Friday, April 28, 2006

Bloody Beaurocracy

Sometimes I get so stressed living in this country. There are so many stupid rules and people change them whenever they like, especially if they know you're foreign and they realise that you don't know any better. Yesterday I tried to pay a tax thing that had to be done by today. The guy told us we could only do it between 8am and 1pm (I later found out my boss walked right in and payed it half an hour later with no problems). So this morning Gareth went to pay it and they told him I had to be there in person (my mate Jo had her boyfriend pay it that morning). So I ended up getting hot and sweaty, racing down to the bank in my half an hour lunch break. I queued for 25 minutes getting more and more stroppy, rehearsing a spanish complaint in my head. Then just as my turn came the bloody bank lost all power and they couldn't accept the money. Oh my god!!!!!! I was truly pissed off. I have now managed to pay it but do they have to make me suffer. I love the UK. You whizz in and out in 2 minutes when going to the bank or supermarket. Here is a nightmare. Thank god that now I am in my favourite armchair I feel so much better. Stress over!! (The kids were also little brats today and I had a mini-hangover from only 3 pints of beer I am officially a light weight).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blah blah blah

I just got a couple of emails from friends we met in Belize. One of the guys sent these photos of a bit of an impromptu night we had involving some Belizean rum. I hope none of you mind your pictures being here if you read this? I think it's great how you can meet so many people when travelling. I love it!

Just been looking at my archives. I am actually super-stylish and try not to dress like a middle-aged teacher. In my defense it was really hot and to be quite honest I didn't really care what anyone thought of me. My sister says I look like a baldy with my hat on.

I'm a bit proud of myself. I have been poodling about in my garden all year and look what happened: I grew all these roses. I must have green fingers.

I love Gareth because he always does the washing up and packs me sandwiches for lunch.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Back at school

I've had a bit of a crazy week. I was shattered after the first day back at school and went to bed at 6pm and slept 13 hours right through to the morning. The first couple of days I couldn't get back into teaching and kept wondering into Jo's room (the teacher next door) to have a chat.

I met my friends new baby on Thursday. She is so cute. Normally the parents think they look lovely and you have to agree although it looks like a little alien, but this one is really perfect. When I held her she was just 4 days old.

This weekend has been a bit short. Jo and I had to go to visit a place we're thinking of taking the kids for a week next year. It was a really nice but it meant I had to miss my Saturday lie-in and also do a 10 hour round trip in the car. Somehow we managed to chat for a solid ten hours and also eat nothing but jelly teeth, eggs and frogs for a whole day. I did achieve driving in Mexico City. I was quite proud of myself because it's the craziest place in the world to drive. Last night we went to my friends wedding reception. It was great but I'm feeling a bit delicate today.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How do you eat your creme egg?

Oh my god this made my day! I was a bit gutted about having to get back to work but my lovely Jim (head of our music team) was back in England this easter and brought me back some treats. I couldn't believe my luck when he gave me a creme egg. I managed to cling on to it for a while not knowing whether to scoff it there and then or find a nice relaxing time to enjoy it. I could resist no longer when I got home. Oh my god - so, so delicious! I am so glad I live here or I would get so fat at this time of year. I just can't lay off the chocolate.
Anyway getting back to school was greatly enhanced by the creme egg as the kids were really hyper and I wasn't sharing their energy. In the end I had to play sleeping lions - where they lie down and pretend to be asleep - the quietest being the winner. Must dash as I have to get back to routine and we're off to the gym then super market shopping.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Road Trip

Just arrived back from a mammoth drive of 18 hours. We did 12 hours the first day, so the second wasn't so bad, but I have never been in one vehicle for so long. It was actually fine apart from the fact that I ate my body weight and more in crisps and sweets. What is it about long car journeys that make you eat like a pig? I think I also bored everyone with my inane babble - I felt I had to fill the time. We stopped overnight in a little town where we were so shattered we hardly spoke to on another over dinner. This morning I substituted a shower for an extra half hour in bed (I was a bit grouchy). Not so good six hours later when I looked completely minging and everyone had a good laugh at my manic hair and freckles. Glad to be back home now although I start school tomorrow, but I suppose it will be no time now before we're off to uk. Can't wait!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Total Relaxation

