I just got back to Cleveland a couple days ago from a too-short trip to Belize with mom, dad and big brother Tophe. Kelly suggested I write a travel blog for my next adventure – Australia – which begins today. I’ll try to update it periodically along the way. I’d been planning to all along, but Internet connectivity was not a priority while I wandered in Belize.
The trip was wonderful. Anything away from this Cleveland cold and snow!
I went scuba diving in Hol Chan (a marine preserve off the coast of Ambergris Caye). It was crazy. There were 5-foot swells the day I went out, so after 2 dives of about 40 minutes each I was actually seasick. I’d be swimming forward and then get pulled back a few feet as the surface swells went by, moving very rhythmically with the ocean plants and fish around me. And that was even down 80-feet underwater. It was rough seas from high winds. But the coral canyons were cool. I saw a turtle nearly as large as me and the sting rays are amazing. They look like graceful underwater birds with 4-foot wing spans as the move through the water flapping their “wings.” And there was a nurse shark too that was about 4 feet long, sleeping in the coral. Thanks to Ched of Reef Adventures for taking care of this somewhat out-of-practice diver. I haven’t dove much since my certification nearly 8 years ago.
I also went snorkeling off a dock in Ambergris Caye and saw a baracuda and some more colorful tropical fish – all chillin’ in the shade of a bar built on a dock above them. From what one of the fellow travellers told us, the bar would throw scraps out the window into the water beneath, drawing the barracudas to that spot.
San Pedro (the main town on Ambergris Caye) is definitely a “tourist” town. Everything there exists for the travellers and scuba divers. But I wouldn’t say it was entirely touristy like other places in the world. No McDonald’s or major chains of any kind. And even though it was pretty close to spring break time and their peak season, there weren’t that many people there. You could go to a restaurant or bar at peak hours and get a table right away, even in small places with only a handful of tables to start out with. The people were truly friendly. A lot of eccentric Americans live in the area – people who decided to drop out of “normal” society in the States to follow a beach-bum dream on La Isla Bonita. They run parasailing trips (something else I did), dive shops, stores and more.
The pineapple was unbelievably tasty. I think I drank more pina coladas than I’ve ever had in my life, and fresh pineapple, and pineapple smoothies. And I ate some crazy squash I’d never seen/heard of call mirliton. Sort of like a zucchini. And we went up in the mountains and hiked through a massive cave (Rio Frio Cave), saw some spectacular Mayan ruins (Xanantunich and Cahal Pech), checked out Central America’s largest waterfall and read in a hammock on our cabin balcony on a hillside overlooking the little town of San Ignacio.
The native food (besides the great tropical fruit) was surprisingly bland. Lots of rice and beans, quesadillas, burritos, curry dishes and jamaican jerk/ital type cuisine, but everything was lacking in the spicy peppers you’d expect from similar cuisine in Mexico, the US Southwest or nearby Carribbean islands. About the only spice you ever saw were very mild curries and the black pepper used to make “jerk” fish and meats. That was a surprise. I didn’t want to leave. My parents and brother have moved on to a third destination along the coastline that I missed entirely (I went to an island called Ambergis Caye, and then inland in the mountains to San Ignacio, but they had more days in Belize so are now in a third city called Placencia on the southern mainland coast.)
For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m on a bit of a self-induced hiatus and life changing expedition. I’ve been living in Lakewood (Cleveland, Ohio area) for more than 7 years. That’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere since my memory began. My family always moved a lot. I own a home, had a nice stable job at a dot-com company that survived the Internet boom and bust, and have a cute kitty named Aluminum. Sounds great to some, but things were getting a little too routine. My job was without challenges, even though it was a wonderful group of people and a great place to work. So, I decided to do something about it. Namely quit, travel and then move.
So I’m unemployed at the moment. Went to Belize. Going to Australia. My house is on the market and my goal is to move to the Bay Area as soon as I find a buyer. Then hopefully the job thing will fall into place. It’s a big risk, but I’m reasonably confident it’s the right thing to do. Then again, maybe I’m just insane. We’ll have to wait and see how it all works out…