Category Archives: Belize

Best of Belize

What a surprise that such a small country can offer so many cool opportunities, but You Betta Belize It!, as the t-shirts there proclaim.   Even though we only had two weeks to spend there, we still managed to pack in the adventure; and picking favorites seems a tougher challenge than we experienced when summing up our visits to Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The seaside adventures were different from any we’d experienced before, without a lot of sitting on the beach, but with a lot of in-water activities.  The water was warmer and more clear than we could have imagined.  Plus, we got the thrill of seeing home-town friends in an exotic environment.

Then, a short drive inland opened up an incredible range of experiences and adventures.  Many thanks to Chris and Wendy Brooks for lining up locations and accommodations for much of our stay in Belize.  Caye Caulker and Cool-M Farm were their finds, and they were perfect places to spend time.  We also owe thanks to Nadia, whose interest in the Great Barrier Reef led to us tacking Belize and its reef onto our Central American Itinerary.  For this, she earns first spot in Best of Belize roll call.

Here are our lists of top 3 Belizian Experiences:

The puppies were very popular.

The puppies were very popular at Cool-M Farm.


  1. Adventures, dinners and drinks at Cave’s Branch Lodge
  2. Milking cows for ice cream/playing with puppies at Cool-M Farm
  3. Scuba diving with Brookses

Nadia was no stranger to the Cave’s Branch bartenders.








Caye Caulker was a great place to tool around on a bike.

Caye Caulker was a great place to tool around on a bike.


  1. ATM Cave
  2. Tooling around in Caye Caulker
  3. Hanging out by the pool at the Cave’s Branch Lodge



We're only just dipping into the CD of pictures our snorkeling guides took.

We’re only just dipping into the CD of pictures our snorkeling guides took.



  1. Waterfall cave
  2. Snorkeling with Brookses
  3. Xunantunich


Despite the heat, Zoe climbed all over Xunantunich.

Despite the heat, Zoe climbed all over Xunantunich.


All the caves were incredible, but waterfall jumping was a singular experience.

Lesson learned: Don’t always believe the brochure when it says a tour is for kids 10 and up.


  1. ATM Cave
  2. Snorkeling
  3. Waterfall jumping







A cave family portrait, plus our friend Sarah

A  family portrait, plus our friend Sarah, during our cave tubing tour


  1. Tubing Cave Tour at Cave’s Branch Lodge
  2. Snorkeling on the barrier reef
  3. Xunantunich






Finishing with a flourish

There are many ways to view this trip.

Here at the Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge, during the final days of our journey, I’ve started to think of it as an ice cream sundae. Our journeys through Nicaragua and Costa Rica were each large scoops of different flavored ice cream. The week in Caye Caulker was a generous dose of hot fudge sauce. Cool-M farm was a generous dollop of whipped cream.

And this place is the cherry on top.

Squeezing oranges at a lodge breakfast

Squeezing oranges at a lodge breakfast

It is also a curious bookend to the experience that began this whole journey, our two weeks at La Mariposa school in Nicaragua. Both places emphasize experiential learning and communal meals. In neither place are we meant to feel like mere tourists. At the school we were students of Spanish; here we are adventurers who want to get away from comforts and into the wilderness.

Towel-art luxury meets screen-porch bedrooms.

Towel-art luxury meets screen-porch bedrooms.

The “away from comforts” part is not entirely accurate. The Caves Branch Lodge brochure stresses that the lodge does not sanitize the experience of being in the jungle. This is true, inasmuch as our cabana suite is virtually free of walls, instead relying on knee-height-to-ceiling screens to keep the bugs out. All the sounds of the surrounding landscape, be they pleasant or jarring, come through loud and clear. But the accommodations are extremely clean and nice, the indoor and outdoor showers are luxurious, and the daily towel origami has not lost its charm even after four nights here.

The lodge and guest houses are surrounded by a well-manicured, expertly designed jungle garden. There are many established trees of various varieties with an under-canopy containing an amazing collection of useful plants. Our walk from the pool to our cabana brings us past a cacao tree, an allspice bush, and a tree of the type that inspired and was used to produce Chanel No. 5. We also pass a small structure that houses dozens and dozens of varieties of orchids, including the one that produces vanilla beans. It’s very beautiful and educational, but not virgin forest brimming with wild animals — even if they do warn us to look out for snakes in the paths on our way back from dinner.
The dinners are communal and pleasant. We have even struck up quite a friendship with a family from Massachusetts (it seems like all the guest here are from either New England or Colorado) whom we plan to keep in contact with once we get home. But the dinners feature four courses and multiple options — usually three types of meat, plus a fish option. It seems like overkill compared to our single-plate, home-sourced Mariposa dinners. The kids are not complaining, but I don’t think Jen and I will feel hungry for a few weeks.

