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Published: December 17th 2009
At this point, we had known Angela for one week, and she was threatening to continue traveling into the interior of Belize without us! Tyler, Ant and I would hear none of it, and immediately began throwing out ideas of how we could all do some adventuring together. Ant had recently acquired the privilege of driving his boss’s vehicle so his keys were thrown on the table first. We decided to leave that weekend, and Ant picked us up in the nearly scrapped SUV early Saturday morning. We needed to stop for money at ScotiaBank in the center of town and we parked at the ReMax office across the street. When Ant tried to start the car three minutes later, it was dead, dead, dead! To which Tyler pointed out from the backseat - “See those wires sticking out above the steering wheel? I think they need to be connected…try tapping the exposed wire to each other!” Ant touched the two wires and the car revved to life; the look of surprise on his face was priceless! We haven’t even left the village and already we’ve been stalled and named the car - HotWire!
We hit the road, already laughing hysterically,
and had only a rough idea of where we wanted to go, but no real plan. About 30 minutes into the drive, Ant started going crazy itching and slapping at his ankles. He yelled out “There’s a bug infestation in the front seat … aaaahhh …. … hurry does anyone have any bug spray?” We all looked at each other and shrugged. Then Angela lit up, “I have some lotion repellant?!?” Antony stopped slapping and swatting and looked at her incredulously, “What do you want me to do? Massage them to death?”
We got to the main road and slowed at the pedestrian ramp near Mayan King Grill and Tyler mentioned that he always wanted to try that place and I said ME TOO and we took a sharp right into the parking area! It was GREAT nachos and chicken wings and a super cool little stand for hanging out, until the sandflies started attacking us! We escaped back to the car and drove another 30 minutes to the Cockscomb entrance. I had been there before, so we had a hiking and jungle tubing plan worked out. We got to the first waterfall and jumped in the freezing cold water and cool down and fool around! We started playing stupid games like throwing rocks and a huge stick sticking out of the water and seeing if anyone could hit it or knock it over - it was about this time we decided to start awarding prizes for different things throughout the weekend. The gold medal in Stick Knockdown goes to Tyler! Then we hiked back to the lodge to get the big black inner tubes and headed to the jungle river tubing entrance. The water was much higher and faster than last time I was there, which made for many more laughs and danger. About half way down the river, all the sudden Ant jumps off his tube like a crazy man screaming about a huge spider falling out of the tree above him! He gained his composure again, but afterwards was an absolute hazard magnet, running into every tree branch and debris embankment along the way. At the very end of the tubing run, the current picks up speed and you have to grab a rope stretched across the river to pull yourself out. Ant was pointing and yelling about a river rat in the middle of the river while all of us were yelling and pointing out the huge beaver dam pile of branches he was about to collide with !!!! SLAM he runs into the pile of branches and his tube flips over, sucking him under the current and turbulence and holding him underwater for … way … too … long … Ang and Tyler and I were yelling out his name but after about a minute we were just staring and trying to get out of the current ourselves wondering oh my gosh where the hell did he go???? Then FINALLY he surfaced on the OTHER SIDE of the branch pile !!! PHEW!!! His face was white and stuck in an expression of incredibility, but we got him out of the water OK and alive! He had gone about 6 feet under and since he was pinned against the tree branches, he had to fight his way THROUGH the mess of sticks to the other side! As he got on land, he realized that he had managed to keep both his flip flops in his hands during the entire ordeal! But he did lose the tube, it was still pinned against the front of the brush pile and Tyler tried to swim up current to retrieve it. But the current was way too strong and despite swimming his fastest and strongest, Tyler wasn’t going anywhere! So we headed back to the lodge and decided to sneak the tubes into the back, hoping the park ranger wouldn’t notice. We walked past the ranger without even a glance, and went to retrieve our personal belongings. Sitting next to the ranger’s desk was a pile of about 58 orange life vests. I asked when they would start using these essential life-saving devices and he answered as I would expect any Belizean, “Tomorrow!”
Ant won the gold medal for Not Dying and Ruining our Weekend! Good job Antony!
