Flower on wall at Beaches & Dreams
This was our third full day in Hopkins and supposed to be a rest day after two tough days of hiking in the heat and humidity, but it didn't turn out to be very restful! Still, it was a fun day and gave us a chance to see more of Hopkins, finally.
I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog (because we forgot to take a photo) that Angela made us some absolutely melt-in-your-mouth blueberry pancakes for breakfast on Thursday. We hadn't had pancakes in an awfully long time, so they went down really, really easy. And she served them with real -- yes real -- maple syrup. Don't see that too often in Belize. Yum!
Today we were back to scrambled eggs, English muffins, and fruit, which was excellent as well. We were delighted to see mango and kiwi on the fruit plate for the first time. She also served us yogurt every day. These were really excellent breakfasts, especially for being included in our room rate.
Loads of fresh fruit
A lovely plate
This guy loves a big breakfast
After breakfast we headed down the road south a bit doing some casual bird-watching.
Walking like a local in bare feet
We were joined by a couple of dogs who seemed fierce at first -- a Rottie and a Pittie -- but ended up being friendly and just wanted to walk along with us.
We spotted some excellent birds including this Black-Headed Trogan and a while bunch of chatty Olive-Breasted Parakeets. We'd seen both before, but we never mind seeing them again.
We also met one of the cutest puppies you'd ever hope to see. Just tell me this little guy isn't adorable?
Isn't he precious?
We did relax after our walk -- but only for a few minutes.
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Hanging with the owner's pooch in front of our room -- he LOVED this frisbee!
We knew we wanted to try the pizza at Driftwood Pizza Shack, after reading how good it was on Sharon Hiebing's blog
. Our taxi driver from the previous day, Julian, had given us an idea -- why not take a kayak up? It seemed like a pretty long way, but the Caribbean was nice and calm in the late morning, so we figured we'd give it a try. One of the kayaks available at Beaches & Dreams was a tandem, so we grabbed that bad boy and took off.
View of resorts at False Sittee Point -- so peaceful
Once we got to Hopkins Village, local boys on a surfboard paddled over to say hi and have their photo taken
When we got north of the village, where we knew the pizza place was, I started looking at any possible places along the shore through my binoculars. Before too long we spotted the sign and surfed in to the sand. The wind was up a bit from when we left, and thus the waves were starting to kick up a bit.
And here we are!
Driftwood Pizza Shack
It only took us 55 minutes to paddle up there, so we were a little early for lunch. There were two local ladies working at the shack, and they didn't seem to mind that we arrived before their advertised opening time of noon. They were happy to take our order and serve us a cold drink. We had a great place to sit under a palapa.
Here's the menu (all prices in Belize dollars, divide by 2 for US dollars):
And here's what we ordered (medium size):
Here are some of the interesting sights around us as we waited for our pizza.
Belizean version of air hockey, I guess!
Canoe with stick drive
LOVED this sign!
It took awhile, but our pizza was worth waiting for. It had a crispy thin crust and was really, really good. Thanks, Sharon, for the recommendation!
Doesn't get much better than this!
As I mentioned, the wind had started kicking up a bit as we finished up our paddle. During the time we were waiting for and then eating our pizza, it kicked up even more. By the time we got ready to leave, it was seriously choppy out there. Even worse, the wind direction was southeast, so we'd be paddling into the wind the entire way back. I was not looking forward to it.
The sea was angry that day, my friend...
Barry snapping photos of the surf with a new friend
I won't lie, it was a TOUGH paddle back. Very tough. It's not like we've been paddling a lot lately, though we have been lifting some home-made milk jug & sand weights (mostly Barry) and doing yoga (me). Still, nothing makes you a stronger paddler than actually paddling, and we just haven't done that much since arriving in Belize. We actually had to resort to tacking so we wouldn't get buffeted by the swells coming directly abeam (like our sailorly term?!) So we paddled a lot farther on the way back in addition to fighting the wind and waves. My shoulders were screaming, and by the end, even Barry was hurting and getting cranky.
