Posted September 10th, 2006, 09:05 PM
Day 5 – Belize
Working within our CC roll call, I set up a cave tubing expedition with cave-tubing.com. Now, my friends and family thought I was insane for booking another tubing trip (story here
) , but I (mostly) had a blast last time and thought it would be fun to try again. Now I’ll admit, I also booked the tour because the ex wanted to do it, and if it weren’t for the CCers, I probably would have cancelled out of it. However, once I saw that I’d have some people that I could talk to, etc, I figured it’d be worth sticking with the group.
We didn’t have a set meeting time before leaving (my fault there), but at the CC gathering on the first day, we decided that it would be wise to meet in the Orpheus Lido at 8:15 and then head to a tender to make our 9:30 appointment with Yhonny. We ended up having a group of 15 people meet on the Lido, and then caught up with 4 others on the bus once ashore. We were also supposed to meet some people from the Valor, but unfortunately the Valor came in late, so Yhonny sent us out with about 12 others in a large bus with video monitors.
Our driver was Junny, and our head guide was Richard. The drive through Belize City was different than I remembered from over a year ago, as a new highway had been constructed to take bus traffic around the edge of the city instead of sending it through it. This didn’t help us much, however, as by the time we got underway, we hit 8:00 (Belize time) traffic and that slowed us up quite a bit. Throughout the wait and out on the open road, Richard offered interesting facts about Belize, and he also threw in a nice dose of entertainment, as well. The passengers managed to polish off a bottle of cashew wine, and by the time we made it to the park where the caves are, everyone was having a good time and was ready to go.
One thing to note here: there is about a 30 minute walk through the rain forest until you reach the caves. Water shoes are your best bet for footwear, as they are made to get wet. You must wear some type of shoes, and they tell you that you cannot wear flip flops or anything that doesn’t have an ankle strap. I bought my pair of water shoes at Walmart the last time I went tubing for around $5. You can also rent them on site for $3. Some of the women wore their Crocs and found them not quite suited for this activity.
Another thing to note: especially if it has rained, the trail can get a little slippery. Those water shoes may be decent footwear, but they may not be the best for traction. I know that I found myself in the mud on one occasion.
Oh yes … thirdly … the guys at cave-tubing.com try to keep a fast pace on the trails to go through extra caves and show you that they are a better value than the ship tours. This pace may be a little strenuous for some, but everyone in our group seemed to be able to keep up pretty well. Just be aware, you will be asked to hike at a decent rate with an inner tube slung over your shoulder. The guides will offer to carry the tubes for those having trouble, but there is definitely some physical exertion involved.
Once in the water, the entire group was put together in chains with the feet of the person behind you locked under your armpits. This made the tubing portion of the excursion very relaxing, as there was no real worries about steering, paddling, or getting lost. There are a few shallow parts of the river where the guides will call “Butts Up!”, but for the most part, you float, you relax, and you look at interesting rock formations.
Out of the water, we were given a few minutes to change or dry off, then we loaded back on the bus and headed to Cheers for a $5 lunch for those who wanted it. I skipped the food, but ordered a Belikin beer for $2. We stayed at the restaurant for probably around 20-30 minutes, then loaded back on the bus.
This, as Yogi Bera would say, was déjà vu all over again. After eating and heading off to Belize City, the bus broke down about 15 minutes later. We were told that it was a new bus, but that the radiator hose had somehow gone into the fan and been shredded. Whatever happened, the bus was kaput. We unloaded and waited for the backup, which had been sitting back at Cheers. Richard bought Coconut water at a nearby stand for those who wanted it, and we waited about 15 minutes for the backup to arrive. It was an old BlueBird school bus (once again, déjà vu), and we loaded on and headed for the port. We made it with about 15 minutes to spare before the published time for the last tender with many apologies by Richard for not having any shopping time.
Because we had a large group, our cost was $40/pp. The excursion through the ship was around $90/pp. Now, is it worth “risk” of missing the ship for that amount of money? That’s up for you to decide. Let me just say that cave-tubing.com had a back-up system that seemed to work quite well and they handled the matter very professionally.
In the end, many from the CC group came up to me and told me that they had a blast, so I think, hiccups and all, it was a good trip.