Desert Storm Reunion – Day 4 – Belize

First up, a picture of the Chihuahua from Mexico, since Pagdan asked about it:

Tourist sculpture of a dog with sunglasses and says I heart.
A dog with an attitude

On Wednesday, we arrived at Belize, right on time. I got up at my usual time, but it was still early for the Windjammer to open, so I explored. This time I went up to Deck 12, which was an open deck with deck chairs. If there were stairs I could climb up, I went up them, though much higher and I was ready to come down right away (I’m afraid of heights).

It was also very windy away. It didn’t blow in gusts that paused, but a steady stream.

Me, getting windblown

Belize’s port was too small for our big ship, so we moored five miles out, which is called tendering.   Belize port authorities brought a tug boat and pulled it alongside the Navigator of the Seas. The crew set up the gangplank to the tugboat, which would stay there all day, and then the tendering ships pulled in alongside.

View of the cruise ship from the tender boat
Leaving the cruise ship behind …

We piled into a tendering ship and made the trip in. We were warned of the last tender of the day and to not wait until that one.

We lined up on the dock, and of course, when the opportunity to use the bathroom presented itself, all the women veterans headed over. Women soldiers learned quickly to go when there was an opportunity, not when they actually had to go. We had hand sanitizer, so we opted to use that instead of the water.

Belize shore
This is where we picked up the tour.

My excursion today was a trip to the Belize Zoo. It had been a challenge picking a lot of the excursions in general; many of them were called “strenuous” and involved doing things I wouldn’t have even done when I was 20, like zip lines. I had to read reviews and study the facts about the trip to see if my feet would handle it. Though ruins turned up on the excursions, they had uneven ground—one of the other vets reported how hard one of the Mexican ruins had been the day before, and that was rated as intermediate.

The Belize Zoo had some walking, but was also in a boat, and it was good for the disabled. We started out with the boat, which was a large power-boat. What no one told us was that we should have brought bottled water. The temperature heated up so much that that I was sweating off the sunblock.

We roared up a river, the wind the only air conditioning. The first part of this excursion was a 90-minute tour of the river to see the animals in the trees. One of the guides stood on the bow and spotted the animals.

By the time we got to our stopping point, it was lunch time and I was about melted. Lunch was typical Belize fare, according to our guides: chicken with sauce; beans and rice; lettuce. It was pretty good, too. I bought a soda and two bottles of water.

Then it was off on a drive to the zoo, so I got to look at the houses in the area. Most of the houses had a sort of unfinished look. We were told this was because if the house is finished, then it gets taxed, so everyone left it unfinished. Most of the houses were one story, and had laundry hanging on the railing. Some were on stilts—not because of flooding but to keep the snakes out.

One story white houses

The Belize Zoo is the smallest zoo in the world, but also only has animals that are from the area. If you go there on a tour, take school supplies. One of the women vets, Lila, had been a substitute teacher, so she brought tons of supplies. The zoo attendant was like “You mean we get to keep the backpacks, too?”

Three veterans and spouse pose for the camera.
R to L: Lila, a veteran I will be telling a tall and true tale about; Darryl, a chaplain, and his wife (sorry, I don’t remember her name); and me. All this was what Lila brought.

Then it was off to see the animals. The guide warned us that if we saw him running, then that was a good idea. The fencing for the animals was not a great challenge for them. He noted that the animals wanted to stay there because of their circumstances, so they usually didn’t try to escape. Many of them had been pets or mistreated; one was a bird that had been so socialized with humans that it couldn’t survive in the wild.

The howler monkeys were the big surprise. I kept hearing this strange sound, and it was like some giant monster was nearby, stalking us. It was those monkeys!

Jagular perched on a ledge
The highlight was this fellow. He posed for us and was magnificent.  Enlarge so you can get a good look.

By the time I got back to the dock, I felt really melted from the heat. I could have stopped off to look at all the stores, but I was just done. Besides, it was getting to be late enough that I didn’t want to wait, so I got in line and returned to the ship.

After I returned, I found out where exactly the gangplank was, because I kept hearing beeping from Sea Pass cards and realized that my cabin was directly over the gangplank!

And I found this:

A turtle made of towels
I liked this even better than the rabbit, because I like looking at turtles.

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