Last of the Vacay Writing

It’s time to catch up with the last several days of the big vacation! I left off with Wednesday’s night snorkel. For those just joining, the Hubby and I spent two weeks in Caye Caulker, Belize with our friends who live on the island, Dave and Noelle.

Thursday, May 9th

On Thursday it was my birthday! I magically turned into a crotchety old lady of 34; the transformation was amazing, I tell ya. To celebrate we went on a full day snorkel at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve with French Angel Snorkeling. I already posted the video of the loggerhead turtles that Noelle and I saw, but we did so much more than that! On the boat ride out we saw seahorses, tarpon and a huge pod of dolphins. After we saw the sea turtles we made our way over to a deeper part of the reef, and that’s where I had the HUGE FUN! The ocean floor was about 30 feet down and I free dove all the way to the bottom! Later there was a coral tunnel that the guide showed us that was about 20 feet down from the surface. The tunnel was only about eight feet long by about four feet in diameter but it was a real thrill (and a bit of a squeeze!). I went through twice and both times there was a school of large grunts hanging out as I went through. It was really magical.


Dolphins! There were at least twelve, including one very curious calf! Continue reading “Last of the Vacay Writing”

Last of the Vacay Writing

Night Snorkeling

Wednesday was a very slow day. All of us – me, the Hubby, Noelle and Dave – were feeling a bit ill from Tuesday night’s dinner. We think it was the slow-cooked black beans – they were undercooked and I found a couple of websites warning about the toxin phytohaemagglutinin that is found in some beans. Whatever it was, there was trouble in paradise, and we spent much of the day lounging about the house and teasing Noelle about poisoning us.

By late afternoon we were all feeling better and so we ventured out to The Split for some food and swimming. The Split is the north point of Caye Caulker, and the party destination for tourists and islanders alike. We grabbed some food and drinks from the Lazy Lizard Bar. I had the house special, a Lizard Juice. Don’t ask me what was in it – it was frozen and alcoholic and it turned my tongue bright green, so I hear.

The snorkeling at the Split was kind of magnificent. There is a bunch of concrete and wood in the water that the fish have turned into nursing grounds. There were the ever-present grunts, but also parrotfish, tang, wrasse and a myriad of other brightly-hued fish.

Continue reading “Night Snorkeling”

Night Snorkeling

Jungle Ruins: Lamanai

One of the goals of the trip was to visit some ruins. We had plenty of options: Altun-Ha, Caracol, Cerros, Xunantunich – and those are just a few of the ruins that are known in Belize.

We ended up visiting Lamanai, an archeological site in Orange Walk District (northern Belize) that was occupied between the 16th century BCE to 17th century CE, with its heyday occurring several hundred years before and after the start of the Common Era.

01 Water Taxi
Our trip started with a 45 minute water taxi from Caye Caulker to Belize City with Dave and Noelle.

Continue reading “Jungle Ruins: Lamanai”

Jungle Ruins: Lamanai

Snorkeling the Reef

On Saturday I wasn’t quite scuba-diving ready; still a bit congested – but I was starting to salivate over the nearby barrier reef. From Dave and Noelle’s veranda you can see the waves breaking over the reef in the distance. I wanted to get into the water! So we decided to start slow – a snorkel one day and then a dive.

We ended up booking two tours on Friday night: a dive for Sunday (on the hope that I’d be well enough to go) and tickets for a Saturday 10:30am half-day snorkel trip to the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve from French Angel Expeditions. Our guide for the snorkel was Ash and he was pretty awesome.


French Angel Expeditions snorkel shop

Continue reading “Snorkeling the Reef”

Snorkeling the Reef

Exploring Caye Caulker

I woke up on Friday feeling better – still with a head full of snot, but not tired, no joint weakness, and a normal appetite. Our hosts had to run into Belize City for the morning, so the Hubby and I decided to walk into town and explore the north end of the island. We walked up the front path that runs along the beach. There are a bunch of seaside resorts, rental homes and hostels that way and we eventually passed by the water taxis and popped up in “downtown” Caye Caulker. We saw a number of interests plants and animals along the way.

A plover strolls along the shore. Continue reading “Exploring Caye Caulker”

Exploring Caye Caulker

The Pets of Sunrise Beach

While I was laying low yesterday I had plenty of company by way of the four animals who generously share their home with our hosts.