We thought that Beaches & Dreams had the very last dock and palapa in False Sittee Point and had been aiming for that from a long way north. Just when we thought we couldn't possibly paddle another stroke, Barry looked over and realized we were THERE. It was the third palapa up from the end, not the last one! Whew! Never have I been so glad to be "home". We wasted no time in making a hard right turn and surfing FAST (no paddling needed in these waves) to the sandy shore. It had taken about twice as long getting back as it had getting to the pizza place, and I think I'd burned off all the pizza I'd eaten (two slices) by the time we pulled up on the sand.
But we were on a roll now, so why stop and take it easy? Instead, we decided to walk up the beach a bit on a reconnaissance mission to scout out a place for dinner. We had read in a Hopkins tourism brochure that the restaurant at Belizean Dreams resort had quesadillas and burritos, which are two of our favorites, so we decided to check it out. Turns out it was the northernmost resort on False Sittee Point, but still only a short walk for us.
It was a nice stretch of beach to walk on
We talked with the bartender out by the pool at Belizean Dreams, who told us that the restaurant didn't open until 6:30. Huh? That's pretty late for a beach-front restaurant. We were going to leave, but he insisted on running into the restaurant to see if they could accommodate us earlier. Since we had an early lunch and so much exercise, we knew we'd be starving well before 6:30. Sure enough, they could take us at 5:30. When he told us what they were serving that night, though, lobster pasta, we again were about to pass. We'd just had seafood pasta the night before
, so we were really hoping for a little Tex-Mex. But once again he insisted on running inside to ask the chef if they could accommodate us with some quesadillas. The bartender came back out with the news that they could do that. Very accommodating, that's for sure! So, we decided to come back later for dinner.
But first, it was now or never if we were going to explore Hopkins Village. So, it was time to grab a beach bike and go for a ride. See, I told you this "rest" day wasn't very restful!
Eat your heart out, bike club friends -- you could be riding this fine steed!
I was lucky to snag one of the newer -- not yet rusted -- members of the fleet
We rode from False Sittee Point all the way to the north end of Hopkins Village (as far as the road went). We ran into the couple we'd met at the bus station on Tuesday in the village and stopped to chat with them for a few minutes. The road was bumpy in places, and my upper body was feeling really fatigued after the tough paddle earlier. I was kinda glad when the bike ride came to an end and we could truly just relax. This had certainly been one active vacation.
The end of the line in north Hopkins Village
Hopkins Belize Humane Society in False Sittee Point
After the bike ride it was time to clean up and get ready to walk up the beach for our old folks' "early bird special". But first, a little swing in the hammock.
When we got to the restaurant, they weren't actually ready for us at 5:30. They said they just needed to sweep the floor, so we ended up going to the bar for a Happy Hour rum punch. They weren't actually ready for us until nearly 6pm. That was some thorough floor sweeping! But, it was okay because there was live music at the pool and bar area, and the weather was great.
Musician singing and playing keyboard
When we were called into the restaurant, they were already serving our chicken quesadillas, and we were the only ones eating dinner. There were plenty of guests at the resort, but they were busy drinking and hanging out in the pool. So we had the restaurant to ourselves. The food was delicious, but the air-conditioning was way too cold, detracting from the meal a bit. Service was excellent -- I guess it would be, since we were the only ones there. Our server even went out to the bar to check on our much-delayed second rum punches. I guess the bartender had gotten busy and forgotten, but she managed to fetch them up for us!
Can you tell I'm shivering? Brrrrrrrrrrr....
They were offering carrot cake as the nightly dessert, so of course we had to indulge. The cake was warm, moist, and delicious. Notice the amount of icing compared to what you'd get in the US. I missed the icing, but I realize this was much better for me!
While we were finishing up dinner, a local Garifuna drumming and dancing group started playing. These guys were great and very representative of the traditional culture in Hopkins Village, home of the Lebeha Drumming Center
, where new generations of village children learn the traditional skills. We really enjoyed listening to them and were glad we decided to dine at Belizean Dreams, definitely the place to be on a Friday night!
After an easy stroll back down the beach and some good conversation in the Beaches & Dreams palapa over the water, we went back to the room to pack up for our early trip home the next morning. We'd have to catch the 7 am bus to Dangriga in Hopkins Village, and since we'd missed Tony and Angela, who were heading out to eat right as we got back from our dinner, we left them a note on their gate about morning arrangements and crossed our fingers that they'd find it when they arrived home....
[To be continued]