Although we tend to turn in pretty early (especially by Mexican standards!) we actually did venture out after dark in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico.  It's a very lively city at night, and the lights for the holiday season made it especially festive.  This building with its colored lights, rotating through a rainbow of colors, was one our favorites.
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Do you prefer it in red?
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Or blue?
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Or perhaps green?
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Or basic white?
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Or maybe bright pink?!
The colored lights seemed to show up best on the blue background.
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"Feliz Ano Nuevo" (Happy New Year)
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Tis the season
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This church looked pretty lit up at night
One of the highlights of our time in San Cristobal, and indeed on our entire sixteen-day Mexico trip, was happening upon a paper lantern ceremony purely by chance.  I'd seen pictures and video of such ceremonies in Thailand, but never dreamed of seeing one in person in Mexico.  It was a small gathering and not very organized as the lanterns were sent up at all different times, but it was still beautiful and magical.  I can only imagine what a very large lantern ceremony would be like (for example, see these amazing images).  Our pictures are not very good quality, but hopefully you will get the idea.  It was much better in person with everyone cheering and pointing.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
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People working together to get the lanterns launched
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Up they go
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Fire in the sky
Next up -- the beautiful birds we saw on our trip.
 
Taking a little time out from blogging to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

From our home to yours,
Emily, Barry, and Paisley

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Merida, Mexico -- December 2012
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Photo courtesy of Pampered Paws -- Dec. 2012
 
Although we knew that September 10th is a holiday in Belize, St. George's Caye Day, we hadn't actually planned on attending the parade.  I knew there was going to be a parade, because, well, Belizeans have parades for just about every occasion!  They need absolutely no excuse to gather and celebrate, and I remembered finding out that there was a September 10th parade last year after we'd already missed it.  But we had no idea what time it started.  

Turns out it started right as we were finishing up our shopping at Greenhouse.  We were literally trapped, as the police and fire truck were coming right along Middle Street as I exited the store with my purchases.  No problem -- the parade was colorful, festive, and fun, though ear-splittingly loud (sirens, drums, and pounding music).  It was a much shorter, smaller parade than the mama of them all, the Independence Day parade on September 21, which we blogged about last year.  

Thank goodness we were trapped on the shady side of Middle Street as it was another very hot and sunny day.  The poor kids marching, playing instruments, and dancing with their school groups were dripping and swabbing their faces with hand towels, and I felt for them in their polyester uniforms.  Hot!

But I'll let the pictures tell the story...
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Here comes the parade -- there's no escaping now!
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Miss San Pedro
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All the kids were so cute!
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The kids did a great job with the drums, but they were LOUD!
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And speaking of loud, the music blaring from these speakers was ear-splitting...I felt bad for the kids marching right behind this truck!
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My poor ears! The noise didn't seem to bother any of the locals -- perhaps they are already half deaf from past celebrations!
Here is where we got trapped -- I'm the one in the ball cap between two young men in the middle of the photo.
Between today and September 21st, everyone in Belize will be in a festive spirit as the "September celebrations" are a really big deal here.  As they should be -- this is a young country that is very proud of its independence.  
 
While we have been complete slouches in the Christmas decorating department for our first Christmas here in Chico Caribe (Grand Caribe's little companion building), not everyone around us has.  Barry strolled around the resort with his camera in hand to show that at least a few good folks (including the Grand Caribe staff, of course!) are displaying admirable Christmas spirit.  Enjoy!
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Tim & Jean in the H building show some spirit
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Don't know these folks in the E building, but I like what they did with their half-round balcony
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Closer up
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Christmas tree in Grand Caribe lobby
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Cowboy Doug's Bar & Grill all decked out
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Grand Caribe at night
 
Sometimes it just seems like the powers that be are conspiring against you.  We had been looking forward to the annual San Pedro Lighted Boat Parade all day, and thought we had the perfect plan.  In addition to parade day, it was Barry's birthday, so a nice meal at one of our favorite restaurants was in order.  We'd take the water taxi into town plenty early enough to get into Wild Mango's right in time for a drink, then have an early dinner when they started serving at 6pm.  What we forgot is that for some inexplicable reason, there is no southbound water taxi in the 4 to 5 pm hour, which seems strange to me since that is getting on prime cocktail time.  We got out to the Grand Caribe dock in a light sprinkle, only to see on the posted schedule that there is a 3:40 taxi and a 5:40 taxi, but no 4:40 taxi.  Sigh!  