Zoe climbs the big waterfall.

Zoe climbs the big waterfall.

As for the adventures, they have lived up to the billing. During our first two weeks in Central America, our Spanish classes drained us mentally and gave us a bridge to the culture we were about to immerse ourselves in. The Caves Branch adventures have challenged us physically and ratcheted up our adrenaline, while transporting us to places we’d never imagined we’d get to see.

Zoe called the shots in this area, proclaiming her desire to do the two most vigorous of the activities offered (our package deal here allows us three adventures). Once Lanie got the ok from the staff, we all followed Zoe’s lead.

Arnold and Lanie on their way down

Arnold and Lanie on their way down

So we found ourselves in helmets and headlamps climbing up underground waterfalls with cold, clear water splashing all around — and over — us. Then we leaped back down into the pools below. There was even one technical climb that required harnesses and ropes. The climb itself wasn’t difficult, but it was tough looking up for your next handhold with a waterfall plunging down into your face.

Waist-deep in adventure

Waist-deep in adventure

Three hours tramping around in a dark, wet cave (plus a half-hour for lunch on a huge flat rock)? No problem. We had a good group, good guides, and the kids are in good shape for adventuring. Hector the guide seemed to feel that Lanie needed a piggy back ride once in a while, but she was scrambling over rocks on her own two feet.  It is probably good that our other guide Arnold took Lanie on his back when he did the big jump off the highest waterfall. (Or it’s highly possible that we’re the worst parents ever for putting our kid — and our guide — through this. Where would we be if we weren’t questioning our sanity? Not in a cave.)

Tubing into the cave with our friend Sarah

Tubing into the cave with our friend Sarah

The next day was meant to be a rest day. We selected the cave tubing adventure, which is only rated for three sweat beads in the catalog (our other two adventures are rated for the full five six sweat beads). This adventure turned out to be a nice combination of our waterfall cave adventure — because we got very wet– and the ATM cave tour we took in San Ignacio — because we saw lots of Mayan relics.

Drinking filtered water straight from the cave ceiling

Drinking filtered water straight from the cave ceiling

In fact, the the historical elements of this cave rivaled those of the ATM cave. There was an awesome altar to the fertility god and a huge intact pot that we could walk right up to. No human remains, though. That’s why ATM gets all the limelight.  But it still doesn’t have a monopoly on skeletons.  The parents from the family we befriended took a tour of a different, dry cave that had human remains. (Their daughter accompanied us for the tubing.) They said their tour was cool.

Scrambling up the cave walls

Scrambling up the cave walls

No doubt it was. For one thing, people here tend to leave artifacts where they find them in the caves. The above-ground Mayan sites have been pillaged by locals and by early 20th-century archaeologists alike. The cave sites are more difficult to access (good luck trying to get in without helmet, headlamp and a pretty good idea of where you’re going — and even more good luck trying to get out). They were discovered many decades later than the cities, and the trend among those studying the sites now is to disturb them as little as possible.

Adventure hides in the hills around the orange grove.

Adventure hides in the hills around the orange grove.

Plus, there just seems to be an incredible amount of cool things in a relatively small area here. All three of our tours took place in the hills surrounding a single, innocuous-looking orange orchard.

Altar of the fertility god

Altar of the fertility god

Our bloodthirsty friends’ human sacrifice cave tour was in those hills, too. (Just kidding. They probably aren’t all that bloodthirsty.) That’s a lot of amazing stuff inside an area of a square mile or two, all of it a 10-minute drive from our lodge.

Zoe examines an in-tact Mayan pot.

Zoe examines an in-tact Mayan pot.

This has to do with geology. The hills are primarily limestone remains of ancient coral reefs. Rivers, the Cave Branch River among them, carve out cavities all through these hills. Ground water seeps in and dissolves minerals that eventually settle out as fantastic cave formations. The Mayans encounter the caves and take them for the entrance to the underworld, the realm of their gods, and the source of human existence.

Voila! The stage is set for adventure.

For our last trip we stayed above the ground, working on top of a cave that had collapsed creating a giant sink hole. Our task for the day was to hike a mile or so into the jungle to the edge of the sinkhole and rappel down to the bottom. The bottom was only 300 feet below. Jen calculated that to be about a 30-story building.

