Sunday, March 20, 2011


3/3/11 From the Colorado winter chill to tropical beach – two moderate commercial flights and one flight in a 20 foot “sardine can” plane and we arrive on Ambergris Caye in Belize, The town is San Pedro an island town famous for scuba diving on the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world where the main transportation method is golf carts not cars. We stayed at the Royal Caribbean (fancy name for a big movie set of Easter egg painted cabanas). The people are all very friendly and greet us warmly. Even the lady clerk at the local corner grocery store took both of her hands to shake hands with us and introduce her family. They eat rice and beans with chicken stew. The prices are about the same as the states. That evening we had fish on a beach side resort/hotel.

3/4/11 On our first dive we saw some big rays and beautiful blue angelfish in the water because of the white sand beneath. Afterwards, mom took a break while I went on the 2nd dive. BEST Dive ever. The dive master netted some sardines for bait and filled a porous container to take on the dive. The bait worked and it attracted about 8 large huge nurse sharks, two moray eels, and several large groupers. The dive master taught us how to approach the sharks with a hand on their belly and dorsal fin and then flip them over of rub their tummy’s just like a dog that loves to be scratched. The dive master wooed a 12 foot shark with this method as we ascended to the surface and his buddy teased him that he gets more action from the shark than his girlfriend. We stopped at a little roadside stand where our cook was wearing big pink curlers and sent the other cook on her bicycle to get paper napkins. That night we went on a night dive where we saw more big rays and a big green eel and lots of big groupers. It's kind of eerie when they ask you to shut off your flashlights and you are in the dark. We planted one light on the sand pointing up and all these little blood worms were attracted to the light, Then these colorful small fish came by to eat the blood worms, then the larger fish came to eat the smaller fish and the critters kept getting bigger the longer we watched. So fascinating to watch the food chain appear.
I went diving all day to the Blue Hole, Lighthouse reef, and Half moon caye with sharks and groupers. The Blue Hole was a 140 ft. dive down to a cave formation. We were swimming in and out of these massive stalactites and stalagmites. Down that far and for that long I started feeling a bit of nitrogen narcosis, but not enough to kiss any sharks. At the second dive site a turtle came right up to my face and I touched its back On the 3rd dive we did a wall called the Aquarium. It’s a small rock formation and tons of colorful fish. On the way back we saw a flock of birds diving at the surface. The tuna had circled sardines and that attracted several large Mako sharks. These guys were about 10 to 15 ft and are man eating sharks they were so crazed they were coming out of the water chasing the sardines.. Then a 25 ft. whale shark swam by and all the divers went nuts to get in the water. The boat was rocking in the huge waves and people were running all over the deck slipping and falling - grabbing masks, fins, and snorkels to get in the water with that whale shark. It was so dangerous and so fun. Forget those silly Mako sharks we want to swim with a whale shark. I got in but we didn’t see the whale shark while in the water.

Mom went shopping and got a great shell necklace and found an outlet store with t-shirts for $2.50. That night we ate at the most amazing restaurant in Belize, the "Hidden Treasure" The fish was in an amazing sauce made of cream, butter, Parmesan and white wine. Then they served true coconut pie for dessert. Thick fresh coconut.

3/6 We squeezed back into that tiny plane and flew back to Belize City. To save a few bucks we rented a Hyundai at the airport. About 5 minutes from the airport we hit a nasty pothole and it cracked the fiberglass rim. After a $150 repair we got a 4 wheel drive truck, so much for saving a few bucks. We went to Atun Ha. I learned that on one side of each plaza the Mayans created an acoustical effect that enabled the Priesthood leader to stand a top the temple mount and speak to thousands without shouting. Tracy was on top of the temple talking normally and I stood several football fields away and heard her like she was standing next to me. We read from Mosiah 2:1-6, about a similar event from the past.. We had fun telling out guide about the BOM. The poverty In Belize City was shocking. An incredibly poorly maintained city with very few services. Don’t ever need to visit that city again. Did see an interesting kite festival.

