Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Friday, May 15, 2009

That's it! I'm leaving this country!

Not to sound like a Baldwin, or Streisand, or anything. Frankly, as I don't consider myself the star of my own movie, if I were leaving for political reasons, I wouldn't say so here; I'd just go. And just as frankly, with Barry O' in office, I actually have more incentive to stick around and keep a sharp eye on my money.

But go I shall, and soon. My wife and I are taking our first vacation in 6 years, and it is to be our very first international vacation together.

See, last year, we got the hunger to go afield so badly, that we applied for and received our very first passports. I was shocked, once I finally did it, how easy it was. I had built it up in my head into this mammoth task that would take months and many hundreds of dollars to overcome. Instead, I took my docs with me to the post office, and stood in one short line, and after I had paid my state department fee and my post office fee, I was ushered back to get my picture taken. One-stop shopping! I was grinning so big when I signed for my receipt, that the guy across the desk shook my hand and said "Congratulations." To be honest? It wasn't funny to me. I felt like a citizen of the world all of a sudden.

I got my passport in the mail less than two weeks later. (I'm serious. There are areas of the government that seem capable of some efficiency.)

So my bride and I found that, by some oversight or other, we had managed to accumulate enough money to go on vacation. When my father and step-mother offered to take the kids off of our hands for a week, we said, "Take 'em!" and then set to planning.

My bride wanted a cruise. But having read the Atomic Nerds' experiences, I was kind of cautious about putting myself on a ship where I was to be unarmed, and relinquishing control of my destiny. All of the cruises gave you less than a day at each port. Knowing that a full hour would likely be devoted to disembarking at each port, this time seemed to me to be too short.

So we looked at some places to go. I threw out the idea of Belize. My wife challenged me with, "Fine. Do it."

So I did it. 7 days in Belize. While I do have some serious plans to be repeatedly served drinks on a beach by gracious Latinas with British accents, I still want to see culture, ruins, and I want to sunburn my butt whilst I snorkel the reefs.

So here's my request, gentle readers: From your own experiences, please give me some pointers, some must-sees, and some for-Gawd's-sake-stay-away-froms. I'm NOT a regular traveler, and I'm not too proud to take notes.

"Under the shade I flourish." I can handle that motto.

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At Friday, May 15, 2009 12:03:00 PM, Blogger FarmGirl said...

Mamaw and step grandpa went in '98, first thing that comes to mind is be aware that in Belize, there is such a thing as "fresh drop" in restaurants. So long as it doesn't lay on the floor, food is good if dropped and picked right up.

Secondarily, Mamaw says must see-

JB's Watering Hole, Mile 32 Western Highway, Belmopan. (She made some good friends that she still corresponds with occasionally in the owners of this place. They get her "good people" vote.)

Tobacco Caye, a tiny little island that's pretty as all get out.

Mayan Ruins, the Ancient Maya City of Xunantunich

She says to get the real feel of the place, whatever direction you want to go, just go stand in the road and wait. The bus going that direction will stop, and you can get a true experience. Your bus ticket entitles you to so many pounds (she doesn't recall, thirty or fifty or something) and there are no restrictions on what makes up that poundage, so you might get to sit next to a goat!

"No highway patrol, and the city cops ride bicycles."

I'm reading that to say that it's pretty tough to get in trouble in Belize.


Don't buy anything from the kids with the chiclets at the Mayan ruins.

She also says it's worth puttering on over into Guatemala, but the salesmen were more pushy there, so beware.


At Friday, May 15, 2009 12:05:00 PM, Anonymous LabRat said...

Just one: Belize, along with the rest of Central America, is botfly territory. Human infestations are rare, but all the same I'd bring a canister of Tiger Balm to put on any bug bites you get. Aside from being nice and soothing, it's very heavily larded with camphor oil, which should kill any eggs that happen to get left in bites.

And this is what happens when you ask a biologist for travel advice.

At Friday, May 15, 2009 4:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Belize is a beautiful country. Snorkel, sample the local cuisine (and liquor), and visit the jungles. My recommendation, if you are of a mind, is fishing. Apparently, they have some good Bonefishing down there. A fun fish to get after. Tricky to snag, but good to eat. Have fun and bring back photos!!!

At Friday, May 15, 2009 4:42:00 PM, Anonymous Bill said...

Excellent choice! Home of the worlds only jaguar preserve. Here are some links that I am fairly sure you have already looked at:

If I were you I would protect myself from the many dangerous animals while visiting. Perhaps some 3 wolf shirts?

At Friday, May 15, 2009 8:17:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Fixit said...

For goodness sake, make sure you were the absolut highest spf sunblock you can find, like 50 or better.

