tacogirl.com island blog, San Pedro, Belize

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Please visit - tacogirl.com daily island blog, San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye Belize.

If you want a great view, tacogirl blog is pleased to offer 24h Live beach video - realtime streaming Belize webcam. Tune in to see sunrise, Caribbean sea, barrier reef dock and occasional wildlife, people and boat view Ambergris Caye Belize - streaming video courtesy of Storm Chasers Belize.

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A great ride - Extreme Adventures Belize

Saturday, May 16, 2009

6:00 am Saturday morning and I am back at my labels again - I have to get them done asap as we are off to parasail this afternoon.

It's been a great ride a good ride on blogger but I have outgrown being here and I am ready to let it go put my attention on the next level.

My transition is almost complete and tomorrow is my last blogger post.

8:02 am still on second page of editing 300 posts. Been at this a solid 2 h so far and almost done. Will break before the last 300 and team up with Paul on revamping my amazon store before he goes to his morning meeting.

9:30 am - still glued to my chair got slowed down by a power out - finally finished second section of work - 300 posts left to go through - and a big sigh of relief when it is over.

I wish I could fast forward to this afternoon and all our work be done ha ha - I am definitly ready to float in the sky right about now.

12:16pm I made it up to 2009 and am pushing the envelope for time. Got to get to town by 12:45.

More later

I think it is safe to say I can speak on behalf of everyone on the boat today and say Thanks to Monica Alex and Kevin for making our parasail trip with Extreme Adventures today an all around good trip. Alex and Kevin did a great job of keeping us all laughing and making sure we were safe at every step of the way.

Our flight height was 250 - 300 ft and what a gorgeous day to be out on a boat and taking turns soaring above San Pedro with a bunch of we have never met who all turned out to be really nice. We had Benjamin from Chaa Creek - Frank who lives on the mainland and Darsi Salazar & Jose Acosta 2 teachers from Corozal who were doing a tandem parasail.

Tune in for part 2 Monday on tacogirl.com for my view from the air.

8:o9 pm whew here is my big sign of relief - finally finished going through all 761 posts. Time to get ready for Helda's birthday party at Roadkill. Party was fun - lot's of friends there. Watched people take turns whacking a Belikin bottle pinata and the frenzy for candy and mini squire guns after it opened. Helda Colette and Joe did some karaoke by that time we were ready to call it a night. Party pics coming soon.

Extreme Adventures Belize 226 - 3513

Ready for blast off

Floating high up in the sky

Coming in for a landing - Benjamin's turn

Great day for a parasail

Flying high on his first trip

Benjamin touching down

Frank is up

Lift off

Frank way up there

Frank just landed - Benjamin still smiling from his 1st solo flight

Darsi Salazar & Jose Acosta go airbourne

Hanging out chating

2 thumbs up

One occasion it's ok to double dip ha ha

Darsi Salazar & Jose Acosta make smooth easy landing

Back to town

Extreme Adventures crew

On the move towards tacogirl.com

Friday, May 15, 2009

I have been working hard and moving fast towards launching tacogirl.com

Thanks to Alissa's guests posts on Cayo the past 2 days - I have been able to immerse myself in wordpress and and get familiar. I found once I started it was pretty easy although I know I have just touched the surface.

I also found a good wordpress tutorial site - that walks you through some very useful stuff.

Really getting a better feel for twitter and how I can use it to help market my blog.

I just saw @tacogirl on right hand side of twitter and realized that not only do I know how to reply direct to a tweet by moving cursor to right of tweet to bring up direct reply arrow - now I can see peoples replies or who has sent direct messages to me that I may have missed.

More to come I have so many things on my plate right now and the first one needs to be food ha ha.

This afternoon I am tackling something on my blog list that has needed to be done for a while but was never quite the right timing - redoing my labels. I have come up with a few new ones and now I have to check all 761 posts 1 at a time to make sure the labels are right and add new ones where applicable. Lot of work but well worth it as I think the label option is a good search function if done well.

Sometimes when doing blog labels people get to caught up and want to stick a post in too many categories when in reality it should only be in one or 2. It can be a bit tricky deciding but well worth making sure you get it right so people get the most out of searching on your blog.

The new categories I have added are - fishing - cool stuff - 411 - Island Life - Stuff Swap and Useful Information.

I managed to get through doing 161 posts before I had to break. We were supposed to go to Lime for the chili cook off - I walked down to meet Paul at Pedro's sat down at the bar and just could not get up again. So we stayed there and ate pasties with a side of beans - played Yahtzee and bowled.

