Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ziplining in Belize

The number is arbitrary. Sometimes there are 5, sometimes there are 8, and sometimes there are 10 monkeys. She sings the song over, and over, and over. The monkeys jump on the bed again and again. There are hand motions of course. She pronounces monkeys, moon-keeeys. The cuteness is overwhelming. She is completely unaware that she has attracted an audience of boat passengers.

We are on the first boat of the day, traveling from Caye Caulker to Belize City. 

We probably would have been fine taking the second boat, but we want to be absolutely sure we arrive on time to meet our guide from Cave Tubing.bz  

Since we arrive at the water taxi terminal with plenty of time to spare, we peruse a shop in search of an early morning snack.

I never eat sugar wafer cookies at home, but for some reason, I end up eating them in Latin American countries. In Panama, I nibbled them while swaying in a hammock in Santa Clara. In Costa Rica, I ate them on our bus ride to Puerto Viejo, and now, I munch them while waiting for our tour to begin. 

Our tour guide is right on time. His name is Oscar. 

We climb into a van, then drive to a hotel around the corner. We pick up a family from Iowa who will be joining us for the day. 

Compared to the almost three hour ride we had for our tour in Mexico, the hour ride to Cavetubing.bz feels brief. While our driver Roach keeps his eyes on the road, Oscar shares all sorts of interesting information about Belize. 

I was slightly nervous about ziplining. I wasn't afraid of plummeting to my death, I assumed that they wouldn't be in business if they frequently lost visitors, I was just unsure what the sensation of ziplining would feel like. I was hoping it wasn't like the feeling I hate when I'm on a big roller coaster.

Our first stop is check-in, where we pay, 

use the restrooms, and have a quick photo op. 

We hop back in the van, then make our way to the zipline sight. We sign our lives away, then get geared up. 

I thought the gear would be cumbersome, but it is surprisingly comfortable. 

There's a bit of a hike up an incline, and then up several flights of stairs. We need to start very high up in order to make our way down. Our two zipline guides (whose names I forget) are enthusiastic and friendly. I volunteer to go last, mostly so that I can watch how it's done to gain confidence.  

I'm fascinated by the dance of the clips. 

There is a sequence to clip us before we fly down the line, a sequence to un-clip us from the line, a sequence to clip us to the line that keeps us from plummeting to our death as we walked across the suspension bridge, etc...  Click-click-clickity-click is the sound of the morning.

It is an intricate metal ballet. 

When it's my turn, I take a deep breath,and against my practical inclinations,I walk off of the edge of the platform until nothing is under me but air. A breeze plays across my face. I'm flying. I feel gloriously free. This is amazing! 

Since our group is not under a time constraint (unlike those coming from cruise ships) we are able to do all of the runs. 

Final Run 
We didn't get a lot of pictures. We only brought our phones because we could button them into our cargo pants pockets. Things move surprisingly quick. It's sort of go-go-go, so there isn't a lot of time to get the phone out and snap a picture before you are moving on to the next run. You don't really want to trust holding onto your phone or camera, because you are very high up, with dense forest underneath you. If you drop your phone or camera, you are not going to see it again. 

Ziplining is fantastic! 

I loved every minute of it. I would recommend that everyone try it once, provided you aren't super afraid of heights. It was so freeing flying through the air. It wasn't scary at all. The only thing that took a minute for me to get, was keeping my hand that hovers over the wire relaxed. My instinct was to grip the wire above me, but this will slow you down, or cause you to spin around, or even cause you to come to a stop, so I just repeated in my head,

keep your hand relaxed.

If you are in Belize, I highly recommend ziplining with Cavetubing.bz. They were fun, kept things entertaining, but were also extremely professional. Safety was their top priority. 

Now that we have been ziplining, we will definitely look for more opportunities to zipline in our future travels. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Amor y Cafe - Caye Caulker

It is an ideal Sunday morning. Not too hot, with a striking blue sky.

At the funky, artist vibe, Amor y Cafe, we settle down at the counter that faces the road. We want to watch the hustle- and- bustle, or perhaps more exact, the lack of hustle- and- bustle go by. 