Beautiful Amber. Amber was adopted on Caye Caulker by Noelle. Amber was a stray dog who used to get into a lot of scrapes, sleep in drain holes and  have enough parasite problems for ten dogs. Now she’s the sweetest dog. A lot of the time she’s very somber and quiet, but she seems to be getting rowdier and more playful with every day. Continue reading “The Pets of Sunrise Beach”

The Pets of Sunrise Beach

Caye Caulker: Lazy Day

Yesterday was my recovery day. When I woke up I was weak – fatigued, congested and I had no appetite to speak of. I got up sometime around 7am and came downstairs to sit on the couch. I was feeling adventerous, so I decided to stand up and move outside to the downstairs porch. I started working on yesterday’s blog post and my lovely hosts – Dave and Noelle – brought me an orange juice and cup of coffee.

When Noelle announced that she was going to be making gluten-free chocolate pancakes, whatever had been blocking the signals from my stomach to my brain was cleared and I was suddenly famished. I came inside to help wash dishes while she prepped the pancakes.

Chocolate pancakes made with amaranth flours look dubious but tasted delicious. I liked them with some butter (MOAR BUTTER!) and rasberry jelly.

Continue reading “Caye Caulker: Lazy Day”

Caye Caulker: Lazy Day

SoCal After Work

The next several posts will be a wrap-up of last week’s California adventures.

On Wednesday night I hung out with a Twitter/FB/online friend who lives in the area. She took me into Santa Ana and we had dinner at Chapter One, which was yummy and made for happy times.

On Thursday I made a harrowing rush hour drive south to Laguna Beach. The plan was to leave Brea in time to get there for sunset. My coworkers advised me to allow a full hour to make the 30-mile commute, so at 4pm I ran to the car and started driving. Well, I started stopping and going. And inching forward, building up a little speed and slamming on the brakes. And waiting. And going. I finally hit some free road, but I didn’t realize until the crucial moment that the highway I had hopped onto – Highway 73 – was a toll road. Luckily I had the $2.50 exact change to exit at Newport Coast Drive. The options were exact change or risk the $57 fine for not paying. No way to pay with a card, no change, no attendant. $2.50 (or greater) cash or a $57 fine. Seriously, California – that’s effed up. But at the end of the day (literally) it was all worth it:


Laguna Beach and coastline from a hillside overlook. Continue reading “SoCal After Work”

SoCal After Work

Go West, Young Woman!

I’m traveling this week!

To California.

In February.

I win.

I mean, it’s for work, but it’s still traveling to California in the middle of a cold, damp Minnesota winter.

I left the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport on Monday morning. I love being in airports – watching people rush to and fro, wondering where they’re headed and what adventures or experiences are waiting for them on the other side. I wonder who I’ll meet on the plane, who I’ll be squished next to in the tiny traveling tin can in the sky. On a plane personal boundaries are grudgingly ignored in the name of cost-effective, fast travel. That and a prolonged travel time sometimes leads to unique interactions: alliances and temporary friendships forged and then forgotten in the space of a few hours.

We flew right over the Grand Canyon on the way to Santa Ana . *sigh* I love the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon

I walked out of the John Wayne airport to a sunny 55°F winter. It was bliss. My 2013 V6 Toyota Camry rental is so much sweeter than the POS 4-cylinder Ford Focus that I usually drive, and traffic at 1pm was minimal. I did come straight to the Brea facility and put in a solid seven hours of work, but that just made the hotel bed feel awesome when I finally collapsed into it later that night.

Everyone assumes I speak Spanish out here, I’m guessing because of the prevalence of Spanish speakers and the olive skin/dark hair thing I’ve got going on. I’ve been greeted in Spanish on four separate occasions and the rental car shuttle driver even got exasperated at me – she repeat some phrase at me four times, each time enunciating more and getting more irate at my blank stare and helpless shrug. I finally gathered “Lo siento – no hablo español.” to my brain and tongue. She looked annoyed and switched to broken English. Poor woman seemed like she was having a tough day.  *sigh* Quiero hablar español! Sadly, the Rosetta Stone and I haven’t been able to make that happen yet, but we’re working on it. Either that or someone could please discover the frickin’ Babel Fish already. Geez.

On Saturday I’ll be doing the Tar Pits tourist thing with my bestest college friend; she’s driving up from her home in San Diego on Friday afternoon. Everyone says I should do Hearst Castle, but that’s four hours away, y’all! I’m thinking I’ll have to see the ocean while I’m out here. Maybe I’ll have some time after work on Friday afternoon to drive over to the coast. Any recommendations for scenic overlooks/memorable oceany sunsets within 45 minutes of Brea?

Go West, Young Woman!