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Yesterday we returned from a five-day trip to San Ignacio, which is a town in the Cayo District in the western part of Belize.  We had never visited this part of the mainland before and were looking to do some hiking, birdwatching, and escape some of the traffic and general busy-ness of high season in San Pedro.  San Ignacio does get tourists (especially eco-tourists, adventure-seekers, and backpackers), but it is not the big tourist destination that Ambergris Caye is, and we were craving some recharge time away from crowds. 

As usual, we planned to do this trip on a fairly tight budget, so we chose to take the ferry to Belize City, then a "chicken bus" to San Ignacio.  This is not the most luxurious or fastest way to travel around the country, but it is very budget-friendly.  So, on Monday morning, we caught a ride to town from Mr. Raymond here at Grand Caribe.  We dropped Paisley off at Pampered Paws for boarding, where she was happy to see her friend Bess the Doberman in doggie day care.  She trotted right off and never looked back -- she really seems to enjoy her stays at Pampered Paws as she gets to play all the time.  She returns home completely exhausted!

We then hoofed it over to the ferry terminal, just a block or so away.  We were traveling with backpacks again, and Barry was able to carry more this time thanks to our friend Paula, who gifted him with a Vaude backpack she no longer needed, before leaving San Pedro to head back to the US.  He had only a smallish backpack here, so this was a big help for a trip of this length.  (Thank you so much, Paula!)  

The ferry ride to Belize City ($50 BZD round trip for each of us with a 10% off coupon) takes about an hour and a half, then we caught a quick taxi to the bus terminal ($10 BZD).  As we were entering the terminal, a female taxi driver asked if we were looking to go to San Ignacio, and indicated that the bus had just left.  Of course she offered us a taxi ride for a "good price", but we told her we'd wait for the next bus, as they leave frequently, and we knew the bus would be much cheaper than a taxi all that way.  
When we got to the departure area, there was a west-bound bus just loading up, so we realized she had probably misled us about "just missing" the bus in order to get a taxi fare from us.  You really have to be on your toes here and not believe everything you are told.  Most people are honest, but there are definitely some out to make a buck at the tourist's expense.  

When we boarded the bus, we realized that we were the only non-locals aboard, which is pretty typical.  Most tourists either fly, rent a car, or take a taxi or private shuttle when traveling the country.  It's true that the buses are not very comfortable; they were previously US school buses, and the seats are sized for kids, not larger adults, which works fine for me, but certainly not for taller folk. They are not air-conditioned; they stop often to let off and pick up locals; and they can be crowded; but for $7 BZD ($3.50 US) each from Belize City to San Ignacio, we were left with a lot more in our pockets for meals and tours than if we'd chosen another transportation option.  And what better way to experience the local culture?
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Chicken bus to western Cayo
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Sign in front of bus with fares -- nice because most buses don't have this helpful chart
We had a five-minute break at Belmopan, the capital of Belize, to let quite a few passengers off and on, and I ran into the terminal take a quick bathroom break.  For $1 BZD I was actually given toilet paper to take in with me this time!
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Now I can make it to San Ignacio!
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Getting back on the bus
After a ride with many stops, we arrived at the bus terminal in San Ignacio at around 2:30 pm.  Since it's dry season here in Belize, the parking lot was very dusty.  Many of the streets in town are unpaved or having construction done, so there was quite a bit of dust wherever we walked, actually.  Better than rainy-season mud, I suppose!
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San Ignacio bus stop
Our lodging was a short walk from the bus terminal, and we were able to find it relatively quickly, despite a dearth of street signs.  We were greeted many, many times each time we walked in town with the question "Taxi?"  There were obviously many more taxi drivers than tourists in town, which is usually the case in San Pedro as well.  This really drives me batty.  If we want a taxi, we know where to look for one, and if we are just walking around, it gets annoying to have to say "no thank you" over and over, but there is much competition for paying customers, so I guess this will not change.  What a difference from a place like New York City, where you have to step out into the street to flag down an available cab as "taken" cabs whiz by.

