Today is our month-a-versary, and I think I’ve just about convinced Jose that we should eat at least a little bit of our wedding cake tonight. I mean, we’ve got this huge cake top that by many accounts will be gross if we actually wait until our first anniversary to open it. And it was good cake! I want more! But whether we open the cake or not, it also seems like a good time to post the honeymoon recap! So here we go…
After we decided to go to Belize, we chose the Turtle Inn on a recommendation from friends that stayed there a few years ago for their own honeymoon. Randomly, it’s owned by Francis Ford Coppola — he has three resorts in Belize (and they all serve wines from his vineyard). There was so much going on for the wedding that, unlike for any other trip I’ve ever taken, I hardly thought about our honeymoon at all. Once we bought the plane tickets and made the reservation at the resort, I didn’t think about it again until the day after the wedding, when we both realized we need to, you know, PACK. We were up pretty late that night.
Our flight left IAH at 9:00 a.m. on Memorial Day. It was only two hours from Houston to Belize City, and we quickly got through customs and went to find the checkin for our next short flight to Placencia. It was 10:55 when we walked up to the desk, and the girl cheerfully asked “would you like to switch from the 12:20 flight to the 11:00 flight?” We looked at our watches. The girl assured us we’d have enough time, and of course we did — it took only a minute to walk through the metal detector and into the small terminal. There were only half a dozen gates, and this was our plane:
Tropic Air plane, capable of carrying ~10 passengers
Our puddle-jumper flight was very exciting, and a great start to the trip. About halfway to Placencia, we stopped to let a man and his son off the plane. The runway was a thin dirt strip, and there was no building — just a metal pole and white tarp tent. The man and his son hopped into a pickup that was waiting for them and off they went, while we just turned around and took off in the opposite direction. The pilot used every last inch of runway, and we left the ground just before running into the grass.
On final approach to Placencia airstrip
The landing in Placencia was similarly exciting. The runway (paved this time) is visible in the middle of that picture. It spans the entire width of the Placencia peninsula; in fact, the dirt road juts out to go around the end of the runway, and there are stop signs cautioning drivers to check for airplanes before crossing.
Our pilot skillfully landed the plane on a runway no wider than a typical neighborhood street. Actually, it probably wasn’t even that wide, now that I think about it. Jose and I were duly impressed with the pilot’s landing skills. We hopped out of the plane. The Tropic Air terminal in Placencia was slightly better than a tent; it was a trailer. We were told the trailer was a recent upgrade from the shack that used to be there. There were two other people on our flight that were also going to the Turtle Inn, so the van was already waiting to take us the half mile down the road to the Inn.
We had to wait a couple more hours for our cabana to be ready, since we’d arrived early, but that was no problem — we just relaxed, ate some lunch at the beach bar, and admired the blue, blue, VERY VERY blue water.
The cabana was worth the wait. It had an awesome screened front porch with comfy wicker chairs and a wooden couch. The room itself was spacious and comfy, and since they knew it was our honeymoon, there was a giant heart made out of flower petals on the bed. 😉 The bathroom was similarly incredible with a cool open-air shower/tub. Finally, we had our own private garden in the back, complete with an outdoor shower where the water poured out of a piece of bamboo.
By the time we finally got into our cabana, we were exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before, and we crashed for about three hours. When we woke up, it was starting to get dark already! This was partly due to clouds rolling in — something that happened almost every afternoon, though it didn’t rain a drop until our last night there. Turns out that Belize is on central time, does not follow daylight savings time, and is south of Alabama (that would be east of Houston) so the sunrise/sunset times were not what we are used to. The sun set around 6:00 in the evening and rose around 5:00 in the morning! The shifted daylight hours, combined with the activities, which all began at 8:00, we quickly adopted a much different schedule than the one we follow at home. We got up each day around 6:30, and fell asleep every night around 10:00!
We were both hungry for dinner when we woke up from our nap, so we made reservations at one of the three restaurants at the resort. The one we chose was on the beach just feet away from the ocean, and it was the perfect “welcome to Belize” meal. We ate seafood, coconut rice, and even coconut gelato, washed it down with tropical drinks, and looked at the stars — which were everywhere, thanks to the lack of ambient light from any nearby cities.
We decided to spend our first full day relaxing at the resort by the swimming pool, which itself is only yards from the ocean. For whatever reason (currents? season?) the water right at the beach was overwhelmed with seaweed and sea grass, so we never actually got in the ocean at the resort. (The snorkeling and scuba diving spots were offshore, and those beaches were sparkling and pristine, no sea grass to be found.) Instead, we swam in the pool, which felt fantastic in the middle of the day. This of course meant slathering ourselves up with sunscreen because the sun was BRIGHT and HOT, and on the first day we each missed a couple spots and ended up with some interesting sunburn. Ironically, our backs were fine — which was the part we had done for each other. Where we put on sunscreen ourselves, we slacked off and ended up with red shoulders.
We dragged a couple lounge chairs under a tree and read for a few hours. I had to laugh at our choice of books. I went with a fun read about a guy who got jilted at the altar but decided to go on the honeymoon anyway, taking his brother along. They enjoyed it so much that they sold their homes and traveled the world for almost two years! Jose, by contrast, read a book about biocentrism. I dunno, it’s something physics-y. He liked it. 😉
That evening, we walked the 1.5 miles down the road to the village of Placencia. Being on the road took us away from the shore so there wasn’t much of a breeze. It was hot, and dusty, and there wasn’t much to see so we ended up taking a quick taxi ride every other time we went into town. I don’t know how many people live in Placencia, but it can’t be more than 500 or so. It was a very small but interesting place, with tons of colorful houses. The main road runs along one side of town, and a few hundred yards away on the other side of town is “The Sidewalk.” It’s just that: a sidewalk that runs the length of the village and is the main drag of Placencia. We were a bit disappointed with Placencia, because it seemed we’d come into town at just the wrong time — most of the shops had closed for the evening and everything seemed pretty dead. We did find a restaurant and enjoyed more fish for dinner (and in subsequent trips to town, we timed it a bit better to be there when stores were open).
On our second full day, we decided it was time to head offshore and do some snorkeling! I just realized I haven’t uploaded those photos to Flickr yet, so I will pause the recap here. Come back tomorrow to hear all about snorkeling!