Posts Tagged With: Belize

Final Day in Belize: January 2, 2014

Today is our last full day in Belize. Ugh. In my experience, near the end of the trip, there is one of two ways you can feel: 1) you get excited to go home and resume life after rest and relaxation… then there’s how I feel: depressed. Seriously. I get so sad and even angry that the trip is over. Where did the time go? Why is this happening to me? Don’t the vacation gods get it? I need to be here more than I need oxygen. Dramatic, I know, but it’s sort of true. I love traveling. I love the feeling of being somewhere new and unexpected. I love meeting new people and hanging out with old friends. I like waiting up for the sun and I love chasing the last rays at sunset. If I could get paid to live out of my suitcase, I totally would… no questions asked. The only thing that gets me through the last day of a vacation is thinking about my next vacation. Crazy, I know. Maybe I’m just wired a bit differently!

So back to Belize. We woke up and of course, started our final day with a morning snorkel. Once again we saw lobsters and stingrays, fish, and eels. The current was really rough this morning- almost as if it didn’t want us to leave either! Breakfast was scrambled eggs, grapefruit, refried beans, butt bacon, orange juice, coffee, and johnny cakes. After breakfast, we worked on our puzzle of Italy. Someday, I’ll go to Italy. Yeah, that’s a nice thing to picture.

A look out to the boat dock from Dangriga

A look out to the boat dock from Dangriga

Most of our group was headed back to the good old U.S. of A. today so they jumped on the morning boat at 10:30AM. We took a bunch of group photos and said our goodbyes (secretly very happy that we had a few more hours on South Water Caye)! We relaxed, packed up, and took one last dip before we caught our 3:30PM boat back to Dangriga, where we would be staying for the night in the Pelican Resort’s sister resort again (we stayed there on our first night as well). On the boat trip back, we took a pit stop at Man-of-War Caye, affectionately known by locals as, Bird Island. It was absolutely covered in frigate birds and yellow-footed boobies. They seem to have worked themselves into a symbiotic relationship and there are no other birds on the island.

Dangriga coastline

Dangriga coastline

We arrived back in Dangriga and placed our bags in our room. We walked into the main square of Dangriga where there was a playground, brightly painted, and a few people around doing some work on the road. We picked up some Belizean hot sauce and rum and then headed back to Pelican Beach. We finished off the evening with dinner at the resort’s restaurant. I opted for spiced curry chicken with vegetables and coconut rice. For dessert, we all split some lemon meringue pie and a passionfruit milkshake. We spent a few hours just talking and drinking beers before we eventually headed to bed for the our final sleep in Belize.

Road construction in Dangriga

Road construction in Dangriga

Dangriga playground

Dangriga playground

This trip was fantastic. When we first heard about the trip/were invited on the trip by Andrew’s parents, we were absolutely ecstatic! I knew it was going to be different going in– because, 1) we were traveling internationally with family and I’ve only traveled internationally with friends and 2) we were going to be on a tiny island for the duration of the trip. To be honest, I was a bit worried that I’d get bored being in once place for so long…. like I’ve said before, I’m not a big “sit on the beach doing nothing” person. But this trip was exactly what I needed– relaxing, no pressure, no requirements, no expectations, and no decisions. Just good friends (and family!), good food, cold beverages, water, and warmth. It was perfect.

Plant closeup.

Plant closeup.

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South Water Caye, Belize: Jan. 1 2014

We snorkeled before breakfast. Is there honestly any better way to start off a new year? I think not. So, we hopped into our suits right at sunrise and got in the water. It was a great morning of snorkeling, full of purple mouthed eels, squirrel fish, some weird-looking dragon fish, and a bunch of coral. It was a choppy and overcast morning, but it was just perfect.

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Andrew and Barbara walking around the island

Breakfast consisted of eggs, beans, fried jacks, apples, and ham with mango chutney. Strange mix I know. This was our final night on South Water Caye. Talk about sad. Our house was booked tonight, so we packed up our bags and moved into a room above the main house/kitchen area. We did some more snorkeling and swimming off the beach before lunch; a lot more eels… and crabs…and LOBSTERS! They’re so creepy and big and they just stare at you. But I digress… we ate our lunch of pasta salad with shrimp, rolls, and coconut empanadas (along with tropical juice) and then we got ready for our final off-island excursion: manatee hunt!!

