Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | July 27, 2011

Baby, Let’s Cruise Away From Here: Journal Entry # 4

Today’s towel animal: Definitely an elephant.  Still not sure what Day One was.  Maybe a snake?

Well, I’m feeling quite a bit better today than I did yesterday, though my morning was a bundle of nerves and nausea. Still, it was a vast improvement over my previous day’s experience.  The ocean is a little calmer, and I’ve been much, much more vigilant with the Gravol.  Some time on land was also extremely helpful.

Our tender lands near the lounge on the water.

Today’s adventure was in Belize City, but our cruise ship actually anchored quite far away, given the reefs that surround Belize.  We took a 15 minute “tender” (sort of a passenger ferry) to our terminal, where we met Susan, our guide for our Indiana Jones adventure.  Though I did not drop to my knees and kiss the sweet, steady ground, it may have crossed my mind.

I picked up a bottle of water and some extra sunscreen, made use of the bathroom, before we hopped on the bus for our hour’s drive through Belize City and into the rainforest.  Our guide, Susan, was very enthusiastic and informative, the way all tour guides should be.  She even spoke a little Belize Creole for us as examples, slowing it down so we could sort of catch it as, unlike New Orleans Creole which is a French patois, Belize was a British colony until 1981 and its patois is pure English.  Belize is also a developing country, and that can sometimes be hard to see even out the limited view of a bus window. I’m sure we only scratched the surface.  People work to have what they need, our guide stressed, and there is a lesson in that.

Caves are fun (especially when the spiders stay away)!

After a long bumpy bus ride on unpaved road (DW likened it to the Ingraham Trail) and a rest stop for water and washrooms, we made our way to the start of the hike with our cave guides, Rashida and Chris.  It wasn’t a long hike by any means, only about 10 to 15 minutes, but I was breathing hard quite early on.  The heat and humidity were killer!  I didn’t feel faint or weak like I’d imagined in my obligatory worst case scenario planning, but it certainly made for hard work.  The hike took us to the entrance of the cave where we’d begin our explorations.

Most of the tour actually took place in the caves.  We began by crouching and crawling through a very narrow tunnel-like entrance for several minutes.  I’m pretty sure a bat flew by me at this point, but too quick to be certain that’s what it was.  I can be certain there were bats, however; they were on the roof and flying around in the “Terra Ferrata”, one of the chambers that the Italians had used during the first and second world wars.  I think.  I admit I was looking around a lot and may have missed some of the details.  I did not, however, miss the squeaking of at least two of the women in our group.  None of those women was me (or DW, for that matter); for those of your skeptics, I’ll have you know I like bats.  Had I seen a cave spider, on the other hand…

Our guide, Rashida, in the cave.

In addition to crawling through tunnels to look at the formations as well as some of the Mayan artifacts left behind (like the fertility chamber complete with phallic stalagmite formation), we also did some pretty daring (for me, anyway) feats.  I was the second person to rappel, which was not the kind of rappelling I’d envisioned.  We were actually in a harness and lowered straight down (no feet on sides), almost like sliding down a fire pole.  Then there was the zip lining, the suspension bridges, and the zip line/rappelling cross, where I was strapped on to the steep angled cable and slid down with no control over the speed.  You just had to wait for the guides to pull on the chord at the right moment to slow you down.

That took us to the end of the hike, and out of the cooler caves into the hot humidity once again.  We were able to get some shade at our next stop, which was lunch under a big thatched canopy.  Chicken and beef kebabs in a tortilla, with some beans, as well as a juice made of delicious jungle fruit.  Pineapple for sure, though I missed which other ones were in it. (By the way, DW says that my adventuring makes Indiana Jones look like Justin Bieber.  Go me!)

After that, it was back on the bus.  The ride back to the tender was made all that much longer by the fact I’d had a lot of water throughout the day.  Thank goodness the drive was only an hour long!

DW and I elected to get on the next tender out, rather than wait for the last one, which I appreciated because waiting until the last minute always makes me nervous.  I then ventured up to the thermal room, not so much for the heat but for the chance to use the rainwater shower so neither DW nor I had to wait our turn to rinse off the sweat and sunscreen (and, as DW reminds me, cave dirt), especially since I was pretty much slathered in them.

Dinner was once again delightful, including the company: this time were were seated near a window with Keith and San-Mei, a couple from Philadelphia.  I had sweet tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar to begin, followed by yet another chilled soup, this time blueberry.  I had veal cordon blue as my main course. The cherry on top or icing on the cake was, however, the dessert: creme brulee, which is pretty much my favourite thing ever.  I’ve been very spoiled, really!

DW and I took it easy after dinner, sitting out to watch the stars for a bit before she came back to the stateroom and I ventured off to find one of the events I wanted to do.  It was the opportunity to sing with the ship’s jazz band, and I definitely have big band dreams.  It was not to be tonight, unfortunately.  I couldn’t remember where it was happening – or rather, I remembered it in the completely wrong place.  So I checked in on the internet for the first time instead, and will have to keep my eye on the cruise events to see if I have a second chance.  If not, I guess I’ll just have to take another cruise down the line!

Now I’m in for the night, as I have an earlier morning ahead of me.  Tomorrow’s adventure: swimming with the dolphins in Mahogany Bay, Honduras.  Notable resident of Mahogany Bay: buccaneer John Coxen.  Drink of the Day: Tropical Tom.

Until the next entry!

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