Yesterday we joined Mike and Myra from Grand Caribe on their boat for a trip around Ambergris Caye.  Jerry, who owns a unit in our building (Chico Caribe) also joined the crew.  We were delighted to be invited because it sounded like a fun and interesting trip.  A side benefit was a day out of Chico would provide a much-needed break from the constant hammering and other construction noise in the unit immediately above us, which currently seems to be stuck in change order hell.

With Mike at the helm, we took off in mid-morning south to San Pedro to pick up Marco, who would be our boat captain and guide for the day.  Since we'd have to go outside the reef to get to the cut between Belize and Mexico, having a captain with local knowledge of this area was a must, and Marco had made the trip many times.
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Mike's boat "Island Roots"
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Jerry, Mike, and Myra
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Emily
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Barry
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Marco on left
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Looking a little stormy
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Heading north
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Local fisherman
We first landed at Tranquility Bay, the northernmost resort on Ambergris Caye.  It is located approximately 12.5 miles north of San Pedro Town.  This place was absolutely adorable, with its ice-cream colors and relaxed Caribbean charm.  The delicious lunch, which Jerry generously picked up for the entire table, was most enjoyable.  I think their fresh fish tacos were the best I've ever had.
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Approaching Tranquility Bay
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Note building storm clouds as we dock
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Cute restaurant!
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Emily & Barry
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Darling place - loved the murals on every wall
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Emily, Myra, and a cute red-haired boy from Canada
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This place is just too adorable!
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Mike and Emily
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Jerry not sure if he has enough cash for lunch, after saying he'd pick up the tab.
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Myra holding up Jerry's "wad of money". He had plenty, as it turned out...even got change!
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We had the restaurant to ourselves
As we were leaving Tranquility Bay to continue heading north, a light sprinkle slowly picked up into a full-blown torrential rain.  Thank goodness Barry and I had brought our rain jackets, but everything not covered by them was soaked.  The temperature was in the 70s if not low 80s, but on the water in the rain, the air felt cooler.  We all huddled together under the bimini, though by the time it was drenched, that really made no difference.

Since the reef gets closer and closer to land as you head north, and eventually touches land at Rocky Point, it is necessary to go through a small cut in the reef to continue to the channel between Belize and Mexico.  The reef then goes farther back out to sea if you were to continue north towards Mexico.  Marco expertly guided the boat through a narrow gap in the reef.  When we were outside the reef, we were really rocking and rolling in five-foot waves during the storm.  Despite Jerry's suggestion that we turn around and head back to town (he had not brought a rain jacket), we forged onward.  Before long, as is very typical in Belize, the rain had stopped, the sun came out, and everyone warmed up again.  From this point on, we had perfect weather for the rest of the day.
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Hmmm...this cloud deck looks a wee bit ominous!
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Marco did an excellent job guiding us through the reef and storm
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Heading into the storm -- we are still inside the reef at this point so not hitting waves yet.
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We're getting wet now -- didn't get many photos of this portion of the journey
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Rocky Point to the left
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Rocky Point
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Back safely inside the reef and approaching the cut. Rain has stopped!
Soon we were heading through the Bacalar Chico channel (directly north of the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve), a totally undeveloped cut through mangroves on either side with Belize on the left and Mexico on the right.  I read online that this narrow channel between Mexico and Belize was dug by the Maya to provide a trade route from the Bay of Chetumal to the Caribbean.  It was a go-slow manatee zone, and it was interesting to see signs in English on the Belize side and Spanish on the Mexican side.  Unfortunately, we saw no manatees, but the scenery was gorgeous nonetheless.  Marco told us that there would be orchids blooming here if we came back in June.
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Mexico side of cut. Despacio means S L O W.
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Belize side of cut
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Belize on the left, Mexico on the right.
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Mangroves
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Very narrow back here, and the water is shallow. Reminded me of kayaking in NC at times!
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Thank goodness Marco knew where we were going!
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Hard to imagine it was storming hard just a little bit ago. So beautiful now!
As we rounded the northern tip of Ambergris Caye, Marco told us that we were in the largest lagoon on the Caye.  He pointed out a large mound of foliage that was an unexcavated Maya site.  I'm glad he told us as I would have never recognized it as such otherwise.  Next we reached Iguana Caye, where many birds nest.  Beautiful!
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Maya site in the foliage mound straight ahead
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Iguana Caye to the right
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Someone has their own private island
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Shorebirds near Iguana Caye
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Cormorants and a Pelican
I had hoped we would go all the way around to the southernmost point of Ambergris Caye, but I guess that would have made for too long a day (not to mention the extra fuel usage), so we came back through the western side of San Pedro and under the bridge separating the area north of San Pedro (where we live) with the San Pedro Town proper.  We have been over this bridge countless times as it is the only way to town, but we'd never been under it.
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We've seen this house on western Ambergris Caye from the other side on our bike rides
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Myra and I were having an animated conversation, apparently!
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Barge in the lagoon on western Ambergris Caye
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Western San Pedro
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More western San Pedro
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Approaching the cut just north of San Pedro Town
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Local fishermen
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The San Pedro bridge
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Just under the bridge
After dropping Marco off at a dock in town, Mike once again took the helm, and we headed back to Grand Caribe.  We thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of the island, the good company, and being out on the water.  Many thanks to Mike and Myra for inviting us along on this adventure!
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Heading back to Grand Caribe after a great day
Sabrina
11/10/2011 11:46:22 am

What a terrific adventure!

~~_/)~~
Sabrina

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