Friday, January 23, 2009

Attack of the Sand Flies!

They call them blackflies here but they aren't the same as at home. But they sure do bite! I had these little red marks all over my arms last night but I didn't think much of them. But this morning they have turned into itchy red welts!!!! They are driving me INSANE.....
It's too cold mosquitoes up here so I wasn't really looking out for bugs... I am sorry for it now though.
So we had a wonderful long sleep last night we went to bed at 8:30pm we were SO tired after all that hiking, the temperature dipped to about 10 degrees last night so we lit the fire and put lots of wood on and crawled under the comforters into bed. We work up around 6:30am this morning and came up to the main house for our last breakfast.
I keep getting teary moments about leaving and going home. I miss people and I my house but I don't actually want my normal boring routine life back.... I know it's silly but I keep crying it's just been the most incredible month ever.
okay I have to go back to the room now and pack all my things... a chore I have been trying to put off all morning... it's 8:50am, our transport shuttle to the airport leaves at 10:30am....

Add 10:15am

So we are just waiting to leave now...
and I was reliving all the wonderful foods I have tasted while here... some that I forgot to talk about!

*bananas in rum sauce SO yummy..... was I think my favourite dessert we had this at Trek Stop.
*coconut icecream was also very good. Ben liked the soursop icecream.
*Lobster I can't stop thinking about how good all the fish was. snapper was good and I loved the fish burgers!
*we tried Guatemalan Fried Chicken, I already forget the chain name but it's a huge chain in central America and they opened some in the USA now too... they like their fried chicken!
*Ceviche! SO good here.... I LOVE and Ben LOVES ceviche! we will miss it dearly when we go home.

Trevor called me the resident foodie in the group. Since I know and got really excited about food!
Ashely thought it was really cool how excited and how much I expressed my love of she was the veggie in the group but loved how I talked about food and at least appreciated eating meat etc.... Yes so I am the "foodie"

we hadn't heard that many good things about food in Belize we thought it would be mostly bland and plain... I am happy that we were SO wrong!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Last Day of Vacation

So as the afternoon draws to a close after a very long day I am a bit sad. Going home with be a tough adjustment. This has truly been the trip of a lifetime, nothing I have ever done compares to this.

Today Ben & I woke up had Breakfast at 7am and left at 8am for our visit to 1000 ft falls. (which is actually 1600 ft tall since the British Army did a repelling exercise a couple years ago and measured it) It's the tallest in Central America. Our car & guide waited for us while we viewed the falls to take us to on actual drop off point for the days hike ahead.

Our drop off point was the beginning of the Cascade Trail and we hiked along the trail for most of the morning I would say, there are many foot bridges, ladders and zig zags across a stream with many mini waterfalls and pools where you can go for a swim. It was very beautiful and I really enjoyed that part of the hiking the most because it was visually so interesting and like a series of monkey bars and jungle gyms to play on!
There is a cold front here so it was a bit cool for swimming but we did have our swim suits just in case the mood struck us.

Then we hiked along the road for a while and hopped on the Lizard Trail which took us to the trail to the Secret Falls & Hidden Pools where we hiked along for 45 mins about before we climbed down into a steep valley to find a private paradise just for us! It was truly a secret waterfall and hidden pool!
There was a little covered dining area & hammocks where we ate our packed lunch and had a little relax. It was so special and lovely.
We set up the camera and the automatic timer and posed in front of the falls & pool so we could have a photo as couple to look back on and remember.

Then we continued on to our next trail Butterfly Falls. It was quite the hike in but the falls were SPECTACULAR! Then we hiked up to High Point where we had a wonderful view of the whole area of Mountain Pine Ridge. It was quite the view! I hadn't realized how high we had climbed.

We also saw thousands and thousands of leaf cutter ants. Ben and I never got tired of finding the ant highways and trying to find out which tree the ants were using and then follow their highways and find the home base! We must have taken SO many photos of leaf cutter ants, we seriously never got bored of them.

We also tried not to step on them, but on the Butterfly Trail we were nearly falling off the trail because the ants were using the trail and the bridge as their own personal highway! They are very cool insects.

It's really interesting because at one level (the highest) the whole area is a true forest of pine! And then if you go down into the valleys it's broad leaf jungle forest again! All day long we went back & forth between the 2 distinct forest types. There is a very clear line which divide each one which is very interesting.

