Today it is just James, Erin, Chuck, and me! Penny and T will stay on the boat. They swam, played games (T won SEVEN stuffed animals in the "grabber" in the arcade), had a room service picnic on the balcony, and just had a great time hanging out with each other. I know he felt special getting all the one-on-one attention from her.
While they did all that we put our life on the "line" quite literally. After taking a tender from our boat into the main port of Belize City, we took an hour bus drive out of the city and into the Belize jungle. Parts of Belize look really poor like Guatamala and parts look a little more affluent. And they can be right next to each other. James said when they came five years ago, most of what we saw wasn't even there! Looks like you can buy some property if you are interested...
The first part of the day we were going to spend in inner tubes, so the camera had to be left on the bus. As the tour guide said, "You will get 95% wet on the way down, and the other 5%... we will see!" They only let us bring US and their gear!
The gear meant inner tubes (FYI - when you stick to excursions sponsored by the boat, you get really CLEAN nice inner tubes, not the black "true"inner tubes that turn everything you own black! Glad we went NCL Excursions), headlamps, and rented watershoes **don't even go there in reminding me just how disgusting that thought is** to be carried by us on the 35 minute hike. they warned us that our feet would get wet, so to bring shoes that CAN get wet! I didn't realize that they would be wet BEFORE we started this hike... so we rented the water shoes. That really probably is a prosperous dig for these guys... what do water shoes cost at Walmart anyway? $6? You can rent them out for $3 a pair about three times a day... for about a month or so... I think that is more than I make teaching!
OK, so Day 2 of realizing that I really need to get back into shape... that walk was tough... especially since the inner sole was not IN my water shoes, so I felt every rock I stepped on... but it was SO worth it. Like the guide said, the water was "refreshing" (Belize for 'really freaking cold') at a whopping 65* !
Once in the water and able to breathe normal again, and the men able to talk in normal octaves, we connected tubes and took our liesure float through the caves of Belize. And it was "Un-Belizable!" Sorry, just HAD to throw that one in. We heard it from the guides all day! We got to hear waterfalls, see bat things, like guano, and just marvel in what is a part of this big blue ball we call the Earth! Looking back at all the headlamps in the cave was really cool, like little strings of Christmas lights! Note to self... bring a water camera next time! It is just undescribable how pretty that part of the day was!
At some point of this day, and I believe it was before the hike up to the cave... I was approached by one of the four kids that were in our group of eight! (Remember, the entire boat was swarming with college spring breakers) He saddled on up next to me and says, "Can I ask you a really random question?" To which I have no other way to respond than, "sure!"
"Did you ever teach at The **** School?" I stopped STILL in my tracks... really? HERE? In Belize?
Yep, thousands of miles away and I am face-to-face with Joseph F., a former student from my very first year at this school. How weird is THAT? I mean... I run into kids at the mall, at sports activities, they wait on my table at restaurants... but BELIZE! Just cool!
After everyone dried off, it was lunch time. We had a "catered meal" of rice/beans, chicken, and cole slaw. The surprising thing, we were in the middle of the jungle and these people served us on glass plates with real silverware. and even real coke in glass bottles. I didn't even know they did that anymore. But you needed that for the sauce. Man... that was some HOT sauce!
And now the moment of truth... another hike while all wrapped up in our zip lining gear to prove that I really AM 40 years old... Holy Crow that was a tough hike... straight up and all stairs! With about 30 extra pounds... okay, maybe 10... but we also JUST ate a huge lunch! Shouldn't we have done this BEFORE lunch? At the top of the hike they attach you to nothing more than a string and expect you to just LET GO! Are you crazy... we are 85 feet IN THE AIR! In the jungle! And... Yeah... let me attach my first-born child onto that string FIRST!What a rush... Been there... done that... don't have a t-shirt... but I have the souvenir photo! And ok, the "string" was supposed to be strong enough to hold a couple of tons... but I wouldn't have believed it until we were all done! That little white/orangish dot in the middle... THAT is Chuck!
An hour bus drive back with some local beers gives you some quiet time. The guide did fill us in with some more Belize facts and history. Nice time to just contemplate the adventure, the surroundings, the humanity, and just how lucky we are to live where we do! Especially if this is their idea of a Hurricane Shelter... If our house didn't fair that well during Ike, how will this thing ever... and how many people do they expect to FIT inside it?
Took the tender back to the ship to relieve Penny of her little charge... Found some snacks and hit the game room for a family game of Yahtzee! I won with T in close second followed by Chuck and E! I love it when we get to play games like that!
Dinner at La Trattoria, the specialty Italian restaurant on the boat. It wasn't bad Italian, but their polenta side dish was just about amazing! Reminded me of Grandmother's cheese grits only maybe a little more refined!
Oh... and I know you are dying to know! Did Alicia grab that sunset this time? Well, I was in the shower before heading to dinner, but Chuck pretty much got every stage of the sunset! I will take it... It was beautiful!
After a great day, and a filling dinner, and no interest in the White Hot Party, we decided it was probably just as well that we call it an early night. We had all had a full day!
Tomorrow... a day in the water with mammals in Cozumel!