The End.........................1/7/12

Published: January 7th 2012
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Cave TubingCave TubingCave Tubing

Cave Tubing on Cave Branch River
Sadly, today is the last day of our 28 day vacation to this beautiful country. As promised, my last blog is going to be a summary of What We Learned About Belize, specifically Ambergris Caye with a side trip to the Cayo District on the Mainland. First and foremost the People are what make this country and island paradise worth the trip. Never in our travels have we met friendlier people than in Belize. Everyone smiles and says hello, and after a week they remember who you are and their greetings are like those shared with old friends. Not once in 28 days did we ever encounter rude, unfriendly people. From waiters and waitresses to store clerks and bartenders, the people of Belize are thankful you have chose their country to spend your hard earned vacation dollars. Which brings me to the following :

1. Bring Cash - Dive Trips, Tours, Snorkeling Trips etc., if you can pay with cash you may avoid the 12.5%!t(MISSING)ax. There are hundreds of street vendors in San Pedro Town and along the beach and they do not take credit cards. If you want to buy souveniers, jewelry, carvings, pottery, purses, tablecloths and runners
Xunantunich Xunantunich Xunantunich

Mayan Ruins in St. Ignacio
the street vendors have a wide variety of goods at reasonable prices, but they do not take credit cards, so bring as much cash as you feel comforable carrying. If you run out of cash, there are several banks where you can use your ATM or Credit Card, but be advise you will be getting Belizian dollars not American, and the exchange rate is 2/1. $50 U.S. is $100 BZ. Also, never pay full price, as the street vendors expect you to barter with them.

2. Restaurants - have a few meals at the nicer establishments along the beach, but your cheating yourself and your wallet if you don't wander back to Front, Middle and Back street to try the little "hole in the wall" places. On Front Street about two blocks north of town square there is a great little place to get burritos, empanadas, tostadas, etc. I would give you the name, but it doesn't even have once, so we nicknamed it the "Chicken Shack". It's yellow with bright pink trim and has a produce stand out front. You can watch them make the tortilla from scratch, which tells you how fresh the food is. A chicken
Jovan Pascascio Jovan Pascascio Jovan Pascascio

Owner and Operator of Belize Jungle Trek Tours
burrito is $3 BZ or $1.50 US and is a meal. A chicken tostada is .75 cents US or $1.50 BZ, Stewed Chicken with Rice and Beans and fried plantains is $3.75 US or $7.50 BZ, and the food is delicious! Again no credit cards, cash only. So do yourself a favor and try the "little guys" who are out of the way, hidden in a backstreet or an alley, or those that have their grills set up in the Town Square, you won't regret it and your wallet will thank you. Also, if you are a beer officiando be sure to try Ambergris Brewing Company. Jeff and Michelle have applied for their license for a micro-brewey and hopefully be selling their own micro-brews very soon. Until then, they are the only restaruant on the island that carries all of the Belikin Beers on tap. If you like pizza they make their own pizza crust fresh everyday as well as their own specialty pizza sauce.

3. Bars - Everyone tries Fido's, Wet Willeys and The Tacklebox. They are fun places on the beach or right over the water, and usually have some kind of live music. Our favorite hang-out
Trevor - Wayo's Beer NetTrevor - Wayo's Beer NetTrevor - Wayo's Beer Net

If you make a trip to Ambris Caye, visit Wayo's Beer Net and tell them Patty sent you.
was a little bar, right on the beach called Wayo's Beer Net. Two tables with stools and a small bar with 8-9 stools with the best bartender on the Island, Trevor. 5-7 p.m. is happy hour where you can get any rum drink the bar serves at 2 for $5. The drinks are served in 8 oz glasses, and the rum doesn't stop pouring until the ice in the glass is floating. No automatic shots, not shot glasses, the ice has to be floating before the liquor stops flowing. Tonight when we stopped to tell Trevor goodbye, Wayo (the owner) treated us to fresh grilled lobster as a bar snack, something you won't find in any of the establishments back home.

