Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rough Couple of Days

Yah - not really, more like lazy thus the limited blogging. I can't even blame it on a lack of internet or spotty internet for that matter b/c there is WiFi everywhere here - every shop seems to have it. Now let's see, what can I tell you about the past couple of days. . . . This morning I went on a 2 tank dive just on the other side of the reef that protects Ambergris Caye. The resort that we are staying at Las Terrezas is affiliated with a dive shop called White Sands Dive Shop and they are located just off of the resort so it makes it really easy for me to decide if I want to dive or not. Diane has decided to do her open water course and while she was at it this morning, I figured that I would use that time to get in a few dives. I have to say, it was probably some of the best diving that I have ever done - it is a very healthy coral reef with a lot to look at. There are a lot of nurse sharks and groupers - all that will let you touch them - very cool! One of my dives this morning went down to 90 feet and the other 60 feet - and even got to swim through some "swim throughs" or "channels" - this is a real test of my claustophobia! I got a little green on the way in from the first dive - the 6-7 ft waves weren't helping!

For the rest of the day I have just been laying by the pool reading my book and now I am just sitting on our patio typing away. Yesterday was really a lazy day for us. Went to the beach in the morning (it is right in front of the resort) and read my book for a few hours. Then Diane and I decided that we would try our hand at sailing - yah, 2 white girls who have only lived in landlocked provinces - this should be fun! The resort has a Hobi Cat that is for use by it's patrons and we took advantage of that. After quick lesson from Curl (our go-to guy at the resort) we were off! I am sure he had a few moments where he thought "I can't believe I am letting them do this" as we went in circles in front of the resort but after a few minutes, we, meaning Diane, got the hang of things. Lucky for us, in grade 12, she took sailing lessons on the Glenmore Resevoir, so they came in handy. We were out on the water for about an hour and I only had to get off once and push (parts of the space b/w the land and the reef are very shallow - like up to my mid calf) and we seemed to have sailed into those. We managed to sail our way safely back to the resort and this will definitely be something that we will be doing again while we are here! After our sailing, we did a little pool time and decided that we would go into San Pedro a little earlier and try and keep the economy afloat for a bit! :-)

Now to get to San Pedro we have to take a water taxi that only runs every 2 hours during the day and every hour at night, so you have to plan. During the day, it just looks for people standing at the end of their docks and if they see you, the swing by. At night, it is a different story. If you want to go to San Pedro you flick on the green light and if you want to go up island you flick on the red light. If they see the lights, then they swing by your dock and pick you up. For the most part it seems like a pretty good system, although it can get fairly tight on the taxi. We bought a weeks pass for $50 and that gets us unlimited water taxi use.

For the most part we have been eating our breakfast and lunch in our condo and been heading in to town at night for supper, although one night we did walk down the beach to another resort for support. Speaking of beach, we aren't talking gorgeous white sand, sink my toes in type of beach but rather white, compacted often covered in sea grass, smells bad type of beach but very easy to walk or ride your bike down. And since there is so much development along the island, it isn't too, too dark - although I will bring my flashlight next time. Well, I should run - we are getting ready to head into San Pedro for some supper. Tomorrow I will tell you all about my experience with the dishwasher. . . .

Sunday, January 29, 2012

And so it begins. . . .

Normally Diane and I ease into our holidays - but not this time. She had expressed an interest in learning how to dive and when I asked her yesterday if she still wanted to, she wasn't sure. There is a dive shop located at our resort (White Sands Dive Shop) so we popped in there yesterday and they said that they could do an intro to scuba course in the pool today and then we could go out to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve for a dive. I figured while she was doing that I could get in a dive as well. So needless to say, we were both up before 8am this morning - which you have to admit is an early start for the first day of a holiday :-)

The diving at Hol Chan was really good and I saw a few things that I hadn't seen before. Before I came down I went and bought a torch for underwater as I learned in Hawaii that there are many different little critters that lurk in the nooks and crannies of the corals and today I found this mini eel - probably only 10cm long and about 1cm wide - really cool! We also saw a couple of nurse sharks, a green sea turtle, some tarpon, a baraccuda, a lion fish, lots of two jacks and also sorts of other little fishes that I don't know what they are called. This was Diane's first time diving and I think that she enjoyed it and may contine with her full certification (I hope so as there are lots of dive trips I want to take!) After our dive we went to a different zone in the marine park and snorkelled. Here we saw quite a few rays and a bunch of sharks. Overall, the water is very shallow and our deepest depth on our dive was only 28 feet.