We had reservations for four nights at the Casa Blanca Guesthouse, right on the main street of San Ignacio, Burns Avenue.  (I liked this street before I even saw it because my maiden name is Burns!) And it was a very convenient place to stay; we could walk to all the restaurants in town easily and down to the river nearby as well.  It was not a fancy place, but it was scrupulously clean, safe, air-conditioned (which kept the road noise down), and non-smoking; and had cable TV, daily maid service, and private baths.  And the price was right at $49 US per night.  From what we could see as we walked around, it was the nicest place to stay if you wished to be right in the heart of town, and we did, so we were pleased with our choice.
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Casa Blanca
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Burns Ave. outside Casa Blanca
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Our room -- not fancy, but very clean, with nice white cotton sheets
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Our bathroom with large tile shower
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Our closet area
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View from Casa Blanca balcony of snack shops across the street
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Me on balcony
We ran into a touring cyclist who had just arrived in San Ignacio.  He was doing a fully loaded solo bike tour from Mexico! 
After unpacking a bit and settling in, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around town and getting our bearings. In addition to shops, grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants, there's a great fruit and vegetable market square where vendors sell their wares.  Both the variety and cost of produce is noticeably better than in San Pedro since Cayo is where many of the farms in the country are located and produce doesn't have to be shipped so far, or on a ferry, to get to this market.   
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Barry in front of Police Station and welcome sign
There are two bridges in San Ignacio Town, both one-way.  The "New Bridge" leads into town, and the other, a suspension bridge called the "Hawkesworth Bridge", is older and leads out of town.  Both bridges span the Eastern Branch of the Belize River, also known as the Macal River.  The river is absolutely gorgeous, and the lush green banks form a park of sorts that attract locals and tourists.  What a lovely place for a picnic it would be!  We wandered around there for quite awhile enjoying the beautiful view of the river and the huge trees on the banks.  Some locals were swimming and splashing in the water, and a large group of frolicking grackles were enjoying it as well.
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This wooden bridge is actually the "New Bridge", much to my surprise. Loved it!
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Brightly colored "chicken" bus coming over New Bridge into San Ignacio Town
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Beautiful banks of Macal River with Hawkesworth Bridge in distance
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Grackles enjoying their nightly bathing ritual
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Huge trees on river bank
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Lovely clear water of the Macal River
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The Hawkesworth Bridge leading out of town into Santa Elena
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Lovely view from Hawkesworth Bridge
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Funny sign
We had only had snacks for lunch while traveling so decided on an early dinner at Ko-Ox Han-Nah restaurant, just catty-corner across the street from Casa Blanca.  We were both in the mood to try their curry, and it was delicious.  I had a milder chicken curry, and Barry had a spicier one.  It was delicious, and we both cleaned our plates!
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Barry's spicy chicken curry
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My milder chicken curry with yogurt
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Dining at Ko-Ox Han-Nah ("Let's Go Eat")
Stay tuned for "Our Sojourn in San Ignacio - Day 2:  Uphill to Cahal Pech and Lost in Benque"
 
Since moving to Ambergris Caye in late August, we've been quite healthy overall.  This isn't unusual for us as we tend to avoid most of the viruses that go around, at least in part because we're around young children only infrequently.  In recent years I actually went four years without a single cold, while my co-workers seemed to catch every bug going around. Barry and I both caught a cold with a cough around the Christmas/New Year's holidays, but we weren't sick enough to require doctor's visits.  

That changed this week.  Barry had been tending to a fingertip that was a bit red, swollen, and infected.  He thought it probably started when he poked his fingertip with the sharp blade while cleaning our blender a month ago, but it could have stemmed from a small cuticle tear around his nail that became infected.  Whatever the cause, it wasn't getting any better; in fact, it was getting worse.  He'd been soaking it and squeezing it, applying antibiotic ointment and Band-Aids, but none of this self-care was helping.  The area around his nail was red, swollen, and there were a few pustules visible.
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Yesterday
Google to the rescue!  He determined that what he had was most likely Paronychia, a skin infection around a fingernail or toenail.  And since the various websites he read indicated that antibiotics were probably going to be required, he decided (with some urging from me) to call Dr. Lerida Rodriguez.  We'd heard good things about her and pass her office frequently, since we often shop at Maria's for fruits and vegetables, right next door.   

