of the locals said while we were waiting for Mr. Victor, "When America goes down, we go down." Then we taught him the word economy. Went to the Blue Water Grill for a nice dinner and headed to bed early.

Saturday morning

We all felt right at home getting up for the sunrise on our favorite balcony in Belize! It didn't disappoint us.
John headed down to Reef Adventures to arrange a trip for us up the coast to the northern tip of Ambergris Caye to the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve. It is a World Heritage Site because of its many unique natural characteristics. We headed for Estelle's for breakfast and were happy to be back in the land of Fry Jacks and Fruit Bowls!

John was successful in booking a tour for us so after breakfast we went back and got ready for snorkeling and adventuring. We boarded the boat and headed for the first of three snorkel sites. Belize has the second largest Barrier Reef in the world and the snorkeling is fabulous. There are lots of wonderful corals and sea life here.

After about 20 minutes of snorkeling we headed for Rocky Point where the Barrier Reef meets the shoreline.
Then we headed outside of the reef and ran into some medium swells. Fun ride! Meanwhile, the cook on the boat was preparing lunch.

We stopped and picked up one of the Rangers at the park and he guided us to the Office. It was low tide so we slowly made our way across the lagoon to the Headquarters.
Did a tour of the very nice Museum and then it was almost time for lunch! They brought out the rum punch to help us with the wait. The foil packages came off the grill and wow! Yummy hog snapper with vegetables! Compliments to the chef!
After a leisurely lunch we headed back to the boat passing this cute Carolina girl...
Back through the lagoon again, but the tide was coming in, so not quite so slow and then into the Canal that separates Mexico and Belize. It was dug by the Mayans through the dense mangrove forest to shorten their trade routes. Quite an impressive feat. We dropped the Ranger off at his research boat and headed for snorkel spot #2. This was our crew. The young boy is a student at Holy Cross who works on Sat and half of Sun and then goes home and does his homework. After about 15 minutes at stop 2, we headed back outside the reef. We were going with the swells here so easy ride, especially when the bottlenose dolphins decided to escort us! Very exciting. On to Snorkel Spot number #3. They were all great. Not everyone snorkeled. It was delightful just enjoying the sunshine and wonderful air in the boat!

Then back to shore and an hour or so to cleanup and rest and off to dinner at Carambas and a little ice cream to finish off the day. Super trip! Everybody had a wonderful time!

Sunday Morning

Back to Estelle's for breakfast...
and then back to our favorite deck for Morning Prayer and then a day of leisure to unpack, nap, wander the town and just relax before we begin work at Holy Cross bright and early tomorrow.

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