~ Day 1::Day of Embarkation ~ Day 2::Fun Day at Sea ~ Day 3::Cozumel ~ Day 5::Roatan 1 ~ Day 5::Roatan 2 ~ Day 6::Costa Maya ~ Day 7::Day at Sea ~ Day 8::Disembarkation/Daytona ~

On Tuesday, we got up early and it was still dark…
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Here’s a pic, where I increased the exposure so you can actually see the little tiny islands out there.
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See the lighthouse out on the tip?
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We went to the sit down dining for breakfast. We found this to be more efficient than going to the buffet lines. We had to be at a meeting spot on board, so we could get on a tender for our excursion in Belize. After eating breakfast, I went to the room to grab something we had forgotten (don’t remember what it was now.) I then proceeded to the Encore Theater and got our tour stickers and waited for the boys and Rob to meet me. Time was going by and they still weren’t in there. I finally see them power-walking passed the line of people and when I saw the look on Rob’s face, I knew something was wrong. I noticed that Alex wasn’t with them. Rob looked at me and to each side of me and then asked if I had seen Alex. I hadn’t, so I started to panic. We raced out of the theater toward the atrium area. We went to the info desk to see if they could do an all call, which they would not. Rob and Drew went one way and I stood in the atrium area thinking. I was scared to go too far, because I thought he may pass by me, but then something told me to go towards our cabin. Maybe I would see him going up or down the stairs. After about 5 minutes of looking, I saw him doing exactly that. The look in his eyes was a look of terror. I grabbed his arm and we marched to the meeting spot to wait for Rob and Drew. We went back to the info desk to let them know he had been found and were just waiting on the rest of my family. They called over to the tour staff to let them know, we would be on our way to the meeting spot soon. Luckily after about another 5 minutes, they showed up and while Rob was glad to see I had Alex, he was ticked! We raced over to the theater, where we saw our group leaving. Just in the nick of time! We had almost missed our group, which would have possibly and probably meant we had lost $300 for our tour.

We loaded on to the tender boat and headed to the beautiful Belize. Needless to say as we were on the boat, Alex had some explaining and some listening to do. All I could do was pray and thank God for not making us miss out on this port of call.
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View of Belize City as we get closer
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When we got there, we disembarked and quickly loaded a charter bus that we would be on for the next two hours as we headed to the Cayo region of Belize. We would be touring the Xunantunich ruins. Out tour guides joked that it sounds like tuna sandwich. From there we were able to adapt it into what it’s really called which is Shoo-nan-two-nich. In all the cruises we’ve done, we’ve never taken a tour of real ruins, so I was really excited.

The two hour bus ride sounds quite boring especially when you tell that to a 14 and 8 year old. It ended up being quite entertaining. Our 3 tour guides were awesome! The ride was “unbelizable”! Our tour guide did an amazing job, giving us information about Belize’s history, culture, traditions, and so much more. I soaked in all the sites as we drove about 85 miles to where the bus has to stop. Alex slept about an hour of the trip. I think Drew stayed awake most of the way there. As for me, I was too busy taking pictures and absorbing all the info I could. Here’s a few shots from the trip there…
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Minus Alex’s head, I thought this was a good view of that particular skyline.
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Headed toward San Ignacio, Western Border of Belize
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map2

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When we got there, our bus pulled off to the side at a dead end road. To the right, there was a large group of Belizeans selling souvenirs. We had a few minutes to look. I snapped a few shots as we walked to the ferry.

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Everyone loaded up and we watched as a man used a hand-crank to move us from one side of the Mopan River to the other.
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When we reached the other side, we loaded some vans and they drove us up Xunantunich Road. Drew and I got to sit in the front seat. When we stopped, we were able to go to the restroom and they had a few t-shirts and souvenirs for sale. Then, we had a little jaunt left until we could see the first part of the ruins.

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Our guide stopped us to give us background info. At this point I just stood in awe looking. When you stop to think about how old these structures are and what they had to go through to build them. Just looking at this first one, I was impressed.

