This past March, my team at work had a meetup in Hong Kong, so my friend Denise and I decided to head over that way early and vacation somewhere. Denise loves the beach and snorkeling and I love other people making all of the decisions, so we narrowed things down to about seven beaches, and then picked Koh Lipe, Thailand.
About a month ago, I met some friends/coworkers in New Orleans. We were ostensibly there to run the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, but only two of the five of us actually were registered for it, and then we ended up just being couch potatoes all February and failing to train, so in the end, we decided just to do the 10k instead. All of which is to say, we were really just in New Orleans to hang out and have fun. I have some family who live in New Orleans, and I used to spend summers at their house when I was a kid, but this…
After our caving adventure, it was time to leave the jungle, but we wanted to make our travel day count. We planned to take a cab to visit Xunantunich, one of the larger Mayan ruins in the area, and then come back to the hotel, pick up our bags, and try to catch a bus into Belmopan and from there to Belize City.
Our main goal in San Ignacio was to take the Cave of the Crystal Maiden (Actun Tunichil Muknal or ATM cave) tour. This is a cave that you swim into and then alternately swim and wade for two miles underground. Then, you climb up on a ledge, and wander around through a ton of Mayan pottery, tools, and human remains. Although over 1000 years old (dating from 300-900AD), these artifacts are extremely well-preserved due to calcification from being underground. Or something. I wasn’t totally clear on the preservation part.
Another day, another bus ride further into the jungle. San Ignacio, heart of the Cayo District, doesn’t have a bus station, so the bus lets off in the cute little town center. We then caught a cab up the steep hill to our resort. We’d decided to splash out on a bit fancier digs this time, and stayed at Cahal Pech, which had a sweeping view of the surrounding jungle, beautiful lawns full of flowering bushes and trails winding around little cabins, an outdoor dining porch and bar, and several pools, one of which had this incredibly bizarre-looking pterodactyl looming over…
After two days in Caye Caulker, E and I decided to head on into the jungle. We took a water taxi to Belize City, then a cab to the bus station, then a chicken bus to Belmopan. The bus was packed solid and boiling hot, but fortunately the bus ride went by relatively quickly. The landscape we passed was tropical farmland — lots of hot, exhausted horses with cattle egrets on their heads, crumbling pastel farmhouses, and the occasional large open-air bar/restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
On the last night of my work meetup, my BFF, E, met up with me, and we struck out from San Pedro the next morning to spend a week exploring Belize. We hadn’t done any planning in advance, so I suggested we first go stay on Caye Caulker for a day or two and soak up some island time.
Our group outing for the week was a snorkeling trip. My coworker, Denise, who planned our entire trip because she’s awesome, had reserved for us a super fancy-schmancy boat. I think that the first time anyone invites you on a boat trip, most people picture some sort of yacht and end up in a rusted out rowboat, so over the years, you learn to curb your expectations, boat-wise. But this boat was a very excellent boat, with a big comfortable deck and mats and beanbags to sprawl out on. We rolled up to the first snorkel spot towering above everybody…
Back in April, I spent two weeks in Belize. The first week was a meetup with my coworkers, and it was on the island of San Pedro, which is one of the two main tourist islands off of Ambergris Caye (the other being Caye Caulker). We had a small lodge (Sundiver Lodge) to ourselves — nine of us were there, plus the staff.
A year ago, I took a trip to Budapest for a conference and a work meetup, and I forgot to ever blog about it! So let’s lump this one under better late than never.