We woke up this morning to the coolest temperature recorded on our digital thermometer since moving to Ambergris Caye -- 62F.  Yes, that's sixty-two.  COLD by island standards!  The humidity was desert-like for here (which I love), and the wind was blowing fairly hard out of the northwest.  Dressing quickly as I shivered, I got Paisley out for her morning ablutions, and felt just how brisk it was out there.  This would be a much cooler than usual Sunday morning bike ride!

Once we'd had a snack (and a quick cup of coffee for me), we saddled up and headed north on the beach and over to Grand Belizean Estates on our bikes.  It was a bit chilly starting out, and the wind was at our noses as we headed west on the road towards the lagoon side of the island.  It was a slow slog as we fought the fresh breeze, but once we'd hit the most westerly point of the road and made the u-turn, we were flying!  Such fun that is, to be pushed along by the wind.

We continued riding east, then southward, right past our condo and on into town as we had breakfast at Estel's by the Sea on the brain.  We hadn't been there in a long, long time, and were hoping that with high tourist season in full swing, the slight chill in the air would keep at least a few folks away so we'd be able to snag a table on the beach, and fortunately, we were rewarded with a nice one.  
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Long sleeve weather!
Barry got his usual breakfast burrito.  Not for the faint of heart, this thing is huge.  And yes, he ate every bite!
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He added some Marie Sharp's on top before he ate it, naturally
I had been hankering for a cinnamon roll ever since seeing (and smelling!) a tourist eating one outside of The Baker earlier in the week, so I went with two eggs over medium and a warm, gooey cinnamon roll.  It hit the spot just perfectly!  And I too joined the clean plate club.  
Seems like a lot of folks were sitting inside today rather than on the beach.  Wimps!
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You can see just how large my cinnamon roll was in this photo!
After our delicious breakfast, we headed back home.  Barry chose to be brave and venture into the pool for the traditional post-biking "pool down", but I just sat on the pool deck with Paisley and enjoyed the sunshine.   Our pool was bathwater warm a few days ago, but thanks to the cold front has cooled down a bit now.

While enjoying the pool, we caught a glimpse of a Green-Breasted Mango in a tree close by.  We actually had time to run inside for binoculars (to confirm the id) and camera.
It was a good day for the birds as I also noticed that this woodpecker pair were tending their nest-hole in a palm tree right outside our condo.
Despite the "chill", and a high temperature only in the 70s, it was a beautiful day!
 
Weather-wise, this November has been the best month we've experienced since moving to San Pedro fifteen months ago.  It was mostly dry, cooler than normal, with highs only in the upper 70s many days. Best of all, the humidity was so much lower than the norm that my skin and lips were dry and flaky, and I actually had a few good hair days -- with my wavy mop that tends towards frizz, that's saying a lot!  

But a couple of days ago, that all changed.  For the past two nights, we've had hours of heavy rain, a total of around five inches.  I guess our assumption that dry season might be beginning early this year was a bit premature.  I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story....

Here's the approaching storm late yesterday afternoon.
And some of the roads north of the bridge today.  These were all dry just a couple of days ago.
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Taxi negotiating the puddles
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Motorcycle testing the depth of the puddle
But we can't complain too much.  Without the rain, we wouldn't have the lush tropical foliage nor these beautiful flowers!
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Hibiscus
 
Last year was the first time we'd ever been in Belize in the month of October.  It was not our favorite month.  I remember it as being gray and rainy and still, with not nearly enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes and sand flies away.  I remember plowing through deep pond-sized puddles on the road north of the bridge as we traveled from our condo to town and back again, time after time.  I remember washing our bicycles over and over since the puddles were deeper than our bottom brackets.  About the only thing positive I can recall about last October was that it was cooler than the summer months.  October, we were not sorry when you melted away into November.

What a difference a year makes.  This October has been much drier, sunnier, and the breezes a bit more constant.  There have been a few mosquitoes and sand flies, but nothing like last year.  It has been, really, gorgeous and bright, with only a few days that tourists wouldn't love.  Those folks who got cheap low-season rates for October vacations here are no doubt feeling a bit smug.  Hurricanes?  Nope.  Tropical storms?  Not even close.  

The biggest difference in the October of 2012 and the October of 2011, though, is the roads.  Sure, less rain has helped, but thanks to a big effort by the new town council, the road north of the bridge (at least as far as Grand Caribe), was graded and filled with load after load of gravel this summer.  And it's holding up well.  There are a few areas where potholes and "moguls" are developing, but this is nothing even close to the "great lakes" of October '11.  And in a few of the larger holes, more heavy-duty gravel was dumped just in the past week or so, after a few wet days made a bit of a muddy mess in a couple of lower-lying spots.  This rocky gravel isn't the most bike-friendly stuff I've ever seen or ridden on (thank goodness for wide beach cruiser tires), but it certainly beats putting one's legs up and going "wheeeeeee!" through deep, silty puddles you can't see the bottom of.
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This was a big, wide puddle a little over a week ago but was quickly filled!
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Rocky gravel fill
But I'll shut up now and let the photos tell the rest of the story.

October 2011

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Huge puddle behind our condo

October 2012

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Same area behind our condo - dry

October 2011

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At Reef Village looking towards Kama Lounge -- what a mess this made of us and our bikes!
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Same view and a very different road this year thanks to weather and lots of packed fill

October 2011

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Looking south towards Legend's -- tough going for golf carts and bikes

October 2012

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Looking south towards Legend's now -- smooth sailing!

October 2011

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Reef Village -- notorious for having a terrible road out front

October 2012

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Reef Village now -- still some small bumps but the "great lakes" are GONE.

October 2011

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Outside The Cloisters and Funky Monkey Bar & Grill -- cyclist dodging huge puddles

October 2012

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Road is far better and even the telephone & electric wires have been cleaned up!
In addition to changes in the road, the Funky Monkey at the Cloisters is no more, but a new restaurant. Feliz, is busily preparing for opening soon, and we happened by as the new sign was being painted.
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Sign being painted
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Sign for "Feliz"
We also happened to meet the new proprietor, Kevin.  He's currently working on planning the menu and is hoping to keep prices reasonable so ex-pats and locals, as well as tourists, will be able to afford to eat and drink there.  Great idea!  It will be nice to have another choice of eateries in our north of the bridge neighborhood.

All in all, I'd say the changes between this year and last are for the better!
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Emily talking to Kevin
UPDATE October 20:  I was biking by again today, and the Feliz signs are complete.  Very cute and colorful, don't you think?
 
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It takes time to get used to the fact that Belize doesn't have the same concept of the four seasons we are used to in the United States.  In North Carolina, where I grew up and spent most of my life, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter are distinct seasons and provide an easy way to refer to times of year.  "Last winter we went to Florida," or "Sure has been an early spring," or "The leaves are especially pretty this fall."  

Here in Belize, the year is not structured exactly the same.  Instead of the four seasons I'm used to, there are only two:  dry season and rainy season.  The latter is the longest, stretching from June through December in most cases, though this year it seemed to last through January and start up again in May, leaving but a short three-month dry season.  Even during rainy season, it certainly doesn't rain all the time.  It rains more at night than during the day, but storms are more frequent and can be heavy, even if short-lived.  Occasionally it stays gray and rains off and on all day long, but that is rare.  And it rains on occasion even during dry season, but much less frequently.

This year -- this "summer" -- just when we thought rainy season was here to stay, Mother Nature's waterworks turned off.  Although I don't have official rainfall statistics to quote, on Ambergris Caye July was dryer than June, August seemed dryer still (with the exception of our brief brush with Hurricane Ernesto in the early part of the month), and September was downright desert-like.  Even the locals were complaining about the heat and dry weather, and passing motor vehicles kicked dusty dirt in our eyes when they passed us on the unpaved roads.  It was 83 or 84F every morning by the time I got up (6:30 to 7 am). Almost every day without fail, the skies were brilliant blue, the sun was shining brightly, and it was a perfect time for visitors to enjoy a tropical island vacation.  But for residents, the lack of clouds and cooling rain can get a bit stifling over time.

And then it changed.

Over the past few days, we've started getting some brief daytime showers and brilliant lightning and thunder shows at night.  And clouds, yes cooling clouds!  Although the high temperature most days is still hitting the 88 through 90F range in the mid-morning to early afternoon timeframe, we've been having great breezes in the later afternoons and evenings; and at times, there is the slightest "edge" to the breeze that almost feels...dare I say, cool.

The birds are in high gear as fall migration time has arrived as well.  Almost overnight we started noticing wood warblers in the heavy tropical foliage out our windows, along with the plaintive call of the Great Kiskadee that had been silent all summer long.  Even year-round residents like orioles seem more active and plentiful.  The Roseate Spoonbills are back at Grand Belizean Estates, along with the flock of Blacked-Necked Stilts wading in the mangrove pools, and many more birds flying overhead.  But again, I used the the US seasons "fall" and "summer" to describe these differences -- because they are important and distinct times for birders -- even though both are part of the rainy season in Belize.

I suppose no matter where one lives, there are certain constructs that will never die, and for me, one of those is the concept of the four seasons.  It's different here in Belize in spring, summer, fall, and winter, no matter how those "seasons" are described.  So now, I'm going to say it, even though the leaves won't be changing:  Fall is here!
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Black-Necked Stilts
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Roseate Spoonbill
 
We were thankful to wake up this morning with only the backside of Hurricane (now tropical storm again) Ernesto to contend with.  Although Ernesto did strengthen to a category 1 hurricane before he made landfall, he did end up tracking north of us and made landfall along Mexico's Yucatan peninsula last night at around 11pm.  We never even felt tropical storm force winds here on Ambergris Caye until this morning, when the south winds from his back side started roaring along with sideways torrential rain.  The town gauge reports a high wind gust of 40.1 mph this morning.  I am getting conflicting reports on the total rainfall but will try to get an update from Cowboy Doug's rain gauge here at Grand Caribe. 
As I mentioned in my pre-Ernesto post, we really didn't have much prep work to do here since our building is well-equipped for storms.  Yesterday we took the screens off our windows and brought our veranda furniture inside, and that's about it.  We'd stocked up with plenty of groceries the day before and have been doing plenty of cooking, so we would not go hungry.  Not that that's ever a problem around here anyway!
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Fresh bean/veggie burritos with guacamole and a Painkiller to drink for last night's dinner
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Outdoor furniture inside for now
As Ernesto approached the coast yesterday, we had a heavy downpour in the morning, and then the rain was only light and sporadic for the rest of the day.  The wind was coming from the northwest, so we hardly felt it on the beach.  The major storm impact yesterday was high waves over the reef and small waves along the beach, which we almost never see.  High tide was very high, at times splashing up through the little Chico Caribe dock and higher on the beach in front of our condo than we have ever seen it.  But the water never even made it up to the bottom stair on our veranda. 

The pictures below are from yesterday as Ernesto approached.
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Debris washing up
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Heavy rain band yesterday morning
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This man's boat motor stopped working -- fortunately he was able to get a tow soon afterwards
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Small waves making it across the reef (very rare)
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Huge waves crashing on the reef
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High water under our dock and up on our beach at high tide yesterday
When we woke up this morning, Ernesto had been downgraded to a tropical storm again and was already over land in Mexico.  However, after an initial calm period around 7 am (which fooled us into thinking that the storm was almost over), we finally experienced tropical storm force winds from the southeast and torrential rains peaking an hour or two later.  Looks like Ernesto was determined to go out like a lion.

The photo on the left was taken when I first got up; the one on the right two hours later after the heavy rain began.  
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Torrential downpour causing white-out conditions
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This poor bicyclist was riding in all that rain and right into the wind!
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Aftermath -- a messy beach that could have been much worse
As I write this now, it's raining only lightly, and the wind has calmed down some as well.  Looks like all of us on Ambergris Caye can be very thankful that Ernesto spared us a direct hit.  We didn't even lose power or internet!  
 
Well, here it is, the first tropical system of the 2012 hurricane season to threaten Belize.  Seems that Tropical Storm Ernesto, likely soon to be Hurricane Ernesto, has his sights set on either northern Belize, where we live, or southern Mexico.  The track seems to change every few hours, sometimes looking better for us, sometimes worse.  The more north he goes, the better, as the strongest winds and heaviest rains will be north of the eye.  So, with apologies to our neighbor Mexico, we are hoping he heads up that way and not to Belize City south of where we live on the island of Ambergris Caye!

