i’m freaking out about belize. a week ago i was getting slightly nervous, but that’s passed, now i’m just completely ready to be there. i read through frommer’s guide and looked up as many ambergris caye blogs as i could find. i decided it is basically imperative that i do the following things:
1. learn as much creole as i can. the guide i read includes common words and phrases in both creole and spanish, so i’ll practice before i get there. i love creole almost as much as i love yiddish.
2. try a cool seaweed shake
3. make friends with at least one nurse shark and manta ray
4. tour a manatee feeding site at one of the atolls, and swim with the manatees
5. visit the butterfly jungle
6. take a boat trip to both hol chan marine reserve and shark-ray alley and go snorkeling at both
7. go sea kayaking
8. buy handmade belizean artisan jewelry and other crafts
9. buy a book of local poetry, possibly some art prints and some music (i just downloaded an album called “umalali” by belize’s garifuna women’s project...it is so good!!)
10. see a capybara! or a tapir. hopefully both. i’d also like to see a coati-mundi, gibnut, kinkajou, sea turtle, dolphin, boa constrictor, etc etc...and get as close to/take as many photographs as possible of these creatures.
11. take portraits of the locals
12. visit maya ruins
13. see some live music
14. eat as much fresh fruit as i can get my hands on
15. write poetry about my experiences, and keep a diary every day
today i called my credit/debit card companies and let them know i’d be out of the country so they don’t cancel my cards due to weird foreign charges. i found a dummy wallet to use just in case i get ripped off, although it sounds like most of the crime is on the mainland in belize city, not at all on ambergris caye where i’m staying. i took out $260 yesterday, just to start with...i’d rather not carry a crapload of cash, plus they have ATMs there. the exchange rate is tied to the US dollar at exactly $2BZ=$1US, most places accept US currency and visa cards, and it sounds like a lot of things are cheaper there than in the US.
other things i’m doing to get ready: i bought an international phone card with surprisingly reasonable rates (compared to what i was prepared for), set up a new blog to share my trip with friends and family (i named it “don’t stop belizin’,” because apparently i now share reed's sadomasochistic urge to get that song stuck in the heads of myself and my loved ones as often as possible). i washed out my scuba mask and snorkel, wrote my name on my flippers, and now i’m collecting friends’ addresses to send them postcards, starting to pack, doing laundry, putting camera equipment all in one place, and so on. thursday i can print my boarding passes.
i’m pissed because i can’t find my 2gb CF memory card. i haven’t seen it in like a year...i have two 4gb cards that i usually alternate between, but i know that when i first got my DSLR i started with a 2gb card. 8gb is probably enough for the trip if i’m really conscientious about going through and deleting photos i don’t like. (i’m trying to avoid bringing a laptop). also i’m bringing two point-and-shoot cameras, the underwater camera and another one that takes great video/sound, with about 5.5gb of memory between them.
i just got a new phone (a samsung impression...i got tired of typing texts on a flat screen) and it happens to be a world phone, so if i turned on international roaming i could use it there...but it's $3.50/min, plus 50 cents per text. fuck that! i don't want to be that easily available anyway. (another reason i'm not bringing a laptop).
on friday i leave boise at about 6am, fly to denver, then houston, then belize, and arrive at 4:45pm (with about two-hour layovers at both stops). the time zone in belize is the same as boise. once i reach belize international i hop on a crazy-small puddle jumper to get to ambergris caye, which takes about 20-30min.
once on the island i’ll taxi over to my cabana. there are no paved roads on the caye, and most people get around either by bike, on foot, or in golf carts. i read that the taxi drivers are nice but also insane, and no one follows traffic rules, so it should be a fun ride. hopefully the resort will provide a free bike, but otherwise i’ll have to rent one, because getting around by cruiser was one of the main things that attracted me to this particular spot.
two weeks in paradise. it will be glorious.