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Trip Report Belizeitornot!

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The VGs didn't go to Costa Rica this trip! After reading through a number of posts on the board and doing a little research, we decided to give Belize a whirl. Wow, we loved it! Highly, highly recommend for anyone who hasn't been there before. We love Costa Rica so much that I was a little nervous that we would be disappointed going somewhere else, but with all your reassurances, we took the plunge, and our trip was amazing! Thanks to everyone who provided me with ideas and tips. All your suggestions were really helpful, and we really appreciate your pointing us in the right direction. I can't say enough good things about how wonderful Belize is.

Like most people, we decided to do a split between the jungle and beach areas. We decided to do the jungly area first because we thought it might be a little rougher there, and that it would be nice to end the trip by relaxing on the beach.

We got off to a rough start (as usual!) Big storms moved through the area as we were boarding the plane, so we got stuck on the tarmac for about an hour. Huge downpours and big wind gusts that had the plane rocking. We were all pretty happy when we finally took off. Turns out it's only a 2 hour direct flight for us, and they don't do Daylight Savings Time in Belize. The clock only showed one hour had passed when we landed. We were excited to land and get going - just had to go through immigration/customs/get luggage etc. The airport is relatively small. We sat waiting for our luggage for a really long time - waiting, waiting, waiting - watching other people pick up their bags and head off. More waiting. Finally someone from the airport came and told us that one of the luggage bins was stuck, and they couldn't get it open. It was kind of funny that such a low-tech problem had us stranded for so long, but they finally pried it open, and we got our luggage - hurrah!

Customs and immigration was a breeze. The woman asked my husband where we were staying, and he said, "First Chaa Creek and then Victoria House." She asked him, "Who planned your trip?" And he replied that his wife had planned it, and she responded, "Your wife deserves a prize! She's picked two of the best lodges in Belize." She didn't know we had the entire Fodor's board behind us helping us decide where to go! After getting the thumbs up from Ms. Immigration, we were even more excited to get going and discover this beautiful country. It's funny how little people know about Belize. We told people we were going there, and several didn't know where it was; a few even asked what country it's in! We think Belize needs to up their P.R. budget, or maybe they just want to keep it a well-guarded secret! My luggage got inspected as usual. I must have a suspicious look about me. People always comment on how wholesome I look, but for some reason those inspectors never trust me! We got the all clear and walked outside ready to start our adventure.

We were greeted by our driver from Chaa Creek. He was holding a C.C. sign in his hand, so he was easy to spot. Very friendly driver. We saw an interesting woman on the way out - she had a long red dress on and a white head covering, found out later that there's a big Mennonite community in Belize, and that all the woman wear that distinctive style of dress. I was kind of surprised to see her at an airport since I thought they shunned technology, but our driver told us they actually embrace technology and run several successful businesses in the area.

The drive was nice - about 2 hours, and it started off with very flat, scrubby land and got increasingly more hilly and lush. We passed shrimp and tilapia farms, teak orchards, and a number of small towns. Lots of soccer fields. A number of businesses with Chinese names like Chang's Grocery, etc. Our driver said there's a fairly large Chinese population there as well. It was fun to be discovering a new country. I hadn't realized that Belize has such diversity.

Our driver alluded to the fact that we would get a free butt massage during our trip. We kind of laughed and wondered what that was about. Well, towards the end of the trip, we turned onto a really bumpy dirt road, the road to Chaa Creek that's off the main highway. "Time for your free butt massage" proclaimed our driver! And we started bump, bump, bumping along! Really bumpy!!!! The funniest thing about that road is that someone has erected speed bumps on it! Seriously! This is about the bumpiest road I've ever seen, and there are several signs that warn "Caution Speed Bump." The driver said that someone lives along the road and didn't like all the dust stirred up by the people driving down the road, so they hired someone to come in and build speed bumps there!

We also passed a huge, beautiful home on a hill. Our driver said it was owned by "The Toilet Paper King of Belize" - apparently that's a good business to be in! It was still light out when we made it to Chaa Creek, and we were taken to reception. Wow, the property is beautiful! I don't think the pictures really do it justice - it's hilly and pretty with a nice open air restaurant and bar and a beautiful pool. The cottages are all different styles. As we were taken to ours, we walked pass hummingbirds, beautiful flowers, and clouds of white butterflies. Apparently the butterflies are seasonal, but it looked like something out of a Disney movie where Snow White has little birds and butterflies flitting around her head. There's also a river that runs along the edge of the property.

We were taken to our cabin, and we thought it was gorgeous. It had a large private deck, two hammocks, an outdoor seating area, a king-sized bed, couch, nice high palapa ceiling, lots of pretty wood, a desk, and an armoire. It was warm and muggy, so I was glad to see the big ceiling fan, and a huge electric fan that we could plug in. Lots of nice amenities like robes and a blow dryer, one of those shampoo and soap dispensers that you see in CR, and the room was decorated with tropical flowers. The housekeeping staff had made a towel sculpture of two swans, and they were decorated with fresh hibiscus flowers. So even though we were "roughing it," it wasn't very rough! Interestingly, there are no keys, a la Bosque del Cabo; there's a lock for you to turn once you're inside the cabin, but if you're outside it remains unlocked. There is a safe if you decide to use it, and we tucked out passports into it.

We decided to shower and change and then head off to dinner. I went into the bathroom and discovered that I had Osa hair! I have not seen my hair look like that since the Osa Peninsula, and I think it's good that I don't live there full time! My husband starts calling me jungle girl. The bathroom is pretty big with a nice shower. After all the traveling, it was nice to finally be able to sit down and just relax. My husband and I joke that we'll probably fall asleep by 9:00p.m. Despite staying up late at home, it seems that the jungle always wipes us out, and we fall asleep way too early.

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