Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Visiting The Local Sites

We had our friend Bruce, visit us from the States, and he wanted to see what Belize had to offer. So we started off in San Pedro for some diving and a little partying. It was just after Easter and the tourist season had come to a screeching halt. The place was empty, and I mean empty. Nobody on the beach, nobody in the restaurants, nobody at the bars, but that also meant there was nobody at the dive sites. We had some great dives with loggerhead turtles, nurse sharks, eagle rays, and the list goes on. Definitely a good time to go if you want pristine diving and only a few people. Not a good time if you want to party.

Then it was on to the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. A fun two hour boat ride up the New River that is part Disneyland Jungle Cruise and part Florida air boat ride.

We had to stop along the way to see the monkeys, feed them a couple of apple bananas, then move on to Lamanai. Beautiful birds and lush fauna lined the shores of the river, and the viewing opportunities made the trip to Lamanai seem short.

After we arrived at Lamanai, we sat down and had a lunch provided for us by the tour company, then it was off on a short walk to the ruins. Our tour guide had studied the Lamanai ruins for over 20 years, so he knew a lot of the history, not only of Lamanai, but of the neighboring ruins and their part in the overall development of the area.

The ruins are in fairly good condition and you can still get close to and climb to the top of some of the taller ruins, unlike some of the ruins in Mexico. It is deceptive how steep the stairs are that going to the top. It can be a little bit unnerving to some people, but they do provide a rope to hold on to on your accent and decent.

But the view from the top is amazing, allowing you to see for miles in any direction.

Mischelle climbed to the top of one of the ruins, and her thighs burned for days. It's not the usual step pattern, so muscles get used that don't normally get used.

She's smiling now, but that won't be the case tomorrow!

After a long, but enjoyable day, it was time to take the boat ride back to Orange Walk and head home from there, or at least to the bar near home.

The next day, Bruce wanted to explore the Free Zone and the local casinos. Not much in the Free Zone to do but shop for "knock offs" of just about anything in clothing, shoes or handbags. Not a place to take the wife or girlfriend, if you plan on doing anything else that day. But then again, she could say that about me and going to the casinos. But at least the drinks in the casinos are free....well sort of, if you're lucky.

On Bruce's last day, his flight didn't leave until late afternoon, so we thought it would be a good time to visit the Belize Zoo. It has a very good reputation, especially for being such a small facility. But don't let it fool you on the size. They do a great job on displaying the animals and you really have a chance to get up close and personal. Just don't get too close, as the signs say. Fingers can come up missing if put in the fence at the wrong time.

The zoo does a great job educating the people about the inter-relationship between the different animals, and how as caretakers of the country, they need to preserve the forest and not exploit the resources that are natural to the country.

The zoo was great experience that I would recommend to anyone that visits Belize. But it was time for Bruce to end his vacation and head back home to LA. I'm sure glad I'm no longer in that boat. Back to work on Monday and months before your next vacation. In Belize, I'm on permanent vacation.

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