Friday, September 24, 2010

September is hurricane season in the Caribbean. If you cruise during this period of time, you take a risk of weather trouble. We had little choice about when we could travel. It needed to coordinate with Brett and Casey's school schedule. There you go. I wasn't too worried about getting onto the ship but I was a bit concerned about getting into our ports. I thought that maybe we would be diverted or we'd hit lots of rain. Didn't happen in our first three ports. I wasn't sure how long our luck could hold out.

When we got on the tender it was POURING! Really bad. I thought, uh oh... luck just ran out. Bummer. Not sure if you can zipline and climb Mayan ruins in pouring down rain... but, we forged ahead, ever hopeful.

About 30 mins later, we were off the tender and checking in for the day's activities and bam.... the rain stopped and the sun came out!!!! Yeah for us!!!

I decided to split us up that day. Brett and Casey went on a combo cave tubing/ziplining trip and Bobby, G and I went to Altun Ha to see some of the ruins. As expected, I was much more enthused about the ruins than Bobby but he was a good sport. Which, was actually kind of tough because once it stopped raining OMG was it humid!!! Part of the experience was definitely the drive... 14 miles down a barely single, pothole filled road playing chicken with oncoming buses. Did I mention we were in a small 5 passenger vehicle? Surprisingly enough, our little car usually won the chicken game. I just closed my eyes.

The ruins themselves were pretty neat. We climbed the stairs to the top. They're only about 50 feet high but the steps were reminiscent of the Great Wall in China. I always find it fun to visit places that old. These particular ruins are said to have been first inhabited in 200 BC!

We had an interesting guide who told us all sorts of things about Belize that I found really surprising. For instance, there is a community of about 10,000 Russian Mennonites currently living in Belize. They migrated there in the 50s after making certain agreements with the Belizean government. The Mennonites brought in cash and educated Belize on agricultural methods. They pay taxes but don't have to serve the required military service of other Belizeans and accept no government benefits. They use horses and buggies and dress like the Amish!

Also, on our trip to the ruins we were stopped at a police checkpoint. I asked our guide what they were looking for. Drugs? Weapons? Imagine our confusion when our guide explained to us that they were trying to stop people from illegally importing non-Belizean beer, large bottles of soda (apparantly not available for sale in Belize) and other non-Belizean items like macaroni! We were told there are strong controls on these types of goods. Still doesn't make sense to me... a bunch of police standing in the road, stopping each and every car looking for noodles??

One final observation... on the way back to the ship, we had to pull the car over to the side of the road for about 10 mins while a "parade" went past. The parade consisted of 5 or 6 cars interspersed with about 150 school children (age 5, or so, thru teen) and wearing bright uniforms and carrying a few crudely created pro education/ pro Belize signs. We knew to pull over because walking down the middle of the street at the head of the group was a man motioning with his hands to the oncoming cars. Guide explanation? They just do that sometimes. Really??? Oh, and one of the kids was passing out candy to the pulled over drivers.

Anywho. Just like the other ports, I would like to return to Belize someday when we have more time to explore.

I gave Brett and Casey the water camera and begged them to take at least a few pix. They did!!!

Altun Ha
On top of the world
The main structure. That pink dot on top is ME!
Georgie doing her pose. Too cute!

No comments: