Monday, August 15, 2011

Sharks and shitty hotels

My sister Katie and her boyfriend Paul came into Belize on Friday last week.  As soon as I picked them up from the airport, we headed out to San Pedro for a weekend at the beach.

Our hotel was a complete disaster.  My sister found it online and it shouldn't have been so bad, but it was just awful.  We should have known it was bad when our cab driver didn't know where the hotel was.  When we finally found it (we had driven right past it, but there was no sign), the pool was cordoned off and 1/4 full.  We only agreed to stay there because they said the pool would be filled later that afternoon (it wasn't).  Filling the pool ruined our water pressure and we still didn't have water after we got back from snorkeling the next day.  We finally gave up and switched hotels.  If you are coming to San Pedro, I do not recommend the Tides Beach Resort.

What wasn't a disaster was our snorkeling trip.  I had previously used the snorkel guide Lil' Alphonse and I made sure we used him again.  While almost every snorkel trip takes you to the same two spots (Hol Chan and Shark-Ray alley), Lil Alphonse does more than just drive the boat.  In Hol Chan, you swim just above the reef and thousands of fish are visible.  As you swim along, Lil Alphonse points out the fish and then tells you what kind of fish it is.  He knows so much about these fish that he can tell you whether it is young or old, male or female, whether it can change colors and what colors it can change into.  Now, I will be the first to admit that I have no idea if he is telling us the truth, but he sure sounds like he knows what is talking about (which is what is really important with a tour guide).

Amazingly, shark-ray Alley is even more amazing than Hol Chan.  Although the spot is nothing more than a sandy area, dozens of sharks and sting rays hang out there.  (I am sure it has almost everything to do with all the guides chumming the water and feeding the sharks and rays).  The sharks are all nurse sharks and the highlight is Alphonse diving down and pulling one of the sharks up to the surface.  Then, he will let you pet or even hold the shark.  It is so awesome to hold a shark.  The skin is a weird texture.  Almost like the dimpled texture of an artificial basketball.

The rest of the trip was pretty awesome as well.  The band that I really like was playing at Fidos.  The food, as always, was amazing.  The nachos at the Sunset Grill were to die for.  The lobster, shrimp and fish were all fantastic.  I did two pretty cool dives on Sunday morning and I got to hang out with my sister and her boyfriend.

(Note: my sister brought a disposable water camera - so we will have pictures of me holding the shark once she gets it developed).

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