30 Apr Carnival Cruise (Belize) – Day 4
Carnival Cruise (Belize) – Day 4 of our adventures, we woke up in Belize! This place was probably the most adventurous due to the physical activities that we chose to take part in this day! We were going zip lining through the jungles and cave tubing! I was extremely nervous about the zip lining, but we’ll get to that in a sec.
We woke up and got ready for the day, packing our water shoes, bathing suits, and other gear for the excursion. We went to the lido deck for our morning breakfast buffet as usual, before meeting up with our excursion group. The ship didn’t dock here, but anchored, so upon exiting the ship we had to take a small tender boat to shore. It was maybe a 15 minute ride and I was able to keep my nausea in check. We then took a bus ride from the shore to the theme park which was a little over an hour long. Our tour guide, Niori was a nice Belizan guy who informed us that our time with him would be in fact “UN-BELIZE-ABLE!” He also gave us a little insight to the culture on this rather new independent nation. Belize used to be the Republic of Honduras, under British rule until about 1983 or so. The main dialect on the island is not French Kriol, but Belizan Kriol. The phrase of the trip was “YAH MAN!” Upon pulling out of the bus station we drove through the streets of Belize City, in which Niori told us that there are only 7 traffic lights on the whole island of Belize, and only 6 of them work. That was assuring! There is also only one cinema and one bowling alley on the whole island. Currency in Belize is double the USD, so gas prices there are about $12, which is about $6 a gallon, USD. We should feel lucky things for us here are still hovering below the $4 mark (well, in Jersey anyway). On this bus ride we also passed a school, and a cemetery in which the tombs were oddly above ground. Niori explained to us that this was because if you dig past 3 feet underground you hit water. So in the case of a husband and wife being buried together, the first person was buried 3 feet underground, and then the second person was just placed on top of the ground, to equal 6 feet. Belize is also known for its export of tropical produce such as mangoes, oranges, pineapples, coconuts, etc. He said about 97% of the oranges found in Florida orange juices comes from Belize. Do not believe the 100% Florida Oranges Labels!
He also explained why cashews are so expensive here! They are one of the most dangerous nuts to harvest. Cashews actually grow in a fruit, which looks like a cross between a red bell pepper and an apple. The nut rests on top. You cannot eat the fruit because it is highly toxic! In order to extract the nut from the fruit and dry them, they must take them out into a field and burn them which produces a chemical so potent that it could blind you! This dangerous process is why we pay so much for these nuts! We take for granted the things we have no idea went into making such a small tin of nuts. Niori passed back multiple pamphlets on all of the information he was talking about. There was one male couple who appeared to be from Sweden or somewhere of the sort. They kept annoying Avi and I because they kept hogging all of the pamphlets and we wanted to see the information! Haha! As we indulged on all of this information, we made our way into a more rural area of the island. In the distance, we could see a mountain range that locals call “The Sleeping Giant”. It looks like the profile of a large man’s head lying face up. Niori said that’s where we were headed, and to be aware for the place we were going to be inhabiting for the remainder of the afternoon was called Jaguar Paw Park, and that actual Jaguars do live there. They do not believe in restricting their wildlife from where they want to go, just for the sake of tourism, but he did assure us that they would see us, before we saw them, and they would actually avoid us. Trust me, this did not put my mind at ease one bit!! I just tried to ignore this information and enjoy the day. We continued on our bus journey down long stretches of road with hut-like houses scattered along the way. As we approached the park area a bit closer, we had slowed down our pace a bit and were able to see the curious locals making their way out of their houses to catch a glimpse of the tour buses coming through. Little children were playing in their front yards and running up to the bus and waving. It was the cutest thing ever.