3. Tours - if you are going to Ambergris Caye for 7 days or more, treat yourself to a tour. There is a great deal more to Belize than the beach at Ambergris Caye. We contracted with Belize Jungle Trek, and did a two day tour which included horseback riding/ATV'ing in the jungle, Cave Tubing on the Cave Branch River and the Mayan Ruin of Xunantunich in St. Ignacius for $200.00 per person. The $200 included
Reef Adventures CrewReef Adventures CrewReef Adventures Crew

Michael, Divemaster; Kadell -Tour Operator and Office Manager; Crew; Tino, Dock Helper
taxi to the airport in San Pedro Town and airfare from Ambergris to Belize City where you were met at the airport by the owner of Belize Jungle Trek, Jovan Pascascio. Transportation to all tour sites, guided tours for each activity, a delicious Belizian buffet lunch, accomodations at the Bull Frog Inn in Belmopan (the capital of Belize), breakfast on the second day, a guided tour of the Mayan Ruins and transportation and airfare back to your condo/hotel on Ambergris Caye. Or if time doesn't allow you to do a tour on the mainland spend $17.50 US per person and take the Caye Caulker Water Taxi to Caye Caulker for the day. Caye Calker is much smaller and slower than Ambergris Caye, with maybe one or two cars on the entire island. Bring your snorkel gear and spend the afternoon at Da Split, snorkeling, swimming and enjoying lunch and a cocktail at the Lazy Lizard Grill. The water taxi takes about 40 minutes, boards right from a pier on the beach and is a very comfortable ride. It runs several times a day so no need to get up at the crack of dawn to leave.

4. Dive Shops
Patty with Michael and KadellPatty with Michael and KadellPatty with Michael and Kadell

Such great guys, we will miss them.
- There are several dive operators on Ambergris Caye, the largest of course would be Ramon's just south of San Pedro Town. Ramons is an all inclusive resort, that caters to divers. However, just as in choosing restaurants and bars, sometimes the biggest is not always the best. The prices are comparable up and down the beach with a two tank dive running anywhere from $65 - $75. Trips to the Blue Hole are an all day event that run anywhere from $269 to $300. A trip to the Blue Hole includes 3 dives, the Blue Hole, and two other dive sites nearby. We are experienced divers but chose to not do the Blue Hole not because of the cost, but we didn't feel the need to dive just put a checkmark in the box. We were told by an experienced divemaster there is minimal marine life other than sharks, it is very easy to dive too deep and narcosis is common, with many divers running out of air and having to share air on their ascent. It is a long boat ride and if our 28 days was typical weather, 21 of those days included very choppy seas. But
Our New FriendsOur New FriendsOur New Friends

From left to right; Greg, Jim Patty and Mo
if your someone that has the Blue Hole on your bucket list by all means there are plenty of dive operators that will take you there. Note: even if you just want to snorkel The Blue Hole, the cost is the same. We chose to dive with a smaller operator located right outside the gate of our condo at Paradise Villas. Reef Adventures has what I believe to be the best Divemaster and Crew on the Island. Regardless of your diving experience, Reef Adventures will ensure you enjoy each and every dive. They set up and store your gear, so all you have to do is show up. I was able to hold and pet a Carribean Nurse Shark, shoot 2 lionfish and feed them to the sharks, and pet a moray eel. If you want to see turtles they take you to where you will be sure to see a turtle. Your diving experience is their number one concern, you will not be disappointed. Ched, Michael, Chucky and Kadell are exceptional at what they do, and after only one dive you feel like you have made a new friend.

Finally, plan to make new friends. Not only is it unavoidable but it has proven to be one of the great unexpected bonuses of our trip. We have met so many people from all over the world with the same plans and intentions that we had coming to Belize. We were very fortunate to have met Greg and Mo from MN a few days ago and enjoyed every minute we spent with them over dinner, drinks or just sunning ourselves at the pool. All in all we can safely say, "this was a vacation of a lifetime." Would we ever move to Belize, probably not but we will most definitely vacation here again in the future.


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