When last we left you yesterday, we had just come to the opening in the jungle where the river appeared and the caves were right in front of us.
We were lowered into our tubes and because of the guest/guide ratio, there ended up being four of us tied to each other (most times there are eight tubes tied together). At this point, Nico was our new Cave-Tubing.com guide. He took us and began swimming through the water towards the cave. It’s kind of difficult to adequately describe what it was like inside the caves. It wasn’t scary at all…it was just surreal. Depending on the depth of the water, Nico was either swimming through the darkness ahead of us, walking through the darkness and pulling us along, or sometimes even holding us from behind due to the rushing waters.
There were two caves in total, the second one larger than the first. In fact, the second one had an indoor waterfall which was really cool. I’m sure I had a smile on my face a mile wide, but I know I didn’t say much other than “Wow” every two seconds (I’m sure Sunshine will back that up…lol).
We exited the second cave and saw some folks getting out of the water to begin their hike back through the jungle. Not us. Nope. Instead, we continued to float on this incredible jungle river into the gorgeous sunshine (turns out the clouds DID burn off, after all). I felt as though I was in a movie…it just seemed too beautiful to be real. I took my camera out and began snapping like crazy.
Looking back at the exit of the second cave, I saw"Ex-Con", who was one of the guides for Cave-Tubing.com. His group of tubers were floating and basking in the sun, which gave him (and our guide, Nico) a bit of a breather.
I took more than a few pics of Sunshine in the tube tied to mine. She was enjoying the experience almost as much as I was.
I honestly think this is the most difficult self-portrait I've ever done. No...I'm not constipated in this pic, but with the life-vest on and sitting in a tube it was really difficult to get the camera pointed in the right direction. That's Nico over my shoulder there, pulling us through the river. Trust me...I was a happy dude at this point and having the time of my life.
As we drifted through the river for about 10 or 15 minutes, Niko was very talkative…giving his opinions on meat, milk, and other “healthy” foods like eggs. He was VERY opinionated and believed vehemently that the trees and the jungle provided the only nourishment that humans need. It truly was a fascinating conversation.
As we rounded a corner, I recognized a rope going across the river as signifying us being back at the beginning of our journey. I honestly thought we’d have to walk back through the jungle, so to know that we didn’t have to was a huge relief.
Nico then decided to have some fun by climbing a nearby rock formation and dive into some VERY shallow water.
Nico showing the tourists how it's done.
At this point, Sunshine made the decision to not just sit idly by and watch…but to say “F*CK IT” and do something she’d probably never have a chance to do again: jump off of a rock formation into a jungle river while in Belize.
Really…I think we both have to give our heads a shake when we realize this actually happened.
So anyway, off Sunshine went…
Sunshine preparing for her leap of faith.
…and she jumped off into the water like a frickin’ champ!!
THAT'S MY FIANCE!!! YEAH BABY!!!
I couldn’t tell you just how proud I was of Sunshine for doing that. I know I’ve got a fear of heights, so I’d be hard-pressed to even attempt that myself. To just be able to tell her children that she conquered fear and did something that very few people ever get to do is something that she’ll hold dear for a very long time.
After drying off a bit, we made our way back to the bus for a seven-minute drive to the Cave-Tubing.com “hut” for a lunch that was prepared for us.
Cave-Tubing.com "HQ". A beautiful outdoor eating/drinking area.
I went to get changed really quick and I was still having a “surreal” moment where I couldn’t really believe that we had done what we had just done. Then, on the way back to the “party hut”, I saw this…
Kids…if there is any lesson to take from this one day it’s this: take NOTHING for granted in life. I mean, when will you ever be in the jungles of Belize getting changed in a very “rustic” restroom only to come out and see THIS in front of you?? I’ll never forget it.
Inside the bar/restaurant/hut, we were treated to lunch: chicken tamales! I’ve never had a chicken tamale before and Speedo said that if we didn’t believe it was real chicken, we could check the bone out for ourselves. Well…the tamale was so good and so tender, the meat fell right off the bone.
