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Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Alley from Ambergris Cay

San Pedro

semi-overcast 86 °F
View 1998 Belize, Tikal, Atlanta, and Cozumel & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

2 March 1998 continued

After we were picked up at Ignacio's, we went to the Driftwood Dive shop and got our flippers (flippers take up too much room to pack and carry with us, so we just get or rent them at each place) and I got another water refill. We loaded all our luggage onto the boat including the breakfast rolls that Bob just bought, because we aren't coming back here.

There were eight other people with us. There were two couples. One Spanish speaking and one a man and woman traveling together who had just met on the trip. There was also a pair of men, and we picked up a single man at the Split. Then we went to Hol Chan and paid the ranger $5.00 BZ.
Ticket to Hol Chan

Ticket to Hol Chan


Hol Chan which has now been a Marine Reserve for 12 years, so the fish have had time to grow very large, especially the groupers. The boats were on moorings.

Julio led the dive and he told us to stay with him.

First we went to the where the rays and sharks and morays were. Bob had packed three of the snorkel cameras, but we used up the other snorkel camera, and I finished up the dive camera film.
Guide diving down

Guide diving down

Guide with ray and Bob's arm

Guide with ray and Bob's arm

Guide with a stick

Guide with a stick

1763385-More_snorkeling_pictures_Caye_Caulker.jpgSnorkeling at Hol Chan Underwater Park

Snorkeling at Hol Chan Underwater Park

large_51189420671095-Snorkeling_at..ergris_Cay.jpg71560229671535-Snorkeling_at..ergris_Cay.jpgSting ray and someone's flipper

Sting ray and someone's flipper

stingray

stingray


Julio petted the grouper and played with the sharks.
Guide holding a nurse shark

Guide holding a nurse shark


He also feeds the green moray a fish at the end of a long pole.
53685263671543-Moray_eel_lur..ye_Caulker.jpgMoray being fed a fish

Moray being fed a fish


I don't know if I approve of this activity or not but it sure pleases most tourists. They had a dive ladder over the side of the boat and I almost pulled Julio in when I tried to get out that way. It was easier to get on using the ladder on the stern.
Boat from underwater

Boat from underwater


Then we went to another site which was primarily fish and coral.
Clear Beautiful Water

Clear Beautiful Water

Sergeant majors

Sergeant majors

Fish

Fish

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Julio was towing one of the ladies around who couldn't swim.

We got back on the boat - everything wet and some people cold.
Ruby's from the beach

Ruby's from the beach


We got off on Rubie's pier, registered and got room #2 on the 2nd floor. The hotel people were very helpful. The room was not made up yet so we sat outside and ate the breakfast rolls.
Looking down from our room

Looking down from our room


We had two single beds with a night table between the beds, and a rack with coat hangers and a place to put suitcases. There was a standing fan, and a bookcase. The bathroom had a mirror, and hot water (unlike Ignacio's Huts in Caye Caulker). It took us a day to ask how to turn off the bathroom light. The switch was behind the mirror.
Sink and shower with towel drying

Sink and shower with towel drying


Outside on the deck (second floor), there were chairs and a table, and there were lines outside (with clothespins) to hang stuff to dry. It faces right onto the beach, and there is a pier. The only disadvantage of this hotel is that it is a little noisy.

I went down to the dive shop. I tried to phone, but you can't use a credit card to phone inside the country. So I went in person. This operation was partly run from the hotel which is on the inside of Barrier street so I went there first. Then I went to the dive shop pier. The pier is the same one that Driftwood Dive shop uses on their snorkel trips. Back to the hotel. Bob went to get a shower and I tried to use the pay phone, but it took my BZ$ and then when I connected they couldn't hear me.

I walked six blocks down to BTC (Belize Telephone Company) and made calls to car rental, Placencia and Cayo to check on whether they knew we were coming. I went to a pharmacy and bought some ointment for the rash under my arm on the way back. After I had a shower, I discovered that I'd left both the Camelbak and the vouchers someplace. I found the Camelbak in the Coral Beach hotel. The vouchers weren't at the pharmacy. I walked back to the BTC and they were closed, but the door was open and they had the vouchers. Walked back. I hung up the clothes to dry. Bob is not feeling well.

We went to Celi's for dinner
Looking out toward the dive pier

Looking out toward the dive pier


They had excellent food and service. The catch of the day is around US$10, broiled, fried or stuffed, and comes with a side order such as fries, beans and rice or cole slaw. Most other entrees are around US$8 to $12. Kids can get fish or chicken fingers, burgers and fresh juice drinks (watermelon, lime, orange, pineapple). You can dine inside or in a screened area by the beach. We had snapper ranchero, steamed rice, and Caye lime pie. US$28.75 including tax and tip for two.