So back to the beginning of our trip. Our flight to Belize City was uneventful although I did get a talking to at customs as I took a picture of the "Welcome to Belize" sign and I wasn't supposed to. Yep - bad me. After collecting our bags and we had to go back into the airport and re-check-in for our flight to San Pedro which was on a small airline called Maya Air.
Not the most high tech boarding pass

While waiting for our flight we were both hungry so got a hot dog and a rum punch (lunch of champions) at Jets Bar - a local institution at the Belize City Airport. I nearly fell off my rocker however when he said $28. Now everyone had warned me that Belize was a little pricy but $28 for 2 hot dogs and 2 rum punches?! It turned out it was $28 Belize dollars or $14 USD - much better.
Now back to Maya Air. They flight little single engine Cessna Caravans with one pilot. Not exactly up to my safety standards but I figured if we went down, I could swim :-) A couple things I noticed on the flight was that there was no safety talk at all - no pointing out of the exits, fire extinguisher or anything - good thing I fly a lot b/c I know all of these things off by heart! Secondly, the co-pilot seat was an actual seat for a passenger. I thinking that when we fly back to Belize City that I am going to try and sit there. Now having had the career that I have had, I am very used to flying in tiny planes and landing on small airstrips but this one has to take the cake! The San Pedro air strip kinda runs up the length of part of the town with homes in close proximity on each side and then the paved strip ends and you hit this little gravel path and yes it is a path and all of a sudden you are at the end and that is that. If you don't like flying, then this was not the place for you to land! LOL!
Coming into San Pedro

Okay - I have more to write but I am getting tired, so until tomorrow. . . oh just so you know, I did have a hard day with diving, reading my book and napping outside in a nice round chair :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Belize Bound

Yes, I am going on another holiday.  I know that there are many of you out there that wonder if I ever work - and I do, however I have just learned how to maximize my time off.  Between vacation, flex time and statutory holidays, I can squeeze in a lot of vacations!  Believe it or not, this trip is using up my remaining vacation time from 2011. 

Now back to this vacation. . . .so back in December, shortly after I arrived in Hawaii, I got an email from Diane saying that she wanted to go on a holiday and soon!  So while I was in Hawaii, we decided that we would aim for the last week of January, pending work schedules and after a little bit a discussion (really not much) we decided that we would go to Belize.    In terms of vacations that Diane and I have taken (this is #4), this is probably the least planned we have been.  I mean we didn't discuss until noon yesterday how we were getting to the airport and our flight left at 5:20pm.  I guess the most important things were booked like flights to Belize City, flight to San Pedro, hotel in Houston and condo on Ambergris Caye.  The rest we are just going to figure out!  Belize has some spectacular snorkeling and diving so that is on the list and I am pretty sure we are going to go and check out some Mayan ruins as Diane likes that sort of stuff and this trip isn't all about me! LOL!

This morning Diane and I experienced a first on our travels together - the drug dog search.  Just as we were to go down the jet way to our plane in Houston, we were pulled off to a side hall (this was happening to everyone - we part of a group of 8 people or so), told to put all of our bags on right side and step to the left.  After everyone was assembled, a TSA agent with a beautiful German Sheppard rounded the corner and proceeded to sniff all our bags.  After that, we were all given the all clear and were allowed to board the plane.  I thought it was all kinda cool. . .was wondering though if he would have been interested in Horton's scent which I am sure is on everything I own!  Speaking of which, 7 years ago today, that little brown beast that I love more than anything in this world came into my life - Happy Mama and the Who Day (that is what I call today).

As I type this, I am on our United/Continental flight to Belize City.  Now I know that after our trip to Thailand I vowed never to fly United again if I could help it, but now with the Continental/United merger, I am prepared to be bit more forgiving.  If it is a Continental branded flight, I am more prepared to fly it than a United branded flight.  Plus anything flying out of Houston is a Continental flight as Houston is a hub.  Overall, not that bad.  Oh - yesterday when we got the airport in Calgary we found out that we would not be able to collect our bags in Houston, although we had a long layover (overnight), so we both quickly scrambled to pack our PJs and basic toiletries into our carry-ons.  Have to admit, although it was a bit of a pain not having all of my stuff, including a change of clothes, it made this morning easy as we didn't have to check in - only had to go through security.  Once again, Diane gets to benefit from all of my frequent flying as in the US they have specific security lines for those who have a certain status level - in this case Star Alliance Gold, so that line was a little shorter.  The other upside is that she gets to be my guest in the lounge.   There was a decent United President's Club lounge in Houston so we popped in for a quick breakfast and for me to download my emails.   When it comes to lounges though, the ones in Europe kick butt to anything in North America in terms of food, beverages and amenities. . . but I can't complain b/c it is still better than sitting out with the commoners in the airport :-)

Until later. . .bound for Belize.