Last cruise we went on to Cozumel and Plya Del Carma, just sitting in the shade of an umbrella on the beach for less than 4 hours gave me 2nd degree burns.

And yes they were 2nd degree. I know.

Other than that have fun, lots of photos.

Mr Fixit

At Friday, May 15, 2009 8:53:00 PM, Blogger MauserMedic said...

Here's a Do Not....Do Not smoke one of the locally made cigars; they smell like a hog lot, and that's before being lit.

At Saturday, May 16, 2009 1:18:00 AM, Blogger Strings said...

Can't help with Belize. However, if you decide to try for another "out of country experience", try Thailand.

When we went in '02, 17 days (4 people, eating well and staying in one of the best hotels in Pataya) came to something like $7K (including souvineers)...

At Saturday, May 16, 2009 1:22:00 AM, Anonymous Brian Dale said...

It's not Belize-specific; I've never been there, but I've traveled:

Always have a pen or two and something to write on. 3x5 spiral notebooks will do; bigger and better notebooks are good if you like those.

Drink plenty of water; if the locals drink bottled water in a particular town, then you do, too.

Try local fruit, and farmer's markets can be a real treat.

Lonely Planet and Let's Go guide books have been useful to me.

Most people are good. You'll enjoy meeting some of them.

Have fun!

At Saturday, May 16, 2009 2:36:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Thailand sounds great, and the price sounds terrific. But right now, I'm getting 8 days for two for under $2k, which ain't bad. :)

At Saturday, May 16, 2009 2:48:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

"Most people are good. You'll enjoy meeting some of them.".
Oh, sir! I pray that I've not given the impression that I feel any other way!!!

I would only alter this to point out that I generally enjoy meeting most of them.

At Saturday, May 16, 2009 11:03:00 AM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

Belize: best hot sauce in the world. And they speak English.


At Saturday, May 16, 2009 7:10:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

DO NOT take anything you cannot afford to lose... Make back up copies of every document, including your passports and keep them with you in a pouch. Tell your wife to be very careful with her purse, and always keep a hand on it. The moto boys (on scooters) will come by and do a grab and go if given the option. Go here- and check out this web site

Oh yeah, and have a good time :-)

At Sunday, May 17, 2009 9:01:00 AM, Anonymous Charlie Jones said...

Congradulations. You don't really appreciate it yet, but if you dive into the culture and really get to know the people, this is going to be a life altering experience. We Americans see ourselves as being worldly. In truth, we are babes in the woods when the geopolitics and culture are concerned. You will find your preconceptions challenged and destroyed. Whats more, the more time you spend overseas, the more you change. I married an off-the-boat Asian, and my intended future has been turned around. My only advice is to always remember, seeing Belize is not seeing the world. Start planning for your next over seas trip the day you get back from this one. You'll understand what I mean once you've done had your first taste.

Oh, you may see a McDonalds or something while there. Resist the urge and walk on bye.

At Monday, May 18, 2009 3:06:00 PM, Blogger mdmnm said...

I've been down a half dozen times or more. Placencia, down at the southern tip of the country, is a good day's drive from Belize City through the Maya Mountains and is a neat, laid back (and very small) place.

San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye, is where most people go. It's a twenty minute flight or a couple of hours on a water taxi and has quite a few places to stay and restaurants. Flights from the municipal airport are a bit less expensive than those from the international airport.

Although the most heavily traveled place, San Pedro is still worthwhile, you can tour Mayan ruins as a day trip for a reasonable price- boat across the lagoon and up a river (maybe see an American crocodile), take a bus down a jungle road, then check out the ruins. Hustler Tours (like the boat, not the magazine) is a good outfit. There is also good bonefishing right outside San Pedro and good guides there. What there isn't much of is beach, since the reef isn't far away and there isn't much time to build up a lot of waves.

I haven't spent much time in Belize City (mostly driving through) and haven't seen much cause to do so. For a first time to Belize, I'd suggest planning on spending most of your time in San Pedro or Caye Caulker, which is nearby and much more laid back (but can also be more expensive).

At Tuesday, May 19, 2009 12:19:00 AM, Blogger jumblerant said...

Belize specific

Do not travel on any jungle paths alone. Tourists have been seen as easy targets there forever and the Police there have little or no presence. You will not be armed (a mojito doesn't count) so stay out of the jungle.

Friends of mine were 'relieved' of their passports and money at machete point.

- - - - - -
General travel advice

Scan the data page of your passports into your computer and email them to your Gmail (or other free online email)account. If your passport does get lost or stolen you have easy access to the details they need at any embassy to get you a new one.

And have a super time!!

At Tuesday, May 19, 2009 12:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring a supply of Betadine wipes and use them on all silverware, especially in remote places. You can get dysentery from table ware that looks clean but was washed with the local cold water.


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