Cruise: Day 4
So Jenny and I are off to take our cruise. For various reasons (not least that internet time onboard is something like $5 a minute), I am posting these after the fact. Pictures of the cruise are available here. The full list of cruise posts is available here.
Cruise: Day 4 (Belize)
Jenny and I took our first steps away from dependence on the cruise line today; we got off the boat without a shore excursion planned, but hired a local tour company to take us to the Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS) outside Belize City. They're not, of course, actual baboons (which only live in Africa and Asia), but black Howler Monkeys, the local slang term for which is baboon. Our tour guide for the day was Reggie, who was dare I say waxed loquacious on all things Belizean. Among other tidbits, he told us that a Texan named (of course) Tex had purchased an entire island just off the coast. Islands in Belize are surprisingly affordable for Americans (in the neighborhood of $250,000--sans house, of course). Tex is apparently a "nice guy", since he allows the locals to use his beach for barbeques, provided they clean up after themselves. We heard about another Texan (not named Tex; that would be too confusing) who owned a truly huge mansion. Of course, it wasn't a patch on the American Embassy in Belize, which spans (I am not kidding) roughly six city blocks, all dutifully flying the Stars and Stripes.
Anyway, as I said, Reggie had been engaged to ferry us to the CBS and back, which he did, after a semi-thorough tour of what he called "uppity-town" (the wealthy section, approximately 90% of whose inhabitants were expatriate Americans). :) Reggie was a delight of a tour guide and an informative way to spend several hours.
The CBS itself was very interesting. Despite only being about 18 inches tall and weighing maybe 40 pounds, howler monkeys are quite intimidating. The little black forms 30 feet up in the trees were making sounds that could be heard a mile away, and standing right under them is somewhat nerve-wracking, although we were assured they weren't aggressive towards humans. We saw several other interesting things on the trip, including a roughly millenium-old palm tree, a fern-like plant that "goes to sleep" when you touch it (folds up its leaves), and the opportunity to try cashew wine. Apparently the cashew is actually a fruit; the nut we generally eat is a single seed that, unusually for fruit, grows outside the fruit itself. They make wine from the fruit in Belize; I wanted to try it, but Jen wasn't game, so we passed.
All in all we both really liked Belize; it's actually not that far from Texas (2 days' drive, give or take), so we could go back if we wanted. Definitely a worthwhile stop.
Tonight was the night of the Maitre d'Hotel's wine tasting. While the Maitre D was in attendance, most of the talking was by various waiters; the best of whom ended up somehow talking into his wine glass and testing the aroma of his microphone, much to everyone's amusement. The only wine we particularly liked was something called a meritage, which was really quite tasty. Plus, Luigi (one of the head waiters, from Italy) hand-made us some very wonderful pasta in a spicy tomato-garlic sauce, and I'm a sucker for anything involving both garlic and capsaicin. ;)
Dinner was our second formal night (the first Jen and I attended, having skipped Pojarski night), so I wore my suit and Jen wore her Valentine's dress (in which she is dazzling, let me assure you). I have no recollection of what we ate, she's that distracting. ;)