Belize Trip Report, 5-15-2003
We took off from DFW in Dallas to Miami, then to Belize City. The plane from Belize city to San Pedro truly redefines the concept of 'puddle jumper'. (It was a Cessna 172 - 6 seater!)
Weather is perfect, only a few clouds - no real wind. Apparantly the wind had been blowing rather heavily lately, but we missed it.
Anyhoo...we check into Banana Beach about 2pm and the power had gone out! Luckily, the chilled Cosmopolitan martini's at El Divino were in full swing, so we hung out on the patio and sipped on those and had some gourmet pizza.
As luck would have it, the power came back on in an hour or so, so we hopped into a golfcart and decided to check things out.
We had Belikins at BC's, Fido's, and Sharks Bar (I think) before making our way down to Amigos Del Mar to check out the diving situation.
They had a night dive to Shark Ray Alley, so I jumped on it.
Picture this - full moon, perfect seas and great diving. I hope the pictures turn out. Saw 7 foot moray eels, TONS of huge sea eagle rays (talking 4+ feet across), giant green parrot fish (easily 60lbs), and had a nurse shark (7-8 foot) literally swim up and kiss me. She swam right at me and passed probably 1-2 inches from my mask. Keeping my bowels in check (she had me worried for a second there) we finished the dive spotting lobster, huge crabs, tarpon.. Great dive and the guys from Amigos del Mar are great!
Back from the dive, I met up with my friends back at BB, had a couple of more martinis, then headed off to Jambels for some dinner.
Coconut Curry chicken, Jamaican me Crazy shrimp, and some sort of sauteed conch dish. All were great!
After that it was Wet Willy's and Big Daddy's for some dancing - great start to the trip.
I woke up early today, headed down to Cafe Ole (right accross from the Airport) for some french toast and coffee.
Took some fresh fruit and water / coffee back to the friends at the hotel, of course they're still sleeping. How can you possibly stay in your hotel when you're in BELIZE for friggin sake?!?
Anyhoo - it's 10:30am here at the internet cafe - I'm off for some more random exploring... day 2.5 report tomorrow.
Hey all...once again, here's the haps.. Day Two:
Lunch at Celi's - they have something called the "Hangover Burger". Perfect stuff lemme tell ya. Big double cheese with fresh jalepenos and avocado slices. Also came with some really good potatoe salad, not sure what they put in it here, but it's good!
2:00pm. Took the two friends on a one tanker dive at Hol Chan Park with Amigos del Mar. Great dive, but not as much out during the day as on the night dive. My friend Leo found out the hard way that grabbing Fire Coral isn't the smartest thing in the world to do.
After the dive, had Belikins at BC's just up the beach. Killer Nachos and the beef burritos were second to none!
Back home for a quick shower, then we went off to the "IT" bar. It's behind the airport (just follow the signs that say "It's Over there!". Anyhoo had Belikin Premiums while watching the Mavs get run over by Sacremento in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs.
After that it was off to Jaguar's for some Karoake singing. Lemme tell ya, I do a mean version of "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley. ;-)
Around 1am, we wondered back off to Big Daddy's for more beers and dancing. Got home about 2:15am..which sets up my day three.
Boat for Blue Hole / Lighthouse Reef dive comes to pick me up bright and early at 5am on the dock. Once again, I went with Amigos Del Mar. They had fresh fruit, coconut, and coffee waiting for us on the boat, along with some homemade cookies. They also provided tons of water / coke / sprite.
Nothing like a two hour rough boatride whilst hungover and sleep deprived to really "clear" that stomach out. Sheesh...it was really touch and go for me for a while there...didn't think I was going to make it.
First Dive - Blue Hole.
Alex was our dive master...he's really professional and great to lead the dives. Down at 140 feet we saw schools of grey reef sharks and very large black groupers. The sharks were probably 8-10 feet long and it's just hard to describe what it feels like to have several swimming around you. They should call it the "Black Hole" because it just keeps going and going and going, down to 500 feet. We cruised under a ledge at around 130 feet swimming around stalactites - it was the deepest dive I've ever done, and it was a blast!
Second Dive - Lighthouse Reef.
Wall diving! We cruised at about 60 feet along the reef. It was perfect...TONS of marine life, super clear water, and you enter the beginning of the wall by swimming through a tunnel in the reef.
It was perfect...no doubt about it.
Surface Interval Break -
Amigos del Mar took us to Half Moon Caye, where they made us lunch. Stewed chicken and rice and beans and more of that tasty potato salad. Eating lunch on the beach, with the lighthouse in the background and the palm trees, I felt like I was in a giant Corona Extra commercial. After lunch, you hike down a little trail to see the Red Footed Boobie Bird sanctuary. Lotsa big iguanas to be seen, and the birds are great. You go up to this platform and are at treetop level with maybe 100 birds. These guys all have 5-7 foot wingspans and to see them swooping all over the place gave me a feeling of Jurrasic Park. I kept expecting a Pterodactyl to pop up over the treeline and carry off one of us.
Gotta love the tropics!
Dive Three - More Wall Diving!