After more twisty and turned roads, we had arrived at the welcome area of the Caves Branch Outpost Adventure Park. We were driven up a dirt path and upon exiting our air conditioned bus, we were escorted to a more “earthy” school bus. It was literally a school bus. A hot and sweaty one at that! Avi and I ushered ourselves into a 2 seater with our backpacks like eager grade schoolers on the first day. As all of the adventure seekers got situated on the bus, Niori gave us a little pep talk. There were multiple tour groups here at this park, so he decided to give us a code name so we knew when we had to meet up throughout the day. He called us “Niori’s Legendary Crazy Cashew Nuts”, and we were directed to respond with a “YAH MAN!” so he knew where we were. The bus had started it’s journey through a small section of brush and then we came to a steep hill surrounded by jungle on both sides. The bus accelerated with all of its might to make its way up this hill. The way down on the other side was just as steep, and it was scary to think what would have happened if the breaks would have went out! OH MY! Upon landing at the bottom of the hill, all of the passengers’ heads chaotically moved to and fro like bobble head dolls as the wheels at the back of the bus bounced, grounding us once more. We came to an area of little huts with straw roofs scattered throughout the park, where we exited the bus. We were directed to water shoe rentals or to purchase our locker keys from the attendant, which was about $5.00. The beauty of a cruise is that you don’t really have to worry about money conversions, as most of these excursion parks accept USD. If you are doing any sort of water sport at a park like this, I HIGHLY suggest that you bring your own water shoes!! I bought a cheap $12 pair from target, and Avi invested in his a little more and bout a pair of Merrell Water Sneakers for about $100. It really doesn’t matter how much money you spend on these, cuz they’re gonna get wet and dirty. It’s just important to have your own because I am pretty certain that the ones they offer at the parks are never cleaned, and you never know what kind of foot fungus other people could be spreading around. Just the thought of that grosses me out! I was skeeved out enough as it is, wearing a sopping wet life vest that someone else had worn before me. Most of the life vests smelled like a gnarly combination of wet dog and body odor, it was really not pleasant at all. Anyway, we had skipped over the water shoe rental and hit up the locker key stand instead.
After we got our keys, we headed to the locker area and put our stuff away as the sounds of Caribbean music filled the tropical air. I was so excited to get going! Avi and I both went to the bathroom and then met back up outside to make our way to the gear station. As we walked there, we heard screams from above. As we looked up, we saw zip liners crazily zooming across the jungle over our heads. I nervously looked up and Avi caught wind of the possibility that I may have very well been shitting my pants in anticipation of this new thrill seeking venture. HAD I COMPLETELY LOST MY MIND!??! He assured me that 200 feet above ground isn’t really all that high. “That’s about like, 50 of you”, he reassured me. He was not helping. We made our way closer to the front of the gear line and eventually suited up. The gear was pretty heavy, and I felt sorry for Avi’s suffocated “man parts” due to that restricting harness. After getting all situated, a nice person offered to take our picture of us in our gear. Afterward, our group had hiked about a half mile uphill into the jungle toward our safety briefing. As we climbed up the man-made stairs up this very REAL mountain, Avi and I joked about how we felt like we were contestants on Legends of the Hidden Temple (If this doesn’t show our age)! I passively made conversation and laughed as I secretly was keeping an eye out for snakes. All of the sudden I spotted a coiled up looking creature resting on the stairs in front of me. Before my eyes could focus on what it was, I assumed the worst, and jumped about 5 feet into the air. I scared Avi, and the people behind us were laughing at me hysterically. I am a spaz! The coiled creature was just a dried up palm leaf or something of that nature. I felt like an idiot, but needless to say we all got a good laugh about it, so I’m glad I could have provided some entertainment along our monotonous 2 mile trek up a mountain with 10 extra pounds of solid gear on, in the tropical heat. NBD. Eventually we came to a rest area for our safety briefing with a little island man named Richard. There was a sample zip line running over a half moon shaped area of about 3 rows of stadium seating which reminded me of Survivor’s Tribal Council area. All we needed were torches and an immunity necklace. My eyes wandered around wondering who I would vote off if I could. Richard welcomed us all and demonstrated some different techniques for braking and remaining a forward position. He swung back and forth like a little monkey and made things look so easy. I was still not completely convinced that I knew what I was doing.
