Sunday, August 2, 2009

belize adventures days 4 and 5 summary

how late is this post? SO late.

here's the gist ... day 4 was my birthday and we spent the morning at mayan ruins. nothing says "turning 31" like mayan ruins. we wound up buying a full day tour so after the ruins we return to the hotel for lunch and then our driver returns to take us cave tubing. i use the term driver loosely. don't be too impressed. it was just some dude in a beat-up van.

we are taken to these caves that have rivers running through them and we sit in tubes while we leisurely bob along inside a huge cave. it was pretty cool. and we had little headlights like miners.

then on the way back we have our THIRD transportational break down. our little van just up and died on the highway. so then it's me and the bolshevik and our driver standing around on the side of the road. we're at least 45 minutes from the hotel so there's no hope of being rescued quickly. so we're making small talk with our driver and then i see a little shack down the road that seems to be selling refreshments. so i get some chips and sodas (and a water for our driver) and the bolshevik takes some pictures and in the end we're having a fine time on the side of the road.

then our driver flags down a pick-up truck coming from the opposite direction of our hotel and tells us to get in. he says he'll wait for a tow. so we get in this pickup truck and there's an older man driving, then his wife in the passenger seat holding a baby, then an even older woman who didn't talk much, and two more kids (about 7 years old or so) in the back. so we squeeze in and all the kids are piled up on top of various adults, and they're showing us their various toys and balloons. turns out they're coming from a carnival. needless to say, this was a bit awkward. the bolshevik and i exchange glances trying to say "who the hell are these people?"

we make small talk telling the gentleman about what sights we've seen and how much we like belize, etc etc. about 20 minutes into the conversation i ask them if they live in san ignacio, which is the town we were staying in. "we live in the hotel!" the man says, "it's my hotel!" if you didn't pick up on this plot twist, we had been picked up by the owners of the hotel while they were having a day with their grandkids. so then we tell them how nice the hotel is and what a lovely time we're having despite our ride breaking down. we ask them for a restaurant recommendation, and the bolshevik adds "it's miss dewey decimal's birthday. we wanted to go somewhere nice." and then there were many ooohs and ahhs about it being my birthday and they asked if we wanted to stop for ice cream. as much as the bolshevik and i love ice cream we kind of wanted to get back at this point. so they gave us several names of places, even offering to call several establishments for us to make sure they were open that evening. they were super nice.

so we get back and have a little lie down in the hammock and take showers and all that. then we go to the lobby and our driver is back and he offers to drive us to dinner. isn't that sweet? so we have a lovely dinner in this little local place. then we go to a nearby bar and chat with some locals. when they find out it's my birthday they make me a long island iced tea, since i had told them i'm from long island. the bolshevik has something called a "panty ripper" which is supposed to alleviate women from the burden of panties. we make a quick stop at the casino where my man wins about $15 and then we head back to the hotel for late night drunken pool antics. all in all, it was an excellent birthday.

the next day, the final day of our trip, we go to caves branch river for the "black hole drop tour." we drive into the jungle and pull up to this beautiful lodge in the middle of all sorts of lush wildllife. we are rushed onto a tour bus (we were a bit late) and are taken on a hiking trek into the jungle. we do a pretty intense hike for an hour and then we get to the top of a mountain that has a huge sinkhole in the center.

now, i knew we'd be "dropping" into a "black hole" but i really had no idea what that entailed. tuns out we are harnessed up, and we are supposed to lower ourselves off the mountain and down the 350 foot drop to the bottom of the gorge. i am a gal who likes adventure but i will not lie to you dear blog readers. i was terrified. it had been raining so the rocks were all muddy and slick. the bolshevik goes first, slipping a bit on the rocks and scaring me even more. he makes it to the bottom (or so i am told because there's no way to actually see what's going on off the side of the cliff) ... and then it is my turn.

i am strapped in and i start slowly backing up off the side of the cliff. i get to the very very edge of the ledge and then i am paralyzed with fear. my feet are slipping off the rocks and i have no where to go now. it's just open air. i look up the young belizean man who is lowering me down and i say, "no! i've changed my mind! i don't want to do this!"
"it's okay," he says. "just calm down. take a minute to relax. you can do it."
"just stay there for a moment. you're almost there. this is the worst part. take your time."
and then he began to pull me up and i clung for dear life onto the mountain, scrambling back up to safety.
i might want to mention that there was another couple with us and they had to witness this fiasco. i looked at them and said, "good luck!"
the two of them went, and when the girl was halfway down she shouted up to me "it's not that bad once you get off the mountain!"
so i decide to try again, realizing that i would not be able to live with myself if i don't do this, and that i cannot make these nice men hike back down for hours when i can get to the bottom in a matter of minutes.

so i go it again ... and again i make it to the very very end of the ledge and i am paralyzed and i look up to the nice belizean man and i tell him i don't know what to do and he explains to me i just have to step off the mountain now. oh, that's it? just step off the side of a mountain. no biggie.

so i step back off of the mountain ... of course the harness grabs me and then i am sitting in the harness like it's a little hanging seat and then it really was kind of nice. so i slowly lowered myself down the mountain passing by tree tops and flowering vines and it was all quite lovely. i make it to the bottom and i am beaming with pride that i was able to face my fear and do this. i run over to the bolshevik shouting "i did it! i did it!" and he looks at me and says, "yeah ... good thing you did or you wouldn't have been representin' brooklyn." ahhh the bolshevik, always looking at the bigger picture.

we hiked for several more hours. by the end we were exhausted and covered with dirt and bug bites. it looked like we had been through a war. we got back to the hotel and rinsed off and then lounged by the pool drinking tequila sunrises.

dinner was served buffet style and everyone at the hotel ate together. we wound up sitting with a few older couples. one guy introduces himself as ian and i remember that i saw a sign that the hotel was owned by a man named ian. someone at the table asks "are you the ian anderson?" and i realize that we are dining with the hotel owner and his wife. now, suddenly the conversation goes towards jethro tull and i put two and two together that ian anderson is a member of jethro tull. how cool to be in a rock band and then build a hotel in the jungle. we chat about nyc and ian tells us how much he loves katz deli and a lovely time is had by all.

when we arrive back in nyc i tell everyone how we met ian from jethro tull. "was he the flutist?" people ask. and i tell them i have no idea. eventually, i retell this story in the presence of the bolshevik and he interrupts me. "he wasn't in jethro tull," he says, "he just had the same name as the flutist from jethro tull." so it turns out i had been spreading all sorts of lies about staying in a hotel owned by a member of jethro tull.

and that was our vacation to belize. repeat ... we did not meet any of the members of jethro tull.

the end.


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