We trucked back to Hotwire, and thankfully she started right away! In fact, we never had another mechanical problem the entire weekend, despite some heavy hitting potholes and pedestrian ramps. Ant escaped with a few scrapes and scratches on his head, and we all needed a drink and some food PRONTO. We hit the highway again and stopped at another random spot we’ve heard a lot about, Over the Top. They had great views, cold beers, and friendly cops hanging out carrying huge machine guns. HA! We pulled into Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch right as the darkness enveloped the jungle. Someone greeted us right away and radioed up to the lodge to see if there were 4 dorm beds available. They were happy to have us and we grabbed our backpacks and walked up to the lodge….HOLY COW! Arriving at night was spectacular as both pools (and a HOT TUB!) were lit up with a waterfall and jungle surroundings, and we walked over a stone bridge to the glowing wooden lodge. Albert greeted us and took care of every wish and possible UPGRADE from the first minute! We told him we were locals, and since it was the off season they were happy to upgrade us to the unused suites (with outdoor showers!) and give us a tremendous discount on our food and drink. OH AND a complimentary rum punch on arrival. YEAH!! This is sooo luxury for us after driving, hiking, and almost dying! Not to mention the rooms were absolute first class with the towels done in the shape of elephants kissing and fine huge screen windows as the top half of the walls so it feels like you are sleeping a king bed in the middle of the jungle! And the screens provided for lots of great animal noises and the bed a perfect cozy spot to watch the intense rain storms every night! (We were only going to stay for one night, but HAD to extend for two nights after seeing the place and planning our cave tour the next day.)
We talked to Albert and read the comments book and choose the Cave Waterfall tour for our adventure. We turned out to be the only 4 people signed up that morning, so we had a short bus and two guides to ourselves for the day! As with all my other cave adventures, I never have the right expectations of what I’m about to get into. And each time seems to get progressively crazier! This one was NO EXCEPTION, WOW! Keep in mind the only question asked was: Is everyone a good swimmer? Oh and we all signed a liability release the minute we walked into the lodge…the first line being “This is not a resort. This is an adventure lodge!” We already had one teammate with a near death experience, so we figured no way there would be two in one weekend! Sign it!
We hiked into the cave for about 90 minutes, then were asked look in our backpacks and put on the harnesses we find. Harnesses? What the heck is going on here? One of our guides disappeared over the small 4 foot waterfall in the corner of the cave and the other helped us get strapped up and undressed. This was best tackled in a swimsuit and pants - by the way I had to wear Tyler’s long shorts as my “pants” since we arrived so ill-fitted. Actually, we ALL had to rent shoes for the day since we only had flip flops …. And we were amazed at the selection at the lodge for only $5BZ!
We jumped in the cave lake and swam over the waterfall, climbing up it in a single file. As you climb over the top of the falls, you look up to a 25 foot falls with a rope hanging down and your guide, smiling like a fool, beckoning you to follow! The water was raging, falling from that high, creating a deep pool and crushing current. I was so freaked out, but thought NO WAY I can totally do this! We latched onto the rope and climbed up one at a time. There were a few toe holds that were under the crushing falls, so you are trying to pull your body up and counter the force of the water at the same time! But, oh the joy when you get to the top! After that, we climbed up two smaller falls and I was wiped out! Thankfully we arrived to our destination, where the cave narrowed into only about two feet wide but over fifteen feet tall! The water was really moving now, and about 100 feet in front of me, I could hear why….. There was one more small step, and the cave opened into a circular cathedral dome with a huge waterfall pouring like CRAZY into the pool below!!! We jumped into the pool and the current pushed us against the wall right away, right towards a natural seat in the cave rocks so that you can sit about chest high in the water and enjoy the WONDER of it all!!!
When we were done reveling in our victory, we realized the most nerving part was yet to come…we were about to jump off all those waterfalls we just climbed! Of course the scariest was the tall 25 foot fall, but each jump had its own outcroppings or underwater boulders to be concerned about! Yikes! But I must say - jumping blindly off waterfalls in caves is AWESOME! I highly recommend it! And after jumping over all these cliffs, there was a white tablecloth lunch waiting for us on a huge natural rock slab in the cave. Well deserved!
After that insane adventure, it was an absolute treat to go to back to our lodge and chill in the hot tub and eat a huge Belizean meal of chicken, pork chops, rice and beans, steamed veggies, MMMMMM! We spent the rest of our night relaxing in hammocks and talking about how awesome we are! Later that night Ant and Ang got in trouble for singing British pop too loud in their room, but other than that, I know Albert and the crew will be super happy to see us again real soon!!!
Oh and the final medals were given to Angela for the Dirtiest Person and myself for Awesomest Driving, making only one wrong turn and completely annihilating only one pedestrian ramp oh and spilling only one bag of chips. SUCCESS!
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