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Published: March 27th 2013
View from ze plane
Belize City in the background...
After a seemingly extra-long and dreary Winter in the Great White North, and a month straight of painting the house we decided it was time for a break and quick one week escape to warmer climes...islands in the Caribbean are typically the easiest/warmest spots to get to from where we are, but as we are not all that keen on the whole "all-inclusive" scene we turned our gaze a little further south to Central America...and after a bit of research discovered this little town on a peninsula in southern Belize called Placencia...okay!
So away we went...both the Lovely K and I had been to CA before and really liked it, so a great opportunity to check out another part...my experiences had mostly been on the Pacific side and interior (Nicaragua/Costa Rica) so was looking forward to visiting the Caribbean side, and the town of Placencia seemed to offer it all: small community right on the water, everything within walking distance, all amenities, mostly smaller boutique hotels and an advertised "laid back" atmosphere...and it exceeded every expectation!
What to say, fantastic all around...from the moment we landed at the tiny airstrip north of the village to the time we left
Think that's at the Tipsy Tuna...
we couldn't believe how easy, laid back, hassle free and immensely enjoyable the whole stay had been! I hesitate to write some of this as I feel we found some little gem of a place and wish to keep it a secret, but in the end the secret is already starting to get out with the sight of construction sites starting to put bigger and bigger resorts in...*sigh*...
At any rate we settled into a place called Seaspray, essentially right in the middle of town but also right on the beach. It was a place with about 20 rooms, and after our first night we moved into the one and only cabana right on the beach...about 30 feet from the water's edge...oh yeah! Fantastic, all the rooms seem to come with their own kitchenette, refrigerator and coffee maker, so again easy and convenient to pick up some food for breakfast and lunch if desired, and more than enough room for the pints! Mmmmm, Belikin.... The cabana also had its own wrap-around porch, complete with deck chairs and hammock overlooking the water, it really couldn't be beat...
The town itself is really cool as well; it consists of one
Cool wall along the sidewalk...
main road that runs down the centre of the peninsula and one "sidewalk" that runs parallel with the road between it and the water (I think I read somewhere that the sidewalk is actually considered the smallest or narrowest road in the world according to Guinness?). Strolling around was fun and safe, and there were plenty of bars/restaurants in the area that one could escape the BLAZING hot sun (I've done a bit of traveling, and for some reason this just seemed to be the hottest sun/destination we had ever been in, it was crazy actually...and yes we got fried, more on that later...). As a former British Colony the language of choice is English, and again the amenities such as tour companies, grocery stores, fruit stands, bakeries etc. were plentiful...another bonus was the ability to drink the local tap water, something unheard of on most of my travels but a welcome change from having to constantly buy the dang stuff...
Last but not least the people; very, very friendly folks! Aside from the occasional cranky/attitude wait staff in some of the bars/restaurants (pretty much a worldwide phenomenon at any rate), the locals were quite warm and welcoming, would
say hello when passing on the street and be very helpful with any questions you may have...a great blend of Caribbean, Mayan and Mexicans (and I'm sure others), and that was reflected especially in the variety of excellent cuisine available in the town...
Cuisine, yes, for a town of this size it boasted some fantastic eateries at a variety of price levels. Most of course centered around seafood, and man did we partake in that, but Creole, Italian, Chinese, Mexican and a new Thai place just ready to open gives you a brief idea of the selection...one of my favourites was the Taco Stands along the road, the soft shell Tacos and Burritos were to die for! Ate there almost every day, and for $1 US you could get two Tacos, enough for lunch...the tortilla shells alone were the best I had ever had, and on our last day I finally got a smile out of the older woman working the stand and got the recipe for the shells as well, will see if I can pull it off at home (think there may be some trial and error!).
Beyond that what to say? This has to go
down as the laziest vacation we have ever done, which surprised me at the time because I'm generally not a "sit-on-the-beach-and-do-nothing" kind of guy, at least not for more than a day or two...but we quickly fell into a routine of:
-Get up, pot of coffee and sip said coffee on our porch watching the morning sun do its thing
-Make breaky (fruit and bagels) and read until late morning
-Go for a wander and of course a feeding of Tacos (see above), pints
-More reading and pints on the porch with maybe a swim thrown in
-More porch time and then head out for another wander and dinner
That's about it really...again this routine is generally not in my nature but I have to say I loved every second of it...
The one exception to the above routine was a snorkeling tour we decided to do mid-week, something we had both been looking forward to...as apparently the second largest reef (after the Great Barrier Reef) lies off the coast of Belize, it was a must-do to get out and check out the marine life!
Left around 9am in the
View from ze plane II
...the peninsula and Placencia stretching out in the distance...
morning on a one-hour boat trip that would take us about 20 miles off shore, where we came upon this tiny little island that consisted of two toilets, a bbq pit and some picnic tables...fantastic...this was to be our base for our first snorkel and then lunch, couldn't wait to get in the water.
We were a small group which is always great; K and I and a couple of Aussies, and of course our guide...after some brief instruction we were full on into the water and off exploring...the reef was beautiful; all sorts of different shapes and colours of coral, and a wide variety of fish swimming around. We did a slow loop of the island, with the most exciting (?) part being when the guide pointed to our left and said "Shark!"...Shark? What the? Sure enough, looked over and about 10 yards away a 4 to 5 foot Lemon Shark swam by...Jeebus! What an experience; seems I was the only one to miss the part of the briefing that mentioned we would be seeing sharks, so as it passed by I was amazed to say the least...absolutely incredible, something I will never forget...
We spent the
Tropic Air rocks...
better part of an hour or so snorkeling around the island, seeing a Black Tipped Shark as well and of course tons of other fish (the Parrot being my favourite, very colourful...) before stopping for a tasty bbq'd chicken lunch on the island...snorkeling sure works up an appetite! It was nice relaxing in the shade, although we should have been more diligent with the sunscreen because we absolutely FRIED our backs and back of our legs...as I write this one week later I am still peeling...gah!
Final snorkel of the day was going to be a short one but action packed; the spot we were headed to was popular for sea turtles and all sorts of Stingrays! Sure enough as soon as we pulled up in the boat and dropped anchor you could see the shells of the turtles bobbing in the water...wow! Hopped in and it was full on: turned around to see a huge turtle swimming right toward me, yikes! Managed to get out of its way, hard to believe how big these things get and how graceful they are under water...next I looked down and it was one Stingray after another, awesome! Always wanted to see
View of the beach..
...from our porch...
one in the wild, and got to see dozens of them which was really cool...managed to catch a glimpse of a large Spotted Eagle Ray (I believe?) as it swam by as well...all in all an amazing experience, and if we hadn't burned so bad I'm sure we would have booked another trip as well...
That pretty much sums it all up, a fantastic one week escape from Old Man Winter...we aren't much for returning to the same place (as there are so many places to visit) but I think this could be the exception...already talked about another week maybe next year and sign up to get our PADI certification...stay tuned!
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