Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 5 - Belize

Today, we had to get up and get off the ship as early as possible. We are doing a "double" tour with a private tour company. I woke up and the room was freezing. Grrr... I guess one of the girls turned it down really far. I get out of bed and almost fall on my face as there were towels on the floor right between the bed and the wall. I didn't see them in the dark. knee is still paining. Double grrr....Then, I see our pre-order breakfast form on the floor. Triple grrr...I guess it fell off the night before. I turn the temp up before I turn into an ice pop, and Katie is great about ordering breakfast to see if it can get there in time. could. They send cereal. Breakfast of champions.

We get ready in record time and Mike and the boys head to the Follies lounge to get a number. We are not on a Carnival cruise so they punish you by not letting you get on the tenders right away. We asked if there was any way to get off early. No dice. I wanted to try to sneak into a carnival group, but Mike didn't think that was a good idea. So, we waited. Finally, we got to go with the 1's (we were the first 2's). We ended up getting off the tender about 8:45 (docked at 8). Not too bad since it is about a 20 minute tender. We found out that we had two extra people on our trip - one from Chicago and one from St. Louis. We thought we were going to be just the six of us, but they were nice people and I didn't mind.

We follow the instructions to go to terminal 1 (we came in at 2), and as we walk out the door we see the sign for us. Perfect! We had a tour with NCQ Adventures to go Ziplining and Cave Tubing. It was about an hour and 15 minute drive to the spot. Our tour guide Nacho was fantastic. He told us stories on the way there about the history of Belize, the history of cruise ships in Belize, the telephone company monopoly, the hurricane in 1961 that moved the capital, etc. It was very informative and entertaining. The roads were not too bad in the beginning, but the last few miles were AWFUL. I couldn't believe that they didn't fix those roads since the cave tubing and ziplining are two of the biggest cruise excursions from what we could tell. It was very uncomfortable to be banged around so much, but it was only for a few miles.

When we stopped, we all got some bug spray on, put our belongings away except for a camera, etc. We were so lucky to be some of the first people there. I had read reviews that NCQ always gets you there earlier than the other tours, and Nacho didn't disappoint. We went right in, got fitted for our helmet and other ziplining gear, and we were off! No waiting for us!

We had a guide for the first two stops, but then they got so busy that they went to an "assembly line" pattern. At that point there were guides at each stop to help but you didn't keep the same ones the whole time.

First, we did the chicken run. I was pretty anxious but also excited. I think Morgan was also a little anxious. Nobody else seemed to be too anxious. You would stand next to the line, and the guide would tell you to jump up. As you jumped, they hooked you in. Then, you sat down in the straps that went under your but and behind you and started moving. You held to the front with one hand, and then your other hand went behind you on the cable. They went on and on about not applying too much brake and to keep your hand behind you but in an open position unless braking. Also, do not squeeze the cable but press with your hand. It was a bit confusing as to how much to apply the brake and what to do if something happens was not discussed. Oh well...I guess I just have to be brave. Chris went first, then Michael, then Morgan, then Katie, then Mike. The chicken run was run but a little scary as I really didn't know what to do. Next we went up these really high stone steps. The lady with us said that we were doing our "buns of steel" workout. It wasn't too bad, but I was sweating at the top. Then, we did two 500 feet lines, a 750 foot line, two 500's again, and then a short but steep finishing line. At one of them, I didn't make it as my hand came off the cable and I freaked and grabbed on. That made me stop too early, and I had to pull myself in. Oops.

Our guide explaining the process
Another time, I didn't break enough and the guy was gesturing for me to brake harder. I didn't do very well figuring all of that out I guess. The kids did great, and so did Mike. At the end, I didn't get to see it, but Nacho said that Morgan came flying in and did a flip at the end. They told me to brake the whole time in because it is steep and shorter, but Morgan said nobody told her. So, she didn't brake at all. She went flying in and the guy had to catch her.

Chris showing that he is ready to go
 My heart was pumping really well when we left, and I was definitely sweating. Hope that counts as a workout since I have been a slug since the marathon (trying to let my knee get well). The scenery was beautiful, and I actually would have liked to go twice. The first time I was nervous and didn't get to really look around. After knowing what each line was like, I think it would have been fun to do it again.

Michael and Morgan Ready to go

Michael getting hooked in

 Videos (sorry Katie and Mike, they made me move before I could get any more!)