Anyways at High Point I bailed on the hiking at 3pm I called and got pick up. I was tired and my leg (which a pulled a muscle in yesterday climbing the temples at Caracol was giving me problems & pain) so Ben took the radio and continued onward to Devil's Falls on his own and then he is going to walk back to the Inn. If dark falls before he gets back to the Inn he will radio for a pickup.

On the drive back I saw a Jumping Pine Viper snake. (I think that's the name) He was sunning himself in the sun after just eating, he was very fat! and he was very poisonous. The driver/guide pulled over and let me get out of the van to take a closer look, but still a good distance away! I didn't get a photo because Ben had the camera though.

Because the Inn owns 7200 acres of property and there are over 90 miles of trail systems when you leave on a hike they give you a 2 way radio in case of any problems and also so you can get someone to come and pickup you up between trails or take you back to the Inn etc. It's a very good idea I think and came in handy.

When I got back to the Inn I went in the Hot Tub! then went and had a shower came up to the main house and I am having a coffee and updating the blog. It's about 5:10pm now. I expect Ben back around 6:30pm or so. I am going to be hungry I worked up a appetite today! Oh wow! Ben is back and it's only 5:15! He has gone back to the room now to shower and change since he is gross & sweaty! lol...

Well I guess this is almost the end.

Tomorrow we fly out at 3:25pm from Belize International Airport and we arrive in Toronto around 11:30pm or something like that it's going to be a long COLD day of travel.

This has been the best vacation ever! the only thing that would have made it better I think is if Mike, Pauline, Nathan & Katey, Mom, Dad and Jeanetter could have come with us I think it would have been really cool to have done a big family vacation and broken up into groups depending on what activies you wanted to do etc.... Maybe sometime in the future we can do something like that.

We are SO coming back to Belize again!

Okay that's it for now.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Caracol and more!

Last night the sky was black and the stars were shinning more brightly than I can remember for a long time, it was amazing and quiet!
We went from the cheapest yummiest meal where I was smashing my lobster open with beer bottles to the most expensive meal of our whole trip where they move silverware around for you in 24 hours... quite the change!


Is totally different than Tikal but equally as amazing and stunning. We were one of four groups the entire day! So we had the WHOLE place to ourselves which was SO nice and incredible.... There wasn't more than 16 people total in the WHOLE site.

Our guides picked up in a big red Jeep much more appropriate than the little car we drove up in yesterday for these roads....

It was about a 30 min drive to the check point which is the Ranger station to wait for the rest of the cars to arrive to begin the convoy.
While we waited we had a pee stop and I played with new baby puppies only a couple weeks old! SO CUTE!

Then at 9:30 we started the convoy in to Caracol with our soldiers.
Tikal is only 14 miles away from Caraol and less than that to the Guatemalan boarder.
Caracol & Tikal were at war were each other frequently ...... with such a space between them I can see how and why!

On the drive in to Caracol which is 22 miles from the ranger station we saw a group of 6 Scarlet Macaws! WILD ONES! They were stunning. Dad would have flipped out I am sure!

We also saw 3 toucans and a bunch of other birds. Our guides knew LOTS about birds, it's his favourite hobby.
We also saw a toucan that had been attacked by a hawk but was being taken care of and was going to be fine in a couple days to be released. When we saw him he was laying in a box with a towel, he was very beautiful. They were feeding him bananas and papayas. lucky bird!

We were allowed to climb everything and go EVERYWHERE in Caracol. It was very cool. We even went right inside the burial chambers and tombs!

Everything there is so intact compared to any other site I have viewed. It was stunning, totally stunning. Mom and Dad would be SO amazed you would love it, totally love it. And love that there is NO other people!!!!

After Caracol, we stopped at the Frio Cave which is a very large cave but very short you can see each opening from the 2 entrances & exits.

Then we stopped at the Rio On Pools on nice days you can stop and swim there, but the sun had gone away and it was cloudy and cool. But it was nice to stop for a photo. Ben says he could have spent all day taking photos there. It was very pretty.

Then our guide took us to Big Rock Waterfall. Quite the STEEP hike down, a short walk, but very difficult! There was one other group there of like 12 people and Ben went swimming in the pools at the bottom of the waterfall.
He said the water was pretty cold but he stayed in a while and played. I wasn't feeling that great the bumpy roads had made me a little car sick so I was a bit dizzy and didn't go in, plus likely too cold for me anyways. On the way back I sat in the front of the jeep which was better.

