Honeymoon in Belize: Part 2

Hey,

This post is the 2nd in a series documenting our honeymoon trip to Belize. Enjoy!
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caye caulker

Caye Caulker is a beautiful island in Belize, where the motto is “Go Slow” and they mean it! After several days of beach-lounging and strolling up and down the coast, we decided it was time for some adventure. Naturally, we signed up for snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley with the sting rays and nurse sharks.

snorkel

The first stop in the snorkel adventure was a coral reef, which proved to be a little daunting for Jonathan and myself. Jonathan is a first-time snorkeler, so getting him comfortable in the water with a mask on, while trying not to drown myself in the process was slightly anxiety-provoking. We eventually decided that we were holding the group back and to sit this round out. After all, we had two more snorkel stops throughout the day.

The next stop was Shark Ray Alley! Basically, guides stop by several times a day, throw some chum out, and let tourists swim amongst the sting rays and nurse sharks that come to feed. Now, I’ve gone snorkeling with sting rays before, but the addition of nurse sharks (they are about my size) was terrifying. Right before I was about to hop in, I asked the guide if he’s ever been bitten. He proceeded to point out the scars on his fingers stating it was “no big deal”.

The Lazy Lizard--Where Ben and Emily had an awkward date in the sand on The Bachelor

The Lazy Lizard–Where Ben and Emily had an awkward date in the sand on The Bachelor

My thought process ver batem: Right. Ok. Deep breath. I can do this. Count to three. One. Two. Nope. Not doing it. Come on! You’re in Belize and will never be able to do this again. Nope. I like my fingers. Jonathan’s already in the water and he still has all his extremities. One. Two. THE HELL WITH IT–THREE!

It was incredible. I could actually hear the sharks choping through the chum and swishing their fins around. Then the guide picked one up like it aint no thang (no wonder he has mauled fingers) and we got to pet the shark. Amazing. I highly recommend doing really dumb and dangerous things from time to time.

sunset

When we got back to the island, we decided it was too early for dinner, so we had cocktails instead. I do not recommend mixing booze with sunburn, swimming, heat, and empty tummies.
Luckily, we found huge bottles of water and pizza with habenero sauce to save us from heat stroke. It was touch and go there for a moment.

sunset

The next morning we took our water taxi back to Belize City to pick up our rental car. Something about driving on the open road in a foreign country totally makes you feel like Indiana Jones. We were humming the theme song throughout the entire trip.

Our next stop was San Ignacio!
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Have you ever gone on any outdoor adventures that make you question your own sanity?  What did you do?

More to come…

Honeymoon in Belize: Part 1

Hello folks,
 
I recently went on a honeymoon trip to Belize with my lovely husband, Jonathan.  I wanted to post some bits and pieces of the trip from my travel journal and our photographs.  The following post is the 1st in a series and documents our first few days of the trip.  I hope you enjoy it! 
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After two, five-hour flights we arrived in Belize City.  Jonathan was confused as to why we were descending, as he didn’t see a city or airport of any kind.  But soon a janky little building and a tiny landing strip came into view, and I knew we had arrived.
The sky and water changed colors continuously throughout the day.  It was so magical.

The sky and water changed colors continuously throughout the day. It was so magical.

Our trip advisors (Jonathan’s Belizean coworker and the internet) told us to take a cab directly from the airport out of Belize City, due to high crime rates.  Driving to the water taxi, I could see why.  The poverty, garbage, flea-ridden and bloody dogs were none too appealing.
The “water taxi” more closely resembled a slave ship than the luxurious name entails.  Luckily I had taken a high dose of motion-sickness pills and we had a ziplock baggie just in case.
The mixture of heat, body odor, and food smells were more than I could handle.  At this point, Jonathan and I were both extremely concerned that we had chosen the wrong honeymoon destination.
Just as we contemplated turning back, Caye Caulker appeared on the horizon.  This quaint little island off the coast of Belize is teeming with white sand beaches, brightly colored beachfront properties, and hammocks swaying in the breeze.
Finally, we arrived!  We celebrated our arrival by having a local beer on the sandy beach.

Finally, we arrived! We celebrated our arrival by having a local beer on the sandy beach.

Jonathan and I fist-bumped.
The first night we dined at Joe’s Habeneros, a romantic restaurant with Belizean food catered to our American tastes.  Delicious.
Much to our delight, the hotel room overlooked the pool, which overlooked the ocean.  It turns out, you can buy happiness, and it is found at the Island Magic Hotel’s honeymoon suite.
View from our balcony for the first portion of the trip.