We left Caye Caulker yesterday on a miserable morning. It was grey and raining so I didn't feel so bad leaving. It was a long day of travelling. We missed the direct bus as the times were incorrect and it left earlier than we were told. So we hopped on the local bus, an old american school bus. A bit of a nightmare as it will stop wherever anyone wants, often people stand just 20m from each other waiting on the road and the bus stops and starts for them both. We started off packed in three to a seat - me with 1 adult next to me and 2 kids across our laps. Bear in mind it was around 30C and had no air conditioning. The blaring Bob Marley just added to the chaos and crowdedness. We eventually made is across the border and had a bit of luck. A bus was waiting there for anyone going to Tulum. Lucky as we had already missed our connecting bus and would have had to wait three more hours for the next one.

Eventually we got to Tulum and had a lovely ice-cold beer while we waited for Kevin to fetch us. His apartment is beautiful with a big, open roof-top area and views over a pool and out to the sea. I am really going to enjoy the next couple of days.

We dived with Jo and Kevin this morning and they completed their open water course. I remember feeling so pleased when we finished ours. The dive shop was just minutes from the apartment and the reef only five minutes by boat. It was a really relaxed dive, until my dramatic re-entrance into the boat, where I slipped and did a splits-style fall on the side of the boat. All I saw was Gareth screaming with laughter and I felt quite sorry for myself as it did hurt a bit (I did forgive him when I saw the funny side later). We finished with a good breakfast overlooking the dolphins playing in the water in front of us.

I have just filled the afternoon by reading my book and napping in the shade. My freckles have gone nuts - like I've never experienced before. When I get back to school the kids will laugh at me.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Last Day Blues

I found cadbury's chocolate here last night. I will be taking back loads and getting fat. Great!
I woke up a bit grumpy as it is the last day. But luckily I had Gareth to remind me that although we're leaving tomorrow we have almost a week left till school starts again. We had a lazy morning - a late breakfast at the place in the pictures above. Then we popped across to San Pedro - a town on the next island along. It was very nice but roasting hot. A bit more built up and busy then here. They have cars! We had lunch and wondered about. UnfortunatelyI got poo on my shoe and my new bracelet then necklace fell off to add to my going home misery. Never mind because I had some good news tha Jo and Kevin have pased their scuba course and we can all dive together this weekend before we return to Mexico City. Tonight we're having dinner with some other guys from the UK, at my favourite restaurant, so it's not all bad.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sharks and Sting Rays

Woke up a bit ropey this morning as we had a late night with some people we met at the Trek Stop. It was fun trying the local rum! To compensate we had a really chilled out trip today. We went manatee hunting in the morning in the national park. I was all ready to jump in with them until Gareth informed me it's actually illegal as they are protected. I was gutted - I tried to come up with an accidental falling overboard plan but it didn't follow through. We had to sit dead quiet until one popped up its nose then we followed it - moving the boat around with a punting stick. We then went to another Caye where we went to a newly opened aquarium. It's basically in someone's house, but they have some really good creatures. A cute kid told me all the names and was very excited when I spoke Spanish to him. We saw an enormous, vicious looking grouper who chomped up a whole fish in one gulp. These fish always look grumpy. It was scarey to think we had been diving next to them all week. I also stroked a shark whose skin was like sandpaper.
The snorkelling was the best bit. We first swam over a reef. A bit like what we had seen all week. It's a different perspective from above. I definitely prefer being able to go right up to stuff and look up and down. I saw a parrot fish- amazing colours and held a sea cucumber. I thought it would be slimy but it was like leather and quite heavy. Gareth wouldn't go near it. We then went to shark and sting-ray alley where they flocked round the boat as they knew we would feed them. We hopped in with the sharks and they weren't bothered about us at all. Some of the rays were as long as me. I held on to one and it was like a slippery balloon.

