17 January 2014

Belize the Jungle Gem

I knew today would be busy busy busy.  I woke up at 5am to get a head start on AlphaPoppa and the boys.  I did my daily T-25 workout while I boiled eggs and made toast for our breakfast.  No sense in buying breakfast when I can make it at home.  After I showered and got dressed, everything was ready so I woke up my 3 guys.  They quickly dressed, ate,  and before we knew it we were on the road to the airport.  We decided to park at the airport lot for $12 a day.  It's way more than we want to pay but we didn't have any other logical options.

Before we boarded the plane we chatted with a few other passengers and many were going to Belize for a wedding.  It seemed to be a huge destination wedding extravaganza and everyone was buzzing like bees.  Their excitement made me more excited... Even though I'm more of a backpacker I love seeing people on the move exploring the world.  The flight was 3 1/2 hours, Dude and I slept the first half.  Our seats were in the last two rows and from our window we had a perfect view of the engine!  AlphaPoppa and Zane didn't even have a window so I won't complain.  The ride was smooth and laid back.  After taking so many long flights the 3 plus hours seemed like nothing. 

Once in Belize City it was time to execute my always shaky travel plans.  We exited the airport and I found a taxi driver.  Out of curiosity I asked how much would it cost from Belize City to San Ignacio?  $140USD was his answer. Yikes!  So my next question was how much to take us to the bus terminal?  $25USD... That's more like it!  

The taxi took us to the bus terminal (20 minute drive) and warned us of people who would offer us deals to take us to San Ignacio for free or cheaper than the bus.  He strongly warned not to accept such an offer because they may try to charge , rob, and/ or scam us.  First of all we both know better and how could it be cheaper than the bus? The bus ride came to $8 BZE ($4USD) per adult $4 BZE ($2) for Zane and Dude was free. $10USD total. The bus was one of those pimped out school buses we experienced in Panama.  The employees at the bus terminal were very helpful and made sure we got on the right pimped out school bus.  During our 40 minute wait there I decided we definitely need food and a bathroom.  

Rule #1 When you travel with children. Any pause in travel means it's time to get snacks and napkins.  Napkins are needed for sneezes, spills, toilet paper, a place to spit out gum.  Hoard these if you can! 

The bathroom was super gross and cost 50 cent.  But it got the job done and no one asked to go to the bathroom the whole 2 hour bus ride.  Which is a priceless event!

The ride was 2 1/2 hours but I enjoyed it.  We drove through almost the whole country, we really got a chance to see Belize.  The Belize city area is on the Caribbean coast and definitely has a Caribbean feel.  Everyone has a full fledged Caribbean accent, reggae is pumpin' in the streets, you see plenty of rasta and smell the Johnny cake in the air.  As we started moving more toward the interior the Latino/ Spanish influence increased.  By the time we got off just about all the passengers were speaking Spanish.   

During the ride few Americans got on and I struck up a conversation with then... because I'm nosy.  They were just in Belize for the nature and adventure.  They were specifically on the bus to visit the zoo.  I'd read online that the zoo here is fabulous, they were going for a night camp out program there.   As our bus ride continued I was in awe of how jungly the whole country was.  It's was as if the laid back residents lived in a jungle paradise.  The land looked so rich and fertile, as if the jungle could take over at any moment and swallow the small communities that hugged the main highway.  I'd seen the phrase "Jungle Gem" several times on the message boards on trip advisor and other website dedicating to Belize travel.  Seeing it however was much more awesome.  I felt like perhaps it hasn't changed much since the Mayans were running thing in these parts, and that was a marvelous feeling.

Once we got to San Ignacio we were confused as to how get to our hotel.  A couple of people have us confusing directions that lead to nowhere.  Eventually I stopped in a restaurant where the workers there called the hotel and where able to give is perfect directions.  We got there in a 5 minute walk.  Emelda was there to greet us,  we'd emailed each other a couple of times over the last week and she was expecting us.  I filled out the paperwork and we were taken to our room.  Thankfully it looked just like the picture, better even.  We all sighed with relief!  The guys (all 3) were thrilled to see a big well- functioning TV.  They threw themselves in the bed and found something to watch.... Men!  I on the other hand took out toiletries. Set up a little closet etc.  AlphaPoppa came down with cold the night before we left and currently had a massive head/ ear ache.  Boy was he happy to lay down.  Since they were all relaxed I volunteered to get out and get dinner.  I asked Emelda what she recommended she told me Martha's Kitchen was good and just a couple of blocks away.  I went there and found the prices a little too high, but before I'd even entered that restaurant I was being seduced by a sign I saw a couple of buildings down that read "Belizean Food". 

Now that's what I wanted!!!  After seeing Martha's prices I quickly ditched them for the Belizean food joint.  Their food was $7BZE ($3.50 USD) per plate I got us 3 plates a side of fries for dude water and cantelope juice! The grand total was $15.  Feeding 4 people, not bad huh?!  While waiting for the food I met a 20 something Belizean guy who was visiting from Dallas.  He grew up here and comes home whenever he can.  The food server thought I was Belizean but was confused because according to him I talk to him in a Caribbean accent and to the other guy like a "Yankee". Hehehe!  

I headed back to Hotel Tia Maria and set up dinner for us on the outside patio near the hammocks.  It was super pleasant especially having us all together on an adventure.  
After dinner we all took nice warm showers and hit the sack!  

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