The first light out of San Diego was an early one. I remember sweating at sunrise in the airport as the sun came over the hills to the east and filled the waiting room up. That’s San Diego for you in the summer, sunny & hot at 6am. Anyhow the first connection was in Dallas and I believe the first time I had ever been in Texas. I remember the tram to be a very interesting experience as it was the first one I had been on that was mostly outdoors and I was certainly thankful it was air conditioned because Texas is very humid.
Once in Belize I of course forced them to stamp my passport. Just had to do that since it was the first time having to use my passport. It was the first time I’ve needed a passport to leave the country because let’s face it Tijuana to Ensenada doesn’t count as an out of country experience. From the airport I was supposed to take a puddle jumper directly to Ambergris Caye however there was a mix-up and ended up needing to take a cab across town to a smaller airport where I then took the puddle jumper. This little plane was by far the smallest plane I had ever been on however it offered unprecedented views of the pilot in action and the first I’ve seen all the different gadgets in the cockpit lit up. The view was breathtaking as well because the water must have been five to ten feet deep for miles. The plane landed on the scariest strip that essentially had water on all sides.
Once landed, I then took a cab for the short ride to Mata Rocks Resort. From the moment I got there I knew I had made the right choice in reserving this place. The room I had was steps away from the tiki bar, the pool and the beach. The view of the water was unrivaled.
Mata Rocks Resort is a small establishment however very professionally run. I enjoyed it’s size because it wasn’t over populated and was close enough to walk into town or walk to nearby hotels and munch at their restaurants which of course I did the first night. The first night I went next door to El Divino Steakhouse inside of the Banana Beach Hotel and experienced the national dish of Belize, which is essentially coconut rice with red beans. In terms of the dining at El Divino I’d have to say it’s a bit on the pricey side for what it was however a great experience nonetheless.
The next day I spent roaming around the beach side, as up and down the Caye as far as I my feet would take me. For it being the middle of summer, there were hardly any people there. Timeshares, yacht clubs and other places seemed absent of the mass hordes of tourist one would expect. Of course this was fine by me as I probably roamed over tons of personal property, crashed on random hammocks and played a giant game of chess with myself.
My third day was spent fishing & snorkeling. I charted a small little boat thru the resort, which picked me up on our private dock nice and early in the morning. The captain’s name was George & the deckhand went by the name of Fish. I caught a dozen or so fish including three or four types of snappers, trigger fish and permit. Before moving onto a second spot, Fish & I hopped in to do some snorkeling around the coral. Captain George chummed the water to get some of the larger fish closer to the boat, which led to tons of large stingrays. My count was somewhere near twenty and of course 10 plus foot nurse shark, which I admit caught me a little off guard. We then moved onto Shark Alley however I didn’t actually get to see many sharks but there were plenty of lobster peaking out of very crevices and the largest barracuda I’ve ever seen.
After fishing and snorkeling was thru, Captain George went back to the dock at his place where he proceeded to cook up the fish I caught and made some excellent tacos out of them. It was great way to end the day of fishing. I ended up going to sleep pretty early that night from all the excitement and sun. It was however for the best because the next day I was heading to Lamanai.
The ferry arrived early in the morning at Mata Rocks dock. It was unfortunately raining in the morning and so the first leg of the ride felt like glass being thrown at your face however once the rain cleared up as we were passing Mangrove Caye I knew the day was going to be awesome. Once on the mainland the group hopped onto an old school bus that took us thru the region and finally arriving at the New River heading towards Lamanai.
During this leg of the trip an unexpected guest surprised me. The boat captain and guides lured a Spider monkey onto the boat, which freaked out some passengers. Thankfully the guides warned them to not scream and everyone followed directions. A couple days later after the trip I heard a French tourist got his arm mulled like corn on the cob.
Lamanai was nothing short of amazing. There were 3 main ruins. The first temple I stopped at was the Mask temple and probably the most advertised because of the very detailed thirteen-foot faces etched onto the temple. The next temple was my favorite is known as the High temple. The high temple is just that and you must hold onto a rope in order to go up the very short and steep steps. The High temple offers a stunning 360 view of the countryside. The final temple I walked by before leaving Lamanai is the Jaguar temple, which was at the other end of a beautiful grass field. I think the Jaguar faces are easier to see from a distance and are testament of time.
Having seen Lamanai I decided its time to get another stamp and go see the mother of all Mayan ruins in Tikal. First step was to get on the puddle jumper to get back to mainland Belize. I tell you, taking off from there makes you hope no one is lying about their wait because the runway is a bit scary with zero room for error and has water on both sides. Once on mainland the tour guide took me to his mini-van where he drove all the way across the countries edge and to the Guatemalan border where we were greeted at customs with some serious firearms. I went thru, got my stamp and proceeded to exit the building where my guide passed me off to hit counterpart on the other side also driving a minivan.
From there the drive was a few hours through the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen. The rainforest and all their beauty were on display through this amazing sunny day. By early afternoon I arrived at Tikal. At first it had a San Diego Wild animal part vibe to it. Only minutes after leaving the main entrance I was standing behind one of the two high temples there. Tikal is a very large ancient city. In all honesty the one-day I had was not enough to explore everything but for what I did see and experience really puts things into perspective.
I really enjoyed walking thru the living quarters, markets and of course the ball court. Rather than speaking to each experience I’ve included several photos that help better illustrate how awesome this place is.
That night I stayed at the guide’s hotel of choice, which was very much welcomed after a day of hiking around in 100% humidity. I ate dinner on the terrace that had an excellent view of a distant lightning storm that beats being in front of a screen any day. I’m pretty sure I outstayed my welcome in awe of the scenery.
The trip back to Ambergris Caye was very similar to the way into Guatemala. I spent the remainder of my vacation sitting by the pool and drinking cocktails for some much need R & R before heading back to the hustle and bustle of San Diego.