Off We Go!

DEPARTURE

It was 20°and snowing when we packed up and left Vermont yesterday. A new Moon and one of the shortest days of the year I stood on the frozen pond admits the swirling flakes surrounded by white; snow covered ice and trees the winter home half-done and awaiting spring to be completed. The girls have their own backpacks this time and it promises to be a full on backpacking trip through Belize. shopping solo as we idled out front.

We rushed through last minute errands in Montpelier crowded with shoppers and slush covered streets. At the bank we learned that no one does traveler’s checks anymore were also learned our flight out of Burlington is ½ hour earlier than we thought. The coop parking lot was full, so Colleen did the last-minute

Then it was 35 miles of snow covered highway to Burlington and the days inn where we are leaving our car and staying upon our return in 26 days. We changed out of our winter and caught a taxi to the where our flight was now delayed a half hour

and it was after dark by the time we took off into the snowy skies. Ambiana was on the right side of plane and got the glorious view as a plane emerged from the clouds revealing a strip of sunset ski beneath the black dome of stars that is the universe. Jakobi and I on the other side of the plane saw clouds lit from below by the lights as we flew over New England we landed in Charlotte North Carolina around 9:00 PM and found a nook of the airport to call our own. The girls were restless, and Colleen went off with a friend from college and I lay down to get what sleep I could. After a night on the Airport floor our tent will seem like a feather bed.

ARRIVAL

Our hour flight out of Miami was delayed. We sat on the plane for an hour before we took off. Ambiana and Jakobi did not care because the plane had screens. We landed in Belize around 12:30 PM and proceeded through customs. Jakobi almost lost her passport in the bathroom and customs took my custom a $30.00 bag of granola. I was devastated, it was my comfort. Very sad.

BELIZE CITY

We then took a U.S. $35.00 car ride into Belize city to the more expensive of the ferries to the cayes. I hate the money rush of the locals the minute we land but can’t blame them. just be polite and firm. Colleen went off to the grocery store while Jakobi passed out on the bench and Ambiana and I hung out with the bags.

When Colleen came back I went to both ferry ticket offices and the one we were at was twice as expensive as the other. I met a local spice woman who had a shop near our bench and bought a bottle of hot sauce from her and she told Colleen where the local produce markets was. We woke Jakobi up and moved up the street to the less expensive Ocean ferry and Colleen and Ambiana left for the produce market while I watched over the bags and a passed-out Jakobi. Colleen and Ambiana soon returned with a bag of fruit and veggies and Ambiana carrying a watermelon.

Our ferry was a slightly bigger version of the one we took in Fiji 10 years ago. 40 plus people packed into boat we sat out front and Ambiana spent the superfast ride with their head out the window and air blowing straight back.

On the Islands

CAYE CAULKER

Night descended fast and soon we were racing through blackness. It took us 45 minutes to reach Caye Caulker and we disembarked into a ramshackle island paradise. Golf carts and shanty restaurant’s; small hotels and in the basketball court a Creole Christmas celebration with salsa Santa Claus and seemingly all the kids on the island.

We hike on to Bella’s hostel where we set up our tent out back next to a beached a houseboat.
Colleen cooked us some yummy burrito and plantains and then Ambiana and I crawled into our tent and went to sleep. Jakobi and Colleen who had slept on the planes headed out for a walk. Now it is morning, I was out of the tent with sunrise and sat on the small dock on the small bay leading out to the sea. The hostel is coming to life around me as I shake off the weariness of two days of travel. It is hot and muggy out and smells like the sea. When the girls awake we will venture forth and see what the island has to offer us.

Caye Caulker is like a super big Utila, if I was here alone or just with Colleen it would be more fun. If there are no beaches and the kids get restless. Everyone goes out on snorkel and dive tours and then come back in eat and drink. We walked to the split; a channel that is dredged between the 2 halves of the island and there is a bar and a swimming area off the concrete pier and we get in the water but there’s not much else to do, no beach to play on the, no shade to sit in.

Jakobi is a bored and throws a fit and Colleen and Ambiana go for a walk to get away from her. Chillin’ is not an option so Jakobi and I go for a walk too. We return to the area and Jakobi wants a coconut and climbs a pile of sand and tries to get one, I finally wrest one from the palm and she is instantly happy.

Colleen and Ambiana return and we go back to the hostel for lunch and lying around in hammocks.

The Next day we headed out to the spit to do some snorkling, There is hardly any shae and we set up beneath a palm tree behind some shacks near a construction site. I sat there and read while the girls snorkled. When I joined them my mask ripped apart at the seams. Colleen’s snorkle takes on water so we have a matching pair for the garbage. The girls love the water and could stay in the ocean all day but we have to drag them out to take a shade break so they don;t get a bad sunburn.

This whole part of the island is packed with shacks, stores and restaurants. Every block has a lit up crystal water sign and a small grocery store interspersed with concrete block dwellings and a hole in the wall places to eat. Colleen has found a less expensive hostel but we’re only going to stay two more nights including this one, so the hassle of moving is not worth it. I am not content to chill here beyond one more day because this is not a chill spot but need one more day of nothing to acclimate before packing up and spending the day traveling.

The girls have taken a fancy to the hostel owner’s 12 year old daughter Bella and her 2 week old pup Panda and spend the afternoon playing with them both and getting into a massive water balloon fight.

At 4pm we head to the barge dock to catch a boat to the KoKo Klub on the North side of the Caye beyond the split. The ride is free if we spend BZ$10 at the bar. We finally find the semblance of a beach here as well as a nice bar built over the water, beach chairs, a water trampline and climbing pyramid and a fancy infinity pool. Ambiana loved it, this is her kind of place. We swam and played in the water then sat on the roof deck and had rum punch and virgin pina coladas as the sun set behind dark ominous clouds

Am seriously questioning why we did not just find a beach to camp on for three weeks but then remember that the hurricanes torched them all. The girls would be happy to stay here longer because they love the dogs but Coleen and I are ready to explore Belize and find some place more chill to hang out in so we have decided to head to the sleepy fishing village of Sarteneja. We wake at dawn and walk to the ferry through quiet streets before everyone wakes up.

The ferry ride in daylight is just as crowded and just as fast, it is interesting to people watch and to see what we couldn’t see on the way out.

Arriving back in Belize City we head off across the river to find the buses.