All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
8 AM - We tender in from the ship with no problems to meet our tour rep at the port before the 8:20 meeting time. Here's a good time to interject that the port was pretty dirty and uninspiring to say the least.
8:30 to 9:15 or so - according to our printed reservation the tour was to start at 8:30, but instead we stood around for 45 minutes in front of the tour operator's little open-air office sucking in fumes from three large buses idling nearby while a lot of disorganization and confusion among the tour operator employees went on about us. We finally had to turn into "ugly Americans" as a full hour approached of standing around to demand to know "what the Hell is going on?" Our first answer was "Five meeeenutes! Five meeenutes" which turned out to be 15. Our second time asking and getting the same answer plus the promise that we were going on a "private" tour (which we didn't request). Our reply was that "Well, in six minutes we want our money back" (cash transaction in a Third World country - fat chance of that, but it was our only move). Here's a good time to interject that the little tour operator office was near "the gate" to the rest of Belize City which is fenced off from the port. When we say gate and fence, we don't mean a little white picket one designating the port from the streets beyond, we mean a 20-ft. high medieval-looking thing on rollers that looked like it was designed to keep King Kong's little brother out. Every time this gate rolled open scary-looking hawkers would yell at the tourists standing around to take horse-drawn carriage rides, city tours and other various activities. 9:30 - A very young Belikian named "Jason" was finally assigned to our "private" tour (everyone else got on those buses whose fumes we were were inhaling). Along with us came three giggling Asian college-age girls who had just walked up (must be nice not to wait in bus fumes) another older employee hitching a ride and another young Belikian who was in "training." Jason leads us through the great hulking gate (oh, hooray!) for a 5-minute walk through dirty streets and seedy people staring at us until we reach the van. The van was new...back in the 80's. We climbed aboard and we were off with the announcement that it would be an hour-long drive to the river caves. An hour? It says nothing of that on the website and now we've wasted an hour standing around. We made that point out loud and were told not to worry because we had plenty of time (we would hear this BS many times today). This would be a good time to interject that our cruise ship would leave at 4 PM and the last tender was at 3:30.
11:15 - We finally pull into the park where the caves are located and hop out. We are asked what we want to do first and since we have no idea what is where and how long the tubing and/or zip- lining will take we opt for the tubing. We are marched over to retrieve our old black inner-tubes and smelly head-lamps with weak batteries. Here's a good time to interject that other groups not on a "private" tour had nice new clean modern tubes made just for tubing and that weren't recently on a '91 Nissan Maxima, bright LED head-lamps and even safety helmets. It was a 30-minute-plus walk to the Caves Branch of the Sibun River put-in (that was on the website and expected at least) and along the way we were asked if we wanted to tube through one cave or two - again, we weren't told how long either would take so we just said "ONE!" in unison.