Adventures in Belize: Day 2

Woah howler monkeys! As we drank our coffee and after I did some jungle porch yoga, we exchanged tales of the screeching monkeys that woke us at 3 am. Two males must have been quarreling over something because the noise filled the whole jungle! Adventures in Belize continued for day 2!

Lucy arrived with her little girl Chloe and while we chatted with Chloe, Lucy cooked up a scrumptious omelet with a side of pineapple. We were fueled to set forth on our pontoon adventure where we’d float, hike and explore the jungle. Laz, the captain of the pontoon boat was Lucy’s brother, his first mate, Milly, her sister and the skipper, Dennis, their cousin. A true family affair. As we drove down to the boat, we passed some of the Martinez family homes – Lucy’s mom and dad had 14 children, all living on the thousand acres the family inherited from the government back in the 1940’s. Milly’s home stood on stills and was made of gorgeous mahogany wood. Mike marveled at the beautiful Tropical wood they used for building. Laz explained he had killed his own wood, carried it on his back, built the home with his two hands. Milly had as well. “I always knew I wanted my own home. It’s humble, but it’s mine,” Milly explained proudly. The boat doc was at the end of a bumpy road, past Laz’s, Lucy’s and Milly’s house. A pirates flag flew proudly so we knew we were in for a fun day.

As we floated down the River, the family pointed out different foliage, explaining the symbiotic relationships with certain plants and trees. Small fly catchers, a king fishers, kites, swallows and a white hawk were spotted throughout the day, flying high above or close to the water, scooping up fish. At one point, we even saw a male iguana sunning himself on a rock.

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The first stop had twin waterfalls and as we docked on the rocks the sheer force of the water could be heard, even though it couldn’t be seen. Dennis let us know we needed our hiking shoes for this leg of the journey because we were hiking straight up the side of one of the waterfalls (or at least it seemed like that!). Once we made it up, grabbing on twisted vines and digging our shoes into rocks, we arrived at a small campground area where the family explained they offer overnight camping accommodations for those that want it. Milly led us down a short trail to a hidden Dipping pool surrounded by jungle and rocks. Heaven!

We swam and swam, relishing in the relief the water gave. Upstream we climbed and played on the rocks that formed small rapids and hopped into the pools between them. Dennis and Milly spoke of their adventures in guiding and past guests they had had. We hoped we stacked up!

The crew was full of wisdom and we chatted about politics, the unrest between Guatemala and Belize, the fact that neither Milly nor Laz wanted children, building homes from scratch, hard work and people in general. Laz sai, “People today don’t live to survive, they live to be comfortable.” I thought this was a very true statement.

After the glorious swimming we boarded the pontoon boat and headed straight into the waterfall, getting sprayed by the downspout, making a great photo opportunity. Our lunch spot consisted of pulling the pontoon boat over to the side of the river bank, where the granite shot straight up. We tied up and unwrapped the treasure Lucy had prepared for us: stuffed fried jack sandwiches, fresh pineapple, belikin beer and chocolate chip banana bread for dessert. Hit the spot!

Our river adventure wasn’t over yet, so we mosied on, enjoying the breeze. Two floats tied to the back of the boat were thrown over and Mike and I jumped into the inner tubes to troll the river. Thinking little of the crocodiles that were in the river, we lounged lazily while the pontoon boat pulled us along. I felt like a mixture of Huck Finn & a jungle princess.

After we had out fill of trolling, we swam back onto the boat and headed toward the next stop: Rio Frio falls. A short hike (much less strenuous than the last) and we arrived an a perfectly pristine swimming hole that had a gorgeous waterfall spewing into it. This water was quite a bit colder than the previous spot, hence the Rio Frio. The waterfall held water from the mountain pine region, just several miles from the spot. It felt glorious after all the sun we had gotten so we let the falls pound on our heads and shoulders. Jumping from the rocks, splashing into the cold pool, we felt like kids!

After the waterfall swimming, we hiked out boarded the boat and made our lazy way back to the dock. The day had been glorious, a jungle experience we all were sure to remember for a lifetime, complete with botanical teachings, birding, iguana spotting, waterfall sighting, hiking, and pontooning. Amazing!

Dinner was ready when we arrived with fresh belikin beer from town, and the fresh prawns, red potatoes and salad tasted delicious after the adventurous day we had. Only two days in Belieze and we felt like we had experienced so much culture, nature and fun. To bed to prepare for day three!

Tips, Reality Checks & the Nickels & Dimes of our Vieques Vacation

Traveling is one of the few things I spend my money on. And when I say spend money, I mean on non-necessity items, the bare necessities, the icing to my life’s cake. I’m not a shopper, don’t have a shoe fettish, rarely get pedicures, never spa and am not a salon girl. I splurge on travel, good food and flights to new places.