Barry called her office at around 3 pm yesterday, thinking he might get an appointment for today, but she was actually able to see him at 5 pm the same day.  Not bad!  Most private doctors in the US don't even work past 5 pm other than perhaps one night a week or on an emergency basis.

He rode his bike down to his appointment and was in and out of the office in 30 minutes.  Dr. Rodriguez operates a pharmacy right off her office, so she was able to give him the antibiotics she prescribed, along with some epsom salts to soak his finger, without him having to make a trip to another "pharmacia" in town.  Very efficient.
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I believe her home behind her office is for sale, not the office or pharmacy
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Behind the gate
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Office entrance
The total cost for the office visit plus antibiotics was $140 BZD ($70 US).  The cost for the equivalent generic medication in the US would be approximately $70 for someone without prescription coverage, about the cost of the office visit AND medication for Barry.  Since we have only catastrophic health care coverage here in Central America, we pay as we go for any other medical expenses; fortunately, care is much less expensive here than in the US. 
Today, his finger is looking a little worse, as more pustules are rising to the surface of his skin, probably due to the epsom-salt soaks drawing it out.  Hopefully the antibiotics will start to take care of the infection soon, and they should if it is a bacterial infection and not fungal.  The doctor wants to see him again on Thursday to ensure that it is improving.  
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Pustules
Today we bought him some probiotic capsules at GoNature and some probiotic yogurt to help maintain proper intestinal flora as he takes the antibiotic.   
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Today - redder and more pustules visible
We are frequently asked about health care in Belize and on Ambergris Caye in particular, so I guess the silver lining of Barry's ailment is that we finally have first hand (or first finger?!) experience with medical care here.  So far, the experience has been a positive one.  You can't argue with quick, efficient, and reasonably priced service and medications! 
 
We started this morning as we usually do on Sunday, with a bird walk.  We saw many of the usual suspects, but we did manage to add a new hummingbird to our life lists -- a female Green-Breasted Mango.  The distinctive stripe down her throat, breast, and belly made her easy to identify with the help of our Birds of Belize book.
We also caught sight of this Snowy Egret and a Greater Yellowlegs hunting for breakfast in a swampy area near the roadside.
After birding, we strolled down to Ak'Bol for breakfast.  Unfortunately, it seemed like just about every tourist staying north of the bridge had the same idea, so we had a long wait for our food, and our breakfast turned into brunch.
While we were waiting, Barry took a quick walk down to the Osprey nest down the beach a ways and caught the (large!) nestling feeding, while Mom and Dad stood guard. 
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The nestling is in the center but appeared nearly full-grown
When the food did come, it was delicious.  I had a spinach omelet, one of the specials of the day; and Barry had a huge breakfast burrito. 
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Breakfast burrito, fresh salsa, and OJ
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He ate it all, plus my beans!
Earlier this week, we had to say goodbye to Paula, who was leaving San Pedro to move back to the US.  Although we hadn't known her for very long, I'd been Facebook friends with her before we met in person, so I felt like I had known her for longer.  We ate lunch at Blue Water Grill on Monday to say goodbye.  Paula, you are already missed, but I wish you all the best for your new life in Tennessee.
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Paula and me
I can highly recommend the Shrimp Po'Boy sandwich we both ordered.  It was delicious!  And speaking of delicious, Barry and I made this veggie pizza mid-week.  Toppings were onions, zucchini, red and green bell pepper, snippets of fresh basil and oregano from our tiny container garden, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese.  Barry made the crust with seven-grain cereal from GoNature.  
 
Last night we attended the Saga Humane Society cook-off.  These cook-offs feature a different food "theme" each month and through food and raffle ticket sales serve to raise much-needed funds for this worthy organization.  This month's theme was appetizers, and the cook-off was once again held at Mojito's Bar and Grill, right on the beach in San Pedro.  We had previously attended a pasta cook-off in this same venue, and it proved to be a great setting with plenty of seating, a fine breeze, and a good bar.  The bar was offering $5 BZD ($2.50 US) "Meow-itos" (mojitos) all night in honor of the occasion, a fantastic deal that we took advantage of, of course!