View from our balcony for the first portion of the trip.

After an 11-hour nap, we awoke with renewed excitement.  It’s our honeymoon!!!  We drank coffee (fresh OJ for him) and enjoyed fresh fruit (bacon for him) while people-watching.  Fun fact: our tablemate did the dirty in the ocean the previous night with a traveling stranger.  Gooooooooooooood morning!
I can't explain how relaxing and lovely our breakfast was.  I could have stayed there all day.

I can’t explain how relaxing and lovely our breakfast was. I could have stayed there all day.

We then grabbed our books, our suits, and plenty of SPF 70 and hit the beach.  It was glorious.  We leaped off the dock into the ocean and then swam a few laps in the saltwater pool.  Why do you need both?  Why not?
This looks like a naked photoshopped adventure on the open sea.  I promise...it is!

This looks like a naked photoshopped adventure on the open sea. I promise…it is!

dock
Lunch was some fantastic garlic butter fish with rice and beans at Rainbow Grill & Bar.  Then we decided to stroll around the main drag (you can get around the whole island in 20 minutes by foot) and found some incredible homemade ice cream.  If that wasn’t enough, a woman wheeled a cart of homemade cakes right by us.  She called herself “The Cake Lady” and she had a whole heard of people and dogs asking for cakes.  Naturally, we had to have a slice of pineapple cake smothered in caramel.  Vacation is the best.
Betta no litta

Betta no litta

If all that wasn’t enough, we had grilled lobster for dinner.  Rose’s restaurant had a limited menu.  Pick what sea critter you want out front, then they’ll grill it up and take care of the rest.  The sidewalk “menu” was the best free advertising I’ve ever seen.  The smell alone would draw people in from blocks away.
Rose's "menu"

Rose’s “menu”

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Married folks, did you have a honeymoon?  Where’d you go?
Non-married folks, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
-Mads

Honeymoon Time!

Hey team!

Jonathan and I are finally going on our honeymoon!  We were planning on going the day after we got married, but I made a scheduling error and actually had to go back to school the next day.  Womp womp.
When I discovered my boo boo, I sat and wept for the vacation that would never be, but then I stopped feeling sorry for myself and planned our honeymoon over winter break.

WE ARE GOING TO BELIZE!!!

Click image for original source. From destination360.com

A beach in Belize…yes, please!  Click image for original source. From destination360.com

Honestly, Belize was not our top choice for destinations (Argentina, Bora Bora, and Thailand came to mind), but it was the rainy season almost everywhere that sounded interesting.  Belize was a good compromise for someplace slightly tropical with other interesting landscapes, and affordable.  Plus, Jonathan and I are big travel addicts, so I’m sure we’ll get to those other places soon.
The hope is to do at least 1 historical thing (Mayan ruins), 1 beach thing (snorkeling and relaxing on an island), and 1 Indiana Jones thing (cave tubing).  I’m sure we’ll do much more, as we are there for 11 days, but these are our main goals.
We’ll also be on the lookout for John McAfee’s mansion and any evidence of his bath salt drug kingpin ring and murder charges.  More on that bizarre story here.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?  What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation?
-Mads

Wedding Week

Hello Bloggy Friends,

It has been a long time. I’m sorry for my absence, but wrapping up a tough grad school semester, wrapping up my job, planning a wedding, and general shenanigans got in the way. You know how that is.

Anyway, the wedding was an absolute blast! It was easily the best day of my life, and I’m still riding the wedding bliss high this week. *le sigh

It will be a week or two before my wedding pictures are ready, so in the meantime, I’ll tell you about the week leading up to the big day.

Jonathan and I flew out on a Saturday…

We spent a lot of time with family, napping, stuffing our faces, and drinking on patios. If you live in Minneapolis and haven’t been to the new Psycho Suzi’s patio, please run there. They have super strong drinks served in shrunken heads. Plus, you can’t beat the view of the riverfront.

My drink was aptly named, “One-eyed Willy”.

A few of our friends flew in a day early, so we got to spend some time exploring the city with them. We had burgers at The Bulldog in Northeast Minneapolis. I had to practice major self-control with the tater tots, which obviously worked really well and I totally did not finish off the entire basket. *cough* *cough*

Then we walked across the Stone Arch Bridge, which has fabulous views of the city and the Mississippi River.

I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing and enjoyable pre-wedding week.  We toasted to “WEDDING WEEK” with champagne every day and watched On Demand movies every night.  🙂

More wedding stuff to come!

