Pet Any Sharks Lately?

Traces of snow and ice may not have completely melted away on the Zürich sidewalks, but at my computer here with endless folders of photos of tropical scenes, exotic fruits and extreme water sports, it’s anything but winter.  Looking at my notebook pouring out with exclamation points and excited comments about the unbelievably turquoise water, the sand between my toes and my triumphant feeling after parasailing, I almost expected to see fishing boats in the distance when walking out of my apartment the other day, instead of the pure white skyline of the Alps.

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Lots of readers shared their past experiences in Belize and perhaps our travels will overlap.  Where to start in recounting my adventure?  Other readers have expressed a new desire to visit Belize, and so that’s where I’ll begin – recommendations for activities you’ll want to squeeze in to any itinerary.  (Follow the links below for more details one each one.) This should work up an appetite for all of the food photography and recipes soon to follow…

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At the airport heading home from Belize, a fellow traveler asked me what my favorite activity was during the trip.  Hard to say.  As Jaguar Paw Jungle‘s slogan reads above, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”  I did many things for the first time in Belize!  Zip lining and rappelling in a jungle reserve were two.  (Tarzan yodeling optional.) Cave tubing was another, and quite exhilarating at that.  Imagine sitting in an inner tube, life vest on and lamp strapped to your head, as you go into a cavernous space carved out of rock with nothing more than water.  You’ll stare up at bats hanging down from their dwellings, glistening crystal-like limestone on the walls and try to make out the etchings that almost resemble animals.  This is a must-do activity in Belize.  No rush though, those stalagmites and stalactites only grow 1/4 inch every 100 years.  Two things to keep in mind: 1, the water is maddeningly cold. And 2, do heed the warnings to lift your derrière when floating in the cave; there are rocks, and that could hurt.

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Although technically it wasn’t my first time snorkeling, when you find yourself underwater in the world’s 2nd largest barrier reef, and you feel as if you’re on the set of “Finding Nemo”, it’s a whole new experience.  Our snorkeling adventure was in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. Southern sting rays, tarpons, enormous green turtles, grouper, red snapper, eels and barracuda all came to say hello.  Oh, and how can I forget… sharks.  Nurse sharks, but still, sharks.  Leaving the rainbow of  fish behind, we relocated our boat to Shark Ray Alley, where you can swim with sharks.  I can’t say that I pet the shark myself (kudos to Melanie of Travels With Two for doing so), but there was our Belizean guide above rubbing its belly.  Hey, someone needed to be on the boat to take pictures!

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Belize has a strong Mayan heritage and visiting Xunantunich (“Maiden of the Rock”) is a cultural stop on many itineraries.  It’s just west of the bustling town of San Ignacio in the Cayo district, where a visit to the local market was high on my list.  It might be best to ask for a guide to walk you around the site and explain the different ruins, what they represent, and fill you in with all sorts of interesting factoids.  Our guide let us know that El Castillo (the Castle), is 130 feet tall, the 2nd tallest “building” in Belize – its version of a skyscraper!  You’ll definitely want to climb to the very top, as the views just over the Guatemala border are extraordinary.  Don’t be alarmed at the lack of protection up there; in America that would be a lawsuit just waiting to happen!  The top right photo above resembling a hole is the passageway to the stairs to get back down.

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Lat but not least, another first for me… parasailing. And Belize it or not (sorry, couldn’t resist), I really did it. Those are my feet above!

18 Responses to “Pet Any Sharks Lately?”

  1. Lani says:

    The adventures of mykugelhopf are extraordinaire!!! The photographs make me feel like I did all your activities! I agree with you that I would stay in the boat and snap away….sharks!!! I would love to go zip lining in the jungle and scream away!!! Belize is just so gorgeous….thank you for absolutely sharing the warmth of the sun and the breeze in the air!!!

  2. Andrea says:

    Do you take a nice camera with you wherever you travel or just a point ‘n’ shoot? I just got a new Nikkon SLR but wonder if I would be bothered by its size when I travel…..just wondering.

  3. jen laceda says:

    You actually brought your camera up there with you? LOL! You know, I keep asking that myself, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Hmmm…some words to live by. Definitely.

    Oh, and I was just reading Andrea’s comment above. I’m getting tired of lugging around my super heavy Canon EOS 5D dlsr when I travel (especially with a young family in tow). I’ve been reading about the micro 3/4 (or is it 4/3) camera with interchangeable lenses. I heard they produce dslr-like quality photos! Something worth checking out, especially when doing so many ADVENTUROUS activities is BELIZE! I hope I get to Belize soon!

  4. Sam Sidney says:

    I agree with the previous post. I love the saying on that t shirt “when was the last time you did something for the first time?” very cool.. something to live by for sure.

    Love the 2 little crabs. Reminds me of our days in Montauk.

    xoxox, Sam

  5. Kerrin says:

    Andrea, good question. I have 2 cameras, a point and shoot Canon PowerShot 800IS and a Canon G10 that’s bigger but not like a SLR with different lenses and whatnot. So right of the bat, easier for traveling. I don’t always take the G10 with me, only if there will be a lot of food photography and close-ups. Since Olivier and I do a lot more rugged/off-the-beaten path traveling, I normally just take the point and shoot and keep it in my pocket 24/7. That way, on the road or on the mountain, I just grab it for an immediate shot, and stay more discreet too. Meanwhile, congrats on the new Nikon !

