After many hugs and well wishes, Team 1 bid farewell and headed to the Water Taxi. They'll meet up with tour driver Philip on the mainland for a quick spin around Belize City before heading to the airport and back to the USA. Safe travels to all.
Team 2 split up into three groups. Jean and John hung out in San Pedro since they had done the tour north and been to Lamanai multiple times. As we were wandering through town on the way back from sending the National Park group off, we walked by the Roman Catholic Church in town and the sun was glowing through this stained glass window...stunning.
Jim and Lynn headed to Laminai for the day. Jim and Lynn reported that they had a great trip and that this was the best tour operator that Jim has had. They went down the river, saw the spider monkey sanctuary and had a terrific lunch. At Laminai they had an excellent guide and climbed some of the ruins. They reported that this is the last year that tourists will be able to climb the ruins. Starting next year, the temples will be off-limits to the climbers. (For more info & pictures on Lamanai, see tomorrow's blog.)
The rest of the group took a boat tour of the north end of Ambergris Caye.
After navigating through the channel under the bridge by the school, our captain, Vince, took us past the houses of San Mateo and into the back lagoon. From there we had a very rough ride up the western side of the island. We now all know what the business end of a pile driver feels like.
We arrived at the museum run by the wildlife service. We learned about the Mayan channel cut through the island, the various fish and wildlife and got a lesson in cooking beans from the resident ranger. Beth, friend to every living animal, found yet one more dog to love and tried to get acquainted with an iguana.
Mexico on the left, Belize on the right.
Next it was time for snorkeling. We came out of the East end of the channel and approached the reef to anchor. Joyce and Clara stayed on the boat to guard the rum punch while the rest of us jumped in and started to swim about. With the help of our guide Franz, we immediately spotted a sea turtle. The coral in this area of the reef is quite different from other spots we've been to. Lots of soft coral, fan coral, staghorn, elkhorn and brain coral. We saw many fish varieties as well - barracudas, parrot fish, jacks, groupers, snapper, sergeant majors, angel fish and others. Kathy and Beth were snorkeling for the first time, quickly picking up the skills and participating equally with the rest of us.
Time for lunch. Our boat continued down the East side of the island to a point just above Rocky Point. We brought the boat as close to the shore as possible and then waded the rest of the way to the beach. It was quite mucky , almost like quicksand, and Ginny promptly wound up sitting in the muck. She claims Bob was walking too fast, Bob said he slipped. The consensus of the group was that Bob was the guilty party.
Vince prepared a delicious lunch of grilled fish with peppers and onions, tortillas and beans. All cooked over a drift wood fire out of sight of any other human beings along this isolated stretch of beach. If there is paradise, this must be pretty close. For entertainment, the group had a competition of making sculptures of out debris we found along the beach. There is a lot of creativity and latent humor among us.
We all waded back to the boat. Chivalry is still alive as the women got on board and the men got the boat unstuck from the mud.
We made another snorkel stop. All the same swimmers. Clara and Joyce still guarding the rum punch. The highlight of this stop was seeing several very large Stingrays. Then we all got on board for our ride back to San Pedro.
Tonight we had evening prayers and reflected on our day. Then it was dinner at Caramba's, ice cream at DandE's and off to bed.
Thanks to Bob and Scott for the great text and pictures!