A Travellerspoint blog

En Route to the US

semi-overcast 32 °C

A late start to the day for a change, which was great! We checked out and headed for Nerie's for lunch before taking the scenic route to the airport and dropping off the car, this one was still in one piece!

Our flight to the US was at 3.00pm, with a stopover at Dallas before flying into LA. Entry to the US was surprisingly painless and efficient. The immigration officer was the nicest one we'd met so far! We were through so quickly that the luggage wasn't unloaded yet so we grabbed dinner at 360 Grill, a mexican takeout like Zambrero. The airport at Dallas is massive and the terminal our next flight was leaving from was miles away - lucky there was a good shuttle to get there.

Our flight to LA almost didn't leave as there was some sort of altercation between one of the hostesses and a passenger, to the point that the hostie was going to leave the plane unless the passenger got off - eventually the passenger did leave and we all breathed a sigh of relief that the plane would now depart.

The LA airport was nowhere near as efficient with the luggage but finally our bags reached the carousel and we took the shuttle to the rental car depo. The assistant upsold us from the practical Corolla to the impractical but fun all American muscle car, a Chevrolet Camaro. At $10 extra per day, the shiny black brand new coupe was hard to resist! Why not have a bit of fun, we had a lot of kms to cover on the west coast and it would be nice to have a car with some grunt. With the extra $$ handed over it was time to put the luggage in the boot - quite the Tetris challenge! First we spent 10mins trying to work out where the boot release button even was, then we had to push and pull until both bags were in - lucky they weren't hard cases and had a bit of give.

The airport was some way from downtown LA and we didn't get to the hotel until about 1am, so definitely ready for sleep after a long day of flying.

Posted by Nezabella 04:18 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Beauties of the Deep

31 °C

It's a fresh new day and time to forget yesterday!

Belize is known for its beautiful clear and warm water, perfect for diving and snorkeling, so we had a lovely day of snorkeling planned out at Caye Caulker. It's also home to the famous Blue Hole but unfortunately the helicopter ride out there was prohibitively expensive so that goes on the list for another time. :)

Up early, we walked to the jetty to catch the water taxi out to the Caye, which was about an hour away. When we arrived at the Caye we wandered along the beach until we found our tour operator, Raggamuffin Tours.

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They are one of the biggest operators and run an efficient business model. While we waited for our departure time we were able to sample some homemade strawberry cheesecake icecream which was delicious.

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It was a busy day for snorkeling and four boats were needed to carry all the people in our group, in addition to lots of other boats heading out from other companies. Our boat captain set the mood for the day with some great reggae tunes to groove to on the way out. Coral gardens was our first stop where we saw some lovely fish as well as a dugong and worked up a great appetite for lunch, a simple rice and salad selection. We were also able to feed albatross who swooped in from the sky.

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Sated, we headed for Sharkray Alley where a meal of burley enticed nurse sharks and southern stingrays to come and investigate while we swam among them. Amazing!

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Our final stop for the day was Hol Chan Reserve where we were fortunate to find a green turtle - they are fairly rare so we felt very lucky!

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Our ride back to the Caye was very relaxing, as the captain had put up a sail and we floated our way back. I found a piece of spare deck to lie down and enjoy the ride...well that was until a random rainshower passed overhead and we all ran shrieking for cover!

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Heading back to the jetties the Captain didn't realise we were day trippers and we almost missed the last water taxi for the day. They quickly dropped anchor and and a little boat took us to the water taxi jetty. But when we got there I realised I had left my Peru cap in the boat so I had to run back and get it anyway!

Posted by Nezabella 08:56 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

Slip, Slide, Bang

sunny 32 °C

Today was mum and Tenille's birthday back in Oz so I made Whatsapp calls to both - lovely to call home! After reading the preparation email last night for our planned activity today, we realised Jeff needed shoes that could get wet and he had only packed boots and good shoes. We had scoped out a store the day before but hadn't bought shoes as we weren't 100% sure. As they were around $50 we only wanted to buy them if definitely needed! We headed there as soon as the store opened, then got on the road to our destination, Ian Anderson's caves branch. It was something I had really been looking forward to - waterfall caving! We knew we'd be running close but had our fingers crossed we'd arrive in time.

It seemed to take forever to get there and we lost time at some roadworks along the way. Finally we reached the driveway which was a long gravel road about 1.5kms long. About 200m from the end we were faced with a large bus coming towards us. As the road was narrow there was not enough room for the bus to pass us easily, so Jeff moved right onto the shoulder in a slightly wider area to give the bus as much room as possible. He didn't come to a complete halt, but was edging along the road as the bus passed by. Once the bus had gone he was about to pull back onto the road when the shoulder caved in and we slid down the embankment into a ditch. We were stopped by a small tree which hit the mirror and pushed it back into the passenger window, smashing it all over me.

