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December 8, 2009

Exploring Belize – second largest coral reef in the world!

Our sail into Belize was a little choppy due to a bit of a rain storm. Because Belize has the second largest coral reef in the world, we were unable to dock at the land and had to tender instead. This ride from the ship to the land was a lot longer, and a lot choppier than our tendering experience with Grand Cayman. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, but unfortunately I can’t say the same for another woman on our tender, who was quite ill during our ride and ended up being taken back to the ship. The ride was about 20 minutes long, and while a little rough, it was a great chance to get some fresh air, sunshine, and some refreshing salt spray.

Once in port, we took some time to walk through the shopping area. We decided to do our actual shopping later, since we were interested in taking a bus tour to have a look at the city. We found a van tour (air-conditioned, thankfully), that would take us around the city and also out to the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha. We had a small, funny tour guide named Margaret, who had grown up right there in the city and was very knowledgable about the history, geography, and politics of the area. We took a drive through the harbour city, and on the way to Altun Ha, were regaled with stories of Belizean society. Knowing nothing at all about Belize before this trip, I found Margaret’s information to be extremely interesting.

Our tour of Altun Ha was equally fascinating. About 30 minutes from port, Altun Ha is a Mayan ruin site that also boasts its own small rain forest and artisan shopping area. Margaret continued our tour, proving her vast knowledge once again, and also gave us time to wander through on our own. People were free to climb the ruins at their own risk (I declined, but the boys had a good time) and also explore through the grounds. We were at Altun Ha for about an hour, and then it was time to get back on the bus again.

Back at the dock, we took a second walk through the shopping area and bought a few souveniers. Then it was back on our choppy catamaran for another 20-minute ride (no seasick passengers this time, thankfully) and back on our ship. It had been an interesting day in Belize; I’m not sure what I had expected, but it was an excellent opportunity to get to see something more than a beach. I learned a lot about Belize on our excursion, and I would love to go back for another look.

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