Since Barry has been rehabilitating a torn muscle and pinched nerve in his upper back for over a month now (he's improving at last, but it's been slow going), I've been having to do a lot of things solo lately.  Yesterday it was a bike ride into town to attend the Saga Humane Society's 9th Annual Halloween party and fundraiser in Central Park.  

There was something for everyone:  delicious donated homemade food, cold drinks, free biodegradable doggie poop bags and dog collars, t-shirts and jewelry for sale, raffle tickets to benefit Saga, and the highlight, a doggie costume contest full of the cutest pooches I've ever seen!  I couldn't take Paisley because of the difficulty getting her there with only my bicycle, but that made it much easier to take photos to try to capture all the fun everyone was having.  Hope you enjoy the slideslow!
I did my part to help by buying a Saga t-shirt (below), a bunch of raffle tickets (didn't win anything, but I never do), a delicious cupcake topped with marshmallow creme, and an ice-cold Belikin.  The service provided by volunteers was outstanding!
With all the dogs and cats Saga houses awaiting adoption, in addition to the many other services they provide the community, they are always in need of funds.  There was a great turnout for the party, so I suspect a good amount was raised for this excellent cause.  In addition to the Saga website, did you know they have a Facebook page as well?  Come on, give it a "Like"!

Also, make sure to check out San Pedro Scoop's Halloween Party blog for more party and costume contest pictures, because really, who can get enough of dogs in costumes?!
 
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and today was our day to return to San Pedro.  Not that that is such a bad place to go, by any means, but we'd been having so much fun on our various excursions in San Ignacio and the Cayo District of Belize, we hated for our time there to draw to a close.  We really love spreading our wings by visiting new places and are so fortunate our retirement is allowing us the precious time to do this!
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We saw this sign on our walk to breakfast -- wonder if the mayors from 1996 to the present feel slighted?
We tried a new place for breakfast this morning recommended by Becky and Gonzo, "Pop's".  It was the least expensive place yet and full of locals, so it had to be good -- and it was.  Barry got -- what else -- a breakfast burrito (with a choice of meat this time; he chose ham); and I got waffles with bananas and one egg on the side.  The restaurant was just a short walk around the block from the Casa Blanca, our home for the past four days.  We even got to see Pops himself serving some of the folks, though he did not wait on us. 
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"Pop's"
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Breakfast burrito with ham, Marie Sharp's, and fruit
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The coffee was great!
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Waffles with banana -- and watermelon
After heading back to the room to finish packing up, it was time to grab a bus back to Belize City.  But first we headed down to the market square to pick up some fruit to bring back to San Pedro.  Prices are much better on the mainland, as is the selection, so I wish we could have carried more.  We got a papaya, some limes, and a beautiful bag of hot peppers.  Unfortunately, there were no mangoes to be found.  It's still a little early for mangoes since Belize prohibits imports from other countries (unfortunately!)
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Emily picking out some limes -- 3 for $1 BZD vs. $1.50 in San Pedro. Love the locals smiling for the camera!
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These beauties cost us $1 BZD (50c US) for the entire bag!
Next it was time to find a bus to Belize City.  There are several different bus lines that arrive and depart at all different times, but so many of them go through San Ignacio that there's really no need to check a schedule -- if there even is one.  Just walk on over to the bus "terminal" (parking lot) and look for a bus with a "Belize" sign in the front, indicating that it's heading to Belize City.  If there's not one there when you arrive, there's pretty likely going to be one pulling in very soon.  Sure enough, when we got there, one was just loading up.  
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Note the "Belize" sign in the front window -- this indicates this bus is heading east to Belize City
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All aboard! We ended up having to check our backpacks as there was no luggage shelf inside this bus -- first time that has happened.
Our bus was delayed a bit getting into and out of the Belmopan stop due to a parade going on right outside the bus terminal.  Belize sure does love its parades!  We had planned on catching the noon ferry from Belize City back to San Pedro and hoped this delay wouldn't cost us.  Fortunately, it didn't cause us to miss the ferry, but we were in the back of the massive line, and the ferry was PACKED.  There were more passengers on this ferry than we'd ever experienced before, and we've taken the ferry quite a few times now.  The main seating area was full by the time we boarded, so we got to ride up top with the captain, which was actually a lot of fun.  
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Our view of Belize City from the upper deck of the ferry
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On the upper deck of the ferry with the captain
Since it took so long to load up the massive quantities of luggage and passengers, the ferry was late leaving Belize City and Caye Caulker.  We were on a tight schedule once again as we planned to catch the Coastal Express water taxi back to our condo north of the bridge on Ambergris Caye.  We'd thought we'd have a large time window, but being delayed by approximately 15-20 minutes cut into this window.  Also, because of the large number of ferry passengers, Barry had to check his backpack, which we normally don't do.  We prefer to stash our packs under our seats so we can make a quick exit.  But there would have been no room for a bag the size of Barry's backpack, so we knew he'd have to wait for the luggage to be unloaded from the ferry once we got to San Pedro, thus tightening our time window even more.  And we had to pick up Paisley at Pampered Paws, where she was boarding.  If we missed this water taxi, we'd have to take a land taxi back for double the price, as there is a two-hour gap between water taxis at this particular time of day.