I was feeling really good about myself this week. I've been so healthy all week, eating lots of fruit and exercising, but today has been a big pig-out! I managed to eat a whole pack of pringles pretty much to myself. I really couldn't stop. Aaargh!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Fish, fish, fish

Pictures of Turneffe Island Atoll where we dived today.

We had another great, but exhausting day today. Probably our last scuba dive in Caye Caulker. We were lucky today because as we left the Caye a group of dolphins joined us and hopped along side the boat as we went along. The guys slowed down so we could see them jumping up to see us. We did run one over but it came out the other side unharmed and looked quite pleased with itself - maybe they like that kind of thing? When we arrived we did a wall dive. The reef went right up above us and the wall dropped away deep below. It was pretty awesome. We saw an eagle ray with two little cleaner fish clinging on underneath. The second dive was amazing. As we swam over the wall there were hundreds of fish in two or three or four different schools. It was like swimming in an aquarium. The colours were amazing and they all swerved up and down in a single movement. The big predator fish were having a feast. It was amazing to watch and swim right in the middle of them - they don't seem to care about us. One the way back we saw splashing about and the boat slowed to show us a big school of tuna chased to the surface by big lemon sharks (I know they sound really weedy) who were having a feast. They looked pretty mean. I was pleased we didn't dive with them.

A great day but I felt a little sad we wouldn't be diving with the company again as they were a really friendly team. However, I am a little relieved I can have a glass of wine tonight and not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow we are off on the manatee tour at last. I can't wait to see them.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


We had the best two dives yet today at Hol-Chan. The sea-life was amazing. The reef just seemed alive as the amazing, coloured corals and sponges swayed in the current. We did a drift dive which means a nice lazy dive to me - as you let the current take you along. We saw some great stuff. I was lucky as everyone else took a tunnel route through part of the dive, I chickened out at the last minute, but as I swam over the top I saw a spotted sting ray. It swims like it's flying - with big wings - very impressive! We saw a few sharks too. They were really slow and calm and I noticed they had two big, sharp teeth at the front - a bit menacing. But they didn't care about us and trundled off. One had a little fish attached cleaning its back. We saw loads of coloured reef fish and big schools of grey groupers. The whole dive was amazing. I came out feeling really proud of myself because during the dive I had to change my breathing piece underwater, as mine wasn't working properly, but I was really calm and it was actually easy.

The second dive wasn't as exciting for creatures but it was the most spectacular I've ever done. The reef had big drops, every now and then, and it felt like you were flying over them. We saw a big lobster, green moray eel and another shark. Such a good day. It's so satisfying to get up early have exercise and really enjoy a big lunch. I would be so bored sitting on the beach getting burned. There are some very embarrassing British sun-burned bodies. We just can't take it so why try? Having said that I have developed a set of impressive freckles on my face. I don't quite recognise myself at the moment. We are meeting up with Jamila toninght for drinks - a girl we met in San ignacio and had lunch with today. Right now I'm ready for a nap back at our hotel room.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spanish Bay

We had a few beers last night with a girl we met in San Ignacio. No too late though because we had to be up early this morning for diving. It was a great day for diving. The water was less rough then the previous day and the sea was so clear you could see the bottom in some places. We did two dives and I saw a big lobster, a sea turtle and a couple of baracudas. We also met some nice people on the trip who I am sure we will bump into tonight as it's such a small place. I can't wait for tomorrow where we should see some nure sharks (friendly ones) and sting rays. Great!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Caye Caulker Photos

Caye Caulker

We left San Ignacio this morning. I was pleased to be rid of scorpions - hopefully forever! But will miss the friendly campsite atmosphere and meeting lots of people so easily. I am sure we will bump into them here as the island is only half a mile long and you can see across the width of it.