After he dismissed us from our briefing, we walked more and got in line on a staircase leading up to a platform high in the trees. I was anxiously shaking in anticipation as we waited in line to do the first line (which was the longest, and highest, at about 200 ft). Yea, cuz that’s not scary! The workers would yelp like monkeys across the way to the guy at the other end of the line, to let them know when they were ready for the next victim. We laughed our asses off at the random shit people would scream on their zip across the first line. I went ahead of Avi, and he filmed my first zip line. The look on my face was definitely one of uncertainty as the jamaican sounding island man pulled me by my harness and instructed me to stand on a wooden crate to get my footing. He looked frustrated with me because I didn’t understand him through his thick island accent. When he finally got me hooked up and ready to go, I took one last unsure glance at Avi’s camera as if to say, “Well it’s been nice knowing you babe!” As I floated away on the line, you could hear the relief in my “WOOHOO!” as I ascended into the jungle at lightning speed. The wind rushed past my body as I floated upon the canopy of palms, ferns, and mahogany trees which are native to this land. I remember doing what they tell you not to do, which was looking down! I WANTED to see how high I was, to seize just how adventurous this whole experience actually was. As I made it to the other side, Avi close behind me, I felt all of the adrenaline rush out of me, totally stoked that there were 4 more lines to come! This was by far one of the most adventurous things I have ever done. It all went by so fast, I really wish I had a Go Pro cam so we could have filmed more of our experience. I tried filming Avi during his, but we had on thick utility gloves so it was hard to get things set up quickly. He got yelled at for trying to film, but he managed to leave the camera running and tied to his belt as he went across the second line. This was by far a great experience, and I would do zip lining again in a heart beat. I just wish there were more lines here for all the money we paid to do it, but I guess when they’re cramming in a double adventure, that’s the price you pay. They have to get their people back to their cruises on time, and we still had to do our cave tubing.
After the zip line, we had regrouped with Niori before being sent off with our cave tubing guide, Peter. We got on our water shoes from our lockers and then went to pick up our lifejackets, light helmets and neon green inflatable tubes. As we got our supplies, we trudged up yet another mountain toward the caves. Peter stopped every now and then at different trees marked with signs to identify them. We saw Mahogany Trees, Prickly Yellows, Cotton Trees, and Coconut Trees. We finally arrived to the clearing, the entrance of the cave which was surrounded by lush greenery and fresh water filled with tiny little clear minnows. I was hoping they were harmless! There were about 10 people in our group, 2 people per row, all hooked together by putting their legs under the person’s armpit in front of them. Avi and I were placed in the very back, right behind none other than the same Swedish dudes who were annoying us on the bus! My foot was wedged under the one guy’s armpit and I swear he was squeezing my ankle on purpose. I was in pain the whole time, so if you’re gonna go on a tube tour that uses this method, I suggest trying your best to make a b line to the front. Also in the back, it was a bit hard to hear our tour guide because there were about 5 other tours going on in front and behind us. Even if you whisper in a cave, the sound just bounces around, so all it sounded like was a trail of echoes. I got a few bits of information, like the red deposits on the ceiling were iron, and there were also limestone deposits. Also the Mayans used to come into these caves to perform sacred rituals. There was also a section of the cave that was exposed to light, due to a sinkhole that had collapsed the earth where that part of the cave was. The water in the cave was shallow for the most part, but went up to 40 feet deep in some parts. I did witness a fruit bat flying through the cave upon entering. They live in the holes of the cave ceiling and eat up to 1000 insects per hour. Also if you are going to do this excursion, be sure to lift your ass in the shallow parts because you will cut it on the rocks! Those rocks are a bit sharp… Avi’s butt snagged a few! I was paranoid and kept lifting my ass. The tube tour started off fun, but it slowly became a bit annoying between not being able to hear our tour guide, snagging butts on rocks, and our ankles being twisted under the armpits of the complete strangers in front of us. The cave tubing was fun, but the zip lining totally took the cake here. After we exited the cave, we had to trek back down the mountains with our tubes and returned all our gear. By this point we were STARVING!