We had the pleasure of meeting and sitting with Jana and CJ, who were visiting San Pedro from Texas.  Our friend Bill was volunteering this evening and did a great job.  There was a great turnout from the community, locals, tourists, and expats alike, and we recognized quite a few of the faces.  
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Jana, CJ, Emily, and Barry
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Bill working the volunteer table
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Hi Bill!
There were twelve appetizer entries to sample, which may have been a record.  The other cook-offs we have been to featured six to eight food choices, so our palates were a bit overwhelmed with all the choices last night.   
The entries were delicious, though it is always a little disconcerting to me to bite into something without knowing in advance whether to expect seafood, chicken, pork, or something completely different.  I am a person who likes just about everything (except olives!), but I enjoy reading a menu with description of the dish first to prepare my tastebuds for what I am about to eat.  These cook-offs are a bit of an adventure since many dishes are a mystery when judged by appearance only.  There was only one item I didn't care for all that much (must have been the olives!) that I passed over to Barry, and he passed his Scotch egg to me -- he is not an egg lover.  I had never had a Scotch egg before and liked it quite a bit.  I googled the recipe this morning and was surprised to discover that the outer coating contained sausage.  I had no idea.  But hey, it was fried.  Anything fried tastes good, if not good for you!
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My plate
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Barry's plate -- Scotch egg already banished!
It was nearly impossible to choose a favorite as I'd forgotten so many by the time I got to the end, but ultimately I cast my vote for the Fish Cake with Chipotle Sauce (upper left of right side of plate above).  Barry chose the Garnache, which is the large corn tortilla with toppings on the right side of the plate.  He really liked its spicy flavors and also its large size!  The Garnache was a close second for me, and I also liked the Honey-Garlic wings and the Scotch egg.  

The sign below helped us remember what we'd eaten and how to vote.  However, it was put up after we'd eaten so it didn't help much in knowing what we were eating as we chowed down.  I truly don't remember eating a ham and cheese roll up!
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Bill carefully guarding against any voting irregularities
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Attendees trying to figure out their vote
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Bill with the vote bin
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"Shhhhhhh...the votes are supposed to be made by secret ballot"
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There was an excellent turnout -- good for Saga
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Bill chatting with Jana and CJ
When the winners were announced, there was a tie for second place between two restaurants, Mojito's for the Garnaches (Barry and CJ's choice) and Crave, for the Fish Cakes (my choice!)  First place went The Hotel for the Potato Skins.
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Mojito's restaurant gracefully accepted the 3rd place prize, even though they tied for 2nd
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Crave restaurant accepting the 2nd place prize
There were five prizes up for grabs in the raffle tonight, mostly lunches at local restaurants.  No one from our table won, though at the next table over, one lady won two, and another won one!  Must have been a serious case of stuffing the raffle box, but in this case, we certainly don't mind as each raffle ticket benefits Saga in their worthy quest to care for the dogs and cats of San Pedro.  Thanks for all you do, Saga!
 
It has been a week of interesting weather.  A week ago, the wind was so blustery, our Saturday Ak'Bol yoga class had to be held in the small palapa off the beach and without mats, lest everything blow away.  Late Sunday through Monday, a cold front came through bringing quite a bit of rain (especially for "dry season") and leaving lots of muddy puddles in the road north of the bridge.  We've also had  extremely high tides this week (from the full moon?) bringing boatloads of sargasso and other sea grass up onto the beach. This is the highest we can remember the water coming on our beach since last fall, when Hurricane Rina came within 100 miles of the island.  As a result of all this weather, both the beach and the road have been messy to ride bikes or run on.  By mid-week the weather was back to the norm -- moderate east winds, sunny, and very warm.  The changeable weather here continues to surprise me!