3/7 We saw the Belize zoo and got our foreheads licked by a Jaguar. We also went cave tubing. It was so other worldish to be in this dark cave and hear a waterfall ahead and come around this corner to see the sunlight from another opening lighting up this patch of jungle. It was out of a Jurassic Park movie set and so primal. I could see why the Mayan called it the fertility cave because of the interesting phallus like limestone formations.

3/8 Even though I’ve never had a good experience riding horses, We stayed at the Banana Beach Ranch where they do "horse whispering". We rode our horses through the beautiful lush jungle by the river. We galloped and I stayed on and actually kind of enjoyed it! We took the afternoon and drove down to Punta Gorda. The beach is not lovely here, in fact they get a lot of garbage from Honduras, but we stayed back up in the hills in these little huts. We ate at the Mangrove and had delicious shrimp and conch fritters. We stayed with Bruno who is an enterprising German who build cabanas for tourists and is a cave guide. He became a fast friend and wanted us to move there to help him with several business enterprises.
3/9 We went to Eliadio Pop’s cacao plantation in San Pedro Columbia. Eliadio was so proud of his farm and his 15 kids. His 30 acres had 3 kinds of cacao and mangoes that he planted, limes and palms. We watched them dry roast the cacao beans, dry roast them and then squish them with a rock and grind them into a paste. They made this dark chocolate drink that was pretty amazing. It was the same a CoCo Samoa and I loved it. We saw Labam tuun and Mayan ruin that is famous for a crystal scull that was found there. We visited a chocolate factory and fell in love with Belizean chocolate bars. Tracy made me eat several on the trip (actually I had to have at least one chocolate bar a day)

3/10 We went with Bruno and Silliano (Eliadio's half brother) into 2 cave systems. TIGER CAVE - The first cave had wonderful limestone formations. We even found Mayan pottery pieces.

We were in the dark for hours, way way in the bowels of the earth. My little helmet flashlight went out and I thought….humm It’s really dark down here and there’s big deep holes to fall into and sharp rocks cutting my hands. We saw big spiders and eels and what was that low growling sound? There must be a reason they call it Tiger cave!.

After an hour we came into a huge limestone cavern and the sun rays shone down through the roof. I stood in the light and it was amazing. It felt like the world was working to keep us in the dark and stumbling around but the Savior is this incredible source of light that brings warmth and safety to us.

The 2nd cave was called Blue Creek. It was like home for me, we swam almost the entire way through the cave. It also had awesome limestone formations. These areas are pretty much undeveloped to tourists and so we named some of the formations for them. I loved this rough and raw experience in these ancient caves.

3/11/11 We drove and stayed in a beautiful beach town named Placencia, not as developed as San Pedro. I seriously wanted to buy a lot and build a vacation house here, but you have to pay all cash.

3/12/11 I went diving and saw the largest nurse shark ever, easy an 18 footer. There were also turtles and a gorgeous massive eagle ray. Mom had fun finishing a Mistborn book on the beach and checking out all the jewelry in the 2 shops.

3/13/11 The last day and we went for one last adventure before heading home. We went to the Mayflower National Park. It was a dramatic hike through the jungle to a 140 ft waterfall. I got too carried away and lost mom in the jungle. Actually she was on the right trail and I was off climbing through the vines and underbrush. I paid a price for veering off the right path and the pool at the top of the hike wasn’t the sweet cool refreshing rest we wanted. We got home at midnight and return to work……bummer.


Celeste said...

Wow, dad what an amazing trip! I wish I could have been there, so mom could make me eat a chocolate bar a day.

Tracy Barrand said...

I loved this trip. I am so lucky to be married to you! It was great! Why did you leave out the really important parts about buying jewelry?

Anonymous said...

This adventure sounds like it will have a movie made about it one day. I think there would definitely be more emphasis and product placement with the chocolate bars, and it would be a conspiracy movie. set in space.