Nadia is ready to go.

Nadia is ready to go.

Zoe and Nadia were stalwart and somewhat stoic as they went over the edge. Lanie giggled nervously and tittered, “Oh, my gosh!” as she was lowered over (Lanie was lowered the whole way by rope from above, the rest of us used our hands and climbing equipment to lower ourselves — we were all also connected to the top by a separate safety rope managed by a guide). Jen steadfastly tried to lean back as advised, despite every rational instinct to not lean back near the edge of a 300-foot sink hole, and groaned, “I looked down. That was a mistake.”

Zoe and Lanie in transit

Zoe and Lanie in transit

I felt my breathing and heart rate accelerate to that of a cute little tiny bunny rabbit, times about a thousand.

But we all made it down, sorry to douse the suspense. I had planned to take pictures of Jen as we rappelled together, but I could not work the camera with my thick leather gloves on and I was not capable of contemplating taking my gloves off to make the camera work. We’ll have to rely on the pictures our guide Marvin took from the top and those the girls took from the bottom.

I can't believe I did this.

I can’t believe I did this.

How’s that for adventure. We even got a day off to linger around the lodge before it was time to pack up and leave. That meant access to the pools, some time to catch up on blogging, a few trips to the bar for alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions from Anthony the bartender (drinks were included in our package as long as we stuck with the local labels and refrained from anything that required the blender and, strangely, Gatorade).

By evening a family of howler monkeys had settled into a tree above the pools, we had gotten in a few rounds of the games we’ve lugged around for almost three months, and Nadia showed off her steadily increasing ping pong skills.

After one more four-course meal it was time to settle in for the seventy-seventh straight — and final — night in a bed that wasn’t our own.

One cave to rule them all

We’ve been on kind of a lot of cave tours.  But now that we’ve toured caves in Belize, there’s no going back to the tame U.S. versions.  Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed in the ATM cave because several numbskulll tourists apparently dropped them on priceless artifacts.  However, you can check out this link to get a sense of the place.  Or try this video:

My family had a great time at the ATM cave. The cave has a much longer name in the Mayan language (Actun Tunichil Muknal), but everyone calls it ATM cave.

To get there, we had to walk about thirty-five minutes through the jungle and wade through three rivers. The park we walked through was beautiful. When we got to the cave mouth, we took a break for a few minutes to get ready for our hike in the cave. Our guide told us not to take pictures in the cave because people had damaged artifacts in the past by dropping their cameras or knocking pebbles onto to artifacts.

I liked the cave so much better than I liked the caves we toured on our cross-country trip. It was in the middle of the jungle and was so much more natural and much less changed by humans. The other caves had huge, built up entrances with gift shops, and paved walkways inside the cave. They had blasted away bigger passageways for people to walk through. In this tour, we climbed, swum, and squeezed our way through tiny passages. It was so fun!

At the cave mouth, the first thing we had to do was swim to a ledge about ten feet into the cave. The water was deep and freezing. We turned our headlamps on on the ledge. We walked for a while into the cave. We walked and swum through water and over rocks. Near the end of our hike through the cave, we climbed a rock face. At the top, we took off our shoes and walked in our socks so we wouldn’t damage artifacts and formations.

Our guide showed us lots of ceramic Mayan pots. A few were almost whole but none were complete because the Mayans would break them to release their spirits. Sometimes they smashed them and sometimes they only chipped them. We came to a large chamber. The floor was eroded away in swirls. As we walked across it, our guide showed us formations and told us about Mayan history.

At the end of the chamber we climbed a ladder. In the cavern at the top was a fully preserved skeleton of a Mayan sacrifice. Our guide told us that the Maya had gone through a time of drought. As they got more desperate they ventured deeper into the cave to pray and started sacrificing humans. Eventually they moved away. After that we made our way back out of the cave.


From here to there

We are stretching things to come up with new modes of travel for Jen’s list. You might remember the excitement she experienced taking a golf cart taxi from the dock in Caye Caulker. After that we felt like we had to really scrape to come up with boat-pulled inner tubes to add to her list of conveyances.

Avril gives an old-fashioned milking demonstration.  She usually uses a milking machine.

Avril gives an old-fashioned milking demonstration. She usually uses a milking machine.

Zoe opens the gate.

Zoe opens the gate.

How, we asked ourselves, would be continue our progress while stuck out in western Belize, with its highly developed system of taxis and buses?

Well, it turns out that western Belize is the perfect place to find new conveyances.

Nadia locks one in.

Nadia locks one in.