The bar and restaurant

The bar and restaurant

I love manatees. At the time we went searching for them in Belize, I had never seen one in person before (well in the wild). I’ve read about them, looked at pictures of them, watched videos of them, and even wrote a few reports on them back in the day…but I never saw one. So, imagine my insane excitement to go Manatee searching in Belize!! The only problem was… we didn’t see a. single. manatee. I was a little heartbroken, but I told myself it just wasn’t the time. Truth be hold, we were looking for them during a time of year when they aren’t frequently in those waters. After the lack of manatees, we took the boat over to Tobacco Caye, an island a bit larger than South Water. We walked around for a bit which was nice- and we also saw a GIANT manta ray and a spotted eagle ray swimming right by the boat dock. Tobacco Caye was a lot more populated than South Water. There were a bunch of families living there, as well as some hotels/resorts. We only spent about 20 minutes there- just stretching the legs.

Hammocks!

Hammocks!

After stopping off at Tobacco Caye, we went snorkeling at a really cool spot where we saw electric rays, squirrel fish, lion fish, and cuddle fish. The snorkeling was relaxing and exciting and just perfect. We arrived back at South Water Caye, where we headed up to the puzzle room and worked to finish up our 3rd? 4th puzzle of the trip? This puzzle was of Italy. We enjoyed some Pina Coladas, Beliken Beers, and Island Sunsets. Dinner was spicy onion soup, stuffing, rice and beans, pineapple-cabbage slaw, turkey with cranberry sauce, and chocolate rum cake.

We spent the evening with cold drinks chatting with the crew about tv shows and all sorts of other mindless things. Our boat off of South Water Caye leaves tomorrow at 3:00PM. I’m bummed. I’m usually not the type of person that can stay in one place for very long but I just have to say… disconnecting- utterly and completely, is just so nice. I think I’m going to make a point of having 1 day a month without any technology. Just me and the outdoors… and maybe Andrew and the pups. Just 1 full day of utter relaxation and serenity. Yes, that sounds just wonderful.

Belize- I could get used to you!

Kayaks on the island

Kayaks on the island

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New Year’s Eve 2013: South Water Caye

Ah New Year’s Eve. It’s a great time of year, don’t you think? You get the chance to revisit the previous year and think about everything you did… and didn’t do. You get to hit the reset button and think about everything that will be done differently in the coming year. You make big plans. Yes, this year will be MY year. You’ll get to work early, you’ll exercise more, you’ll eat less this and more that, you won’t be negative, you won’t let the dishes pile up, you’ll get up the courage to ask that guy or gal out, you’ll look so fabulous that your pesky ex or that guy/gal that rejected you will look at you and think, “damn, what was I thinking…”. I mean, let’s get serious here for minute– everyone has that thought at some point in their life, guy or girl. Yes, 2014 will be my year to shine.

The funny thing is though… when you try to think about the previous year, it all melds together. I mean, here I am, in February 2015, writing up this post and I am having a tough time remembering 2014. Don’t get me wrong, 2014 was an awesome year… it’s just that the things I focus on to reset for the New Year seem so important when I make them… and then life happens and the relative “unimportantness” (yes I made up that word) of those resolutions shines. Perhaps my problem is that I am making the *wrong New Year’s resolutions. The things I remember from 2014? The trips I took, the people I met, the conversations I had, and the beers I discovered: eating lunch at Pike’s Place Market with my state coworkers at an annual meeting, drinking beers at a local DC brewpub with Andrew’s brother, sister-in-law, and our friends, hiking at Hetch-Hetchy Dam, picking up our new dog, Winston, from the shelter, taking a boat into a National Park in Indonesia to see Orangutans, drinking a beer at a crazy Robot Show in Tokyo, sneaking photos in an open air market in Singapore, taking a swig of bourbon from a flask that my fellow classmate snuck into the graduation ceremony, going to an “authentic” Russian meal in Alaska, teaching the drinking game, asshole, to a 60-year old man who wandered down to our cabin where we were staying with the Cornell crew one weekend, dancing with coworkers in Dallas after our meeting let out for the day, hiking to a natural hot spring in Iceland, exploring new brewpubs and collecting pint glasses, spending Thanksgiving with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew at my parents’ house, and of course, spending New Year’s at the beach where Andrew proposed (technically New Year’s Day 2015).

