Sunday, September 12, 2010

La Isla Bonita

The highlight for most people of Belize is San Pedro.  On the southern tip of Ambergris Caye - the largest of the cayes - San Pedro is why you come to Belize.  There were five of us on the trip - me, my sister Shelley, and three co-workers.  Friday was a holiday here in Belize (wasn't everyone celebrating the 212th Anniversary of the  Battle of St. George's Caye?), so we flew from the municipal airport in Belize City.  The plane held 14 people and my sister rode in the co-pilot's seat!

Like everything in Belize, the island is small.  San Pedro  itself consists of three main streets running north and south with a few side streets connecting them.  There is a limit on the number of cars that can be on the island, so everyone drives around in golf carts.  South of town, there are string of beach front resorts.  North of town, there are fewer resorts, but some more residences and restaurants.  That's it.  We were staying at Caribbean Villas Resort, where we actually had the place to ourselves (this is the lowest part of low season).  They had a pool and a beach, but like most beaches in Belize, the ocean floor is covered in sea grass making swimming off the shore unpleasant.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the food.  I have had a few okay meals in Belize and no respect to my friend who owns the local pizza joint, but there is really nothing here to write home about.  Well, apparently all of the culinary talents are in San Pedro.  Without a doubt the four best meals I've had in Belize were this past weekend in San Pedro.  At the Blue Water Grill, I had the mixed grill, which consisted of grilled lobster, snapper, and shrimp, served over garlic mashed potatoes with grilled zucchini.  It was awesome!  I also had lobster tail stuffed with crab and shrimp, beer-battered fried shrimp, stuffed jalapeños, steak quesodilla, and homemade chips and salsa.

The food highlights weren't limited to the restaurants.  As I've mentioned before, the grocery stores leave much to be desired.  But, in San Pedro we found the best grocery store that I have seen in Belize.  It was outrageously expensive ($7.50 US for a box of golden grahams), but they had so many things we can't find in Belmopan (or even Belize City).  They had Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper, a full array of candy, frozen pizza, lemon juice, hollandaise sauce mix, creamy horseradish, A-1 steak sauce, actual produce.  It was phenomenal.  We literally went there everyday we were in San Pedro.

The true highlight of the trip was snorkeling with Lil Alphonse.  A co-worker had recommended him to my cousins a few months ago and they loved him, so I made sure that we booked with him.  It was unbelievable. We first went to Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  Before we even got in the water, we could see a couple sea turtles and hundreds of silvery fish called 'jacks.'  We saw so many fish, it would be impossible for me to remember them all.  The most memorable were the grouper, the moray eel swimming along the bottom, barracudas, and the spotted eagle rays, which are apparently very rare.  Alphonse was so great because he really guided us through the reef.  I don't know the difference between two fish, but he was able to explain everything to us despite the fact we were under water.

After Hol Chan Park, we went to Shark Ray Alley, which gets its name from the numbers of sharks and sting rays that populate the area.  After he chummed the water, there were hundreds of the jack fish and a half dozen nurse sharks and rays.  Alphonse was able to grab the animals and bring them over to us.  I HELD A SHARK!  It was much meatier and denser than I expected - very muscular, which probably shouldn't have surprised me but I did.  The sting rays - the very same kind that killed the Steve Irwin - were very slimy on top and very dry on the bottom.  It was very cool.

No comments:

Post a Comment