We had arranged a snorkeling trip. The kids had never been snorkeling and we had only gone one disastrous time in Jamaica many moons ago. (It involved murky waters absent of fish, gripping on a speaker to keep from getting thrown from the boat and rum punch which was largely kool-aid. We call it Death Boat to this day.) Clearly, we were hoping for better.
Happily, it was much better. We were picked up at the dock by our personal driver for the day. He took us to Half Moon Bay where we and another family set out to snorkel. Tim, Morrigan and I did great. Maggie did pretty well but was having some technical difficulties with the mask. Eion? He largely enjoyed the boat with the Mom from the other family, who could not swim.
There were massive beautiful coral formations in super clear water. The pictures really don't do it justice. Fish were everywhere. It was awesome.
After we were through, we went to the West End beach club which had the kind of blue water I had always assumed travel brochures enhanced with Photoshop.
And fish - everywhere. You could just look down in the water in which you were standing and they were swarming you. Very, very cool.
Our next destination was Belize.
I heard the snorkeling in Belize was the best but really wanted to go cave tubing and this was the only place we could.
We drove, well, our guide drove, to a national park at which the caves were located. On the way, he told us about the history of the area and Belize in general. Once we arrive, we had about a half hour walk through the rain forest, which was not as interesting as one might think.
Especially lugging tubes. (Or in Tim's case, two tubes since Morrigan bailed out on it.)
But it was all worth it when we arrived at the start of our float, which was beautiful.
From here, we entered the caves. In many places, the only light was the small lanterns we were given. And the small lanterns of the five bazillion other people there, of course.
It was excellent. Though if I had the chance, I would go back when there were fewer people there. But such is the way of cruise ships - we all show up at once.
After we finished at the caves, we went to a lovely local open-air restaurant for lunch (and beer. Our bus load of people were very enthusiastic about the beer.)
The third stop was Costa Maya, Mexico. Now, this is a place that seems to have been created as a cruise ship stop. There really is very little to do outside shopping for crappy resin souvenirs made in China. Luckily, Tim had researched heavily and decided that at this destination, we should visit the one authentic thing there, the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben.
Our friends who had gone there the previous year recommended The Native Source tours and we were not disappointed. Our guide was Mayan and had actually grown up on the site of the ruins. (No kidding!) I am a sucker for historical tourism anyway so this was a real treat.
During the bus ride out, he essentially gave us a history lesson on the area and the history of the Mayan people interspersed with how life was there during his lifetime. Not to mention, a detailed description of the Mayan calendar and why everyone (except the Mayans) thought the world was going to end last December.) I could have spent days with this guy.
Luckily for Eion, who was bored out of his mind, we were only there a few hours.
On the way back to the port, we stopped at one of the many pineapple stands and bought the super sweet local pineapple, which they dusted with chili powder. OMG - it was delicious! So good that I gathered all the leftover powder I could get my hands on and brought it home.
In spite of having the least going on, it was one of my favorite stops.
Last port of call, Cozumel, Mexico.
We had left this day open, not sure if we would all be burned out from busy days and late nights. We planned to explore the city (or at least the tourist area) and get in adventures. By the time I heard one of the restaurateurs call me an asshole (in Spanish, one of the few words I happen to know) for not coming in to eat (it was 10am) we decided we needed a plan.
Snorkeling it was! We found a boat that took us to three different stops. All the kids got out and tried it and all loved it. This might have been the highlight of the trip, knowing that we could take them all out snorkeling again. Morrigan, the most indoor of girls, much like her mother, was really the most enthusiastic but all loved it. Once Eion got the hang of breathing, he was tough to slow down.
After, we went to La Mission for lunch. It was cheesy, complete with a mariachi band, but had some great food. I couldn't help but buy this picture.
Sombreros provided for the gringos, naturally.
A little bit of shopping and we were done! Overall, it was a great vacation. I'd recommend it to anyone.
And now back to the regular, less photogenic, programming.