I've been posting a lot of photos on Facebook this week but have been neglecting the blog.  I know at least a few folks worry if we don't post in a week, so I thought I'd share some of the photos from the past week here.   
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Beautiful blue skies, very windy, and the reef roaring before the rains came last weekend
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Barry pulling a waterlogged branch out of the water
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Paisley on her daily coconut search-and-rescue mission
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Beautiful rainbow view -- note the clean beach with minimal sea grass earlier in the week!
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Reef is barely visible today due to a wind shift to the northwest -- compare this to the first photo
Mid-week, Chunky and Ruthie stopped by on a bike ride north.  Paisley made sure Ruthie had a full bath before allowing them to continue on their way.
On Thursday, we met Bill, Paula, Gigi, and Gigi's friend Mike for brunch at Estel's.  A good time (and plenty of good food) was had by all.
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Paula and me
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My Huevos Rancheros, beans, and fry jacks -- delicious!
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Barry's veggie/bean burrito
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Sea grass on our beach this morning
 
Today we rode into town for a fundraiser lunch for Uziel Meza, a baby needing medical care after being born prematurely to an employee at Belize Bank.  We had bought the tickets earlier in the week while we were doing our banking and had been looking forward to some authentic Belizean rice and beans and stew chicken.  So after my morning yoga at Ak'Bol, we pulled out the bikes.  Fortunately, the wind had died down some from the morning's peak, when it was gusting to 39 mph(!), so we enjoyed our ride into town.  This is the peak tourist season in San Pedro, so town was really hopping today!
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What a sweet little boy -- we hope he will be able to get the medical care he needs
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I guess these qualify as "small vehicles"!
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Local entertainment provided a festive touch
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I'm trying to figure out where the line starts...it was still early.
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The ladies were busy putting together takeout boxes of rice and beans and stew chicken
We didn't realize there would also be delicious cakes available as well.  Of course we had to purchase a couple of slices of the chocolate cake with caramel icing, but they all looked great.  Slices were just $3 BZD ($1.50 US) each, and for such a good cause.   
We were really not hungry when we got the food and there weren't any tables or chairs there, so we wrapped it up and brought it back home.  After a dip in the pool to cool off, we were ready to eat lunch.  It was delicious!  I had enough of my rice and beans left over for Barry to eat with his dinner, and even so, I've been full ever since.  
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I'll say that's plenty rice & beans!
It's wonderful the way so many people are able to get a helping hand by utilitizing community fundraisers here in Belize.  It's kind of like small-town America was a few decades ago.  Thanks to the wonderful ladies who made and donated the delicious food to help baby Uziel Meza!
 
This past week we had the opportunity to meet Terese and Rick from Vancouver, Washington, who are visiting Belize on vacation.  I've been corresponding with Terese for awhile after she found this blog and wrote to me.  They are planning to retire before too long and are starting to investigate possible retirement places.  On this trip they are visiting San Pedro and Placencia.

We met them at Ambergris Brewing Company on "leap day", February 29th.  I'd noted that Ambergris Brewing had posted on Facebook in the morning that if you said "leap year" when you came in, you got specials on rum drinks or beer all day long.  So, our rum drinks were only $4 BZD ($2 US) apiece, a great deal.  We were the only folks there on this late afternoon, but that was fine with us.  We had an easy, fun conversation, answered Rick and Terese's questions, and made a few recommendations.  
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Emily, Terese, and Rick
Terese brought me a gift of a lovely bottle of Washington State wine, because I'd told her in emails how pricey wine is here and how much I missed it.  It was a perfect gift!
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The perfect gift!
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This stuff is delish -- I tried it last night with pasta, and it went down really easily
As we were sitting and chatting, who should we see walking his Siberian Huskies but our friend Bill.  This proved the point I'd been making to Terese and Rick that San Pedro really is a small island, and you see people you know everywhere.  One of the main reasons for that is because the weather is so nice, people aren't holed up inside their homes but are out and about -- walking, biking, shopping, dining.  
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Bill and his beautiful pooches out for a walk
In fact, our new friend Captain Simon who took us on the wonderful Guatemalan sailing cruise recently also stopped to say hello to us as he drove home in his golf cart.  Too bad we forgot to snap a photo!

