Friday, September 2, 2016

Don't Stop Belizin' [CAT2016: Belize]

I'm going to sound pretty spoiled when I say this, but I'm going to say it anyways. Traveling for a couple of weeks at a time is tough. Not only we were living out of suitcases (with clothes that kind of smell after awhile), but we were only staying in each city for one or two nights at a time, so we weren't really getting settled anywhere. It was also humid and rainy in Central America, so all of our stuff started to feel a little bit damp after a few days. I know, life is so difficult.

After almost two full weeks of insane travel, we finished up our trip with four days in Belize. We actually stayed there for three nights, which is longer than we'd stayed anywhere. And we decided to splurge a little. You know, treat yourself. 

We stayed on the island of San Pedro, so you think it'd be easy to go from the island of Honduras to the island of Belize. You'd be wrong. We ended up taking the shortest route, which was also the most expensive, and flew there. Even that required us to leave Utila the day before we were flying to San Pedro, Belize and spend the night in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. 

Is this not a giant safety concern?
Love you long time, Honduras.
Once we arrived in Belize, we still had to take a taxi to the ferry terminal and then take an hour and a half ferry ride to the island. I don't think that a single one of us regretted it when we set foot on the island, though.

San Pedro is famed for many things including the Blue Hole (which we did not see) and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, better known as Shark Ray Alley, which we did see.

We hung out at our hotel for an hour, tops, before we were picked up at our hotel dock and taken out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Our guide took us out snorkeling where we saw our first shark, tons of fish, and sea turtles! I have arms weaker than infant arms and my swimming skills are atrocious, so I opted to swim with a life jacket to allow for maximum snorkeling enjoyment. And let me tell you, there was maximum snorkeling enjoyment.

We got back on the boat and drove over to the area officially known as Shark Ray Alley. Apparently fishermen used to clean their days' catches in that area, the sharks and rays began to associate the sounds of the boat motors with food and began swarming pretty regularly, and as soon as the tour companies caught wind of it, the rest is history.

Real life. Not me standing in front of a poster.
So, yeah. It was basically awesome. There were so many sharks and so many rays and not a single one of them tried to eat me. Shark Ray Alley fulfilled all of my wildest shark dreams. And we were there during Shark Week, which is basically the best timing ever.

The following day, Sarah and I signed ourselves up for an all day catamaran tour and had zero regrets. Except for the fact that we should have applied sunscreen a bit more regularly.

We started out the day by going reef fishing where we both successfully caught two fish. And it's a good thing we did because that fish was our lunch and, besides the other two people who were fishing with us and both also caught two fish each, no one else caught anything that day. I'm not a great fisher because it's a lot of patiently waiting and then about ten seconds of excitement. And I'm pretty bad at being patient. But this was awesome because the water was so clear that I could spend all of the time waiting looking at all of the sting rays, sharks, and fish in the water. The ocean is a crazy place, you guys.

The tour group that we were traveling with was rotating people who were fishing and people who were snorkeling, so when we returned to the catamaran we grabbed our snorkels and headed in. And then we saw this guy.

There are few things more terrifying than swimming around and then looking up to see this guy headed your way. I quickly realized that Steve Irwin's death did very little to inform people of how you actually get stung by a sting ray because no one seemed to know if it shot the stinger at you or if it could flip it's tail at you. Needless to say, we kept our distance and no one was stung.

Oh, hay. 
We snorkeled for hours. Literally. Which is probably why we were burnt to crisps and my lips felt like I had licked the inside of a Lays potato chip bag. But it was incredible. At one point we got back onto the catamaran to enjoy the fruits of our labors via fish tacos and they were pretty bangin', if I do say so myself.

Our boat captain was sitting at the back of the boat, dropping pieces of fish into the ocean, which, naturally, was attracting all sorts of marine life. Not three minutes later, I had the best moment of my life, to date.

Yes, I touched a sea turtle. I touched it. It swam over to me and then we were swimming in the same water together. Granted, I was holding food for it, so it's not like it swam to me because I'm really pretty, but I don't even care. I swam with a sea turtle.

And then I swam with it some more.

And then I swam with it some more. Seriously, I think I was squealing like a little girl the entire time. Thank god it couldn't hear me. Or maybe it could. Regardless, it was awesome.

On our last day we went to a restaurant called Palapas, which has innertubes available for floating and drinking. Unfortunately, it was real freakin' wavy while we were sitting there. Fortunately, neither Sarah nor I cared and we ended up sitting in those tubes for a couple of hours. While sitting in those innertubes, we convinced ourselves that we could squeeze in a little stand up paddle boarding before our sunset booze cruise that night.

Remember when I said I had weaker arms than a baby? Do you realize how difficult that makes it to go paddle boarding? Especially when you're paddle boarding right where all of the boats are pulling into the dock. At one time, I actually started to float away and Sarah had to come rescue me. Needless to say, I spent most of the hour paddling along the dock and watching Sarah actually paddle board.

The only five seconds that I was actually able to stand.
For our last Central American/ Belizean hurrah, we took a sunset booze cruise and it was incredible. We toured with Island Dream Tours and they had excellent customer service. I mean, can you imagine the type of patience it takes to deal with a boat full our intoxicated tourists every night? Seriously, the thought of it makes me want to cry a little.

That bun though.
We boarded the boat and, over the course of the night, we were served ceviche, fresh fruit, and chips and dip. As well as an open bar. We basically sailed the open seas until sunset at which point we anchored for a bit so that they could turn on the party lights that lined the inside and outside of the boat and blast the music. What could be better than a floating dance party? Honestly, few things come close.

A beautiful sunset to end a beautiful trip.
The next morning we boarded the ferry back to the mainland and officially bring our trip to a close. We must have looked something awful though because the guy at the airline desk upgraded us both to First Class for freeeee. Holla at ya girls.

Was San Pedro the perfect way to end our 3 weeks of Central American travels? You better Belize it.

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