In this part of the world, where Mennonite dairy farms dot the hills over the sister towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio, they ride cows! At least girls 13 and under do. Our hose granddaughter Cayla showed the girls how, even as her aunt Avril taught them how to milk cows.

Lanie gives food.

Lanie gives food.

Concocting in the kitchen

Concocting in the kitchen

More than that, they got to make ice cream, and repaid Avril for her time and patience (and fresh cream and eggs) by adding to Avril’s recipe book. She said she’ll always think of our family when she makes mint chocolate chip ice cream, since our girls were the ones who suggested using mint from the farm’s garden to make flavor it. (Though the real credit should be shared with our neighbors Cheryl and Kevin, who have made mint chocolate chip ice cream for us on several occasions.)

Lanie performs for the puppies

Lanie performs for the puppies

The end result

The end result

Although we were not able to ride them, the puppies on the farm deserve a mention, as well, because they entertained us so well. And while we’re at it, Avril’s sister Naomi cooked us several great breakfasts and a wonderful taco haystacks dinner, complete with home-made cilantro cream dressing.

The other new form of conveyance in the San Ignacio area is almost as off-center as cow riding. The hand-cranked car ferry that gives people access to the Maya ruins site called Xunantunich almost seemed superfluous.


Hand-cranked ferry

The ferry itself spanned more than half the river. However, the driver was very kind, giving us some Mayan historical facts as he took us from point A, on the modern side of the river where the bus stop is, to point B on the side with the antiquities.

Point B wasn’t actually where the antiquities were, but it was at least the correct side of the river. After the ferry, we still had to walk a mile to the gates of the park and another half-mile to the ruins themselves. Much of the distance was conducted over an uphill grade.

It was like Sturbridge Village, only with rocks.

It was like Sturbridge Village, only made out of rocks.

The temperature was over 100 degrees. We nearly wound up sacrifices to the demon god of heat stroke, but we had just enough water and just enough energy.  We climbed most of the structures, including the colossal “El Castillo.”  From its top we were able to see a village that was in Guatemala.

Nadia climbs El Castillo.

Nadia climbs El Castillo.

At least that’s what the guard up there said. This was the guard with no rifle, but with the smart phone blasting hip-hop music. We did not speak with the guard holding the rifle. Apparently, there is some tension between Belize and conquest-minded Guatemala, and El Castillo provides a good vantage point for the Belizians to keep an eye on the Guatemalans.

Lanie at the top

Lanie at the top

Otherwise, it was very calm and quiet at Xunantunich, the second-largest excavated Mayan site in Belize.  It once supported more than ten thousand residents.  Over the hills in Guatemala is Tikal, which once was home to over a million.  At the height of the Mayan empire, there were between one and two million people living in Belize. Currently, Belize has about 300,000 residents.  The country is littered with historical sites, both above ground and deep inside caves.

Despite our discomfort, it was definitely worth the trek to this site.  We would have been missing a major part of the country’s culture — and its appeal — if we hadn’t explored this facet of its history.

Time for tubing

While my sisters went SCUBA diving my friend Ganya and I went tubing.

We went to the tubing place. The woman said we could do it at 11 o’clock.   My friend and I swam in the pool till it was time to go.

When it was 10:45 we hopped on our bikes and rode over. A man took us down to the dock and we boarded our boat. Soon we were out to sea.


Getting into the tubes was the most difficult part.

The man fit me in the smallest tube. He let Mom out first, then me, then Dad, then Ganya. The man told us to go slow. We slowly floated out behind the boat.

It was amazing. The water was so blue, and we were so close to the water we could see it all around us.


This is the first round of two from the surfboard.

Slowly the boat pulled us. It was fun. The captain set out a surfboard with drinks on it. The purple cups were filled with orange juice. The yellow ones were filled with alcohol. (Ed. note: Not completely full of alcohol! The adults got rum mixed with fruit juice.)

We sipped our drinks and closed our eyes. It was peaceful and fun.

Under the sea part II

P1010624P1010646On our last day at Caye Caulker we went scuba diving. Everyone went except Lanie, Mom, Dad, and Ganya Brooks. Diving was really fun. We went out on a boat to the reef. When we got there we put on our air tanks, vests and flippers. The vests were what the air tanks strapped onto. They had controls so you could inflate and deflate them to go up and down. Before we left, we had to do some training. We had to learn how to clear our goggles and get the water out of our breathing tubes if they got water in them. We also had to learn how to find our tubes if they got knocked out of our mouths.