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But, when we kept walking and saw this one. WOW!
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We were able to climb up the stairs on the El Castillo.
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Not even half way to the top!
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Plaster frieze
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Getting higher up, able to see the grounds. Just amazing!
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To get to the very top, you go around to the back where you climb up stairs, which is quite scary. If you fall, it’s a long way down and it will be a rock ride down, for sure.
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When we got to the top, what an amazing view! We could see Guatemala in the distance.
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Taking a break, after our trek up El Castillo.
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The “stands” along side ball court

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So that’s just a small sampling of the pics I took while at Xunantunich. I hope to either come back and talk more specifically about these ruins or do an entire post just about the ruins and its history. I’m just waiting on a couple books that I need to verify what I remember from the tour.

More info:
http://mayaruins.com/xunantunich/xunantunich_map.html
http://www.frommers.com/destinations/belize/3284020811.html
http://www.nahanni.com/winterescapeinformation/belizefactsheet/
http://www.cancuntoday.net/ruins/map.php
http://www.belizex.com/xunantunich.htm
http://www.belizetourism.com/map.html

A video I found on youtube. At around 4:45, you’ll see them going up to the highest point. They used the inside stairs. You’ll actually see them using those stairs again to leave at 5:40. We didn’t use those stairs to go up. We used stairs on the outside of the structure. We did, however, use those stairs to leave like they did.

http://www.moon.com/destinations/maya-2012/maya-2012-belize/maya-archaeological-sites/xunantunich-2012

After a great tour and a Howler Alex spotting, we hiked down to the ferry and boarded the bus. It was about a 15 minute drive to Hode’s Place Restaurant, where they had prepared an authentic Belizean meal for us.

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We had rice and beans, caribbean chicken, potato salad, and a plantain. We had the option to have a soda, which was included or we could purchase a beer for $2. I was SO thirsty, so I opted for a coke. However, I kind of regret not trying the Belikin, which is the popular Belizean beer. The meal was very tasty. I really enjoyed the chicken and rice and beans. I’ve never been a fan of plantains. The potatoes in the salad were a bit chewy. I’m not sure what kind of potatoes were used, but I didn’t care for it.

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There were several types of hot sauce that our guides had told warned us about. All made with habanera peppers.

View of the open air restaurant
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Outside of the restaurant were a few vendor carts selling more stuff, but we opted to by pass them and get on the cool bus. Our tour guides gave us a few more details and for most of hte ride back were quiet so that we could sleep. I dozed a couple times, but tried to stay awake so I could take pictures on the other side of the road.
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School
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Once we got back to port, we were able to see the area around the port. which was fenced off and guarded by police.
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The bus entered the gated area, where we got off the bus. We had enough time to do some shopping before hopping back on the tender back to the ship.

We walked down a corridor area where we saw a police officer and a cage. The boys were curious so we went to see what was in it. When we got over there the cop pointed to an area of vegetation next to his cage. He told the boys to pick a couple pieces and feed it to him. He loved it.
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From there we got in the line for a tender and headed back to the ship.
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Not long after departure it was time fore dinner…

Alex ate:
– old fashioned chicken noodle soup
– fresh fruit
– grilled flat iron steak
– ice cream or sherbet

Drew ate:
– old fashioned chicken noodle soup
– fresh fruit
– grilled flat iron steak
– old fashioned apple pie

Rob ate:
– chicken tenders marinated in thai spices
– lasagna bolegnese (starter)
– petite filet mignon and brased boneless short-rib
– shrimp and fries
– old fashioned apple pie

Lysha ate:
– chicken tenders marinated in thai spices
– lasagna bolegnese (starter)
– petite filet mignon and brased boneless short-rib
– chocolate, raspberry and vanilla cream cake with vanilla ice cream

After dinner, we all went to the piano bar (which was smoke free!!) and enjoyed listening to Michael play and sing his heart out. BTW, the best piano bar player we’ve ever seen. He knew 99% of all the music requested and he knew them all by heart! No music, no lyrics.

When leaving there we walked around on deck and then Alex and I headed back to the cabin. We decided to make it a night, while Drew and Rob went to the show.

Our super duper cool towel animal (wearing my sunglasses) that evening.
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TONS more pics from Day 4 here.

Here’s the Fun Times Newsletter for Day 4!
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