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Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, At the foot of the Bear Glaciers, eternal ice, British Columbia, Canada

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, at the foot of the Bear Glaciers, British Columbia, Canada.

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Old 26 Feb 2013
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What a fantastic report so far, I've just lost an entire morning reading from the start. A few years ago I drove across Canada and back so this brought back some fantastic memories for me, thanks.

I'm looking forward to following along with the journey from now on.

Happy trails.
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Old 27 Feb 2013
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Hello my name is Jaime, I've being looking and reading your voyage and I have to admit........................I envy you. To think that you are doing what I believe millions of people men and woman alike wish they can do deep down in their heart. I pray that God protect you and keep you healthy so that you can keep inspiring more of us to enjoy what God created for our enjoyment. You are one lucky guy to do this with your Love one. Hope we could meet some day if you come buy Massachussetts some time in the future. Let me know.
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Old 28 Feb 2013
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Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement! Neda and I really appreciate it.

I was hit with a really bad stomach bug for a few days last week. Was leaking lots of fluids out of every orifice, couldn't keep anything down, but the worst has passed and we're back on the road again.
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 2 Mar 2013
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Leaving Oaxaca, we are heading further east by the southern coast. The road takes us through some fantastic winding mountain roads and we have a lot of fun throwing the bikes around the tight curves, while constantly vigilant for oncoming trucks that stray into our lanes. The temperature climbs past 30C and the humidity soars. We're having a lot of fun!

Taking in the awesome mountain roads and views

At over 600 kms, this is probably the longest ride we've done in a while, and we arrive in San Cristobal in the dark. Neda has been amazing finding us affordable accommodations, and she zeros in on a hotel not too far from the heart of the historic centre. The town is very pretty, more colonial-style architecture and plenty of cafes and restaurants to while away the day. We've spent quite some time in the Colonial Highlands of Mexico, so we treat San Cristobal as a temporary rest stop as we forge further ahead.

Walking the historic centre of San Cristobal

Colours in Mexico are so vibrant

Reminds me of Tibetan prayer flags in the Himalayas

Dancing in the streets!

Our next stop is in Palenque, a bit further north. Although only a couple hundred kms away, it winds through some fantastic jungle scenery. And it is very hot and humid!

View from the top of one of the mountain roads

Big leafy trees dominate the tropical scenery

Food cart in Palenque

Palenque is not as scenic or touristy as the Colonial Highlands, but the reason we've stopped here for the day is to visit the ruins just outside of town.

Lots of temples scattered throughout the site

In the time of the Mayas, Palenque was one of the largest cities with 6,000 inhabitants, but they abandoned the site in the 1100s because of overcrowding and depletion of resources in the area. Seems like this is quite a common theme throughout human history.

This one is called Temple of the Lost Ark

We liked the Palenque ruins because of the remoteness of the site. Nestled right in the heart of the jungle and surrounded by lush tropical trees, it reminded me of the old Indiana Jones movies. Minus all the vendors selling crafts and trinkets, of course...

Thulsa Doom!

Neda casts an odd shadow

Vendors selling clothing and trinkets

We've visited several ruins now and at every one, there are vendors selling a whistle that when blown, sounds like (or is supposed to sound like) a jaguar. It's a very annoying sound and the vendors use it all the time to catch your attention. I don't know why anyone would want to buy something like this...

Waiting for a giant ball to come crashing down on us while being shot at by poisonous blow darts

Mayan Astronaut

The Mayan culture has really sparked a lot of old childhood memories of TV shows I used to watch. One of them was called Ancient Astronauts, and with such phenomenon like the Nazca Lines, proposed extra-terrestrial involvement with these old civilizations. One of the "proof points" was the cover of the tomb of Pacal, right here in Palenque. Inscribed on the tomb was what looked like an astronaut reclined in the launch position inside a space ship, all the complex instrumentation around him. Stars and constellations surround the tomb and plumes of flames underneath to signify propulsion. Neda is holding a reproduction of that inscription above, and I felt such a wave of nostalgia listening to the vendor recount the tale of the Mayan Astronaut.

