Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pardon the Lack of Updates

I'm moving and everything is in a disarray. Once the house is settled, I'll post more Belize pics and otherwise update things.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Day 3: Into the Great Beyond

Well, yes I did survive the zip line. Once off the edge, I couldn't slow down, lest I get stalled somewhere in the middle, and I dare not look down, so I just kept my eyes on the rapidly approaching landing pad. I'd estimate I was going about 30 miles an hour across 1/4 mile zip line. About half-way through the experience, I could feel my body start to twist, and only then did real panic set it, last thing I wanted was not to see where I was going, that would be almost as bad as seeing where I was going. But I remembered the training on how to twist back, and ever so slowly I righted myself.
And all too quickly, it was over. I was caught on the other side, inches from a tree, and unhooked from the line, to make way for the others. Lots of screaming going on from the other tourists (or at least I think it was them, might have been me still screaming, not sure) but soon enough we were trekking to our next zip line platform, Shorter and more inclined, but I was ready for that one. By our last zip line I was able to look down and see the trees, people and pool beneath me.
After we landed, it was a quick change from the zip line gear into the cave tubing gear (well, we carried an inner tube with us.) Along the path to the cave, there were many others heading in the opposite direction, completely soaked and grinning from ear to ear.
"How's the water?" I asked.
"Refreshing!" or "Brisk!"
Translation: Freezing cold.

No matter, I'd ensure I was on top of the tube, and not get that wet.
Wrong. By the time the adventure was over, I'd be completely soaked, head to toe in crystal clear water that I"m certain was pumped in from the Arctic Ocean. Brisk and Refreshing were an understatements. I'm pretty sure I saw the Titanic hit yet another iceberg throughout the journey underground. The cave has been there for tens of millions of years, slowly gathering water that filtered in from the ceiling, forming stalagmites and stalactites in all kinds of fascinating shapes. Small bats hung from the ceiling, fast asleep, waiting for the tourists to leave before taking flight to feast off the insects that fluttered about at dusk. 
We wore small mining helmets with feeble headlamps while we floated in this alien world, the weak rays only serving to enhance the shadows that were omnipresent. The sense of claustrophobia was enormous. Fortunately I love tight enclosed spaces so it allowed me a chance to explore with my hands and eyes.
Tiny currents moved us gently toward the end, aided by our flailing about (seriously, ever tried to steer an inner tube while you are sitting on your back? It's a heck of a lot harder than it sounds, and you look ridiculous in the process.)
Just as I'm managed to thaw my extremities, the tour guide brought us on land to show us around and guide us to the next lake. By the time we'd reached the lake, I'd warmed up again and hitting that water froze me solid. Fortunately the lake was smaller, and we could free swim in it is we wanted to.
I was never so glad to get the sun's rays on my body as I had after that experience. I think by now I'm finally warm enough to dump all the layers of clothing I've been wearing since then!    

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Day 3: No Pics

So on the third day of my vacation in Belize, I wanted to go zip lining and swim/explore an underground cave. I debated taking my camera along (it's pretty sturdy) but in the end, I opted against it. And of course, it's the one thing I really should have brought. Oh well, I'll do my level best to describe the day.
The day starts, as usual, at 6am. I love Belize because they get almost 12 solid hours of daylight and nighttime. At 6am, the weather is warm and sunny, and will stay that way until nightfall, when it will be slightly less warm, and dark. So when I step out of my hotel room, I know just how the day will be. 
The hotel has a tour van waiting for me, with a few other tourists from Taiwan, who turned out to be very nice. The ride was about 90 minutes, or 1 hour in Belize time (every long ride in Belize is said to take 1 hour), way out to the countryside. Plenty of typical Belize-esque houses, and quite a few abandoned in mid-build. 
The roads typically have "sleeping policemen" every mile or so, which is a Belize term for a speed bump. And a serious speed bump at that. Something that would tear off the suspension of a car if you hit it doing more than, say, 10mph. It's cheaper than running speed traps, and allows the police to do more important things. Beside every sleeping poliemen are people and small stalls selling things, typically fresh fruits. But once we got out well past any towns, the sleeping policemen went away. 
Belize, as you have seen from my other pics, is very flat, and the mountains jut up rather suddenly, and then go flat again, unlike places like the Blue Ridge mountains, which gradually creep up on you. It was a set of the pop-up mountains that our tour group was going to. 
The zip lining area was really nicely set up, tons of tourists there so they had an efficient assembly line process down pretty well. I was pleased to see the equipment was both reasonably new and in good condition. Our group was led by two nice guides, up some very steep stairs. Higher and higher we climbed, all the while the guides were running a detailed conversation on the local flora and fauna, history of the area, and what to expect on the zip line event itself.
Somehow I found myself in the front of the tour group, which meant that I was going to be the first on the zip line.
Did I mention I'm afraid of both heights? Well, no turning back now. I get a solid instruction on how to brake, and twist should I get turned around, and how to land (hint, it wasn't into a tree) and pointed off the edge of a cliff, towards the great beyond on the other side.
So, taking a deep breath and trying not to look down, I step off the edge.
Did I survive? Tune in later to find out!