I don’t, however, remember what I ate and did not eat. I don’t remember how many times I exercised. I don’t remember how often (if ever!) I got to work early. I don’t remember how many days I didn’t have a “negative” thought. I can’t tell you how many times Andrew and I did the dishes or let them pile up. I can’t tell you how many “dates” Andrew and I went on. I can’t even tell you if I kept a single one of my 2014 resolutions and you know why? Because I was busy living and that to me is more important than any superficial rule I made up on December 31, 2013. Live for the moment and don’t take life too seriously. No one gets out alive.

But back to South Water Caye! Wow that was me on my soap box. December 31, 2013 was a day for relaxation. I woke up and took some great sunrise photos on the beach with Tim and Barbara (for some reason, I can’t actually locate these sunrise photos)! Andrew and I went snorkeling again and saw a yellow stingray, green and yellow eels, and a ton of fish and lobsters. For breakfast, we ate fried beans, scrambled eggs, hot sauce, tortillas, soursop juice, orange slices, and sausage links. We also had fresh coconuts!!!!!

dec31beach

A beautiful beach day

 

After breakfast, we worked on a Pink Floyd Album cover puzzle. We did not finish by lunch and that was just fine. We drank beers and piña coladas. We ate island paradise pizza (ground beef, tomato, onion, pepper, cheese, and pepperoni), banana muffins, and watermelon. After lunch, we did finish the puzzle. Then we went snorkeling again, further around the island a bit to switch it up. We saw more rays, lobsters, big schools of fish, these tiny silver fish that followed your every move, gigantic starfish, giant crabs, hermit crabs, conchs, purple lion fish, and sea cucumbers. It was the perfect day.

Pelican enjoying the island life

Pelican enjoying the island life

Pretty trees on the beach

Pretty trees on the beach

We showered and ate dinner: pineapple, breaded eggplant, jalapeño corn salad, macaroni pasta with tomato, conch stir fry, sweet potato pone, and coconut. After dinner, the tables were cleared and the party began! There were Belizean drummers, dancers, and singers. We did shots of 1 Barrel Rum. We drink Belikan Beer, we drank Mayfair dandy gin, and we even had some rum that Sarah and Stuart brought from the mainland. We danced and we sang and we talked about traveling and life. We lived in the moment. It was the perfect New Year’s!

coconuts

There’s nothing in the world that can’t be made better with some coconuts

 

Until next time. Live your life.

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South Water Caye, Belize: December 30th

Is it 5:30AM? I honestly have no idea. The sun isn’t up yet but I feel fantastic. I love having no clue what time it is here in Belize. There’s just something so wonderful about being completely disconnected from technology and the fast pace of Washington, DC. On island time, there are no politics (except when Andrew’s dad brings them up- haha), no worries, no agendas, no rules, and no crises that can’t be solved with a cold beer and a snorkel. I walked down on the beach and took some pictures of the retreating rain clouds. I met a woman and her child (from Germany!) who told me that the previous morning they saw a large Ray. I’ll have to be on the lookout for it!

dec30_dock

dec30

Retreating Rain Clouds

 

Returning to our cabin, Andrew was awake and we quickly jumped at the chance to get in the water and snorkel before breakfast. It was completely worth the early morning push! We saw Lion Fish, Spotted Eagle Rays, a Green Moray Eel, a Goldentail Moray Eel, and a ton of other fish. We went in our suits to breakfast just because we could and we met up with the others for a delicious meal of: scrambled eggs, fried beans, mixed fruit (papaya, watermelon, and cantaloupe), a dense homemade creole bread, and hibiscus juice.