The Cave-Tubing.com chicken tamale!! A tamale is a traditional Latin American dish made of masa (a starchy dough, usually corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper, which is discarded before eating. Aztec and Mayan civilizations used tamales as portable food, often to support their armies, but also for hunters and travelers.
In order to wash down our awesome lunch, we ordered a couple of Coca-Colas. Now, down in this part of the world Coca-Cola isn’t called Coke, nor is it made with corn syrup. Instead, it’s made with sugar cane, which gives it a MUCH sweeter taste than regular Coke. It didn’t have the “bite” that you would normally expect (almost Pepsi-esque).
Speedo then saw us with our camera and snatched it up so we could enjoy a photo op of this incredible experience:
Sunshine & CBG enjoying the incredible hospitality of Cave-Tubing.com in the jungles of Belize.
After a short lunch, we all loaded onto the “party bus” for our journey back to the port. The Cave-Tubing.com guys were VERY aware of the time frames that we had to work with and wanted to ensure we made it back before the final tender left for the ship.
It was also at this point where we paid for our excursion. That’s right…they didn’t want money up front. They wanted to make sure that we were all satisfied with our day before accepting our money. I took that to be a great sign of faith on their part, and it also led me to believe that they were going to do whatever they could to ensure we had the time of our lives and they earned our money.
We said our goodbyes to the crew and re-entered the terminal area. With a few minutes left to spare before the last boat would leave, we wandered around a bit.
Sunshine lookin' all HAWT in Belize.
Some of the local wares.
We jumped into a waiting tender so we could make our way back to the Carnival Legend. These guys must be paid by the boat-load because we were FLYING…
The view from the back of the tender en route to the ship.
The water was splashing into the back of the boat and some people were getting SOAKED. I wasn’t getting wet, so I was just trying to play it cool…
Meh...that's all you got?
Sunshine, of course, was sticking her head off the side of the boat to get the full effect of the wind and the waves and was simply having the time of her life…
She couldn't smile any bigger.
The water was blue and beautiful. We almost didn’t want to disembark…
Tenders dropping passengers off after the return from Belize City.
When we got back to our room we saw that we had an invitation waiting for us…
This was an invitation that all returning Carnival guests received. A pretty classy move, if you ask me. They want to give small thanks to repeat guests and we appreciated that.
Oh yes...we appreciate it. Really. Honest. It's not all about the free booze, is it?
We took advantage of looking fairly decent to take a picture with our favorite Entertainment Staff member, Peter.
Don't quote me, but I'm pretty sure I remember that Peter is 29 years old and about 8 or 9 feet tall. He's from "sunny" England and had only been working for Carnival for about five or six weeks at the time of our sailing. He was truly a class act and I wish him all the best (I also wish I could remember his last name...lol).
After the free booze and dinner, we decided to take it easy in the piano bar, Billie’s. I think it’s probably more me than Sunshine, but I’m pretty sure we both enjoy sitting around a piano while the player does requests and sing-alongs.
The piano player on this cruise was Alan Brown, who was also from England. He had happened to be the entertainment during the Captain’s Meet-N-Greet, so he knew us from that whole proposal thing. It wasn’t overly busy when we were there, so he took time in between each song to talk to us and engage us in conversation. We ended up going there on more than one occasion, and I think he really helped to add to our entertainment for the week.
The two of us were being VERY silly at this point (we had free booze earlier, y’know), so that led to an inside joke that I’ll share with you even though it’s probably only funny to us.
It was the “finger in the air”. Drinking all of the champagne that we drank over the course of the week made us think that we were all that and a bag of chips. As such, we figured we needed to look the part by raising our pinkie fingers whenever we drank the champagne. Of course, I had to take it one step further by doing it with pretty much every beverage I had…including this vanilla milkshake (WHICH WAS AWESOME!!!) while inside the piano bar:
It's just how I roll...
Once back in our room, we were greeted with yet another towel animal. Just don’t ask me what it’s supposed to be.
Towel animal #4
And with two days of vacation left (including stopping in Honduras and one more full day at sea), you’ll have to wait until next week to find out how it went.
So with that, have a great weekend, everybody!!