The campsite took us back to Belize City in luxury style, compared to the local buses, where we took a boat across the Caye Caulker an island to the east of Belize. It is actually paradise. The sands are white and clean and the houses are the pastel shades of the caribbean. There is really nothing to do apart from eat good food and dive or snorkel. Boring for anyone not wanting that. Unfortunately on my wonders I bumped into the rude Americans from San Ignacio. They did not say hello. How rude!

We booked in for a dive tomorrow. I was pleased to hear all the dives here are shallow. I have no inclination to go deep I just want to see all the sea-life close up. Belize has the second largest reef after Australia and we get to dive it. Bring on the manatees!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Pictures of Xunantunich Pyramids

Pictures of Xunantunich Pyramids

A pyramid with a view

We had a great day today. We popped down to the shop to get breakfast and had real heinz beans (can't get them in Mexico) and sausages. We got our packed lunches and set off to Xunantunich a pyramid site an hours walk away from the camp.

We set off walking and had to cross the river on a pully-system boat/platform. I was then frog-marched up the hill by Gareth who loves a good hard walk and climb. I was really surprised by the site when we got there it was much more impressive than I had thought it would be. We climbed up the castillo - the 2nd highest Maya structure in Belize 130 feet up! It was scarey at the edge. You could see across the border to Guatamala in the west. It was pretty hot though and we both had to rest at the top. We had lunch back at the bottom where we saw a big iguana scuttling across the road. We're now chilling out in the afternoon and plan to go into to town one last time to get money and dinner tonight.

A quiet day

Yesterday was quite chilled out. We woke up without an alarm clock which I love! We had a lovely late breakfast at our campsite. I love the burritos here with chilli sauce. I went to have a look at the butterfly house which is full of beautiful butterflies found in Belize. I watched one getting out the cocoon and drying out its wings.

Then I read in my hammock - not for long though because the sun made me sleepy. I had a big sleep in the bedroom until Gareth got me up to play frisbee golf. Same principals as golf but you have to get the frisbee in a net. It was really hard as the course was very narrow. I kept throwing it off course and had to crawl through the undergrowth to get it back. I was scared of bugs but luckily none found me. I did very badly and Gareth won by a mile.

We played a few games at the camp, which I also lost! Gareth is too good. There were a bunch of really unfriendly Americans moaning about the Belizian food. That's the best bit about travelling - trying something new. After dinner I prayed there would be no scorpions but there was one near our door which promptly disappeared into our room. Luckily we didn't see it again. But there was a mini one Gareth had to squash in the bathroom. Fortunately I slept well despite my silly worries. Hopefully no more bug issues tonight!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


We had an amazing day yesterday. We went caving in Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Crystal Sepulcure in Maya) a really famous cave in the jungle. There are very few tours there and soon it may be shut down due to the archaeological importance of the site. It has sacrificial skeletons laying right where they were killed and found, hundreds of mayan pots offering food to the gods and incredible limestone formations. The cave was undisturbed for thousands of years and everything is as it was left by those Mayan people all that time ago. It was like being in a magical kingdom surrounded by sparkling stalactites hanging from all ceilings.

We had to get up early and then trecked through the jungle for 45 minutes across a river and to the cave entrance. We ate our lunch outside and swam in the incredibly clear water. Going in was hard work and difficult to adjust to the darkness. We had to swim the first 10 metres then climb over a rock fall. To enter the main cave we have to slip through a smaller hole - I was scared of that but it was fine - as below you caould see the huge cave opening up. We walked and climbed almost a kilometre inside the cave. We visited the burial chambers and looked at the undisturbed archaeoligical finds. It was amazing to imagine the people who came all this way carrying their offerings and sacrificial victims. I thought it would be spooky but when we had a minutes silence switching off all the lights it was strangly peaceful, listening to the river below.