dec30sunshine

Sun shining through the clouds

dec30palm

Palm patterns

 

After breakfast, we relaxed and put together a puzzle of frogs. We took a swim and then ate lunch (I know it seems like we eat a lot…) before heading out on an snorkel excursion a little further out, where we saw a ton of fish and a bunch of lion fish. They are apparently invasive species so there are a lot around. The water was a beautiful turquoise color and the temperature was perfect. If I could, I’d stay in the water all day and all night! Lunch was beef enchiladas, powder buns, pineapple, and hibiscus juice. We also tried out our first Belizean hot sauce (Beware).

dec30owen

Owen enjoying the water

dec30_water_morning

The water by our house

 

We spent the afternoon drinking piña coladas and beer, swimming, lounging, showering, and reading in hammocks. Just delightful. I forgot what it was like to just slow down. Around sunset, we made sure to place ourselves on the beach so we could take some photos of the bright oranges, reds, yellows, and pinks that stretched on forever. It was like a painting out of some expensive coffee table book. I wouldn’t have believed the colors if I hadn’t been there to see it for myself.

dec30treeswatertexture

Beautiful textures

 

For dinner, we had coconut rice, herbed fish, a potato-esque salad called, “cho cho”, and bread pudding with rum sauce. After dinner, we retreated to our cabin and brainstormed our resolutions and goals for 2014. *Side note- we didn’t actually end up doing everything we had planned in 2014… but it was a great year, nonetheless* :0)

Until tomorrow!

dec30sunsetpaddle

A kayaker enjoying the setting sun

dec30sunsetpalm

I just can’t get enough of those palms!

 

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Dangriga, Belize –> South Water Caye, Belize

December 29, 2013.

We woke up at the Pelican Beach Resort in Dangriga, Belize around 7:00am. The mattress was firm the air conditioning was cold, and the beach was near. We ate breakfast at the resort: a “Belizean Breakfast”- coffee, water, scrambled eggs, fried jacks (giant puffy pastries), refried beans, cheese, bacon, and habanero hot sauce. Yes, I know. HUGE breakfast. It was delicious. We packed up our bags and made our way down the dock to catch our boat at 9:00AM to South Water Caye.

Andrew checking out the view of the dock on mainland Belize

Andrew checking out the view of the dock on mainland Belize

The boat was small and fit our group plus the luggage; it was completely open air. The ride took about 45 minutes. We docked on the tiny caye where we were greeted by Leonardo. He walked us literally 5 yards to the office where we were given water, tea, coffee, and juice (available all the time). He also pointed out the bar. We were given a short tour of the office building which was complete with a library (books, games, puzzles), and a white board that would list the daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner plans. Life here on the island is simple; no making choices. The kitchen staff makes the menu and that’s what goes. After touring the building, we were taken to our cabins; Andrew and I are staying in “Osprey”- a duplex where Andrew’s parents were also staying. There are kayaks available for our use 24/7 and snorkeling right off the beach. Basically, I’m in heaven. The cabins are on the water.

The group getting the official tour!

The group getting the official tour!

Owen and Aunt Sarah checking out the water.

Owen and Aunt Sarah checking out the water.

Lunch was fish sticks, squash, garlic rolls, ginger cookies, and piña coladas. I know what you’re going to say– Meghan, you don’t eat seafood. Correct. I simply didn’t eat the fish sticks; you learn to go with the flow here. Everything is relaxed. There are no schedules, no facebook to update, no work to do. Just relax. You want to lie on the beach all day? Awesome. You want to snorkel all day? Awesome. You want to kayak to the research station off in the distance? Awesome. You want to lie in a hammock and ready? Awesome. Everything is awesome.

Want to sit in a chair all day on the beach? Awesome!

Want to sit in a chair all day on the beach? Awesome!

After lunch, we kayaked all the way around the island (really only took about 40 minutes) and snorkeled. There are a ton of fish off this island and I swear I will never get tired of them. We showered with cold rain water (perfect way to cool down) before heading up to the bar for a few cold drinks: Belikan Beer, Piña Coladas, and CocoLoco (no clue what was in this last one- they wouldn’t tell us!) For dinner, we dined on Conch Civiche, Lobser Tail, Marinated Salad, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and Coconut Pie for dessert.