Prefacing this blog entry with that bit, one could conclude I’m frugal. One would be perfectly correct in that assumption. I’ve found great resources to afford me the luxury of jet setting on a budget (not shopping would be a huge factor). Mike and I just got back from a 9 day vacation to Vieques (my daily activities are captured in previous posts) but I wanted to break down the tips we figured out once there, the reality check I got with a few things and how we did it (at least certain things) on the cheap.

Tips

Airbnb.com – no matter where you are going, check out this site. We found an amazingly simple apartment, with all the necessities, in a great location, for $75 a night. Yup, no W retreat for us ($300+ per night).

Rent a car – we initially thought bikes would suffice, it being a small island. Well, the first full day there, we saw most of what there was to see in Isabel iI. We found Coqui car rental (awesome!!!!) right near the ferry and couldn’t have been happier with our decision. There are beaches that would have taken hours to bike to. For $75 per day, it was worth every penny – We saw everything!

Bring your own snorkel gear – this is a personal thing, but if you like to snorkel, think you’ll do it more than once or twice in your life, it’s worth it! To rent can be $15-25 per day. We snorkeled the heck out of every beach and were glad to have our own gear.

Reality Check

It is hot!!! Sounds obvious, but I thought it might get chilly at night. It didn’t and I wish I had packed a few more sun dresses!

Learn a few phrases in Spanish – everyone spoke English, which is lovely, but a few of the local places have Spanish speaking employees and you can tell they appreciate you attempting. Plus, I got two breakfasts with meat, two days in a row, despite having asked for sans meat. If I had said it in Spanish….

5 days probably would have been enough. Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful time, but with staying in the same area for the entire time, well we saw it all (we are also go,go,go,go kind of people, so could just be us!)

Charter a sailboat. This was by far the coolest thing we did. Maybe it was the captain of the boat that took us out that solidified it, but the day we sailed on our private charter by far outweighed any other activity. For $300, which included a ton of drinks, 4 hours on the water, and a delicious lunch, amazing experience.

Buy breakfast things to make/eat on the go – we did not do this at all, despite having a kitchen. It’s fun to go out for breakfast, but I’m much more inclined to grab something and have a leisurely lunch. In hindsight, we should have done a few breakfasts in the apartment to save some $$$

Nickels and Dimes

Here’s a breakdown of what we spent

Denver flights: $743 for 2 adults
Cape Air flight: $448.20 for 2 adults
Car rental for 6 days: $481.50

Vieques charter: $300
Bioluminescent tour with black beards sports: $130 for 2 adults

Breakfast:
At the corner panaderia (3 mornings): $15
At Buen Provencho (3 morning): $24-$36
At Roy’s: $21

Lunch:
Most between $42-$65 depending on cocktails

Dinner:
Coqui Fire cafe: $100 one night (several margaritas were had) $75 another
Bieke’s Bistro: $100
Duffy’s: $60 (just nachos & cocktails)
Noche: $200
Local restaurant (forget the name!): $45

All in all, we did good! Where we saved on lodging, we spent on food & cocktails, boats & bio tours. It was a beautiful trip, filled with sun, surf and sand. Any questions about what we did, drop me a line!!!

Happy traveling!

Sebastian, Shalamar & the Sea: Tuesday in Vieques

Today, we’d take to the open seas! We awoke with purpose, excited for the days sailing adventure that lay ahead of us! Not meeting captain Sebastian until 11, we skirted off to breakfast at Buen Provecho & chatted with our friends from Coqui Fire and the waitress & owner of Buen Provecho (you bump into the same locals at the good spots, so I can say with certainty they felt like friends!)

On our way to Esperanza, we chatted happily about the warm people we had met, the anticipation building for the afternoon of sailing. We parked the jeep and moseyed about, heading out to the dilapidated pier where we spotted trumpet fish swimming about. I felt moved to do a short yoga flow, the warm breeze washing over my body. It was the perfect state to be in for an afternoon at sea.

Walking over to the short dock to be scooped up by Sebastian’s dingy, I couldn’t be more excited! There’s something about the openness the ocean horizon conjures, the salt and sun on your face. We noticed a spotted ray as we boarded the dingy – the life under our feet!

The Shalamar
The Shalamar

The Shalamar glistened in the sun – a 1941 vessel, Captain Sebastian explained he had kept her in original condition and you could tell the integrity was still in tact. “I love her like one would love a mistress, for the money she gets from me, I must!”

Captain Sebastian
Captain Sebastian

The day was perfect, with snorkeling, a short sailing lesson, beautiful conversation, a delectable lunch, lots of wine and rum punch….

I could go on and on, trying to find the right words, romantic language that would be fitting of the absolutely glorious day we had, but I will not. My words would not do it justice….so, I’ll leave you with a few photos and your imagination.

Happy sailing!!!

My day at sea
My day at sea
The Wide Open Ocean
The Wide Open Ocean