An amazing experience but completely shattering. You are wet for about 3 hours deep inside a cave. To go back you have to brace the cold water again. I was glad to see the sunlight. On the way back I tried eating termites from a tree - tasted like carrot. We also heard howler monkey and toucans, fed a friendly coatimundi (like a raccoon) and saw jaguar claw marks on a tree.

When we returned we just about managed to have dinner in town then crashed out. I have not slept so deeply in a long time.

I Hate Scorpions

We have just had 2 very busy days. Typical Gareth-style holiday getting straight into the energetic stuff!

We started Monday by deciding to walk into the nearest town - San Ignacio. The lonely planet told us it was 6 miles from here to so we estimated a bit more than an hour quick walking. Unfortunately it turned out to be alot more like 9 miles but a nice taxi guy picked us up. I'm sure he was thinking how stupid tourists are. We had a great caribbean style lunch - it's mainly rice and beans. Then booked into a caving tour for the next day.

Back at the camp we decided to have a go at tubing (a big thing in Belize). So they dumped us in the Mopan River in 2 inner tubes and told us to get off before Clarrissa Falls which sounded ominous. We floated down and rode over mini-rapids which was great. Luckily the sign for the falls was quite obvious and we hopped out. Floating through the Belize jungle on a river is amazing I highly recommend it but save it for the rainier season as we had a lot of hard paddling to move through the slower water and bashed our bums going over the rapids (tip is keep them up and out).

The evening was not too successful: We walked to the same restaurant we had used the previous night but it was shut so I cooked up some really horrible noodle concoction - its really hard to buy vegetables here other than plantain so I did the best I could! We met some really nice American people and had some beers in our camp. When we went to bed my worst nightmare came true. Gareth told me he could see as lizard on the wall then realised it was a scorpion then realised there were actually two of the ugly creatures. I can't beleve it's my first time seeing them. I hate them and they are really scarey looking flashing their pinchers and tails. The campsite man removed one but the other got away. So I spent all night flashing a torch about in case it came back. Got shouted at by Gareth who confiscated the torch (I managed to get it back and hide it for tonight). This morning there were no more scorpion sightings. As long as I can't see it I'm ok!

Monday, April 03, 2006

A long journey

We are now living in the middle of Belize 6 miles from the Guatamalan border. It's so jungley! Last night was so noisy - a coconut dropped onto our tin roof scared the pants off me. We are staying in a cute little hut surrounded by the noisiest insect and bird neighbours but it beats the dogs and traffic of Mexico City.

We slept very well last night after not quite realising the extent of our journey from Chetumal to Belize city then on to San Ignacio. We left on a rickety old bus and walked acros the Mexican/ Belze border (I was so excited by that). The contrast between the strict Mexican guards and the laid back Caribbean men on the Belize border was incredible - happily singing along to reggae. It then took 4 hours to get to Belize City and another 3 to San Ignacio. I was a bit bored, hungry, thirsty, needed the loo and fidgity to say the least and drove Gareth mad.

I didn't realise the Caribbean influence was so strong. I love the cool accent and laid back attitude. We're looking into some cave adventures today. I can't wait to explore the town today.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Holidays at last

Great - had a big lie-in this morning. We've been really lazy having breakfast in bed and sleeping till late. Had a bit of a long afternoon yesterday at a BBQ for our mate Ben. Ate too much and felt a bit sick. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach. We started at 1pm and I was tucked in bed by half seven! Sad I know but I was shattered from school. I obviously needed it because I didn't wake up till eight.

I'm just about to go and finish packing (I have been almost ready for about a week - I am so excited) and get ready to jet off tonight. We fly to Chetmal in Mexico then cross the border into Belize tomorrow morning. Hopefully it's not as beaurocratic as Mexico and we can get through passport control quickly.

The photo above is the blue hole in Belize. It has stalagmites and stalagtites somehow grown underwater and lots of (friendly) sharks live there. I hope I'm brave enough to dive it because its meant to be beautiful. During our holiday hopefully I will be able to post all my photos and news here!