No, we didn't buy the parchment...

Temple of Doom

Temple of the Holy Grail

These were Neda's favorite Mayan ruins

Sunlight filters through the jungle
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 5 Mar 2013
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Loving your report! Beautiful colors, and your writing always cracks me up.

Thank you!
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Old 7 Mar 2013
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We're headed to the Yucatan Peninsula, which is one of our must-sees on our travel list, with the promise of lots of Mayan ruins, sunny weather and great food.

Our bikes resting in Palenque

As we were getting ready to leave, John from Valladolid chatted with us. He sent us this pic later that day!

We rode up the western part of the peninsula and arrived late in Merida. While looking for a place to stay, we talked to a few of indigenous Mayan people who were admiring our bikes. Their Spanish was very hard to understand, since they spoke it with a different accent. When we told them we were from Canada, it seems that it's a popular place to find work, more so than the US these days.

There are actually dozens of different indigenous tribes living in the Yucatan, all of them have their own distinct culture and language!

Neda is hoping to see some flamingos

While in Merida, we made a side-trip west to the coast to visit the Flamingo Sanctuary in Celestun. It's a small fishing village with great beaches and excellent seafood, and we rented a boat to take us out to the flamingo colonies.

Ducks hop and skip across the waters

Flamingos are a deep pink because of the crustaceans they eat off the sea bottom

Neda is quite a bird-enthusiast and one of her wishes was to see a flamingo live. Ever since she saw Miami Vice, actually... In the distance, we saw what looked like a line of pink buoys, but as we got closer, they were flamingos all lined up in the water! Neda was ecstatic and going crazy with the camera!

Such funny-looking birds

They look like road runners when they land on the water

Neda is a wealth of information, she says that flamingos like to congregate where there is a mixture of salt and fresh water, which creates an ideal habitat for them. When they're born, they are white in colour, but slowly turn pink because of their seafood diet. Which makes me think of my own Mexican diet and then I realize I'm not really tanned, I'm taco-coloured...

The boat takes us through a Mangrove forest

Reminds us of the Florida Everglades. All we need is an fanboat...

Flamingos aren't the only birds living here, pelicans hang out on the treetops

The wingspan on these birds are huge!

Hooligan pelicans hang out in groups of 5 and 6

I think the term "Flamenco Line" comes from flamingos...

Neda goes looking for birds in a fresh-water spring

The boat lets us off at a spot called Ojo de Agua, where an underground spring flows fresh-water into the sea. The water is cool and refreshing and Neda takes the opportunity to do some up-close bird-watching.

This Great Egret is not fazed at all, Neda got so close to it!

Birds are vain too...

Our chauffeur taking us back to the mainland

We're staying in Merida for a few days to catch the end of Carnaval, lots of street festivals and parades every day. On the last day of Carnaval, we watched a stage show in the middle of the historic town. The theme of the show was Merida Mistica and featured portrayals of mystical creatures.

Plenty of tourist transportation available on the streets of Merida

Dancer supposed to represent a unicorn

These dancers are supposed to be dragons

More dragon dancers!
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 10 Mar 2013
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Neda is not feeling well. She's got a bad case of Montezuma's Revenge and she can't stomach any food. Which is a shame because there is some great Yucatan cuisine in Merida. We end up patronizing a German house (of all places) across the street from our hotel and I gorge myself on bratwurst and Guiness. There are a lot of foreign tourists wandering around the city and accordingly the prices for food and accommodations have risen. We don't really like that too much.

Opting for a liquid diet

Merida is a very cultured city, lots of art displayed everywhere

Our next destination is directly east across the Yucatan peninsula. The Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza are one of the most famous in Mexico, and this has been on our to-do list from the start. Chichen Itza is only a couple of hours away so we leave early in the afternoon to try the catch the best light at the ruins. We encountered a very gruesome motorcycle accident on our way, which put me in a very sober mood for the rest of the ride, reflecting on all the things that could happen to us while on two wheels.