When we debarked the ferry in San Pedro, we decided that Barry would wait for the luggage to be unloaded while I walked over to Pampered Paws to pick Paisley up.  There was so much traffic (golf cart, taxi, and bike) in the streets of San Pedro at this busy after-lunch period during high tourist season that I had a difficult time even walking the block and a half to and from Pampered Paws, especially once I had Paisley on her leash with me; but I finally made it back to where Barry was waiting, and he hadn't even retrieved his backpack yet.

Finally, he was able to grab his backpack off the luggage cart, and we hustled down the beach to the water taxi dock with Paisley.  We made it with about 15 minutes to spare, after all.  In keeping with the theme of the day, though, by the time we boarded Coastal Express, the boat was packed to the gills with people, and of course we had carrying backpacks, Paisley, and Paisley's luggage too.  This made for a very cramped ride, but we made it back to the Grand Caribe dock successfully, happy that we'd pulled off another one of our budget friendly travel adventures!

The pictures below were taken by the good folks at Pampered Paws and show the fun Paisley had playing with her friend "Biggy" while she was boarding.  Biggy is a frequent doggie day care customer there, and the two of them are the best of friends.  No wonder Paisley slept most of the next 24 hours after we got her home!
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Paisley and Biggy playing with her "Kitty" -- she's had this toy since she was a puppy!
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Paisley daring Biggy to come get the tennis ball
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Paisley LOVES to play
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Mine at last!
Stay tuned for "Our Sojourn in San Ignacio: Beautiful Birds" coming tomorrow...
 
Our trip to Belize came off without a hitch.  After months of planning and preparation, we are here in Belize with Paisley!  After moving out of our apartment in Chapel Hill, we spent most of our last week in North Carolina with Emily's mother and step-father, who drove us to the Holiday Inn in Charlotte on Friday prior to our Saturday morning flight.  It was great to get to see them and go up to their mountain place for a few days of relaxation prior to making this big move.
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Barry and Paisley Holiday Inn near Charlotte airport
I had spent a lot of time before our move researching how to get Paisley into Belize, and that research paid off.  The in-cabin travel kennel we purchased, a SturdiBag Large (http://www.sturdiproducts.com/4111/xcart/product.php?productid=2weeblylink_new_window) functioned absolutely perfectly!  Barry had done a great job of acclimating Paisley to it ahead of time by taking her along in it to places she enjoys going, so she'd associate it with fun.  It really worked as she was cool as a cucumber during the entire travel day and never made a peep.  No one at US Airways said a word about the kennel, and with its flexible spring top (with thin, flexible poles like a tent), it fit right under the seat of the first-class cabin.  It would probably have worked fine in coach as well, but we decided to splurge this time so it would just be us and Paisley on our row of the plane.
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Look closely and you'll see Paisley chilling in her SturdiBag
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Paisley under the airline seat, still chilling!
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Bloody Marys -- one of the perks of first class! We also had a really nice lunch. Who said airline food sucks?
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I thought Barry looked kind of pilot-ish in this outfit. Only missing his wings!
When we arrived at the international airport in Belize City, we had to take Paisley to a special room to be inspected by BAHA officials.  I'd done my homework and had all the appropriate paperwork, so it was a breeze.  We paid our $70 BZD ($35 US) fee and continued on to the Tropic Air counter.

On our Tropic Air "puddle jumper" to the island, Barry was able to take Paisley in his lap in the SturdiBag.  This was a tougher leg of the trip as it was quite warm on the plane, and we had to stop to let one person off in Caye Caulker prior to touching down at the San Pedro airstrip, which lengthened the flight.  The taxi ride in an old beater mini-van with no A/C to our condo was also hot and uncomfortable for Paisley, and she was really panting.  We'd given her some water in the Belize City airport, but we knew she needed more, and she drank with gusto once we got to our condo.

