Let me just preface this post by telling you that I had no idea how exhausted I would be trying to keep up with 12 other people on a cruise for an entire week. I didn't do a very good job of pacing myself early in the week, so by Day 3 of the cruise (which was actually Day 4 of our trip if you count the drive to New Orleans on Saturday) I was running on fumes.
Belize was completely different than Mexico. The entire coast is surrounded by coral reefs, so large ships can't dock there. We had to anchor about 5 miles away and take smaller boats (called tenders) to the shore.
When we got off the tender and out of the terminal...which was surrounded by armed guards...the Rods worked their magic and found us a driver for the day, although our Spanish speaking friends weren't as much of an advantage in Belize. The official language of the country is English, but many people speak Creole, so there was a lot of negotiating happening in a language none of us understood.
We climbed into a slightly less comfortable van than the one we had been in in Cozumel and headed off on our adventure. About 45 minutes into the trip, and only halfway to the cave tubing experience of a lifetime, on a two lane back road, our van started to overheat. The driver turned off the air conditioner thinking that might help his van, but it only made all of us really really hot. Less than 5 miles later, big puffs of white smoke started coming out of the engine. The only sign of civilization was this little yellow house. Our driver hopped out along with all the other men in the van, and they all gathered around the engine. A few minutes later, this man in a white hat and stripey pants showed up out of nowhere with a huge container of water. I seriously have no idea where he came from, but we were so grateful he did. He poured the water in, did some other mysterious auto repair stuff, and then walked off into the jungle in his stripey pants. And once again, the van and all 14 of us were on our way to our adventure.
By the time we got to the cave tubing location, which looked more than a little bit questionable from the outside, it was close to 11:00. Our time in Belize was shorter than in the other ports, and with a 30 minute tender ride back to the ship, I was feeling a little tense about the length of time we were taking with this adventure. (And I may not have been super excited about cave tubing in the first place.) An hour later, we were barely getting a guide and equipment (head lamps, water shoes and life jackets.) And then we had to carry the tubes and all of our gear a mile down to the river.
The jungle was really beautiful and so were the caves. We saw bats, cave formations, flowers, fish, and gorgeous birds. The water was pretty and clear and felt really good after hiking a mile in the hot, humid tropical weather. And our guide was awesome. He knew everything about every part of the jungles of Belize and even though I tried really hard to stay mad, it was impossible not to be fascinated by the whole thing.
I opted to TAKE this picture instead of being in it because I was still pretty grumpy and worried about getting back to the ship on time, but you can see by all those smiles that everyone else loved it. This group might be slightly more adventurous than I am.
If I could go back and do the week over again, I think I would have opted to stay on the ship during Belize and go with the group into Honduras the next day. It was overwhelming for me and not my favorite port for lots of reasons, not just because I was grumpy. But it was different and interesting to see a different part of the world, and amazing to see the jungle from that perspective in the middle of the river.