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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Belize and a tour with Mr. Collins

Emerald Princess from the shuttle craft
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Our second port of call was Belize, formally known as British Guyana.  This is why it is the only Central American country that uses English is the prime language. You need to remember this because you might see that on a trivia question someday. 
We were not in a hurry to go ashore as we’ve been here two times before.  Belize has no deep water pier so cruise ships anchor off shore and shuttle boats bring passengers ashore and return them to the ships. The shuttles are large catamarans that hold about 100 passengers per trip.
At breakfast we met John and Shirley Avenna from the Dallas area.  They told us about their enterprise, selling gaming rooms in the Dallas area.  They retired a few years ago and enjoy traveling and cruises.
Chantal & Michel
 That being said, after breakfast we got our stuff together (camera, bag, wallets, etc) and made our way down to the 4th level and boarded the shuttle.  Once it filled up we were on our way to Belize City.  What we didn’t know was that Michel and Chantal were on the same boat and that was a happy surprise. We thought they were leaving later for their shore excursion. 
Like most Caribbean ports, Belize has a shopping area at the docks. We saw nothing that we needed other than some cold water so MA and I decided to walk into town and find a place with “free Wi-Fi”. We bought a cold drink at a waterside cafĂ© so they would give us the Wi-Fi code. Why is this even important?  Ship Wi-Fi is not free and it is expensive and slow!

Later we continued walking toward the downtown area but decided against it when an older man stopped to tell us we were walking toward an unsafe part of town. We did an about-face and were headed back to get the shuttle to the ship when another gentleman stopped to offer us a city tour in his “air conditioned” car, for $20. 
We checked him out and decided to take him up on the offer, especially because his young wife would be with us and he seemed to be well-liked in the neighborhood.  This turned out to be very true.  His name is Mr. Collins and he knew literally everybody we encountered on our drive.  He and his wife proudly told us about their three children and how important it was that they stay in school.
Mr. Collins drives a 2002 Mazda 4-door with the windows rolled down, thus the “air conditioned vehicle” he promised us. But it was all good as we soon realized we had found a real jewel of a local tour guide.
Home to a mother and six kids!
This guy's smile got him photographed

We started off and he pointed out where different folks lived: the Chinese neighborhood, the India neighborhood, the upscale home of a couple from Texas, the home of the Prime Minister, a luxury hotel (Ramada). We saw some really beautiful homes and learned they could be had from about $100,000 and up.
He then took us around the poorer section of the city where he grew up. One place we stopped was a real shack and he told us a family with six children lived there. We gave them a little money in exchange for permission to take a photo. 

Along the way, we stopped at a farmer’s market so I could take some photographs and buy some peanuts in a shell. They cost me one dollar but Mr. Collins quickly pointed out that they would have charged me five dollars if I had gone there alone.

Next we spotted a guy holding a huge snake.  I paid him a dollar for a photo.  He wanted me to kiss the snake for good luck but I politely declined. Kissing Boa Constrictors is not on my play list.  Mr. Collins then showed us the fish market where at 5pm the fishermen all come in to unload and sell their daily catch. 
We returned to the dock area and came up on a kid dressed up as a “Belize Mayan warrior”.  I don’t know how authentic the costume was but for another dollar, I got a quick photo.  Then we passed a guy peeling grapefruit with a hand cranked peeler.  I got that photo for free. 
We were looking for the Princess dock to take the shuttle boat to the ship when we ran into retired HPD Officer Ron Knotts and his wife. I knew he was on the Emerald Princess because he sent me a message on Facebook and I had been looking for him. He told me he saw someone who looked like me and when he saw the big camera I was toting, well he knew it really was “Wendel” as he said. Turned out we both had to go to Belize to run into each other. 

The boat ride back to the ship was uneventful.  We topped off the day with lunch on the pool deck #15.  Tomorrow is our last port of call, Cozumel, Mexico.

1 comment:

  1. I would not kiss a snake either. Photos are great. Have a great time and be safe.


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