Since our condo is right on the ocean, and on the first floor to boot (about 7' above sea level), we obviously have to take storms like this seriously.  However, Belize's offshore reef means that the wave action here is virtually nil, and storm surge extremely tempered.  I wouldn't feel comfortable owning a first-floor, ocean-front condo on the Atlantic Ocean, but it's definitely a bit different here in Belize because of the reef.  
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Our building, right on the Caribbean Sea
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Waves break over the barrier reef, not on the shoreline
We are also fortunate because our building ("Chico Caribe") is built for hurricanes.  It's new and all-concrete, and we have hurricane-strength sliding doors facing the ocean.  Even luckier, the five owners in the building all pitched in and bought a high-capacity generator for the building during construction.  It comes on automatically during all power outages and runs all our appliances.  So, if there is a power outage, we lose only cable TV and internet, and everything else keeps right on cranking along as if nothing happened.  It's kind of eerie looking out our windows and seeing the rest of Grand Caribe dark, aside from a few emergency lights, while our building is still lit up brightly.  The generator wasn't cheap, but every time the power goes out, we feel very lucky indeed.

We also don't have to worry too much about our water supply as Grand Caribe's water plant, which our building shares with them, is on a back-up generator, so at least as long as the generator has fuel, we'll have water for drinking and flushing.

So, our hurricane prep is not nearly as involved as others on the island without a generator, who might lose power and water for an extended period of time in a significant storm and thus need to stock up on water, flashlights, batteries, and food that doesn't require any cooking.  

We have been talking to some of the workers here at the resort, and tomorrow morning they plan to take all the pool furniture to a safe place.  We'll be doing the same with our veranda table and chairs, and we'll take the screens off our windows as they are lightweight and might be subject to blowing around.  That's about all the preparations we really plan to do so long as this storm remains a Category 1 hurricane or lower.  Yes, we are getting off pretty easy.
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This furniture from our pool, and a lot more from Grand Caribe's three pools, will be secured inside tomorrow
Although we did have a brief shower earlier, right now it's gorgeous out and very calm -- the proverbial calm before the storm.  Hard to imagine a huge tropical storm is lurking out there.
Since we may be without internet access for awhile, I can't promise when I'll be able to do an "after" post on the storm, but I'll try to update the blog just as soon as possible after the storm hits and we're back online.  Current projections have it hitting land at 2 am on Wednesday morning.  Stay tuned!
 
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Lots of leaves blew down overnight
Following the deluge of rain I blogged about earlier and then several beautiful, bright days, stormy weather returned with a vengeance yesterday and early this morning.  There was actually more wind than rain overnight.  I woke up in the wee hours and heard all kinds of banging around outside that I now realize was wind knocking stuff around.  The San Pedro Weather station clocked a 36 mph gust overnight.

Thanks to a break in the rain, we were able to get out for a beach walk to survey the aftermath.  Sammy (also known as Cannelo or "the Grand Caribe dog") came along with us.  Paisley was taking her morning nap indoors so didn't venture out. 
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Smiling Sammy
Fortunately, it wasn't too bad -- mostly a lot more palm fronds down than the day before.  We moved a few of them out of the way as they were right in the beach trail where we (and many others) ride bikes and walk.
The Kama Lounge took a bit of a hit as their tent was pretty badly damaged.
Our pool guy is going to be busy cleaning the pool today too -- lots of leaves blew in.
Looks like more rain is on the way....
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Pretty conch shell submerged in the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea
Here's hoping El Sol puts in an appearance before too long so we can be enjoying this view again very soon.
 
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Sunday, May 13: The last day of dry season?
In retrospect, the dramatic halo around the sun on May 13th must have signaled the start of rainy season, and an early one at that.  Rainy season usually stretches from June through December in Belize; although this year, we had a wet January, and May has been very wet as well.  It has rained nearly every day or night since that rainbow around the moon appeared, twice nearly 3" in less than 24 hours.  Last night it rained nearly 3" in less than 12 hours!