We headed back to the lockers, put some dry clothes on, and headed to the bar for some grub and a cold one. We feasted upon some delicious authentic Belizan cuisine: Stewed Chicken, Rice & Beans, and Cole Slaw. Avi also got us some chicken tacos and we washed it all down with some cold Belikins which was the local beer of Belize. After, we hit the gift shop where I bought a bright blue beach bag with fish on it, for my mom, a postcard with an iguana on it, and a cute wooden butterfly keychain that said Belize on it. The bus arrived as we were checking out, and Niori shouted for his “Legendary Nuts”! We hurried back aboard the bus with our gifts and Belekins in hand. We got situated in our seats and the bus wasn’t leaving yet because there were a couple people missing from the group. They took like 15-20 extra minutes just trying to track these people down! They finally got on the bus and we headed back to the port. During the ride back, Avi and I both drifted off to dreamland as Niori answered some questions from our curious tour group. I heard him telling them that he goes to night school to study. I forget what exactly it was that he was studying, as I was drifting to a deep sleep.
We had awoken to the sound of the bus brakes as we had pulled up back to the terminal. As we gathered our things to disembark, Niori thanked us for coming on his tour and taught us one more phrase to take home with us. When asked where we went on our adventures, we should say in Belizian Kriol “Ahm be gone, ahm Belize!” We had a wonderful time here, and we left with great knowledge of this beautiful island. As we prepared to exit the bus, Niori explained to us that we had about one whole hour to do some shopping along the tender docks where we were dropped off when we got there earlier in the day. I think we were something like Dock 10. Avi and I strolled along the docks drifting in and out of a few shops. I bought a cute red gauze sling bag and a little woven bookmark with a little cloth doll hanging on the end, which both said BELIZE on them. We were in the shop maybe 10 minutes or so, and Avi started getting noticeable anxious. For some reason he sensed that we needed to get to our pier ASAP. We ran down to dock ten so Avi could ask the lady what time our tender gets there. She saw that we were with The Legend Ship and directed to the pier all the way completely at the other end of the pier. He was like “Oh Shit! Do you know what time it leaves?” She told us that it was leaving NOW. It’s a good thing Avi had that gut feeling, or we would have been stranded in Belize without our passports, since Avi insisted that we keep them locked in our room safe on the ship. I mean, I understand you don’t wanna lose something like that, but what good does it do in there, if you’re in an emergency like that!? I didn’t even want to imagine what would have happened! So we booked it to the other end of the pier and hopped on the tender just as they were about to close the door. The tender hand had made sure we were on The Legend, and then intercommed over to someone that he had found “The Two”… You mean we were holding this shit up? OMG. Why did Niori tell us we had a whole hour to shop and that we were already by our tender dock? RULE: Don’t ever rely on what guides tell you, always double check yourself with travel times! We nervously boarded the tender by the skin of our teeth, and the tender hand continued to intercom with the Legend’s captain. Apparently we weren’t the last 2. There were another 3 people missing from the tender, but unfortunately they didn’t luck out so much. The tender hand wanted to wait for the couple a bit longer, and was arguing with The Legend captain because he wanted to leave on schedule. The captain had won that battle, and we were back off across the sea as we made our way back to the ship. YIKES for that trio! I hope they had their passports on them! The only option they had at this point, was to get a flight from Belize’s tiny little airport and meet up with our cruise in the next stop which was Roatan, Honduras. If there were no flights out, they would have had to get a flight back to port in Tampa or wherever, but if their passports were on the ship, then they wouldn’t be able to enter the country. Also, what about their bags? Carnival had everything! Talk about an expensive mistake! These were all of the things Avi and I were realizing when thinking about what we would have had to go through had that actually been us. We were so relieved we made it when we did…