We were having so much fun talking we hardly noticed that it was getting dark and an ominous cloud was approaching from the northeast.  We quickly said our goodbyes, and Barry and I put our beach bikes into overdrive as we peddled the two miles north to our condo at breakneck place (or as close as you can get to it on beach bikes on an unpaved road).  We almost made it before the rain hit, but did get a little wet right at the end of the ride.  And this just after I'd told Terese that they probably wouldn't see any rain for their entire visit!  Turns out, it didn't last long and was mostly north anyway; they just got some "spitting" where they were in town.  

We saw Terese again walking to the post office as we did our errands by bike on Friday morning, thus proving, you really do see people you know everywhere.  She said that she was already starting to notice the same with a few folks they'd met since arriving in San Pedro.  It's just that kind of a place --  a perfect place to make new friends! 

 
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Souvenirs from our trip to Guatemala
Barry and I been overwhelmed by all the positive comments we've received on our blog postings on our recent sailing cruise to Guatemala.  We've heard from readers in blog comments, on Facebook, on the Ambergriscaye.com forum (where the moderator posted each daily update), and in person.  We're delighted and honored that we were able to share this incredible journey with each of you and appreciate knowing that you enjoyed our words and photos.

Since Weebly makes it difficult to find older posts at times, and scrolling through posts with many photos takes awhile, I wanted to include a list of direct links to each day's postings on the trip for those who may have missed it or want to bookmark this page for later reading.  I hope this is helpful -- it will even help me find each page in the future!
 
As I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post, I nabbed the 4:30 am night watch shift, which meant I'd get to see the sun rise.  Even though I hit the hay early and got everything ready to go the night before (binoculars, camera, windbreaker, hat, etc.), the alarm on my cell phone startled me when it rang at 4:25.  It was pitch dark, and as I struggled up into the galley, I was relieved to see Ruthie just getting off her shift.  She very kindly made me coffee before retreating to her cabin.  Nothing had ever tasted better.

I took the helm with Simon, and it was eerie not being able to see anything in front of us.  To the port side, I saw a city and asked him if it was Caye Caulker or San Pedro.  "Belize City", he replied.  Duh...I really was sleepy.  Obviously we weren't far enough along for either of the Cayes.

The sunrise was as dramatically beautiful as I'd hoped thanks to the low cloud banks, so I was sure I had nabbed the best watch time.  Only Simon and I got to witness this amazing sequence.
I was glad I'd brought my binoculars as Simon needed help seeing some markers of shoals and later, lobster areas.  These were mostly just sticks coming out of the water or milk jugs and difficult to see.  We actually saw the depth sounder read .1 foot (yes, that's "point one"!) of water under the keels for a short while.  Scary!  He reminded me that we didn't even have a depth sounder on the way down.  He had been nervous when we passed this same way heading south, while most of us laid around oblivious on the trampoline! 