The Castillo Temple at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza was a very big disappointment. Right from the start, we were charged a hefty admission fee, part of a two-tiered system which made it cheaper for locals than foreign tourists. I can understand a tourist surcharge, we encountered the same thing in India, however what we got in return for that large expense was very underwhelming.

The ruins looked like they were entirely reconstructed on a well-manicured golf course. There was none of the stepped-out-of-a-jungle feel that we had in Palenque, and there were far fewer buildings here than on other ruins we had visited. Bus-loads of tourists from Cancun and Merida were unceremoniously dumped on-site and it felt more like a Disney attraction than an archeological site.

This pretty much summed up our Chichen Itza experience

We opted not to hire a tour guide (more $$$), but we were curious when all the guides had their tour groups clap in front of the Castillo Temple. When we eavesdropped on a tour, we found out that due to the construction of the stairs on the face of the temple, the echo of a clap would make a two-toned sound that would mimic the call of a Quetzal. This is a bird that is commonly found in the jungles around the area, and was also worshiped by the Mayans as the God of the Air.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/sHvUQ7DYibk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Might have to turn up the volume a bit

Never having heard what a Quetzal sounds like, we thought at the very least the two-toned echo was neat. Later on, I searched online for a Quetzal call - it sounds NOTHING like the echo. So all those dumb tourists (us included) who clapped in front of the temple were probably being laughed at by every single tour guide...

I think we're done with visiting ruins.

Tourists walking around the ruins

Valladolid is less than an hour away from Chichen Itza, and we stopped there for the night. It recently gained status as a Pueblo Magico, and the government has invested a lot in cleaning up the city and painting all the buildings in the historic downtown. Very pretty town, but since we arrived late in the evening, we only had time for dinner and a quick stroll through the streets.

Impromptu mass in the middle of the street from the back of a truck!

The next day, we rode from Vallodolid to the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. If it seems like we are speeding our way through the area, it's because we are. The Yucatan is packed with foreign tourists and everything is expensive. We were going to stop in Cancun but after doing a search for accommodations, we decided to head towards Tulum instead. It's a much cheaper town to stay at for a couple of nights.

Tulum is packed with sun-seekers and beach-goers who have come here to seek refuge from the over-priced hotels of Cancun. It's a very young crowd and our hostel was full of university students and recent grads from all over the world on their "Gap Year" trip. Our next-door neighbours were two girls from Australia and they told us about a cenote they visited closeby called Dos Ojos. We thanked them for the tip and headed out the very next day!

View from inside one of the "eyes" of Dos Ojos

A cenote is a natural sinkhole or pit that exposes the groundwater underneath. They're found all over the Yucatan Peninsula, and Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) is set a couple of kms into the jungle and boasts one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. We only rented snorkeling equipment so we stayed on the surface of one of the "eyes", but the light flowing from the mouth of the cave through the crystal clear waters was astoundingly beautiful!

Stalactites hang from the ceiling of the cave and dip down into the crystal blue waters

Stalactites break the surface of the waters and everything is surrounded by an unearthly glow

Neda takes in the underwater view

View from above the waters

Same exact view from below the waters

Taking a break from diving

Posing on a rock

More underwater touring

Neda dives to get a better view of the floor
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 10 Mar 2013
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Thanks for the great review about Chichen Itza. Very informative, short and straight to the point. I hope the "frau" feels better soon.

BTW, have anyone ever walk up to you and ask you for an autograph, thinking that you are Bolo Young? ...sorry Bro!, you just remind me of him!

Now, why did you skipped Cancun? You guys were so close to it.

Anyway, I am very much enjoying your trip, and at the same time taking notes for when its my time to do the same. Thanks to the both of you for "keeping it real"
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Old 11 Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by maluk View Post
Now, why did you skipped Cancun? You guys were so close to it.
Too expensive. But more importantly we saw what kind of people go there, because those were the same kind folks that got off the buses at Chichen Itza. Not our crowd.