    Jen, to answer your question and continue the camera theme, I certainly didn’t take my G10 up there ! ha ha ! The parasailing guys actually strap your camera into your life vest, so it’s impossible for it to fall. It just hangs down – which still made me ridiculously nervous, and I didn’t even want to take my hand off the bar to take a shot from up there. I wanted to hold on !! I’ll look into that micro camera you mentioned, sounds attractive for sure, thanks !

    Sam, love those little crabs too ! and oh Montauk – how I’d love to go back, and soon !! 🙂

    * so tell me, when WAS the last time you did something for the first time ???

  6. Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels says:

    Sounds like an absolutely fantastic trip! I love that t-shirt, that’s a great slogan to live by 😉

    The water reminds me so much of home… Sardinia. haven’t been there in almost 2 years but sometimes it feels way longer! When you are born in a place like that it’s hard to stay away for too long, just as I imagine it must be hard for Swiss poeple to live away from the mountains!

  7. Melanie@TravelsWithTwo says:

    Kerrin, it’s so fun to relive our trip today — your timing is perfect! It just started to pour rain in L.A., and it’s gray and cold. Wonder what the water in Belize is like today?

    I’d completely forgotten the Jaguar Paw zipline slogan…such a brilliant message. The whole country felt like a series of firsts. Like, say for seeing enormous crustaceans. Remember how those “little” crabs in San Pedro weren’t little at all?!

  8. Lorena Martinez says:

    Great stories Kerrin! Thanks for bringing back those fun memories we shared. I’m sure you’d like to be in Belize to bask in the sun this time around. Weather forecast for today:

    Time 10:00 AM
    Temperature (ºF) 85
    Rel. Humidity(%) 77
    Wind (kt) NW 05
    Pressure (hPa) 1012.8
    Sky Cloudy

    Greetings from Tropical Belize. I will excitedly await your upcoming blogs! All the best.

  9. Nomadic Chick says:

    Sounds like a lovely time. Much to do and see! I am anxious to read what recipes will be posted — food from the tropics is so sustaining and fresh!

    By the way, I’d take a shark any day over a rat. At least sharks serve some purpose in the food chain, but rats? I’ve yet to find one.

  10. jkiel says:

    the last time I did something for the first time…
    (something interesting, anyway!)

    When I drove our race car IN the race, last November. Whew!

  11. Elise says:

    Hi there ! Thanx for sharing, en your lovely blog !
    I found your blog through the name of it : Kugelhopf. I made my first kugelhopf today, and I eat my first in Colmar 😉 I enjoy yor blig , thanx a lot!!

    greetz, Elise from Rotterdam NL

  12. Yeye says:

    wow so many adventures! Kudos to you! did you eat any of those baby sharks? i heard once that shark soup is delicious. can’t wait to hear your food discoveries in Belize …

  13. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    What an exciting range of activities in Belize.

    I especially like the sound of the the cave tubing. Though that cold water frightens me – it’s like when Mr Mélanger ‘threatens’ me that one day we’ll do the crazy let’s-sit-in-a-sauna-and-then-jump-into-an-icy-river style fun in Finland one winter. Not my idea of fun at all!

    I can’t wait for your food round up! Now I’m glued to my screen in anticipation. 🙂

  14. Pet Any Sharks Lately? | MyKugelhopf | belize today says:

    […] here to read the rest: Pet Any Sharks Lately? | MyKugelhopf Share and […]

  15. Kerrin says:

    Elisa, Sardinia is a place I have always wanted to visit. You are lucky to be able to call it home, and I certainly do understand how it is hard to stay away ! Hope you will be going soon… I love the name of your blog, Globetrotting in Heels – fabulous ! 🙂

    Melanie, don’t worry, you’re not alone with all that rain. It was raining too in Zürich when you wrote that. And Lorena has provided us with the weather above, not to make us jealous or anything 😉 I should have put the picture of the Belizean guy holding those crabs, people would see just how huge they were ! Miss them ! 🙂

    Lorena, thanks so much ! Wow, nice weather report. I won’t see one like that here in Zürich for another 6 months perhaps !

    Nomadic Chick, I’m with you – sharks over rats any day !! ha ha !

    jkiel, driving a race car – wow that certainly is a fascinating first ! One that not many people can say they have too. Bravo !!

    Elise, so glad your kugelhopf baking adventure brought you here. I can’t wait to check out your blog and see how your kugelhopf turned out ! I bet it was delicious 🙂

    Yeye, nope, can’t say I tasted any shark on that trip. But you are correct, apparently shark soup is quite a delicacy in China – shark fin soup, mmm ! Never had it, but certainly curious to try…

    Julia, the water was frigid, but I should have said above that I was in Belize in November ! I was wearing an anorak in the water which certainly helped. Meanwhile, Olivier and I were at a wedding in Helsinki a few months ago and did exactly what Mr Mélanger is telling you about. Sit in a sauna until you can’t breathe anymore and then run and jump into the river, colder than ice – you jump out faster than a cartoon character would !! Brrrrrrr. Food’s up next, stay tuned ! 🙂

  16. Steve says:

    Ok, i totally agree with all the comments about that slogan. I’m now on a mission to do something for the first time. Not sure what yet. Stay tuned. Love the post and of course the fabulous pictures. And Belize is now on my list of places to visit. Thanks much.

  17. Sindy Johnston says:

    Who did you go out to the reef with? We went with Alphanso and he was super!

  18. bethany says:

    Yea i’d be on that boat too! You’re making me want to go more and more! Cave tubing?!! Wow I’m so intrigued…sounds amazing but the thought is very scarrrry!

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