P1010639Once we had our equipment on and were done training, we sat on the side of the boat and rolled off backwards into the water. When we were in the water we let ourselves down slowly so we didn’t hurt our ears. We swam around on the bottom and looked for fish. We saw some flounder. We also saw a lot of cool coral formations.

P1010630On the first dive I had to stay near the top of the water because my ears started hurting if I went too deep, but on the second dive my ears didn’t hurt so I went all the way down. The first dive went down 5-10 feet. The second went down 20 feet. It was really fun.


Going slow

"No shirt, no shoes, no problem"

“No shirt, no shoes, no problem”

It’s hard to believe we’ve been on Caye Caulker, a small island in Belize, for almost a week already.  More Caribbean than Central American in feel, the motto here is “Go Slow” and people take it pretty seriously.  We’ve slipped into the rhythm ourselves, and the days have slid away like pearls on a string.

IMG_7830We all laughed with delight when we got off the ferry here and saw the tropical paradise: streets made of white sand, lined with palm trees and brightly-colored buildings, with the impossibly turquoise sea stretching out beyond.  Better yet, Caye Caulker is also a safe and friendly place.  We ride our bike around the car-less streets, weaving among pedestrians and golf carts.  Rastafarians P1010620smile and shout out greetings from roadside shops, and we smile and wave back.  Everyone seems to know everyone on this tiny island, and it feels like if you stayed for a few weeks you’d know everyone too.  It’s a far cry from other places I’ve been in the Caribbean, where wealthy tourists are barricaded into their resorts to prevent any possibility of contact with the native population.

Rush hour

Rush hour

P1010615We have a lovely house with a pool, and our friends the Brookses have the same a couple of blocks away.  We’ve spent much of our time swimming — in the pools, in the ocean at “the Split” (where a channel cuts the island in two), off the dock that our house has access to — and biking around town.



Less happily, we also seem to spend a great deal of time thinking about our next meal and running to the store, since feeding 12 people is not a casual endeavor.  Fortunately we found vendors of fresh tortillas, and no one has complained about frequent meals composed of some variation on tortillas, cheese, salsa, and guacamole.  It seems like one meal is barely finished before they want to eat AGAIN.

Luckily we’ve also been able to sneak out for a few adults-only restaurant meals.  The other day the kids were very excited to create their own “restaurant” and cook while we went out.  Preparations were elaborate and they lived up to their agreement to clean up afterwards, so everyone was happy.

IMG_7835 IMG_7836
IMG_7862Today we split up into two groups.  Zoe and Nadia joined most of the Brookses for an adventure that they will be describing in the future, while Bob and I took Lanie and Ganya on a tubing trip.  We were pulled along behind a boat through the clear, blue-green waters around the perimeter of the island, with juice and rum punch being passed back to us at frequent intervals on a surfboard.  A good time was had by all.

IMG_7851Tomorrow we sadly say goodbye to Caye Caulker, heading back to the mainland and into the western mountains.  We also say goodbye to the Brookses, but not for long — we’ll be heading home in just over a week!  It seems hard to believe.  Two more stops in Belize and then we’re done.



Super snorkelers!


Lanie beholds a loggerhead sea turtle

Yesterday we went snorkeling. We stopped at 3 places. First we went to Hol Chan, which is where there is a channel in the barrier reef. We saw some sea turtles and lots of fish.

After that we went out to lunch. The restaurant served breakfast all day. For lunch I got banana pancakes.


Exploring the deep with the Brookses

P1010509Zoe and I climbed a coconut tree and picked coconuts for the restaurant. After lunch we went to a place called Shark and Ray Alley. We saw a bunch of nurse sharks and sting rays. We got to pet a shark.

At Shark and Ray Alley

At Shark and Ray Alley

Sharks and rays

Sharks and rays







Nadia pets a nurse shark.

Nadia pets a nurse shark.


Zoe reaches for a ray.






The third place was called Coral Gardens. Our guide said we were going to see a hammerhead shark there, but he was only teasing us. We did see 3 manatees and a lion fish.


Cool coral


Not a hammerhead


Costa Rica gets what it wants — Rid of us!

We didn’t tell you this, but before the dust of Nicaragua on our shoes had been covered by the dust of another country, when we were in no-man’s-land petitioning for entrance into Costa Rica, we had to prove one thing. It wasn’t economic means. They had posted several signs congratulating themselves on not charging an entry tariff. We didn’t have to pledge allegiance to anything. We simply had to prove that we were going to leave Costa Rica at some point before any roots grew under our feet.