If we wanted to hang out with people that looked like us, talked like us and ate the same food as us, then we never would have left home.

If it's beachtime that you're seeking, go where the locals go and head to Mazatlan!
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 11 Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post

If it's beachtime that you're seeking, go where the locals go and head to Mazatlan!
I grew up in the Caribbean, but having lived in Europe for the last 17 years had made made forgot about the tourist nightmare...thanks for the tip and the reminder
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Old 13 Mar 2013
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After almost three months of wandering around this amazing country, we're getting ready to leave Mexico. There's just this nasty business of recovering from a really bad stomach flu. We've discovered from our earlier travels, Neda is the Distant Early Warning for gastrointestinal problems. She always gets hit first, and then 3-4 days later, I get hit 10X harder. It happened in India and now, just as we are leaving Mexico.

Neda goes out for a supples run - bananas, crackers, Gatorade, jello and baby food

We are in Chetumal, a border town about a couple of hours south of Tulum. A day after arriving, I find myself sweating and shivering under the covers, every muscle racked with pain. I also find out why they call this the Aztec Two-Step, as I need to be exactly two steps away from a toilet boil, otherwise tragedy results, more so for the housekeeping staff...

We are holed up in Oxtankah, a nice suburb of Chetumal on the beach

Chetumal is not a very interesting place, which was perfect since I was in bed most of the time. After a slow recovery of clear liquids and soft foods, we took the opportunity while in a larger city to do some maintenance and find out what the process was to leave Mexico: insurance, currency, importation rules, etc.

So in the interests of filling up an entry, here is a little retrospective of our time in Mexico, filled with some pictures and memories of daily life that didn't make the blog the first time around:

Spain has the Three Tenors, Mexico brings us the Four Altos

Although we're used to riding in crowded, chaotic conditions, traffic in Mexico threw us some unique obstacles. Literally. Topes, or speed-bumps, totally caught us off-guard when we entered Baja California. Some of them are not very well marked and you have to predict where a tope would logically be - like when a road goes through a small town or entering a city, or just before a curve. We've both caught major air while daydreaming on the bike, and there's a lot of sparring over who will lead the ride, since the leader effectively becomes the canary in the coalmine.

In Canada and the US (and most western countries), it's normal to use your right turn signal if you want to be passed. However in Mexico, they use the *left* indicator to signal vehicles behind you to pass you. This is very confusing to non-Mexicans. The first time I tried to pass a truck, he turned on his left turn signal as I pulled beside him, and I freaked out and slammed on the brakes, thinking he was going to turn left in front of me. It turns out that the left indicator really means, "I've scanned the road in front of me, and it's safe for you to pass me". Confusing. If the vehicle in front wants to turn left, they either use their four-ways, or they will pull over to the right shoulder, wait for all traffic to pass by and then turn left when it's clear. CONFUSING!!!

We were talking to a young couple outside of our casita in Guadalajara and their little boy was fascinated with our motorcycles.

The Mexican people are so friendly and hospitable. It is normal when walking on the streets to greet total strangers with a "Buenos Dias" (or "Buenos" for short). And as you are leaving restaurants, it is customary to wish other people, "Buen Provecho" (Bon Appetit). I really like how smiles are so easily returned, whereas in the large cities of the US and Canada, a smiling face is viewed with suspicion or annoyance.

Sincronizada in Ajijic

Food is very cheap in Mexico, and we both love discovering the cuisine that never migrated north of the border. Neda loves pasole, a white corn-based soup filled with other vegetables and meat while I leaned more towards the fried and starchy foods, chilaquiles and tacos filled with all manner of fried meats, chorizo, tripe, tongue and BRAINS! The grasshoppers were not a favorite...

Much to the Neda's chagrin, for all the vegetables available in the mercados, they were never served in the restaurants. And diet sodas don't seem to be as popular as in Canada and the US.

