Orange Walk 
We arrived in Orange Walk on Monday, a little creeped out. The bus stop in Belize City was very run down and the buses were just old school buses. Not at all what we were expecting. The bus was so crowded that the isle was filled with people standing.

We arrived in Orange Walk after 2 hours and got off at a terminal that was almost no more than a bus stop. We had no idea where we were, so we just followed the line of locals assuming they would head in the general direction of "stuff". We eventually found the town center, but still had a heck of a time finding a place to eat. We eventually found a small restaurant where, no matter what you order, the meal costs $7.50 belize. This means for both of us, drinks included, we only paid $7.50 got lunch. The food was good too. There was a hotel next door, so we just stayed there.

The next day we did the Lamanai River Tour. Basically, you take a boat up the New River to the Lamanai ruins. The river trip was great since we got to see lots of birds and some other wildlife. We stopped at one spot where a couple Spider Monkeys live. The guys that run the boats always bring a banana for them, so they hop into the boat, check everyone out, then hop back out. Pretty interesting.

The ruins were neat. The boat guide was also the guide for the ruins, so it was interesting to hear some about the ruins. These ones were inhabited a lot longer than most Mayan ruins, until the 16th century.

The river ride back was mostly just to get back, though we did see the shape of a West Indian Manatee. Couldn't see if very well, but pretty neat nonetheless.

-Miranda


A crocodile. It's pretty small. Only about a yard long.

The spider monkey, hanging out on the boat.

One of the temples.

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Trip to the Great Blue Hole 
Caye Caulker is definitely more laid back feeling than San Pedro. The roads aren't paved and there were basically only gold carts and bicycles, no cars. We found a hotel then tried to figure out what scuba companies were going to the Blue Hole the next day. We found a company and got all set up and ready for the next day.

We woke up and got to the dive shop around 5:30am. The boat ride was a bit rough in parts, but after the two hours, we arrived at the Blue Hole in the Lighthouse Atoll. I was surprised there was only one other boat there. We got ready and headed down into the water. Here's a link on the Blue Hole if you want info about it: Blue Hole

We reached the cave at 100 feet a lot quicker than I expected. The stalagmites were big and pretty neat. Once we came back up, we sat on the boat for a bit then headed to our next dive spot within the reef system. This dive was amazing! It was a wall, so it kept going really deep. The coral was stunning. The best we've seen. We saw a turtle and quite a few barracuda along with other fish. After coming up, we docked at Half Moon Caye for lunch.

That island is a bird sanctuary apparently. Red-footed Boobies nest there. After lunch we walked the trail to the birding platform. There were frigate birds all over the place along with a smattering of Red-footed Boobies. It was noisy and super neat.

Our last dive of the trip was near Long Caye. This dive was called the Long Caye Aquarium and for very good reason. There were fish everywhere! Some of the dive was pretty shallow, but we did go to a wall where we went a little deeper. Joe ended up even spotting a Spotted Eagle Ray, which was so beautiful.

Once the dive was over, we headed back to Caye Caulker. Fortunately, the water was a lot smoother. While on the way back, was passed a small pod of dolphins! We watched them a bit then kept on going.

Definitely great last dives.

-Miranda


Ariel photo for Blue Hole (from link posted earlier)

The view from our hotel room door.

The blue hole from the boat. Kind of hard to see, but the water was so pretty. (Click for larger photo)

So many birds! All the white and black spots are birds. The black are frigate birds, the white are either frigate bird young or Red-footed Boobies. (Click for larger photo)

A Red-footed Booby hanging out on a branch. (Click for larger photo)

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Windsurfing and Diving 
Since we couldn't go diving for a few days because of the wind, Joe decided to go windsurfing. There were a couple places within walking distance to rent a windsurfer from, so we headed there. He ended up going for it and was pretty warn out by the end, but did a good job. We came back a couple days later and he went out for another hour. So he did get some fun out of those windy days!


This morning we did get to go out for a dive. It was pretty hectic since no one had been able to dive for quite a few days. They had two boats go out. We had two groups on our boat (12 divers). The swells were definitely not even close to as bad as they were on Monday, but there were still definitely some large ones. I assume that's part of the reason they ask divers to descend right after they get off the boat instead of waiting for everyone. Of course that means that those that get off the boat first already have some of their air used up before the last people get down there. In other dives we've done, this wouldn't be a big deal. When someone runs low on air (1000 or 700 lbs depending on the preference of the dive master) the dive master sends that person and their buddy (or another diver that is low on air) up to do their three minute safety stop. This company apparently just goes by whoever has the least amount of air... This made for two pretty short dives. We normally do around 45 minute dives, even when our maximum depth is 80 feet. This time, both dives were barely over 30 minutes... So we felt a bit gypped in that regard.

