Monday, September 6, 2010

Closed for September

My sister Shelley got to Belize on Saturday.  I picked her up at the airport around 11 and then met Brianne and Aaron for lunch in Belize City.  First, we stopped at Premium Wine and Liquor to pick up some duty-free wine, then we went to Riverside Cafe for lunch, and then to Save-U to go to a real (sort of) grocery store.  Now, I have been to Belize City 3 times.  Once was to pick up my car at the port.  The other time was when we went to watch the World Cup and pick up my mom from the airport.  Two of the three times I have been in Belize City, I went to the exact same four places (airport, Riverside, Premium Wine, and Save-U).  I think I need to branch out a bit more.

Saturday night, we just came home and listened to the Nebraska game.  I am a huge Husker fan and we tried to watch an illegal feed of the game through, but it got shut off after 3 plays. (Note - I would gladly pay someone to be able to watch the game online.  I can watch every single MLB game online, I can get every NFL game (overseas only), I am pretty sure that the NBA and NHL, as well as soccer, golf, tennis, etc. all have methods of watching the games online.  Yet the sport with the most rabid fan base has one of the worst options for watching games on the internet.  This should not be.)  Anyway, Nebraska won pretty big and it was a lot of fun.  Shelley and I then spent the next few hours playing Dominion.

Yesterday, we planned to go to Xunantunich, a near by Mayan ruin.  The site is located about an hour away on the Western highway - not far past San Ignacio.  One of the more interesting aspects of the site is that it is just across the Belize river from the Western Highway.  They don't have a bridge; rather they have a hand-cranked ferry.  The ride is free - although we tipped him a few bucks - but it takes a bit of daring to drive your car on to this contraption.

Once across, we made our way into the park.  After a short hike, we were transported back to another ancient Mayan temple.  Similar to Tikal, the main plaza here features one tall temple and several smaller mounds.  You can climb all the way to the top of the temple on the original stone steps.  When we got up top, we could see a thunderstorm roaring in.  We planned on staying  on the top to let the storm come in, but it took longer than we thought and some annoying Americans joined us up there.  The other great thing is that you can see that Xunantunich is a working archeological site.  There were several small hills near the main temple that even an untrained eye could tell were hiding more ruins.  It would be like "Archeology for Dummies" - anyone with a shovel could find a ruin.
Shelley and I on top of Xunantich with the storm clouds rolling in.
After the ruins, we decided to stop at the Princess Casino in San Ignacio.  My family loves to gamble.  I have been to more casinos than I can count (I actually just spent 10 minutes trying to count and failed).  So, I know a good casino and I know a crappy casino.  One of the worst casinos I ever went to was the first casino I went to.  When I turned 18, there was an Indian casino about 3 and 1/2 hours north of my hometown.  My parents, of course, drove us up there for my birthday.  The place was a dump, but it was the only place I could go.  My parents were ecstatic when we turned 21, so they would never have to go there again.  The casino in San Ignacio reminded me of that casino.  In fact, I swear many of the slot machines were the same exact slot machines they had in Sioux City a decade ago.  But, I managed to spend an hour there and only lose $10 (The machines actually only accept US dollars).

Today, we had planned to go cave tubing.  Our original plan was to go with Cave's Branch, where I did the first cave tubing.  I couldn't get a hold of them until this morning when I found out that they were closed for September.  September is a big holiday month in Belize, as the two biggest national holidays (Battle of St. George's Caye Day and Belize Independence) are both in September.  Combined with the peak of hurricane season and school starting in the US, this is the lowest of the low seasons, so many of the resorts close.  We couldn't get a hold of the other cave tubing company, so we decided to scrap that and head down to Hopkins - a small beach town.

First, we tried to get lunch at Hamanasi resort, but they were closing for September the next day and only had nachos.  They suggested going to Beaches and Dreams, who was also closed for September.  They suggested a less fancy place called "Uh Ga Da" which I believe is Creole for "You gotta."  The food was okay, but by no means outstanding.

We then headed down to the beach - we drove up the road and found another closed resort and they said we could use the beach (really, all beaches in Belize are public beaches, but they were still nice about it).  We had the beach virtually to ourselves.  Two guys walked by as they commuted home from work.  Think about that, their commute home was a walk along the beach.  The water was warm and there were even a few waves.  It was very relaxing.

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