Looking for a rug to cut in the dancing church of San Juan

Churches, markets and plazas dominate almost every town, large and small, in Mexico. We've found out that in different churches across the country, there are different ways to approach the altar. In Guadalajara, most of the attendees get down on both knees and shuffle forwards. In San Juan, just outside of Uruapan, devotees *DANCE* towards the altar! Even though there is no music played inside the church.

There's always a party in Mexico, even in church!

This little guy's skateboard was broken, so I got my tools out and got down to do some road-side repairs

Building a family is very important in Mexico. While in Canada and the US, the incidences of child-free couples are increasing, Neda and I are viewed as quite the oddity here for opting not to have kids. Mexico is a festive country, with bright primary colours decorating all the buildings and every other person seems to be either playing or carrying a musical instrument. The presence of lots of children running around the streets just adds to this joyful atmosphere, and you can't help but be infected with the festive spirit.

Changing out a lightbulb in Angangueo

Swapping out my battery at Garry and Ivonne's place in Mexico City

Our bikes have been holding up well so far, other than routine maintenance, the only worrying problem is the plug for my primary headlight has broken (melted and disintegrated), so the wires can't contact the base of the bulb. This is a special part that needs to be ordered and it takes a month for the part to be shipped from Germany. Since we don't stay long enough in one place, I'm going to have to figure out where we'll be in advance for a while otherwise I'll be blinding everyone with my high-beams for quite awhile.

Waiting out inclement weather in Angangueo

We've been very lucky to be travelling during dry season in Mexico, and the number of rainy days we've encountered in the last three months can be counted on 3 fingers. Mexicans don't check the weather forecasts. Dry season simply means No Rain. Every time we'd tell someone about rain in the forecast, they'd look at us like we were grossly misinformed or just being stupid. Then when it did rain, I can't even describe the look of utter confusion on their faces, as if socks were falling from the sky instead of water.

Courtyard parking in Oaxaca.

Despite the friendliness and hospitality in Mexico, there is still a wariness about petty theft everywhere we went. In most of our accommodations, there were always secured spaces for our motorcycles. In Oaxaca, we were only allowed to park in the courtyard during the night since the motorcycles were kept where the restaurant was set up. So every night when the restaurant closed, we moved our bikes off the street into the courtyard and at 7AM the next day, we had to wake up to move the bikes back outside. We missed the alarm one morning and got a very angry knock at the door. Customers were waiting to be seated as we sheepishly pushed our bikes back outside, sleep still in our eyes and BedHead worse than HelmetHair.

We are not morning people...

Beach at Todos Santos

We had no idea what to expect when entering Mexico three months ago. All I knew was what I had seen on TV or read in the news. Mexico is in the unenviable position of being caught in the middle of the largest producer of drugs and the largest consumer of drugs. This drug trade seems to remain underground and we never saw any evidence of it the entire time we were there. It's a shame that the entire country gets painted with such a broad sensationalistic brush that it scares visitors away from such a beautiful place with amazing culture, food and friendly people.

Despite this, we have run across many ex-pats who have ventured here and already know what we have just discovered: golden sandy beaches, lush forests, colonial architecture, remains of ancient civilizations, hidden underwater caves and all sorts of migratory wildlife that have travelled vasts distances to settle here (I'm referring to the ex-pats again)...

Farewell Mexico, hope to see you again soon!
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 13 Mar 2013
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Great story with fantastic photographs.ride safe & look after each other

ATB Graeme
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Old 16 Mar 2013
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This is a very exciting day for us! We're leaving Mexico and heading into the 4th country of our trip. And it only took us 8 months! Yes, we are setting quite the blistering pace...

It was a fine day to cross the border: sunny skies, hot weather. The exit procedure from Mexico was pretty straightforward, we just had to do the reverse of what we did when we came in: discharge the vehicle importation permit, then the tourist visa, and then get our passports stamped to exit the country. Then we had to do it all over again to enter Belize!