One of many, MANY Piña Coladas consumed on the trip.

One of many, MANY Piña Coladas consumed on the trip.

 

We were pretty exhausted from a day of relaxing, so we headed to bed around the time the sun went down. I couldn’t tell you what time that was– I didn’t know and I didn’t care. We read by dim light for a bit (all the lights are solar powered here), we gazed out at the giant expanse of sky with millions of stars, and then we went to sleep. Tomorrow afternoon we are going on a snorkeling trip. The office has a bunch of excursions available. You just tell the what you want to do and they make it happen.

I could get used to this life.

 

Check out our fun day of travel to Belize here.

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DCA –> South Water Caye, Belize

Ah New Years 2013-2014. As a celebration for a number of reasons, Andrew and I traveled with his parents, brother’s family, and sister-in-law’s family to South Water Caye, Belize. Here’s where Souther Water Caye is located:

South Water Caye is located southwest of mainland Belize

South Water Caye is located southwest of mainland Belize (source)

 

South Water Caye is a private 14-acre island. It has a small marine biology research station (partnership between IZE, Boston University, and National Science Foundation) a few houses, and the Pelican Beach Resort, which is located on 3.5 acres at the southern end of the island. The resort is comprised of: a main house with a kitchen, a bar, an indoor/outdoor eating area, and a bunch of books/puzzles/games; and a number of house/condo combos. But more on South Water Caye later. For today, the trip there…

Our flight from DCA left at 7:00AM. We arrived in Dallas, TX at 9:30AM. The great thing about early morning traveling through airports? Early morning margaritas! We settled down at Blue Mesa and ordered some breakfast burritos and margaritas (Andrew had a blue margarita; I opted for the Black Raspberry Swirl). A little while after breakfast, we met up with Austin (Andrew’s brother) and Andrew’s sister-in-law’s family. The group of us enjoyed a margarita more before boarding our 12:45PM flight to Belize City. We arrived in Belize City at 3:45PM and got in line for customs, which was a disaster! Tons of people! We had just managed to to get through the line when someone in our party came running up and yelling that we needed to hand over our bags if we were ever going to make the connecting flight. This is where chaos ensued… and resulted in three members of our party being left behind to catch a later flight. The airport security guard grabbed our bags and shoved them through ticketing and then asked for our ids. Once we showed them, he started yelling that we needed to follow him… and he took the tickets with him. So, just picture 4 of us at this point running through the airport after a security guide. We ended up at the security check line and didn’t see our security guard anywhere. Apparently in Belize City, the motto is, “no ticket? no problem!” as we were pushed through security with no questions asked…

Tropic Airlines.

Tropic Airlines.

Close Quarters on the Tropic Airlines in Belize.

Close Quarters on the Tropic Airlines in Belize.

We were led out onto the runway to wait for about a minute before being ushered onto a 15 passenger (max) plane. The flight was literally about 20 minutes… if that. We left the plane and shortly thereafter, a large black SUV came to pick us up along with our luggage. The SUV transferred us to the Pelican Beach Resort in Dangriga, on the coast of mainland Belize. The next morning we would hop on the boat taxi to get to South Water Caye. After getting situated in our hotel rooms, and our missing three from Belize City randomly showed up on a completely different airline (apparently they were just pushed onto it), we all enjoyed some ice cold Belikan Belize Beer and dinner. Andrew went for Spicy Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice, while I opted for roasted veggies, rice, and salad. After laughing about the crazy long day and airport antics, we headed to bed. 7AM wake up call.

View from the plane. Belize City to Dangriga

View from the plane. Belize City to Dangriga

View from the plane on the flight from Belize City to Dangriga

View from the plane on the flight from Belize City to Dangriga

Pelican Beach Resort in Dangriga, Belize.

Pelican Beach Resort in Dangriga, Belize.

View of the dock at Pelican Beach Resort, Dangriga.

View of the dock at Pelican Beach Resort, Dangriga.

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