The Grand Caribe staff had really prepared the condo for us with flowers everywhere.  They had also put the remaining furniture and household items into place.  It looked great!
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Paisley found the sofa to be pretty comfortable after a long day of traveling...
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Unfortunately, on this hot and humid day with only a light breeze, we quickly realized that our condo air conditioning was not working.  It had been fine when we were here in July, so we were surprised.  Barry figured out that the thermostat batteries had been removed, so we rounded up a couple of double A's from some things we'd brought with us, but even with the display working, there was no air coming out, cool or otherwise.  After turning on the fans and getting partially unpacked, we went and told the front desk, and they quickly got several men out to check it out.  They were able to fix the problem (we're still not exactly sure what was wrong, but some wiggling of wires was required), and while they were here, they also leveled the refrigerator and fixed a leaky pipe from the water heater.  There are still a few more small punch list items that need attending to, but they are all lower priority.  We were really pleased with the quick service once we reported the problem.

Once the repairs were complete, we grabbed our backpacks and walked to town for several essential grocery items so that we would have breakfast food in the morning.  And rum for a drink, of course!  Our bikes, along with the rest of the household items we shipped down from NC, have not yet arrived, so it is a slower trip to town, about two miles of walking each way.  It will certainly keep us in good shape!  It was dinnertime by the time we got back, so we placed an order for chicken fajitas to go at the Grand Caribe beach bar prior to dropping our grocery items back at our condo.  We were able to pick up our dinner order, along with a huge slice of key lime pie to share, soon afterwards.

Right as we were sitting down to eat our feast, Doris knocked on our door.  Over the course of the afternoon, we had tried knocking on Bernie and Doris' condo door several times since we had left two suitcases with them in July and needed our linens that were in one of them in order to make our bed that night.  Unfortunately, they were not at home, and I was starting to have visions of sleeping on the mattress pad.  We had inquired at the front desk, and it turned out that they were involved in a wedding that was going on at Grand Caribe this very day.  We decided to leave a note in their door so we could retrieve our suitcases when they got home.  Fortunately, Doris came back to Chico Caribe to walk their dog, Lucky, prior to heading from the wedding cocktail party to the dinner, and she was able to let us in to get our suitcases.  Since the wedding dinner likely ran rather late into the evening, we were very relieved!

After getting our suitcases, we inhaled our dinner and pie.  We finished up our day by watching some Hurricane Irene coverage on TV and doing more unpacking.  Until our hangers arrive in our shipment, we're going to be living out of suitcases to some extent, but we do have a few drawers in our dresser for some of our clothes.

Overnight there was a serious thunderstorm with torrential rain and plenty of flashing lightning.  Paisley, who had been sleeping on the sofa, came into the bedroom pretty nervous.  I put a towel on the floor by my side of the bed for her to sleep on, but she still jumped up for comforting (not onto the bed, just onto the side of it) quite a few times between sometime in the middle of the night and morning, so between that and the noisy storm, we didn't get the best of sleep.  The pillows we got in our furniture package are softer than we like as well, so we will probably have to find some better pillows to purchase eventually.  Still, it just felt good to get off our feet after such a long day of travel.

This morning (Sunday) we took Paisley out on the beach for a little walking and ball playing.  She seemed to have a good time.  We saw a HUGE sting ray swimming near the Chico Caribe pier [UPDATE: I have been informed this was actually an eagle ray.  They are very common.
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Barry and Paisley outside Chico Caribe
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Eagle Ray -- this guy had a HUGE wingspan
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View of Chico Caribe building from pier
Leaving Paisley for her morning nap, we walked back into town for more groceries and some household items.  We were amazed how much we managed to stuff into our two backpacks.  Since our cookware hasn't yet arrived from the US, we bought a stir-fry pan and a Pyrex set so we could do a little cooking.  We also picked up three small woven cotton rugs, in addition to quite a few groceries.  Here I am walking back with my part of the haul.
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We got all this yummy bread from The Baker for $10 BZD ($5 US).  The loaves are whole wheat sandwich bread and cinnamon bread and are full-size loaves.
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I really liked these little rugs (there are two next to each other in the photo) that we found at Caye Supplies.  They go well with our decor and will give us a place to wipe our sandy feet.  We need to go back for a couple more for outside the doors too.
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This afternoon, Barry got an email from the shipper who will be driving our 20 boxes from Houston to Belize.  We thought they had made it onto his previous truckload, but they had not.  Sounds like they will be here in less than two weeks, though!  I'm not quite sure where we'll put it all as it already seems like we have a lot of "stuff" in this one-bedroom condo, but I am sure we'll figure out something.  Maybe we need to start up a local craigslist for San Pedro in case we end up with more than we actually have room for?!