-Mads

A Welcome Distraction

Remember me?  I have been off the grid for over a month, so I’m sorry for my disappearance.  I’ll be posting with a little more frequency soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this guest post from my eloquent friend, Dik.  🙂  -Mads

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Friday evening. Barreling through the mountain ridge ten minutes west of Victorville, jettisoning past the smog and the fetid stench of the work week. Behind you, the sun quietly descending through the hills. A palpable sense of excitement seeps in through open windows. Wind in your hair, tickling the back of your neck. It feels good. And one word is on everyone’s tongue.


Vegas.


Whispered at first, it becomes kinetic as the excitement grows. The lights, the city – the feeling of unbridled recklessness. And then Tears for Fears plays on the radio. A moment passes. Furtive glances exchanged as no one touches the dial, each waiting for the other to start. Finally the car is filled with a chorus of jubilation: “…everybody wants to rule the world.” Grins become laughter and the first inside story is born.


Vegas is more than a place – its an idea. Its a tocsin that pierces the doldrums of a Wednesday afternoon with daydreams of possibility. You ask yourself: “It’s been too long, why haven’t we done this sooner?”


Each successive gas station has its own unique blend of charm – and Redbull – from the Shell in Barstow to the ARCO in Baker across from the giant thermometer. You feel the need to take pictures of it all- anything you can do to preserve the moment. Capture it. Hold on to that feeling – tonight is yours for the taking.


And just as the last vestiges of daylight slip away, a new dawn appears on the horizon. You can see it just as you pass Jean – that solitary beacon of light nearly forty miles away. The Luxor calls to you – it calls to everyone. All windows are down and the car is silent. Everyone lost in their own reveries – memories of past excess, hopes of future abandon.


And then you see the lights unfurl before you like Christmas. Turn off the GPS – its time to get lost…


San Francisco, open your golden gate…

You’ll let nobody wait outside your door…

Judy Garland, anyone?

I had the pleasure of going to San Francisco this past weekend to visit friends.  It is such an incredible city!  I would live there in a heartbeat if I had megabucks and felt comfortable ditching my car permanently.

We booked a hotel at the last-minute, so we had our choice between a haunted Victorian mansion or a futuristic hotel in Japantown.

The mural in our room.

Guess which one won out?  I am ALWAYS up for haunted mansions, but I don’t think I will ever convince Jonathan to ghost hunt with me.  Although, that Japanese mural haunts me in my dreams.

We saw the “painted lady” houses, made famous by Full House (secretly, I never liked that show).

When people ask what I did on vacation, I’m usually compelled to say something like, “Oh, we went to this famous landmark, visited this famous museum, saw this famous district, etc.”  But most of my vacations are spent walking around the city and getting to know the local culture.

Acting as the “passive traveler” has changed my life.  Instead of taking cities by storm, I let the culture, the people, and the sights seep into me.  It’s hard to leave a new place without learning or feeling something new.

It’s how I like to travel, but it certainly doesn’t make for very interesting stories.  So, the Full House houses are all you’re getting. 😉

The best thing about San Francisco is that the views are breathtaking from almost everywhere in the city.

Oh, they aren’t beautiful where you’re standing?  Walk up 1 block.

Where have you vacationed recently?  How do you like to travel?  

-Mads

Camping in December

Hey team,

A few friends decided this weekend would be the perfect weekend for a camping getaway.  I know California is warm year-round, but my first thought was, “Camping in December?!  Are you guys out of your damn minds?”  In fact, they were out of their minds, but I went ahead and drank the kool-aid anyway.  So we headed up to Lake Elsinore, CA.

Upon arrival at our campsite, we were greeted with a pile of human hair.

I have seen enough episodes of Criminal Minds to know that does not mean good things.  Either that, or Bigfoot decided to get a quick trim before traipsing back into the forest.

Moving along…

The weekend started out with a hike through mountain lion infested trails.  I’m used to bear country, where you play dead or make loud noises.  Apparently mountain lions will eat you if you play dead.  The trick is to stand tall.  Uhmmm…sure…that will definitely help me.

No matter, the view was way too incredible to care.

Ok, so we’ve got human hair and mountain lions.  I’m feeling pretty confident that I’m going to die at this point.

Then we found this on our hike:

WTH???

Luckily, the only thing that almost killed me was the freezing cold temperatures at night.  I have never shivered for so many hours on end.  Unbelievable.

Lake Elsinore was incredibly beautiful!  I had an absolute blast, but I can officially say that I won’t be camping in December again.  At least, not without a space heater 😉

Have you ever camped in the winter?  What is your best camping advice for the chilly weather?

-Mads