However, the dives were pretty nice. The coral was gorgeous and on the second dive we saw so many nurse sharks, a couple really big ones. One very large Moray Eel was swimming around, right up to some of the divers. It was very obvious it had been fed in the past. Still pretty neat though.

We're leaving tomorrow morning for Caye Caulker, an island just south of here. We'll hopefully do more diving off that island as well.

-Miranda


Joe windsurfing.


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San Pedro Weather 
The weather hasn't been cooperating with is. We were supposed to go on a dive on Tuesday, but when we checked with the dive shop they said it was too rough to go out. It would be dangerous. The wind has been just crazy. You can see the waves of the reef from shore. They're huge!

Then this morning I woke up sick. Once I got back from breakfast (only could stomach a little bit of an orange smoothie) I checked my temp. It was almost 101. Within a number of hours it was back down to normal though. I still feel pretty awful, so maybe it's not so bad we can't go diving right now.

Supposedly it may rain tomorrow, then that could help things. Maybe we'll get to dive Friday.

-Miranda

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Off to Belize 
The next morning we really needed to figure out laundry. Our next plan was to head to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye in Belize and we had no idea what to expect, so while we were in a large city, we figured we would get it done there. Well, Joe was sick, so he stayed in the hotel to sleep while I went out. I'm not normally the explorer, so this was a bit of a challenge for me. I went to the market looking for breakfast. Most people in the area don't speak any English and my Spanish is so rudimentary that I'm not much help in communicating. In the market I found the vegetable/fruit/meat section and bought some apples and bananas. That seemed to be the easiest way to get something for myself and have something to bring back to Joe if he wanted to eat at all.

Afterwards, I had to figure out laundry. I hadn't seen any laundromat around. I asked the hotel desk and she made it seem like there were no laundry places nearby... Since the fancier hotels tend to provide laundry service, I went to one of those and asked the woman at the front desk. Fortunately, she did speak English so it wasn't too confusing. She pointed me to a block away. I headed there and was able to understand the woman there enough to know that she would be able to get our laundry done that day, though I didn't quite understand how much per kilo or when it would be done. We decided to do it anyway, so I got our clothes brought them back and she wrote they would be done at 2pm. The water taxi to Belize left at 3, so we figured that would be enough time.

Eventually, when Joe was feeling a bit better, we checked out of the hotel and found lunch. By that time it was 2. I went to get the laundry only to realize some of it wasn't dry yet. She told me it would be at least 15 minutes... Eventually, another girl there happened to speak enough English that I could tell her to let the other woman know that we would take it damp and hang it up once we got to our destination, but we needed to go. So it all worked out in the end.

We arrived at the dock on time and took an almost 2 hour boat trip to San Pedro. Upon arriving, we took care of immigration and customs (which is pretty nice and easy at such a small port) and went in search of a hotel. The first place we checked out cost $120 US... We decided to keep looking. While looking, a woman had passed us and eventually turned back asking if we were looking for a hotel. We said, yes and I asked if she had one. She did, and showed us to it. It was right on the 'beach' (in quotes because it's all boat docks. I wouldn't swim near here). She said there was fast wifi and they had water to refill bottles, etc. Figuring it was going to be pricey, she said since we were just walk-ins, she would give us a deal. We were both expecting something pricey, but she ended up quoting $45 + taxes. Sweet! We went for that. Definitely a good price.

The next day, we found a dive shop and did our first dive in the afternoon. The reef is close by so it doesn't take long to get there, but it was super choppy since the wind has been blowing pretty crazy. Once you were underwater it wasn't bad and the visibility was still good (not as good as Cozumel, but still really good). The coral here are amazing! Lots of fan coral. Also, there were tons of Nurse Sharks and we saw two Spotted Eagle Rays, which were very neat. We were supposed to do two dives, but ended up not going back out after the first one because of how choppy it was.

-Miranda


View from the doorway of our room.

View down the beach from our hotel.

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