Now we were stuck there! The bus had gone, oblivious to our dilemma as we were obscured by their dust. Soon a ute coming the other way, followed by another one with a trailer full of adventurers stopped to see what had happened. Some helped while others gawked at the scene. Initially they tried to pull and push the Jeep out but no luck. Then they tried hooking up a tractor to pull it out which was eventually successful.

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We headed to the reception and explained what had happened. Ironically, the bus we had pulled over for was the one we should have been on. If we had been only 2 minutes earlier it never would have happened. And after buying the shoes especially, we found they had old ones there he could have worn. Unbelievable.

Unfortunately, it was the only waterfall caving session running for the day so we missed out entirely. We didn't want to do any of the other activities (boring in comparison and not really in the mood anymore) so headed back to the city - a wasted and expensive day out but thankfully we had paid the collision damage waiver so not as expensive as it could have been if we had incurred the full cost of the damage!

Back at the airport we swapped out the car, filled out the necessary paperwork and paid the damage waiver but had to go to the car company's other location to pick up our replacement Jeep. When we arrived we told the owner our sad story. I think he felt sorry for us as he invited us to their home-cooked lunch which was served every day for employees and gave me a Belizean number plate for my collection!

Needless to say, we didn't feel like doing much after the disastrous morning and someone who shall remain nameless was in a rather foul mood. So we headed back to the hostel to watch telly but the dog next door was still barking! Time to forget this day even happened. :(

Posted by Nezabella 02:45 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

Belize City

sunny 32 °C

This morning we were due to fly out of Flores and head to Belize City at 8.30am. The flight was very late to depart but eventually we boarded a tiny Beechcraft plane.

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The flight was full and flying at about 10,000 ft. After we reached cruising height I could see the tiny Tikal temples rising out of the jungle in the distance.

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On the way to the coast we flew into a raincloud and a beautiful rainbow.

After we landed in Belize City we picked up our car, a white Jeep, and headed for the guesthouse. We settled in, then decided to take the car for the afternoon and explore. We found nice and not so nice parts of town. Many of the streets were 1-way.

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We lunched at a restaurant called Nerie's which served Belizean cuisine. Some of the local favourites are stew beans and rice and fried plantain which is a delicious banana-like delicacy. After lunch we bought groceries for dinner and brekkie - milk is not cheap!

Back at the guesthouse it was time to relax and watch cable television accompanied by the musical barking of a nearby dog!

Posted by Nezabella 07:11 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

A Misty Sunrise

sunny 37 °C

I wanted to join the sunrise tour so it was an early start this morning (3.30am!) but as Jeff wasn't keen I left him snoring! Along with the guide I joined 4 other enthusiastic tourists and we headed to Temple 4 to climb up and await the sunrise. We were the second group to arrive and it was lovely and peaceful for a short while until lots more groups arrived. The sky was filled with misty fog as the sun started its journey, a huge orange orb suspended mid-air. The guide told us it was rare to get a clear sunrise due to the humidity of the area.

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Eventually everyone became quiet as the jungle came alive with the sounds of birds and howler monkeys starting their day.

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After sunrise our guide took us to other key areas of the site and told us how all the temples would have been rendered and painted red, orange or yellow when they were first built. He also told us how, when the Tikal population reached its peak in the 8th century, that the area suffered significant deforestation and erosion due to intensive agriculture. It is also thought that there may have been a drought around the same time compounding the shortage of food and water. Soon after, the population of Tikal started to decrease, as the city could no longer sustain the inhabitants and they abandoned Tikal in favour of the nearby Peten Lakes region. When the majority of the population had left, squatters replaced the royal residents and it wasn't long before they started looting the tombs and vandalising monuments. Even these inhabitants eventually left and by the 10th century the city was entirely deserted and the rainforest claimed the ruins for the next thousand years.

Back at the Inn it was time for a delicious breakfast of fluffy pancakes. The shuttle picked us up at 3pm and dropped us at our hotel on Flores Island which had a lovely view over the lake.

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We decided to go for a walk back to the mainland and explored a nearby shopping centre, finding a Burger King for dinner where pointing at menu items eventually netted us dinner. One of the cheap ways to get around town are the tuc tucs which we saw zooming around everywhere.

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Posted by Nezabella 06:25 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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