The third stop on our cruise was Belize City, Belize!!! For this port, majority of the crew signed up to go tubing through Belizean caves. I went tubing last summer in Texas and really enjoyed it so I was up for tubing in Belize. Although I was on vacation, I had to be up at seven so many days to make 8am excursions! By 8am we were on a 20 minute tender ride to the shore. I guess the Belizean shore is shallow so the boat anchored pretty far out. Once on shore, we met with our tour guides who shuttled us on to awaiting charter buses for an hour and half ride to the caves. The ride took us through the city and the countryside allowing us to see how Belizeans live. We saw their ridiculously high gas prices, how their streets are set up and even watched as uniformed children headed to school. Our guides explained that the tourism industry is fairly new to the country so you do not see the impact of the money or American influence just yet. There were no American fast food places, while countries like Grand Cayman had them everywhere. As I saw the homes and how the people live, it reminded me how extremely blessed we are to live in a country like America.
The bus ride went pretty fast. Once we were at the tubing site, we loaded up with our gear. We each were outfitted with a life jacket, a innertube, a helmet and a light to see inside of the dark caves. NEXT, we hiked forty minutes through the forest to the cave site, but first our guide Edmund MADE us take a dip in the water to keep us cool on the hike. While on the bus Edmund told us that we were going to get wet on this excursion because people will splash you. What he did not say was HE would be the one splashing us! That water was ICE cold, but we all went under as instructed so we could get started on this hike. During the hike, our guide pointed out unique things like the Mahogany trees that Belize is famous for. He even stuck his hand in a termite nest and offered us each a termite to EAT. Yes I know I am a food blogger, but I did not sign up to be a weird eats blogger, so I passed on that. The brave members in my family who partook in that “snack” said the termites had a minty flavor.
When we finally reached the cave entrance, the guides split my family into two groups and tied us together then they began to guide us through the cave. At that point, we had been traveling for HOURS to get here but it was well worth it! The cave was beautiful and peaceful. We saw various rock structures, some that sparkled when we pointed our lights on it. We also saw a few bats hanging around as well as holes throughout the cave that marked their presence. There was even a waterfall inside of the cave that our guide Edmund made sure that each of us got to “experience” i.e. he put us under the waterfall for a few minutes while we screamed like five year olds. We also saw a large sink hole in the cave that resulted in an opening to the outdoors. It was the only source of natural light inside the cave. Other tourists were walking down into the cave through the sink hole. The current was not as fast as I expected so our guides propelled us through the caves. It was a really great experience. I could have stayed in the caves all day!
Since we hiked to the top of the trail, the cave ended where the hike began. We headed back to the camp to return our gear and eat! I was excited to try some authentic food but again, places for tourists seem to cater to the American appetite! During the initial ride over, our guides talked about the Belizean diet which includes Iguana and ALL the parts of the chicken, like the feet. Well the restaurant at the camp had none of that so we went with the nachos and tacos. We devoured that food! What stood out for me was the fresh veggies piled high on both. We also enjoyed cocktails like the “panty ripper” from the bar before getting back on the bus.
The bus dropped us back off at the port. As I said in my previous posts, the security around the ports is intense. There were some areas that required a ship card for entrance. Carnival warned us against venturing out in the unsecured areas. Since we were in a larger group, we figured we would be safe to visit the market outside of the port. Well that market was interesting to say the least. All of the salesmen came up with silly phrases to catch our attention. Then of course they would use cute kids to convince us to buy things. Other children came up to us with puppy dog eyes asking for a dollar to eat. It was hard to say no, but we were trying to move through the market quickly and safely.
The most interesting thing to me was the chant ” Don’t buy Asian!” meaning Chinese. What I soon realized was the Belizeans who appeared to be of African or Indian decent were relegated to the stands outside of the port, which were deemed “unsafe,” but those of Asian descent operated stands inside of the secure port area. Being inside of the port ensures more customers, because everyone must pass through that area and weary travelers will not venture out of the unsecured areas. Someone noted that ethnic Chinese, control a large portion of the Belizean economy. During our initial ride to the caves, one of the guides described the colonial history of Belize and even more recent racial history. He told us that Mayans, British, Africans, Spanish and Indians (from India not Native Americans) all have intermarried for generations. Our guide for example identified as Mayan and Indian. Due to the intermarrying, he said that Belize does not have the same racial issues like we do in America. Sorry for the random history lesson, but I found that entire exchange interesting! Overall I loved Belize and would not mind going back for more tubing! As the locals say, it was unbelizeable!!
Make sure to check out my posts on the other cruise spots