Barry had thought he might get up with me, but he didn't quite make it.  He did finally stagger out of bed around 6 am or so and grabbed a couple of photos of Simon and me at the helm. 
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It was a bit chilly in the early morning hours
Eventually everyone else groggily emerged from their berths and greeted the day.  I am sure Chunky and Ruthie were very tired as it sounded like they both stayed up for at least part of the other's watches.  From what I heard, Chunky and Clive were so busy chatting it up at the helm that they went a bit off course and got a stern talking to from Simon.  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that one!  And when Ruthie and Clive were at the helm, sounds like Ruthie's electronic tablet "Tabby" got quite a workout.  Simon and I were both too tired for that kind of frivolity.
When Ruthie got up, she scrambled up all the remaining eggs.  She even got creative and fried all the leftover lunch meat (ham and salami), since the breakfast sausage was gone. I broke down and ate eggs and meat to help out the cause -- I hate wasting food.  It was truly delicious.
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Barry cut all the mangoes up for breakfast
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Nice big breakfast for one and all on our last morning aboard
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Chunky enjoying his breakfast
After breakfast, we started getting close to our final destination, San Pedro. Barry commented that it felt strange to be returning to San Pedro as "home" rather than coming here on vacation.  True, true.  It's a great place to come home to, and we had a gorgeous day for a homecoming.
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San Pedro comes into view
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Colorful San Pedro waterfront
Simon docked the boat to get fuel, then left the dock and anchored a bit away.  S/v Hope had to stay at anchor until we all checked in with Belize Customs and Immigration.
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Clive tosses a line to a helper on the fuel dock
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Simon gassing up the boat
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Belize flag and yellow Quarantine flag flying until we clear customs and immigration
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Ruthie filling out her immigration form for entry into Belize
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It's hard to believe our journey is almost over
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Barry casting off the line as we leave the dock
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Clive setting the anchor
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Emily filling out immigration form
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Bruce and Clive checking that the anchor is set
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The crew setting off in the dinghy
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Simon secures the dinghy as the crew hits the dock
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We all walk to customs & immigration to check back into Belize
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Crew waiting as Simon checks us in
I learned a valuable lesson about checking back into Belize.  Always verify the date they write on your passport for your "length of visit" while you are there.  I had filled out both Barry and my forms indicating we would be staying 30 days, the longest you can stay on a tourist visa without a renewal.  We didn't check our passports when we got them back from Simon nor until the next day at home.  When I finally did check them, I was given the full 30 days, but Barry was only given 7 days!  We went to Immigration the next day to try to get it corrected, but they refused to budge.  I don't know if they don't keep copies of the form or they just won't pull them, but the officer insisted that we asked for 7 days, we got 7 days.  It made no difference that I filled out both the forms or that we live here, so asking for 7 days would have made no sense.  It was her word against ours.  Very frustrating, but there's nothing we can do about it now.  Lesson learned.  

After we checked in, Simon and Clive had to accompany the customs officers onto s/v Hope for customs inspection, so they headed out in the dinghy.  This is where they verify that you don't have any prohibited items onboard, like Mexican beer (sob).  They also checked the duty-free quantity of rum that we had declared.  We had to leave all our bags and luggage aboard for this inspection.
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Customs officers heading out to s/v Hope with Simon and Clive
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s/v Hope cleared to return to the dock
Once Hope was safely tied up at the dock, it was time to climb back aboard one last time and grab our luggage.  Barry and I had planned to ride back to our condo on the Coastal Xpress water taxi, drop our gear, grab our bikes, and pedal back to town to pick up Paisley at Pampered Paws.  Unfortunately, when we got to the taxi dock, we found out that we were smack dab in the middle of northbound runs that were two hours apart.  It was too early for lunch, and neither of us wanted to wait an hour, so we made a quick decision to splurge on a land taxi.  We walked down to Pampered Paws to pick up Paisley, then grabbed a taxi to take all of us home.  I confess that I was kind of happy not to have to ride my bike as I was really tired and a bit off-balance from the boat travel and really wanted a restful afternoon.
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Picking up Paisley at Pampered Paws -- she is at the bottom of photo on leash, and her new friend Tyler is behind the puppy fence
The good folks at Pampered Paws posted the photos below on Facebook.  The one of Paisley and Biggy playing tug-o-war was posted while we were on the trip, and Ruthie actually brought it up on her tablet, Tabby, while we were out at sea.  It was great to see that Paisley was having fun and had been reunited with her friend Biggy from her first visit there.  The second photo was posted the day she left and is one of the sweetest pictures I've ever had of her.  Thanks Pampered Paws!
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Biggy and Paisley playing
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Paisley at Pampered Paws
What an adventure!  All in all we sailed/motored approximately 400 miles.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Chunky and Ruthie for telling us about this amazing opportunity, and to TMM Yacht Charters and Captains Simon Backley and Clive Forman for letting us join the makeshift crew on s/v Hope's  voyage.  As Simon said on Facebook after the fact, to him, this trip was just work, but to some of us, he now realized it was the trip of a lifetime.  Yes it was, Simon, yes it was!

Thank you!