Friday, August 21, 2009

Caye Caulker

On August 16th the rest of us hopped off the shuttle van in Belize’s tiny capital, Belmopan, and connected a chicken bus, a taxi, and a ferry enroute to our last stop, Caye Caulker (PHOTO 1: our side by side hotels, PHOTO 2: island lingo, PHOTO 3: cool cactusish flowers by the local bank).

In this laid back little island town we enjoyed a little bit of everything. Some eating highlights were cakes from the cake mon (PHOTO 4), our favorite meal out at Wish Willy, not really a restaurant, just someone’s backyard (PHOTO 5: lobster, shrimp, and barracuda) and a wonderful meal we fixed for each other in our apartment (PHOTO 6: digging into rice, beans, avocado, mango, and fresh barracuda steaks). The steaks in the previous photo were caught by the brothers in PHOTO 7 who took Eric and Mike to a local caye for flyfishing.

Kathy, Eli, and Tyler (PHOTO 8) tried scuba diving for the 1st time and were treated to a rare sighting of manatees. I did a 2 tank dive in the Hol Chan Reserve and during my surface interval between dives was treated to half an hour of snorkeling time in shallow water with several beautiful turtles (PHOTO 9).

On our last full day Eric, Adam, Mike, and I spent the day snorkeling from a sail boat (PHOTO 10: Bob Marley playing in the background). PHOTOS 11, 12, 13 and 14 show some of my favorite large objects below the waves (eel, ray, nurse shark, Adam).

On Thursday, August 20th, Eric and Kathy's family caught the 7:30 am ferry to the mainland and flew out before noon. I did a little shopping (including an essential Bob Marley CD), and we finished off the rice, beans, and fish in a final perfect lunch with Mariah and Greg before catching a flight to the international airport. Mariah and Greg will head home Saturday and I've added photos from their final week to the previous post.

Our visit to Belize had come to an end (PHOTO 15: Caye Caulker from the air). We loved this trip and already treasure the memories of the adventures and cultural experiences we shared.

Mariah, Greg, other Greg, and Steve

On August 16th we left Hopkins Village in a shuttle van, picked up Eric and Kathy’s family at Caves Branch, then sent Mariah and Greg to San Ignacio in the van for some inland time. Last fall some of us entered a trip giveaway contest offered by Greg Vandiver, an avid traveler and Maya ruins junky, and our Greg won.

They visited the ruins of Caracol where a baby black howler who had been injured in a fall and rehabilitated at the zoo leapt into Mariah's arms (PHOTOS 1 and 2). PHOTO 3 is at the Lamanai ruins and PHOTO 4 shows El Castillo at Xunantunich. PHOTO 5 shows the group enjoying dinner at Wish Willy on Caye Caulker. Photos 6, 7, and 8 are great underwater shots they took with a little waterproof disposable camera: a school of snappers, a spotted eagle ray, and a manatee. HAPPY TRIALS!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Caves Branch Lodge

After 4 nights on South Water Caye Eric and Kathy’s family headed to Caves Branch Lodge (PHOTO 1) for some jungle and caving adventure. PHOTOS 2 and 3 show Kathy on the way down during the Black Hole Drop adventure and the family at the bottom. PHOTOS 4 and 5 show Eli crawling through a tight spot during the Waterfall Caves adventure and their lunch in the cave. HAPPY TRAILS!

Monday, August 17, 2009

South Water Caye

While we were on Glover’s Atoll, Eric, Kathy, and sons headed to Pelican Pouch on South Water Caye (PHOTO 1) where they snorkeled (PHOTO 2: getting the lay of the land and water with a guide), fished (PHOTO 3: Eric on the dock at sunset, PHOTOS 4 and 5: success), and ate delicious food including fresh lobster, their catch of the day, and birthday cake (PHOTOS 6, 7, and 8). Happy 18th birthday, Tyler!

Glover's Atoll

On Sunday, August 9th, we split the group in 2 and Mariah, Greg, Mike, and I caught a boat in neighboring Sittee River Village to Glover’s Atoll, 40 miles off the coast (PHOTO 1: dolphin escort and PHOTO 2: 9 acre NE Caye, our home for the week). We walked sandy trails shaded by palms and lined with shells (PHOTO 3) and lived in little thatched cabins over the water (PHOTO 4). We were without electricity and running water for the week and cooked simple, delicious meals on a little gas stove (PHOTO 5: rice, melon, fresh snapper). PHOTO 6 shows a sunrise from our deck with Mariah and Greg’s cabin on the left. PHOTOS 7 to 15 highlight some of our favorite activities on Glover’s. It was a remarkable week and we hope to return someday. HAPPY TRAILS!