Now to bed.

Expenses in Belize dollars
$2.30 pastries
7.50 phone company
16.60 water, drinks, jelly and bread
6.60 cups and 3 sprites
10.50 ointment
57.33 Celi's
unknown Hol Chan snorkel
unknown Rubie's
$50.42 Total in US dollars

Tuesday 3 March 1998

We went down to Rubies to have breakfast.
Looking out the front of the hotel - the bakery is below the window

Looking out the front of the hotel - the bakery is below the window


There was a small bakery/breakfast place run by the family that ran the hotel. There were a few tables inside or you could take the food out. We had breakfast here, but most of the stuff is too sweet for my taste. The rum cake is very good, but not for me for breakfast -- US$3.25 for two. They will juice just about anything. I never heard of watermelon juice before - also sweet. I didn't really like it. I felt queasy.

Got ready to dive. Voucher #7.
Coral Beach Hotel and Dive shop voucher

Coral Beach Hotel and Dive shop voucher


They rented me tanks, weights and a BCD at the dive shop. I was the only diver, and had a guide all to myself. They had no wrenches to put on my dive computer. So I came back to the hotel to get them. George the dive master was late. We went out to Tre Coco. The sea was choppy. I discovered I had forgotten turn on the camera and of course we saw a sleeping nurse shark and a huge barracuda. We saw a big sea turtle swim past, completely ignoring us. It was so cool. I was unhappy not to get a picture of him/her. I also forgot to rinse my mask but I could see OK. I had some problem with my buoyancy - either too heavy or too light. We did a 5 min decomp stop on a buoy rope as I was having trouble maintaining level. George put air in the BCD to come up and the valve stuck open. We came back a little later than we said we would. Went back to the hotel and the maid was in the room.

While we were gone, Bob went to take more photos of oil tanks. (His job at the time was as an above ground oil tank inspector.)
Car ferry

Car ferry


I hung up the dive skin to get dry, showered and went to Little Italy.
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They gave us Ice water!! at the table which none of the other restaurants did. We had the lunch buffet - there was a nice selection. US$15 for two without drinks. We went back to our room and I had a nap.

I went back to the dive shop. We went to Tuffy Walls for the second dive. This was a drift dive so George brought along someone to run the boat. It was windy so we couldn't go out too far - the water was really rough outside the reef.
large_3637410-Biggest_Reef_Belize.jpglarge_3637409-Biggest_Reef_Belize.jpg3637411-Biggest_Reef_Belize.jpglarge_3637412-Queen_Angel_Belize.jpg
Saw lots of fish and another huge barracuda. Had the camera on this time but I thought it was a 36 exposure roll and it was only 20. We went by a big sailboat from Georgia - it was named XIV. Came back and I took care of my gear.

We walked up to Elvi's kitchen for dinner. There is a tree inside the restaurant that goes through the roof.
Frangipani tree inside

Frangipani tree inside


Belize First says: "Doña Elvia Staines began her restaurant as a take-out burger stand in 1974. It has grown in fame and fortune year after year, until today it is probably the best-known restaurant in Belize". Bob had the fried chicken and I had chicken with coconut rice and a salad.

We sat at the window and watched car and golf cart traffic. Most of the transportation is foot, bike and electric golf carts. There are more cars on Ambergris than on Caye Caulker though, and at night Barrier Street is one way and Pescador Street (the middle street) is one way the other direction to control the cruising traffic jams. Streets are busy at night. People ride bikes or golf carts with a flashlight as a light.

We window shopped a little on the way back to the hotel

Expenses in Belize dollars
$ 6.50 breakfast
3.00 gallon of water
30.00 lunch
50.00 dinner
unk 2 dives
unk Rubie's
$44.75 Total in US$

4 March 1998

Slept late. Got 07:15 weather forecast on the radio - 88 deg F inland - 86 deg F on the outer cayes - cloudy - wind 10-20 knots E/NE low temp 77 deg F at night - water temp 82 deg F. ......Same old - same old.

We can hear conversation of others from the next room and down on the first floor.

Got up and went out. After we cashed some Traveler's Checks at the bank we ate breakfast at the Island Cafe - fresh squeezed fruit juice and some johnny cakes. They have all the usual egg-and-bacon basics including fried potatoes, but you could also enjoy the burritos and huevos rancheros.

