Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spring Break - Monday

Monday, April 10th - Day 4
Monday morning we had breakfast at the hotel, where we discovered fried jacks. Fried jacks are just like paste fritte (you'll know what these are if you're Italian)!!! Basically, it’s fried dough. Yum! Unfortunately, our hotel made the WORST coffee ever, which goes to show that it doesn’t matter how close you are to the best coffee-producing countries of the world. What matters is the coffee-to-water ratio you use when making coffee.

We decided that we would spend the day “cave tubing,” which is exactly as it sounds. You ride an inner tube through caves. We read in our guidebook that this hoity-toity resort about 30 miles away hosts the tubing on the Caves Branch River. The resort is called “Jaguar Paw” and their address, and I am not making this up, is “Western Highway Mile Marker 37.” We drove to said mile marker and turned onto a “road.” This “road” was in the same condition as the driveway to our hotel. It was a moon road (remember with craters and rocks as big as my head?). Before we drove down this road, I got out to ask a man in a little snack stand if this was the correct road to Jaguar Paw. He said yes, and that we just had to drive SEVEN MILES down the moon road to get there. SEVEN MILES of moon road!! The drive was not fun. It was bumpy and I didn’t think our little jeep was going to make it. But we did and got to see a baby cow on the way. (Little things make me happy).

We got to Jaguar Paw, which we later learned has had such distinguished guests as Bill Gates (who avoided the moon road by arriving by helicopter) and Leonardo DiCaprio. We met our guide, Israel, who made us feel kinda old since he was a whole whopping twenty years old. We got our tubes and started on a half hour hike through the jungle to the drop in point of the river. On the hike, Brian’s shoe broke, which did not make walking easy for him, but he managed. Israel taught us all sorts of stuff about the jungle, like that pineapples grow from a bush, not from a tree (and one at a time, not in a group like coconuts), and that there is a tree that is nicknamed the “tourist tree” because the bark turns red and peels off. (How droll). He was really knowledgeable about the jungle and used the word “symbiosis” several times. Israel was also pretty funny. I told him I was kind of nervous about tubing through caves and asked him if he’d done this a million times. I was obviously looking for some reassurance, and he responded with, “No, it’s my first time.” (Of course it wasn’t). So we got in the river and began a very slow journey through a series of limestone caves. We were wearing headlamps so we could see all the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. When we turned off our lamps, we were in total darkness. It was really eerie. On this very slow journey, we learned a lot about Mayan culture from Israel, specifically about how the Mayans thought caves were portals to the underworld. All in all, the cave tubing was disappointing since we were drifting at about .0001 mph for approximately three hours.

Seeing as though we were going to be doing a lot of walking the next day in Guatemala, we thought it best to get Brian some new tennis shoes (since his broke). We drove to Belmopan, the capital of Belize. Belmopan is to Belize what Springfield is to Illinois, NOT a major city. When we asked a couple of women where we could find a store that sold gym shoes, they said that we’d have to go to Belize City to find brand name shoes like Nike or Reebok. Belize City is ALL THE WAY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY (okay, granted that's only like 75 miles, but still!)! Since we were willing to buy non-brand-name shoes (think “Reebork” or “Nikey,” they pointed us in the direction of a very weird, Indian-owned store that sold shoes (and an odd amalgam of other things). We found Brian a pair of tennis shoes and we were on our way.

We drove back to San Ignacio. It was too early to eat dinner so we walked around to kill some time. We found a German Bakery that sold sour sap gelato. I was happy. We ate a fantastic and incredibly cheap dinner at Erva’s and returned to the hotel where we had some drinks and went swimming. We realized we had to be up before 7:00 the next morning since the van leaving for Guatemala was leaving at 7:30, but that we had no alarm clock. We figured out that Brian’s iPod has an alarm clock and set it for 6:30. Seeing as though it is the World’s Quietest Alarm™, I was totally unable to sleep for fear that we would sleep through the WQA™.

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