Our guides dropped us at 5:30pm and we came back and showered and Ben is having a beer in the bar with his computer and I am having a glass of wine typing.
Dinner is at 7pm... 20 mins which is good because I am STARVING!

After dinner we are going to take a bottle of wine back to our room, lite the fire and play some cribbage!

Hidden Vally Inn is the nicest place we have ever stayed as a couple. We discussed it last night.... by far the nicest and most exspensive. It's totally awesome here and really romantic.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hidden Valley Inn on the Mountain Pine Ridge...

We began our travels today at 10am and arrived here at the resort at 4:30pm it was a LONG day, made a little tough by me not feeling 100%, I was kinda very out of it during the travels, but at least it was on a travel day and not an activity day! (that would have been much much worse)

So we got to San Ignacio and hired a taxi to drive us to the resort, which is on a dirt road the WHOLE 1 hour was on a DIRT road, and seriously dude's car took a major beating! I few times I thought the car was just going to breakdown.

Even though the taxi driver had taken some air out of the tires I was still very sure that we blew a tire a few times and was shocked when we didn't. I was happy though that the driver checked the spare first before we headed out of town.

Finally after a very bumpy, dusty 1 hour drive we make it to the most beautiful place I have ever laid eyes on! It's a gorgeous resort with great decor, fireplaces in the bar, dining room, lounge, reception, living room etc... and they are all lit this evening and I am sitting here on the computer drinking a glass of red wine. Ben is on his computer, and I am doing my thing on here, listening to soft music and the sound of fire crackling in the background. It's picture perfect!

I had forgotten how much I missed having really hot water! When we checked in the first thing I did was have a hot shower and crawl into the comfy bathrobe and read the literature on what there is do here with Ben.

We have booked Caracol for tomorrow. We leave at 8am to hook up with the convoy that leaves at 9:15am. The convoy has an armed guard escort to prevent robberies and holdups that were happening along the road by Guatemalans who were sneaking across the border to terrorize tourists heading to Caracol (which is a Belizan Mayan Site) Anyways now everyone goes together once a day and leaves once a day in this convoy with the army escort and there hasn't been any problems since they began doing it this way.

I am very excited for Caracol tomorrow! I should be feeling better tomorrow too, so I am not too worried about that.. and when we get back from Caracol I have set my mind on swimming in the pool and heated Jacuzzi they have here!

I love this place I could live here forever! Okay now I'm going to go and check out dinner!

Last Thoughts on Caye Caulker

So today we left Caye Caulker we took the 10:00am Water Taxi to Belize city, then took public bus to San Ignancio where we got a taxi to Hidden Valley Inn... but more on that later....
Now some thoughts from my final day on the Caye that I thought up while in transit today...

I will never again be able to eat pineapple anywhere else after here because it's so fresh & sweet!

I LOVE coconut milkshakes and could drink them every day.

I also LOVE bbq'ed lobster and the price!
I had a whole lobster w/ garlic mashed potatoes, rice & beans, rum punch and a strawberry cheesecake for dessert last night all for the price of $25.00 Belizian! Which is $12.50 USD.

I also LOVE the fresh squeezed orange juice, for 1 litre it's $5.00 Belzian or $2.50 USD I am forever spoiled now by the fresh orange juice I was buying here every morning!

So we went to The Spilt and lay around yesterday morning and I went in for a short swim and snorkel.
Ben also snorkeled for a bit, it was nice and calm, good for him to swim around and not get overwhelmed by the salt, currents & waves.

By about noon I wasn't feeling so well, my old friend endo decided to give me a very difficult day... so I had to go back to room, take some drugs and lay down. by dinner I was feeling a little better thus my WONDERFUL dinner as descibed above.

Trevor joined us for dinner (since the group is done now he has a week off before his next gap tour) Trevor said he would hook up with contacts for the next time we want to come down here and visit. I said it would be a while a few years, but even so he said no problem.
I think we will very likely do at least 2 weeks in Nicaragua (with Trevor's help we have become VERY interested!!! and Honduras (Copan in particular for another week) and maybe like 5 days of Belize to hit up the spots we missed for our next vacation.