Shopped and bought local made black coral and silver jewelry. Saw a cute little house with figures inside, but didn't buy it. They told me that it would be extra if we used a credit card, so I paid in cash.
List of purchases

List of purchases

Then walked up to the phone company. Called Windy Hill (they are doing our Tikal excursion) to try to get the Jaguar Inn (at TIkal) phone number. They didn't have it. Called the international operator information - she didn't pronounce Jaguar the same as we do but she gave me the number. Then the international operator said I needed to deposit $50.00. I talked to three different people. Finally got a man with pretty good English who say they had plenty of room the 12th but no private bath on the 11th. Also checked the Mayan air flight.

Took some pictures of the town and infrastructure on the way back.
Street scene

Street scene

Electrical worker

Electrical worker

Statue in roundabout

Statue in roundabout

Playground

Playground

Park with fake Mayan pyramid

Park with fake Mayan pyramid

672927-Street_scene_Ambergris_Cay.jpgScenes around Ambergris

Scenes around Ambergris

Scenes around Ambergris

Scenes around Ambergris


School kids wear uniforms. Streats are sand. Floors are sand in some restaurants too. Belize has many different kinds of people.
Amish woodworking shop

Amish woodworking shop


Even on Ambergris a lot of the woodworking, and food distribution is done by the Amish. We saw an Amish man and his son delivering eggs in a little wagon that they were pulling.

Went to the room and then walked down to Estels for a late lunch. Tuna sandwich and iced tea. No lemons or lemonade on the island. I get a lime slice in my iced tea.

Bob was watching sailboats come in an anchor from our balcony. I took a nap and then got ready to dive. We left to go out to Hol Chan about 5:30 pm. George is one year older than our son Rob. He comes to the dock on a bike. He works for the dive shop - he doesn't have his own boat.

We were the first boat out there but didn't have to pay as the park rangers weren't there at night. Another boat came in on the south side. The Hustler boat with the twin 200's moored on the pink buoy and then two more boats came in.

The dive guide told me under no circumstances was I to let the considerable current sweep me out beyond the reef because they wouldn't be able to find me. I actually didn't have any trouble with the current - it wasn't that bad. We got down and were looking around when someone from one of the other boats came down on top of me. I had a certain amount of trouble aiming the camera so that the whole animal that I was taking a picture of was in the picture, so my photos weren't as good as they normally were. We saw some of the same fish we saw when we snorkeled here during the day.
Fish at night

Fish at night


But we didn't see any lobster when snorkeling.
672894-lobster_Ambergris_Cay.jpgLobster

Lobster

672891-fish_Ambergris_Cay.jpgFish at night

Fish at night


In addition to the two lobster,
Moray eel

Moray eel


we saw two green morays, a spotted moray, a large shrimp and sea urchins. A particularly interesting thing that one would not see during the day was a parrot fish taking a nap in a mucus cocoon tucked away in the reef.
parrot fish getting some zzzs

parrot fish getting some zzzs


Then just at the end of the dive, this sting ray came swimming out of the dark with his eye glowing. It made him look kind of spooky.
Stingray

Stingray


Came back to the boat. I was weighed too heavy.

Got back, showered and hung things up to dry. We had dinner at the Holiday Hotel Wednesday BBQ on the beach.
Beach Barbecue on Wednesdays

Beach Barbecue on Wednesdays


Live music and spicy barbecue which was one of the cheapest meals we had. After the BBQ, when the sit down restaurant part of Celi's was closed, we came here for dessert.
Celi's for Ice Cream

Celi's for Ice Cream


You walk up to the windows on the street and order and then get your food. Or in our case, coconut ice cream. Then went back to the hotel.

Expenses in Belize dollars
$19.00 Breakfast
13.00 phone Tikal
25.00 lunch Estels
150.00 jewelry for gifts
unk night dive
5.00 tip for George
31.00 BBQ dinner
unk Rubies
2.50 ice cream
$122.75 Total in US dollars

Thursday 5 March 1998

It was windy last night and I didn't sleep well. Grumpy this morning. It is Bob's 62nd birthday. Finished packing and took our bags to the airport
Airfield

Airfield


and got a boarding pass.
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Airport at San Pedro

Airport at San Pedro


From the plane taking off

From the plane taking off

Taking off from Ambergris

Taking off from Ambergris


View of Ambergris from the air

View of Ambergris from the air


We left on the early flight. On the plane with us was a family of six that ate at Celi's the first night. They are going on to duPlooys. The plane went to the International airport first.
From the plane

From the plane

Next - renting a car

Posted by greatgrandmaR 12:36 Archived in Belize Tagged belize dive snorkel ambergris hol_chan Comments (4)

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