At least we got to see this lovely rainbow as we contemplated what to do next.
We headed back into the condo to hang out for another hour.  I poured a Belikin, and we sat and talked until time to head out for the 5:40 taxi.  Now, in the past, it seemed that the taxi was always quite a bit later than the posted time; like fifteen to twenty minutes later.  So, we didn't really rush and left our condo bound for the dock at 5:45.  Another boo-boo.  Right as we were walking towards the dock, the taxi zoomed by, leaving us in the sand. If anyone else had been departing, we could have made a run for it, but we were the lone southbound travelers.  Foiled again, Batman!

So now what?  We realized that our plans were completely shot; we'd be lucky to get a table outside anywhere on such a busy party night; and we only had our bikes or feet to take us the two miles into town unless we called a land taxi, which would have taken awhile and cost more than we cared to spend.  So, we started walking down the beach.  Since we'd thought we were taking the water taxi, I didn't have on my best walking sandals and knew I'd have a blister or two long before we made it to town.  

We cut over to the road right around Legend's Burger House, and not long after, we were offered a golf-cart ride by some kind locals heading in for the parade.  Raul and his wife told us that they managed the Cocotal Inn right up the way from our condo.  During the ride, we enjoyed talking to their grandson in the back seat and realized that we've seen him riding his bike to school when we go on our morning runs.  What an articulate and polite young man and so different from many kids his age in the US. They were very kind folks and got us to town much more quickly than we'd have made it all on foot, so we were very grateful for the ride (as were my only semi-blistered feet!)  

Once in town we wasted no time hoofing it the rest of the way down to Wild Mango's, but as we figured, they only had one table left, and it was inside, so we decided to try Caliente's.  We really wanted to sit outside so that we could view the parade from the table.  Their deck tables were full, but they were able to accommodate us by moving a small table out to the balcony from inside.  Perfect!  We had a nice view of the water through the docks, as well as inflatable Santa on the roof of a dive/tour shop.
We had a good, hearty dinner and a couple of drinks.  I really liked their "Pedro Collins", like a Tom Collins but made with rum, and only $8 BZD ($4 US)!
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Barry's chicken, rice, and plantain
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Oops, don't forget the margarita!
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My snapper, potato, and plantain
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You know how old people get cold even in warm weather? I now present the birthday boy.... :-)
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Okay, so the breeze on this 78 degree evening made it feel a leetle chilly, but at least I'm not wearing FLEECE. Haha!
At one point there was a shower during dinner.  Fortunately, like most showers in Belize, it was quite brief, and we'd finished eating, so our food didn't get diluted.
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What do you think, would I have made an attractive nun?
Let the parade begin!  Barry raced out to a nearby dock to snap most of these shots, while I stayed and watched from Caliente's deck, and had a nice chat with a Canadian couple at the next table.  We were impressed with the work that went into decorating these boats, and the pictures can't really do them justice.
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Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
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Slightly different view of Pirate boat
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This one looked especially exotic from where I was sitting, moreso than the photo shows.
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The winning entry -- from the San Pedro AIDS Commission. Nicely done!
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Part of the central park crowd as viewed from the dock -- what a festive night!
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Even wider crowd shot -- seemed like everyone in town must have been here
After the last boat had passed by and Barry was coming back up to join me, he ran into our neighbors Tim and Jean, who kindly offered us a ride home in their large Polaris.  We had been planning on walking around some in Central Park and taking the water taxi back, but a ride sounded great.  Jean mentioned that there was a cupcake stand in the park, and we hadn't had dessert, so they stopped so we could nab a couple of birthday cupcakes, along with a few more photos in the park.  Although I had hoped we could walk around a little more and see more of the booths and decor, there's always next year.  It will give us something to look forward to, and I am sure we'll plan a bit better so that we can get to town earlier.  San Pedro really knows how to throw a festive party, and it's fun to be among a sea of smiling faces.  

So fortunately, the night ended on a happy note, and I think the birthday boy enjoyed himself.  The cupcakes, which we devoured when we got home, were yummy too!  
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Emily and Jean heading into the park. I've never seen so many golf carts!
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Heavenly Cupcake stand
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The cupcake guy was darling. What a smile!
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Hey, it's Ms. SanPedroScoop! Our buddy in blogging... :-)
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The town Christmas tree in Central Park