Today we had to ride our bikes to town to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables as we were completely out, and Tuesday is normally a day that the boats come from the mainland loaded down with fresh produce.  We knew the road north of the bridge, which is unpaved and sandy, would be a real mess after the heavy rains last night, as it was already in poor shape from the past week and a half of on-and-off rain.  Fortunately we can ride part of the way on the beach, but in some places, there is no choice but to ride on the road.  Thought you might like to come along and see what a ride into town is like during rainy season....
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Here is what our bikes look like down here; fenders help, but they still stay messy
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Mr. Raymond hauling trash from Grand Caribe to town
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Tourists and locals riding by Reef Village -- no beach option here
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I'm riding on one of the better stretches of road past Reef Village
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Approaching the Paradise Theater and Sir Barry Bowen bridge
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I'm negotiating around the puddles large and small
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Main paved roads in town are fine, but side roads are messy!
In town we shopped at two fruit stands and got a great haul:  small bananas, papaya, mangoes, avocados, starfruit, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli.  Barry is hauling it all back in his bike baskets (one of the smartest things we brought to Belize).  Good thing he didn't fall in any of these puddles!
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Barry negotiating puddles by Reef Village and the Cloisters
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A threatening sky once again to the north as we rode home along the beach
When we got back to our condo, we had just enough time for a quick pool-down before the rains started up again!
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Storm coming our way
 
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
 
After all the perfect weather we'd had so far on this trip, it seemed like a cruel joke to wake up early this morning to dark,  threatening skies and high wind.  I guess it had to happen, right?  I awoke when the engines cranked up before 5 am, and I believe we pulled away from the dock at Abelle's boat yard a little before 5:30, a bit later than Simon had planned for.  (I figured that late night the night before was going to have some fallout!)

Surprisingly, even with the loud drone of the engine, we were so tired that we managed to doze off and on until around 6 am, I guess it was, before going out on deck and surveying what Mother Nature had in store for us on this last, long day on the water, as we made our way back from Rio Dulce to Placencia, Belize.  Captain Simon was not a happy camper, as the winds had been gusting up to 30 knots (on our nose again as the winds had shifted around to the northeast), and he was concerned that conditions would deteriorate further once we got out of the calm river and into the sea.
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Angry clouds
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Dramatic sunrise
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Coffee time! (L to R) Clive, Chunky, Bruce, Simon (at helm), and me
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I'm sleepy but happy to be on the boat and having a hot cuppa joe
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We got a little rain, but not as much as the clouds seemed to threaten
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As we motored on, the low sun was peeping through and highlighting these houses along the Rio Dulce
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Low-lying wisps of clouds seemed caught in the trees
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Lush rainforest along the river banks
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These local men didn't let a little wind stop their morning paddle
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Waterfall along river bank
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Love these quaint little resorts or grouping of houses nestling into the river bank
The closer we got to Livingston and open water, the rougher it became.  The wind continued to blow hard, and s/v Hope began hobby-horsing and rolling around in the building surf.  We knew we were in for a real doozy of a day at sea.
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You can see how rough the river was starting to get as we got closer to Livingston
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Birds cluster around fishing boat on rough waters near Livingston
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Rough conditions near Livingston, Guatemala
As we drew closer to the dock at Livingston where we needed to check out of Guatemala with Customs and Immigration, Simon realized that it was chock-a-block full of boats that didn't dare venture out in the rough conditions.  We'd have to anchor out and send in the dinghy to check out, since there was no room for another boat, particularly one of Hope's size, at the dock.  Needless to say, he wasn't happy about this.  If the anchor didn't set properly, the stiff winds could easily blow s/v Hope into other boats on the dock.  This was one of the many times on this cruise I was relieved to be on someone else's boat.  These kinds of situations are nerve-racking enough even for those of us not ultimately responsible for the boat, but for a captain, they are really stressful, since it is his responsibility to keep the boat and its crew safe from harm.