Sunday and yesterday were both sunny although Sunday was cool with lots of wind.. but Monday was HOT and so was today....

Last night was early to bed, so we could get up and pack this morning and leave for Mountain Pine Ridge.
As the water taxi pulled away we left our sunny warm island for more jungle on the mainland!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Caye Caulker

Friday night we went out and partied for Sara's b-day, it was good times. Sat was spent recovering from Friday but it was rainy again anyways.... The sun peaked out for a bit though, and finally there was a nice sunset and we fely postive leading into Sunday and our all day snorkel, sailingtrip.

The snorkel trip was good, saw lots of fish, sea turtles (which was cool) lots of sting rays and one shark. the groups befor us,scared away th sharks apparently so that was disappointing.
ben did better snorkelling than 5 years ago, but still only went on 1 of the 3 stops. I got good photos of the marine life though, but all day on teh boat took it's toll on me and I was a bit seasick, not like actually but I was feeling great, and it lasted into the evening and affected me being able to enjoy dinner. 2 half days trips would have been better. I skipped having any of the rum punch because i was feeling poorly. Ben did too.

ps I hate this keybaord the keys are sticky and it's taking forever to type b/c the space bar hardly works....

I already miss all of our new friends..... everyone went home today :( okay I gotta go meet Ben for dinner, I am very hungry, last night on the Island!

oh ya the otto here is GO SLOW! that goes for service in the restaurants too, so you have to get there before you are already hungry to eat!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rainy Day Friday....

Okay another day of rain... yesterday all rain, today all rain... although a few moments ago a patch of blue sky appeared! We are all praying for sun tomorrow!

Today we girls went shopping and got pedicures or manicures, it is Sarah's birthday so the girls spent the day together. I got a pedicure, and I picked a bright coral colour polish and the girl did a flower pattern design on my big toe. I have happy feet!

And I bought a cute dress for tonight! With all the rain and wind there isn't much to do besides shop and get pretty and do internet... Ben is drinking at sports bar owned by Canadians he is enjoying cheap beer! I knew better than to drag him shopping!

Sarah is getting a massage currently and I decided to buy internet time (which is not chea)before returning to the hotel to get all dressed up going out tonight to celebrate Sarah's birthday! we are going to dinner as a group and then dancing and we ordered her a birthday cake (a surprise!) I am going to wear my new dress.

So yesterday when we got to the island we had a small late lunch I had a lobster wrap SO good. For dinner I had grilled lobster with garlic butter sauce! And this morning for brunch I had a lobster omelet! Lobster is very cheap here so I am filling up :)

I was a little sad to not have any email.... or comments on the blog today :( where is everyone?

Tomorrow Ben and I would like to rent Kayaks and go around the island.. and hopefully go swimming at the spilt (which is where they tried to make a nice beach and a hurricaine washed it awaye and divided the island into 2 parts... now called the spilt. But is still the best swimming to do on the island. And apparently to find sea shells....
Katey I have my snorkel and I am ready to go and find a pretty shell to bring home for the baby so hopefully it's nice and warm and sunny tomorrow so I can go swimming/shell searching at the spilt.

Sunday is our big sailing trip and snorkel day with 3 stops - one being in Sting Ray/Shark Alley (nurse sharks) where we swim with them. Lunch is included and on the way home, RUM PUNCH too! Hopefully we have sun for the trip I think being on a sail boat will be totally awesome! And it's the last day we will be all together since everyone leaves on Monday.

Ben and I staying here on the island on Monday and leaving on Tuesday for Mountain Pine Ridge, where we are staying for 3 nights at the Hidden Valley Inn. Which is a posh place to stay with fireplaces in the all the suites and you can book a private waterfall and champange lunch for the day! Ben says we have been good on budget, and after all this rain we deserve a little treat. We have done well staying in pretty cheap places without hot water etc.... and last night we had ants coming out of our sink, a WHOLE colony of ants and I was totally freaked out, it was gross but it was fixed.... we think.... I half expect the ants to be back tonight....
So staying at the hidden valley inn will be really great. I am looking forward to it, also while we are there we are going to visit Caracol another Mayan site which was a rival city to Tikal.

Okay my 30 mins is coming to an end!!! is there any news or gossip going on ??? I would love to know how people are doing....