Same as #2. Lotsa marine life, sea turtles, cear water. It was truly beautiful. Oh forgot to mention that someone brought along an Enya CD and some Trance music on the boat...listening to that stuff while taking in the amazing blue colors of the water, with palm trees and reefs breaking in the distance...it was a very relaxing zen type thing.
On the boat trip back, the dive guys busted out the Panty Rippers and Belikins.. so we listened to 80's glam rock while having our own party on the way back.
Amigos del Mar is THE dive shop. Great group of guys, very professional, and enjoyed every minute of it. (Well..except the whole spewing thing that morning)
Came back and had dinner at El Divinos. Pan seared snapper in a citrus sauce, friends had the grouper. Both were fantastic! Dustin is the general manager there and he went to culinary school in Houston, Texas. He designed the food and martini menus, so if you're here, definately stop in for one of his watermelon martinis!
Welp..that's all for now. Day Four here at Coconet Internet Cafe. and it's 8am. Off to Lily's for some breakfast and once again the friends are still asleep.
More to come...
(Sidenote: Completely forgot to mention, go check out San Telmo Living Arts...there's a sign right next to the Bamboo Furniture store that points to where it is. It's run by this guy named Jose Pacifico.. basically he's turned his land into a kind of walk through sculpture / art exhibit. Really really interesting art pieces and Jose's a strange cat unto himself. I think if you looked up "weathered" in the dictionary you'd see a picture of him. The man's made of leather. Anyway, it's free to walk around and look at, a nice "off the beaten path" sorta thing)
Listen up and I'll tall you a tale of ex-patriate Cajuns and wayward crocodiles.
Day 4 -
Woke up early to head down to check and see if any of my underwater photos came out. THEY DID! Some great shots of sea turtles, big schools of something or other, big groupers, bonitos, coral, purple sponges... you name it. Great to have some good diving shots to take home.
Checked in with Amigos del Mar and noticed something funny. Just above their door is a picture of the 1993 Austin Bud Girls and lo and behold, there's my ex fiancee in the back row. Geez, you travel 2000 miles from home and you still run into a pic of your ex... strange stuffs.
Decided to do a two tanker, first one was at Toffee (Coffee?) outside the reef. Holy crap those swells suck! Everyone was getting seasick, but after suffering through it for two hours on the Blue Hole run the day before, I did much better this time around. Dive was fairly uneventful...not much to see.
Dive Two was just outside the reef at Hol Chan - GREAT DIVE! Sea turtles, big rays, and a couple of large (4-5 foot) remoras shadowed us for awhile. The best part of the dive was a 20lb black grouper that "adopted" us for the entire length of the dive.. swam inside of our group for 45-50 minutes...never more than 2-4 feet away from us. That was really really cool...it was like a pet dog or something. Naturally this was the time I forgot to bring my camera along. DOH!
Got back..relaxed a bit and had a pulled BBQ chicken sandwich at Lagniappes. Met Ms. Lagniappe ( ;-)) and traded Cajun jokes with her for a bit.
About 4:30 made it back to BB and we decided to go check out this crocodile thing. We were thinking it was some sort of nature reserve, roped off park kinda thing with an organized feeding. NOPE! It's like the Belizean version of cow tipping, I think. Basically, you buys your chicken parts and tosses em at this monstrous 14 foot saltwater croc that lives in the mangrove swamp by the water tower. No ropes, nothing...just walk out to him and toss some food at him. Lemme tell ya, it's one thing to see em on Discovery channel, quite another to see them up close (maybe within 8-10 feet). He was "movie prop" kinda big. Some of the kids were wading ankle deep into the water and tossing out chicken tied to a string.
Secretly I was sorta hoping one of em would get chomped...Darwinism at work to stop that sort of moronic behavior.
Anyhoo, pretty impressive / dangerous / all of that.
Last night in town and we head over to Fidos from some music. Had a cover band playing Steely Dan, Rush, Janis Joplin tracks..really really good tunes. We met up with a bunch of our dive buddies and eventually had a good group of 8-10 people that we had met over the week. Good times...good times.
Oh..you've got to try the fish and chips at Fidos...EXCELLENT!
About 12am we wondered back over to Jaguars to dance the night away. Tua met up with us over there to have a few beers. He's one of the bartenders at Banana Beach. 300lbs of ass kicking hawaiian. Nicest guy in the world tho..always smiling and joking with ya.
Headed back home way late..,
Day 5 - Time to go. :-(
Got up and relaxed on the beach - checked out early and headed down to BC's for the Sunday BBQ. GREAT FOOD! Sausage, chicken, pork chops, ribs, shrimp...really good stuff. Met Peter (who runs CocoNET Internet Coffee Bar - where I've been making my reports from). Showed him some of the diving pictures...
'Small fish...big fish, some small fish...a few bigger fish. Great Daylon...when was your return flight again?'
Finally got home about an hour ago..and I'm missing Belikins and the island already. After driving a golf cart around for a week I almost forgot how to drive a 'normal' car.
Can't wait to get back. Thanks for all the pointers and info guys..
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