Jen had to pull out her Kindle and show the confirmation for the plane tickets she bought, thankfully, the night before when we were on Ometepe pondering new adventures in a new country. Before we could get to those adventures, the man at the entry station needed to see that we had an exit strategy.

They turned up the heat, too.  It was 104 degrees in Quepos when we walked to the bus.

They turned up the heat, too. It was 104 degrees in Quepos when we walked to the bus.

That is the strategy we used yesterday to fly to Belize, leaving a country that was very nice, but all the same asked us not to let the door hit us on the way out. I mean, c’mon, yes we like tourists, yes we like your money, but we don’t want you to get too attached. Let’s just keep it casual, you know. Keep it simple, baby. Free and easy.

Anyway, Costa Rica’s a nice place, but it was clearly trying to get rid of us at the end. Jen got a stomach sickness early last week and that was just a shot across the bow.

Yesterday, for the first time in all of our experience in Central America, the bus was late. We waited in the hectic Quepos terminal, with very little information to go on, trying to figure out why the noon bus to San Jose was still not in the terminal at 12:30. It’s not you, Costa Rica wanted us to think, it’s me.

They also employed advertising to remind us of our native country in a clear attempt to draw us back to our nest. On the bus back from Quepos I saw even more signs of US cultural imperialism: Office Depot, Hooters, Carl’s Jr. — we don’t even have Carl’s Jr. in New England! How do they rate one down here?

Preparing to spend our last 3,000 Colones in the airport.

Preparing to spend our last 3,000 Colones in the airport…

In the candy aisle

…in the candy aisle.

And then, as a final boot in the pants, this weekend it seems that they froze our assets. Our debit card — our access to trip-lubricating money, our life line — would no longer work at the Bank of Costa Rica, where it had worked fine for the past four weeks. We were very lucky that Jen spotted the noble Lion of the Bank of America Central during our taxi drive to the hotel. We’d been in this country, it is clear to me, for longer than that for the country comfortable with.

Jen seriously doubts this money freezing thing really happened, even though she can’t produce another reason why our card suddenly wouldn’t work at the national bank of Costa Rica, even though it worked at BAC. I agree that it would seem counter to Costa Rica’s purposes of kicking us out. Despite the lack of an entry fee, Costa Rica does charge a hefty exit tax (like $29, per person) and if we can’t get to our bank account how are we supposed to pay? Have you thought of that, Costa Rica?

In the welcoming arms, only briefly, of  an El Salvador layover

In the welcoming arms, only briefly, of an El Salvador layover

Yes, they have. What is right there inthe airport, right next to where you queue up to pay the exit tax? It’s a cajero automoatico. Is it under the rotating cube of BCR? No, the ATM in the terminal proudly sports the BAC’s lion. We don’t need your stinking service fees, gringo, just go.

Well played, Costa Rica. I hear you loud and clear.

0n the water taxi

On the water taxi

Anyway, we’re gone. At the top of this post you can see a map of our complex journey among the Ticos. I’ll soon start the Belize map, which will feature even more water taxis, and — Jen was particularly excited at this because she’s keeping track of  modes of travel — a golf cart!

On the dock at Caye Caulker

On the dock at Caye Caulker

That’s what picked us up on the dock at Caye Caulker and drove us the kilometer to our very nice villa. We tried the pool out and then headed back into town to wait for our dear friends the Brooks family, who were in Belize and coming out for a week in another villa right here on Caye Caulker!

In a new conveyance!

In a new conveyance!

Except they weren’t on their way, they were already here. We got our first glimpse of them from about four blocks away. They were standing in the middle of the main intersection in town (on this Caye there’s only bikes, golf carts and a couple of dump trucks). Nadia spotted a large group of people — some tall, some short — wearing backpacks. It fit the profile perfectly.

We spot the Brookses.

We spot the Brookses!

They spot us!

They spot us!

By the time we caught up to them, they had sat down at a restaurant and were preparing to order some lunch. It was a joyous reunion, complete with nachos, smoothies, tug of war with a palm frond, lots of talking and a stray dog that seems to like noise and activity because she seems to have adopted our families as her own. A man with a shirt that said “Tourism Police” started to approach them, probably to put an end to the palm frond abuse, but upon taking in the entire mass of swirling children and dog, wisely decided to keep walking.

Happy kids by the sea

Happy kids by the sea

Happy parents by the seafood vendor

Happy parents by the seafood vendor

The accommodations are great here, the scenery is magnificent, and we’re ready for a week of adventure with our friends.