Couples hand- in- hand amble past, their flip-flops making a thwack-thwack sound against the dirt road. People on bicycles lazily glide;some stop to check out the menu before deciding to stay, while others move on to look for other edible prospects. We even see a family of children piled into a cart that is being pushed by their proud looking father. 

We order iced coffees. I make a mess of the cream pitcher, and I have to clean everything up so that my innate clumsiness isn't shown in the the pictures.  

The menu is simple and straight forward. Everything on it sounds delicious. 

Breakfast is often a conundrum. At dinner, you are rarely faced with the prospect of having something akin to dessert as your meal, but with breakfast, it's always a battle between sweet and savory.  

We both want fruit, so that narrows things down quite a bit.

Shannon goes with the waffle with fruit. It's crispy, fluffy, and comes with yummy things to put on top. 

I get his watermelon, yay, since he doesn't like it. 

I go with the yogurt, fruit, and granola. It is exactly what I was craving. 

The yogurt is smooth and creamy. The flavor is mild, with very little tang, which elevates the flavors of the fruit. The granola gives it a nice texture, though I'm a little surprised that raisin bran is considered part of the granola family.

Perhaps a little TMI, but this menu item packs a wallop of a fiber punch. I would probably avoid it if you are heading straight to a bathroomless boat for a day of snorkeling.  

Never rushed, we take our time, sipping, munching, and watching. Instead of  leaving feeling pumped up to conquer our day, we feel blissful and relaxed. If only more days could start out like a day started at Amor y Cafe. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Roy's- Caye Caulker

I’m not a big fan of restaurant hustlers. I don’t encounter them often in the U.S. . When I do encounter them, they tend to be pretty timid, merely asking if you’d like to see a menu as you pass, or, like on the seashore boardwalk, simply shout out the deals of the day, or boast of their food’s tastiness. In other places however, they can be downright pushy.

On Caye Caulker, I witnessed one restaurant worker jumping in front of groups, blocking their path and joking that he wasn’t going to let them by until they went into the restaurant. 

I think those types of antics turn people off more than they encourage business. I know my assumption has been that if you have to go to those lengths to get people into your establishment, there must be something wrong. There must be some reason people aren’t going there in the first place. On this trip, my assumption was proven wrong.

We never asked his name, we simply called him “Roy’s guy.” 

Roy’s is a restaurant that is located down one of the island’s side streets. Roy’s guy stood at the corner of Front Street, attempting to drum up business by encouraging passersby to take a look at the menu and turn the corner to eat at Roy’s. Maybe we just had a look, but on our first night on the island, Roy’s guy tried to persuade us every time we passed him. He and Shannon started trading humorous quips back and forth. It was all in fun, and Roy’s guy was a pretty funny, nice guy.

On our second night, we really wanted to go to one particular restaurant, Aladdin’s. We noticed a sign stating that it would open at 7 pm, so after watching the sunset, we strolled around town until 7. Once again we traded comments with Roy’s guy as we passed. At 7, we went back to Aladdin’s to find the sign gone, and the restaurant completely closed. With no other ideas about where to eat, and finding that Roy’s guy’s humor and pleasantness had worn us down, we made our way to Roy’s.

We arrived at Roy’s just in time. There were plenty of open tables, but not long after our arrival, the place started to fill up.  

We started off with a couple of frozen mojitos. 

They were quite refreshing.

Being on an island, we were craving seafood, so I got the shrimp kebabs with coconut rice, and garlic potatoes. Shannon got the shrimp fajitas.

One of the server's at Roy’s was American. This seemed to intrigue the American customers. Since she had to repeat it several times, my ears couldn’t help but pick up her story. She was a medical student doing a semester residency on the island. It sounded like a pretty awesome way to spend a semester.

Our food was great, completely destroying my theory that a restaurant with a hustler will probably be bad. 

My kebabs were yummy, 

and I especially liked my coconut rice, and the sauce for my shrimp. 

Shannon's fajitas were really good. It’s hard to beat a dish that arrives to your table in full sizzle.

On our way back to Front Street, we stopped to thank Roy’s guy and let him know that we enjoyed our meal. For the rest of our time on the island, he didn’t persuade us to come to the restaurant, but he always smiled and said,

“Hey,” as we passed, and we always said hey back.