And then we were welcomed into Belize

We didn't really know much about Belize before crossing the border, having done no research at all. It was surprising to us that English is the official language of Belize! Yay! I can communicate like a grown-up again! The other surprise was that although we had officially crossed into Central America, Belize is part of the Caribbean! Its British colonial heritage explains the English language, and it was once called the British Honduras. Also, there was a very breezy feel to all the officials we met; a laid-back attitude coupled with that easy island accent: "Everyting's gonna be alrite, mon!"

A new wrinkle to border crossing: fumigation!

We purchased the mandatory vehicle insurance just past the border and started riding towards the largest marked city on our GPS. Central America is not as well-documented as other regions, and there were two free GPS maps available on the Internet. So, we split the difference, and Neda had one copy on her GPS and I had the other. Right away, we realized we were in trouble when our GPSs pointed to two different directions... It took a bit of zooming out to figure out that there were differences in routing and streets on both maps, so we had to be a bit smart about deciding which direction to take. In the end, I'm glad we are using two different maps, because neither was totally complete and accurate and we were able to deduce which was the "better" route by comparing zoomed-out maps.

Stopping for a snack break

Riding through Belize was quite a contrast to Mexico. The roads were not very well-maintained and the signage was not very helpful. Perhaps we were too used to the "Mexican way" and needed to adjust to a new country. The scenery was so lush with tall un-maintained grass surrounding us as we rode through Northern Belize. We passed several small villages and noticed a lot more multi-culturism here than in Mexico: Caribbean, Mayan, Chinese and lots of Mennonites all over the place! What was up with that?

A couple of Mennonite kids were a bit shy when they saw us approaching

But these schoolkids were not shy at all

Neda handed out pens to all the kids, but she ran out and this little guy got a small toy instead.
He didn't seem too happy. I think he really wanted a pen...

I did some reading up on the Mennonites in Belize. They originated in Prussia, but fled to other parts of the world in the 1870s when mandatory conscription conflicted with their pacifist beliefs. The Prussian Mennonites that settled in Canada moved further south in 1918 after WWI, when we introduced mandatory conscription as well. They ended up in Mexico, and AGAIN had to leave when in the 1950s, the government insisted that they enroll in the social security programs. The Mennonites finally settled in Belize where they've been since 1958. They've invigorated the agriculture industry here, turning huge tracts of tropical jungles into farmland.

Belize City was not so nice

Belize City is a port town only a couple of hours ride from the border. The entire country is tiny, with a population of only 300,000 people, and almost a quarter of the population lives in this city. It used to be the capital until a huge hurricane almost decimated it over 50 years ago. The capital was then moved further inland to Belmopan. As we rode around, we found that the city doesn't seem to have a tourist district, just the port area was done up to cater to the cruise ships docking here on their way to the islands. We decided not to spend too much time here, the city was not very nice and personally, I didn't feel too safe there. We booked into a hotel at the outskirts of town and figured out where to go from here.

When in Belize, do as the tourists do: leaving the port of Belize City

We've decided to take a mini-vacation! Parking the bikes at our Belize City hotel, we book a trip on a water-taxi that travels a couple of hours out to San Pedro, on the islands just off the coast. All of our reading say that the beaches there are *the* place to hang out while in Belize.

Yay! Vacation-time!

Beaches be jealous and all!

Belize is expensive. With their currency pegged 2-to-1 to the US dollar, after conversion everything costs exactly the same as the US. And it's even worse on the island, where we pay US tourist prices for food and accommodations. Neda finds the cheapest hotel on the beach, and we still pay a princely sum for a slice of sunny paradise.

Walking the streets of San Pedro

Lazy tourists!

The entire strip of San Pedro from north to south is maybe a mile long, but there are golf-carts everywhere shuttling lazy tourists from shop to restaurant to souvenir store. SMH... Actually, aren't I the one that hates hiking? I think maybe Neda is finally rubbing off on me. We walked to the very north end of the island to our hotel and the manager there is surprised that we didn't take a golf cart or taxi...

This is our hotel! We really loved it here, but didn't stay longer because it was so expensive!

