With the departure on New Years Eve day of my youngest son Chris and his wife, Katie, all three of my sons have now visited us on Ambergris Caye in Belize. Ryan was the first, back around Thanksgiving 2014. Brendan, Cami and Brody were here for two wonderful weeks this summer.
My work is done here.
Now all I need do is sit back and wait for each to reach the obvious conclusion: “Man that was fun. Let’s go to Belize again!”
It will happen.
People always come back to Belize. It is just a thing. One visit, however long, is not enough. Especially for family.
Chris and Katie took the long way to the island: a flight to Cancun and buses to Belize City. From there they took a bus to Belmopan and a new eco-resort called Chaya Maya Jungle Lodge from which they explored the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave and donated much blood to the local mosquito population. I was supposed to join them but health issues kept me here on the island. Again! Last year I missed out on the ATM Caves when my son Ryan visited because of a heart issue.
I promise you, ATM, some day. Some day.
We had a whirlwind two days on the island with Chris and Katie, starting with their water taxi ride here on Tuesday from Belize City, a bumpy adventure thanks to the 20-30 mph winds that have been roiling the sea. A nice lunch at Estel’s Dine by the Sea settled their stomachs. Tuesday is trivia night at Coco Loco’s Beach Bar and we did pretty well although, in trivia, there is ONLY first place. We did even better with one of Carmen’s pizzas.
Later, we dragged them up the street for Jam Night at Legends Burger House, which is still trying to regain its footing under new ownership. Fresh paint, a more-open space, remodeled bathrooms and a brand new kitchen are a great start. I assume that, in time, lots of musicians will find their way to the jam that was once the place to be on a Tuesday night.
On Wednesday morning Rose, Katie and Chris took yoga at Ak’Bol Yoga Retreat while I ran errands. We spent the rest of the day at the not-so Secret Beach on the west side of the island. Beautiful weather, clear and clean water and a lightly populated beach — nothing but upside for this adventure. On the way home, a stop at the Truck Stop for dinner, drinks and the sunset. Now that just finished the day off superbly. Thank you, sunset. You never fail.
While Katie returned to Ak Bol the next morning for yoga and Rose returned to work, Chris and I went in search of a boat for some fishing. Chip at Palapa Tours Belize came through with one of our favorite boats, the Lucky Devil for an afternoon trip. For $300 USD, the boat was ours for the entire afternoon. Chip would take us swimming, snorkeling, cruising, and yes, fishing.
But first there was lunch at the terrific new Palapa Bar and Grill on Wet Willie’s Dock in Boca del Rio. Same great owners, same great staff, same great island spirit — just a new location. Chris and Katie hung out in the inner-tubes as we waited for lunch and danced around the raindrops during a brief shower.
Our friends Chunky and Ruth signed on for our cruise and by 2 p.m. Chip, with his young son Franklin, was piloting us through the mangroves to the back of the island. Reef and sea fishing re pretty much out of the question these days with the strong winds kicking up the waves.
On the west side, it is a whole other story. Calm, blue water and bluer skies. But no fish. We started out looking for snapper but they weren’t nearly as hungry as the birds snapping up our bait. So, Chip changed up the game. He but whole sardines on the hooks and began trolling the flats around a mangrove island.
It was quiet going until Ruth broke out the Fireball and moments after Chris took his first sip he had a barracuda on the line. Same thing for Chunky. Now, I’m not saying the barracuda favor Fireball one way or another, just that I wasn’t the only one noticing this coincidence ….
This was out day. Chris and Chunky each took in two barracudas. Katie hooked a good one and almost landed it before the line snapped. Then Katie and Rose almost simultaneously hooked on to barracudas. Six total at the end of the day and lots of smiles all around. Rose came in with the biggest, a 12-to-15-pounder that was nearly as long as she is tall.
Biggest disappointment of the day was that nobody besides Ruth and I had ever heard of the Heart song “Barracuda.”
We took the filets and steaks down to The Office, a popular bar and restaurant on the lagoon side of San Pedro where the kitchen crew turned it into cerviche, fried strips and broiled steaks with slaw and french fries. Quite a feast.
The next morning, Chris, Katie and I made a mad dash down to The Baker so Chris could pick up some of Emily’s delicious British sausage rolls and cinnamon rolls for the trip to Cancun. We’d stopped in the day before that those rolls were weighing heavily on his taste buds.
And like that they were gone, a quick flight to Corozal and the ADO bus from Chetumal to Cancun.
We packed a lot into two day.
I know, because I fell asleep around 5 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 2016.