After the ziplining, we noticed the line was REALLY long. There was no equipment hanging where it was full when we got there. Those people were all having to wait as each person came off to get their equipment. I was SO glad that Nacho got us there so early! We took off shirts and shorts and put on water shoes. We got a tube, a helmet with a light, and a life jacket. Our guide was Rick, and he was really good. He has been doing these trips as a guide for 12 years. He does about 4 trips a day. He has abs of steel and I could see why after the trip.

View from van
Boys in Van

Girls in van

We first walked about 35 - 40 minutes through the woods. We saw chicklet trees, mahogany trees, termite nests, and beautiful rain forests. My knee was paining for a lot of us, so Morgan, Mike and I took it easy in the back. Katie and I had the "tube" incident on the early part of the walk, but then we made up along the way. Gotta love teen drama. When we got to the water, it was about 72 degrees - chilly but refreshing. We didn't get all the way wet. Just your legs walking in get wet and then your butt as it sticks through the tube. He didn't tie us up, but instead we formed two lines where the person behind you puts their legs under your armpits and you hold on to the tube next to you. It was a bit uncomfortable, but it wasn't too bad. We went through the cave and saw the beautiful patterns on the rocks and it was amazing to imagine how the water did that over time. It was dark, so the light on the helmet was helpful. I leaned my head back on Katie's tube most of the time and she had her legs under my arms. Morgan was to my left, and I held onto the tube there. I think using rope to keep everyone together would be nice, but it wasn't that big of a deal. The trip was about 45 minutes or so down the river with about 25 of it in the cave. It was very scenic and we did see some iguanas. At the very end, he let us "break the line" and float on our own. It was so nice to be able to relax the muscles and just enjoy. It also felt good to get out of the tube and to get rinsed off in the water.

After tubing, we had a very short walk back where we dropped off the gear and then went to eat lunch. The restaurant was a buffet and was included in the price. The food was ok - nothing spectacular but not bad. They had hamburgers and baked chicken, several salads - pasta, fruit, cole slaw, and vegetable salad, rice and beans, french fries, plantains, and some fish fried in a cornmeal pouch thing (very yummy). There was water, tea, and lemonade included in the price, and you could also buy beer (Belkin the beer of Belize was really good) or Coke (no diet). This was at the Jaguar Paw Restaurant that is right outside of the cave. After lunch, we went to look at our pictures. The picture desk is not very efficient. They had lines and chaos. We did get them to look for ours and we bought one of each so that we can remember our journey. It was a lot of fun! On the way back, Nacho entertained us with riddles. When we got back to port, we shopped a little bit. I had given Nacho a tip for his excellent service, and he actually came to find us in the shops later to make sure that it wasn't an accidental overpayment. How nice! It was meant as a tip though, so we said thanks and good bye. Mike and Chris got some hot sauces, and  Mike tasted the cashew wine. I was going to try it, but after Mike said that it tasted like old corona and oil mixed together, I decided that didn't sound very good. :) Morgan, Katie and I bought sensible souvenirs like a mahogany carved turtle, a small bracelet, and wood carved jewelry boxes. We also got a magnet for the fridge. Tradition - gotta love it.

We went back to the ship and rushed to the slide since it would close at 5. We were back around 4 so we had time. The slide was fun, but I got major salt water up my nose at the end. Checked that box. Next! We were getting ready to sail, so we went to the cabin to watch and to have a drink. We had dinner reservations at the Golden Fleece Steakhouse at 8:30. So, we kicked around, relaxed, had a few beers, then a few more, then a few more. Oops. I think I am drunk. Well, dinner should be fun!

We got ready for dinner and headed up for our 8:30 reservation. I was weaving and it wasn't because of the ship. I accidentally knocked over a vacuum hose and tripped Morgan and Mike. Oh man...this is going to be ugly.

The food was really good. I had escargots (too many of them - I think these are meant to be eaten in very small quantities). Since Morgan didn't like appetizers, we ordered escargot for her. I had a bisque soup that was really good. I had the steak and lobster for dinner. Michael had the rib eye which was pretty spicy. I think everyone enjoyed their steak. We had wine, but I don't remember what kind. Oops. I do know the guys next to us were drinking Silver Oak. Yum. After dinner, Mike and I sat on the deck and the kids went to the kids clubs. Morgan was back early and I was in bed early. Mike apparently went to the casino after I went night night.  Fun day...I know I must be getting old since it took me 5 days on a cruise ship to get a good hard buzz going...

People gathered by the street
Blackbeard Tavern

A shop with a boy Michael's age working

Selling Carvings

Nacho told us that when people ask where we went on our cruise to say, "I be gone to Belize." When they ask how it was, we are to say, "It was unbelizable." LOL We did have a fantastic day.

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