We spent 4 days on San Pedro being typical tourists, wandering up and down the beach, soaking up the sun and drinking on the patios. It was a very relaxing break from our motorcycles - after 8 months of travel, we are beginning to feel a bit fatigued from the constant motion. I think we might be due for a month-long break soon. Somewhere less expensive though...

Red Stripe! Irie, Mon! I used to drink this when I was younger, brought back memories!

White sandy beaches, azure sky and crystal clear waters - a Caribbean Paradise

Swimming out by the docks

I searched high and low for a Jamaican restaurant and found one at the south end of the island.
There, we were serenaded with gospel music while we ate jerk chicken with rice and peas!

Fry Jacks for breakfast - a Belizean specialty. Fried, golden dough stuffed with whatever you want inside!

Relaxing in hammocks at our hotel...

...Spending the day lounging around, watching all sorts of traffic pass by. Heaven!
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 19 Mar 2013
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The barrier reef just off the coast of the Belize is the main attraction for tourists. It provides a natural habitat for all sorts of coral and marine wildlife. Scuba and snorkeling are very popular, so on one of our vacation days, we rented a boat to take us underwater sightseeing.

As our boat anchored near the reef, it was cool watching the waves from the ocean abruptly stop seemingly in the middle of nowhere

Neda looks like a superheroine! AquaGirl!

AquaGirl chases after a Nurse Shark. Um, is that really a good idea?

Chasing after a stingray. Is there no animal dangerous enough for AquaGirl not to chase after?!?

Stingrays and a Nurse Shark have a little conference at the bottom of the seafloor regarding the AquaGirl problen...

Because I lack the superpowers to chase after sharks and stingrays, this is more my speed...

Our three-hour tour took us to three different locations around the reef, our favorite was Shark Ray Alley, where we saw all the sharks, stingrays and turtles. We also visited Hol Chan and the Coral Gardens, spending about an hour at each location. There was supposed to be another couple on our boat, but since they bailed, we had the whole tour to ourselves, so we stayed in the waters until we were (I was) tired.

Fish hanging out at a coral

Beautiful giant turtle!

Seeing these grand creatures up close made me a bit emotional, because it made me think back to a couple of months ago when we were at Todos Santos releasing newly-born baby turtles into the ocean. I imagined that these were the all-grown-up versions! It brought a tear to my goggles...

If it seems crowded down here, it's because...

... of this guy above us

Apparently this boat comes to the same place every morning to gather conches. This guy removes the meat and throws the shells back into the ocean. He has a deal with the snorkeling tours that every once in a while he'll throw some meat overboard and the marine wildlife go into a feeding frenzy for some yummy snail-snacks. They then get trained to come back to the same spot every single morning. This way the snorkel tours can guarantee that you'll see lots of fish, sharks, stingrays, turtles, etc.

I'm not sure I agree with this practice, but as a tourist, we certainly got a lot of great pictures. Oh, and he fed us some fresh conch meat as well - it was delicious! On second-thought, I whole-heartedly agree with this practice!

Chasing after my grown-up baby turtle! "Come back, I want a family portrait!"
You can see the floor lined with conch shells from the fishing boat above.

Neda thinks this is some kind of pufferfish. Has a very human-like face!

Giant killer turtle spies lunch in the distance

Skimming the sea floor

Giant turtle convention

Suckerfish attached to the turtles belly, feeding off the scraps the turtle leaves behind

This guy wrote his name on a stingray. I'm not sure that was very nice, but it looked kinda cool...

Diving around the reefs

Neda says this fish reminds her of Dory from Finding Nemo. I'm getting kinda hungry at this point...

Diving around the reefs at the Coral Garden

A lot of these fish are not shy at all, swimming everywhere and brushing up against us

Some fish are shy and hide out in the coral. I suspect these are the ones that taste the best...

Diving down to see more coral, the water was so clear even at that depth!

Hooligans! The lot of them!
Gene - http://www.RideDOT.com
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Old 19 Mar 2013
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Amazing...truly Amazing
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cuba, rtw, visit

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