The anchor didn't set the first time Clive tried, but the second time, it did.  Big relief!  Barry volunteered to go with Clive in the dinghy to shore with everyone's passports to check all of us out of the country.
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It was starting to rain again right as they took off
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Rough conditions for a small boat
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Barry and Clive head up the hill into town for a bit of last-minute shopping while our passports are processed
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By the time they got back, the sun was peeking out. They are talking to the immigration guy here.
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Barry enjoying the adventure
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Clive and Barry returning
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Hooking the dinghy to the lines on the davits in preparation for hauling it up
Barry had a bag with him that I was curious about since we hadn't discussed buying anything more on land.  Turns out the little sneak had bought Guatamala t-shirts for Bruce, Chunky, Ruthie, me, and himself!  Whatta guy!  
Our work in Livingston done, it was time to haul up the anchor and make our way to the sea.  The wind had not relented much at all.  Several of us took some preventative less-drowsy Dramamine just in case.  Although I rarely get seasick, I could already tell that my tummy was feeling just a little "off" for the first time on this trip.  The "motion of the ocean" made everything more difficult today -- from walking around the salon and cockpit, to using the head, to getting food or filling a water bottle.  Even reading, for most of us, was out of the question.  Ruthie, the lucky gal, was the only one who seemed to be able to read and do pretty much everything else with nary an issue.  Simon forbade anyone from going forward to the bow due to conditions.
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Photos never do a good job at capturing sea state -- it was rocking and rolling out there with numerous whitecaps
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Splash! Every now and then a wave would wash over the decks
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Ruthie attempting to pour water - not an easy task today
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Wind gauge shows 23.3 knot winds at this point. Simon said they ranged from 20-30 knots with waves from 6' to 10'. Wow!
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Both Captains Simon and Clive were busy at the helm today
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Mainsail and reefed genoa -- and the sky was now beautifully blue, but still the wind and waves roared
Even with the medicine, I was feeling a bit queasy and kept eating saltine crackers in an attempt to keep my stomach calm.  A couple of times I thought I was going to be sick, but I just kept staring at the horizon, and the feeling would pass. I had to stop moving around, though, and just sit very still.  

This was the only day we didn't pull a bunch of food out of the fridge and have lunch together.  It was every man and woman for him or herself, as it was tough to move around the boat, and everyone's stomach had a different tolerance level for the motion of the ocean.  Ruthie actually spent most of the afternoon in their cabin reading, and I went to our cabin a couple of times to nap briefly.  Keeping my eyes closed and lying down seemed to help a lot with the queasies. 

Barry started feeling bad and was standing out on the side deck watching the horizon diligently, hoping to keep from being sick.  He had not joined the rest of us in taking the motion-sickness medication in the morning, a big mistake.  He did take some at this point, but it was too little, too late.  I was passed him a few crackers to eat in hopes that that would help, but when Simon had to turn s/v Hope into the wind to take the sails down, the boat motion slowed dramatically, and that was enough to put Barry over the rail.  Good thing he only had crackers and water on his tummy!  After the fact, he was able to lie down and rest.  The waves and wind were easing off by this point, and I started feeling much better myself as the afternoon wore on.
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One man down
By the time we finally made our way to the Placencia fuel dock, the wind had died down quite a bit, and the sea state was much more comfortable.  We were treated to a gorgeous sunset as we motored down the lagoon.  We were about 1.5 hours behind schedule, Simon said.  
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Ruthie and Chunky at Placencia fuel dock
Since we were running behind schedule, Simon told us he would only anchor for about an hour in Placencia to make it easier to eat dinner.  Then we would continue motoring through the night to San Pedro.  We pulled out most of what was left in the fridge and had a large buffet so that we could eat up as much of the food as possible, since this would be our last dinner on board.  We still had a lot of Ruthie's delicious Italian Sunday Gravy pasta dish and various cheeses. Unfortunately we were very low on bread as much of it had molded along the way.  But there were plenty of Ruthie's high-test brownies, so no one went hungry.
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These were indescribably delicious -- and dangerous!
Simon asked for three of us to serve a four-hour night watch each so that he and Clive could rotate resting and captaining the boat all night long on the way back to San Pedro.  The night watch person's duties were to keep the captain awake and help in any other way requested.  We headstrong crew members (I guess we were now official crew since we were going to do night watches!) decided amongst ourselves that four of us would serve a three-hour watch each instead and let Barry sit (sleep) this one out since he had been sick.  It was easier to divide twelve hours by four than by five anyway.  

Bruce took the first evening shift, Chunky and Ruthie generously volunteered for the "o-dark-thirty" shifts, and I took the 4:30 am to 7:30 am slot.  I figured this way I could hit the hay early and also catch the morning sunrise as we sailed up the Belize coast.  Barry and I were in bed by 9 pm, if not earlier.  It's hard to even remember after a day like this!

Stay tuned for Guatemala Cruise Day 5:  Return to San Pedro