When we finally got back on the ship, we had to start getting ready for our dinner reservations at the steakhouse with Kristin, David, Jackie, and Cheryl. This was probably the only meal we actually paid for on deck, I think it was something like $35 a person for a 4 course meal and the dress attire was elegant, so we had all had a reason to get all fancy shmancy! I wore a really pretty blue cotton top maxi dress with flowing chiffon in a blue and orange mandala print, and my hair in an up do. Avi looked equally handsome in a dark olive button down shirt and his hair slicked to the side. We had some time to kill before dinner, so we headed down to the bar in the main lobby and watched the Polynesian Live Wedding Style Band as we sipped on Miami Vices and Pina Coladas. Afterward, we took the elevator all the way to the top level of the ship, where the exquisite restaurant was located. As we walked into the cathedral ceiling dining room, we were seated at a big round table and waited for the rest of our party to arrive. The decor was beautiful, wooden banisters and a greek mural which stretched along the top of the back wall. Soon after, Kristin arrived with David, and Jackie and Cheryl followed soon after. We started with some appetizers. Avi was brave enough to try the Escargot Bourguignonne which was a garlic herb butter sauce. I had the Lobster Bisque with Vintage Cognac, which was quite delicious. We were also brought out little dainty cups of chilled tomato soup, compliments of the chef. They were pretty tasty! We all had some salad, and ordered our main courses. I think Avi and I both got the Surf & Turf if I remember correctly. All the food was just so delicious, we were so stuffed after, but we still had to order dessert! I got the chocolate sampler which came with little shot glasses filled with different flavors like Bittersweet Chocolate Cake, Banana Pannacotta, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Marquise. Avi opted for the cheesecake which was larger than his head. Like, literally! We took most of it back to the room. We all had wonderful conversation throughout dinner. Kristin’s coworker also had family on the ship as well, and they were dining across the room from us. Her boyfriend had actually proposed to her which was fun to watch happen.
After dinner, Jackie and Cheryl decided to go back to their rooms or something of the sort. Kristin had the night off from shows, so she wanted to hang out with us and wander about the ship. We decided to hit up the bar and lounge area in front of the Medusa Night Club for awhile where Angie, the ship’s acoustic guitarist was stationed, entertaining passer-byers or other folks lounging around the area. Kristin bought us some drinks at the bar, and we chatted in some plush leather lounge chairs for awhile, about life and her plans, and how long she plans on working for Carnival, etc. Some of her friends came down from dinner and everyone was congratulating her friend on her engagement. People came and left the area, and as time had passed we started getting bored and tired, so we decided to go inside the Medusa club and get a round of shots. We had some fireball whisky and danced mostly on the top level. We had fun people watching the disco dance floor from above. We were laughing at all of the drunk white girls dancing, down below the balcony we were watching from. YIKES. If I remember correctly, there may have been a scuffle and some people had gotten kicked out of the club. Things started getting out of hand so after some dancing and drinks, we left the nightclub and hung out outside the club a bit as the bouncers were doing their job. Kristin was telling us about how there was a jail, a hospital, and a morgue on deck. Then things got really heavy and she was telling us about some of the people who have jumped off the ship, committing suicide, during her time working there. That thought is pretty scary. Not that I’ve thought about it, but that doesn’t seem like the best way to go if you ask me. If you jump, and you live, now you’re floating in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold ocean, until a shark decides to come and eat you alive. No Thanks!
Well anyway… we may or may not have made our way down to crew bar that night. I know by the end of this day, I was extremely exhausted, and we needed a good night’s sleep because the next day was Roatan, Honduras where we will get to interact with monkeys and parrots! Goodnight all!