San Ignacio - part 2

Thursday, May 14, 2009

San Ignacio - part 2 by Alissa Reid

The bus comes to a complete stop in Santa Elena, the sister city to San Ignacio. They are separated by a wooden bridge large enough for one vehicle to cross suspended above the Macaw River. Between both cities, the population is around 16,000 people. The city looks worn and dirty compared to the countryside. We stop in the middle of the road. People start jumping out the back of the bus and the ticket agent with the gold fillings walks out the front of the bus. We wait. The bus driver honks the horn and everyone comes running, jumping back onto the bus with styrofoam containers filled with BBQ chicken and rice and beans, the Belizean staple food. It smells incredible.

We are then dropped off in the middle of town square, where the local fruit and vegetable markets are held. We are told to jump out the back emergency exit and I hold my breath until a man hands our big back packs down to us with a smile. We made it! As we start to try to close the school bus back door, the bus driver is already driving away, to his final stop at the Guatemalan border.

I hoist my bag up to my shoulders and notice that it is much hotter and much more humid that I had expected. I was actually thinking that this place was mountains and trees, dense and cold, but it is mountainous and hot, as we are still in Belizean jungle. We are immediately accosted by the cab drivers, to which I smile and say, "Maybe, gimmie a second to figure out where I am!" They smile and I start to realize that this area is much more friendly than the Island people I have grown accustomed to over the past year and a half. Steve and I scan the area. It seems there is the market area, and then up the hill the road splits into two and I can see stores up each way and the Belize Bank. Down the hill and past the market seems to be a less populated area. They have many tour operators, so we decide they might be the most helpful people to talk to first. We walk up to one of the tour operators and ask him where Casa Blanca hotel is, a hotel we have found in our guide book and it seems quite charming by the description. He points up the hill, it's not far. We start walking up the hill while the taxi drivers keep calling to us to take their offer of a ride. We realize it is literally a 2 minute walk. As we walk up the steps to the hotel, I notice an over powering sewage smell and see that beside the sidewalk there is an open sewer. So far I am not happy with our quaint nature adventure. The lady at the hotel comes out to greet us. She is very sweet and takes us through the locked gate and up a staircase to show us the rooms. There is a common area where people are able to cook in a kitchen and a small living room to watch tv or hang out. Steve finds it endearing, I find it weird, with mismatched decorations and the worst selection of books I have ever seen. She takes us down a long corridor, to our room. It is small, with two small beds, a tv and a dresser. Each room has a bathroom with a slated window for ventilation, that goes directly into the hallway. You can hear the people in the common kitchen area from the bathroom. We decide to take the room for the night, and she tells us to get settled and then come down to pay. We change, freshen up, and decide even though the room is $50US, it isn't that bad and we will survive. I can hear the traffic below. We go downstairs and pay, deciding that we will only pay for one night, and see if we can find something a little better.

The street is filled with cars and people, a strange sidewalk that doesn't go straight, but cuts off in places to allow the drains to go where they need to go. There are three small buildings across from us. One is called an icecream shop, although there is a line up at the window and people are getting things that don't look anything like icecream. The place beside it is called Hanna's restaurant and is also featured in our guide book so we cross the street and go in. The place is fairly bare, except for linen table cloths and some local art for sale on the walls. There is another traveling couple around our age sitting, already enjoying their food. The menu boasts that Hannah's has its own farm, where they raise their own chickens, beef, and grow all the vegetables. I am eagerly anticipating the food, as living on an Island does not provide the freshest of produce, unfortunately. I am having a difficult time deciding on what to order and the traveling couple suggest the fish fingers and the giagantic quesadilla they cannot even finish half of. Steve orders the quesadilla and I opt for the chicken curry with salad and their own homemade dressing. The food surpassed my every expectation as the freshest, tastiest food I have had in ages.

As the traveling woman appears from the bathroom on their way out, I decide to ask her where they are planning on staying, as they are still carrying their oversized backpacks. She tells me they found a cute little place called Midas, just outside of town with little cottages and a hammock strung up on the veranda. They also serve breakfast. We thank them for the suggestion and they are on their way. While finishing our lunch, we decide that we should explore other places to stay, as our friends Jean and Doug are meeting us the next day to stay for the weekend as well so we start walking in the direction the girl pointed. We decide to walk, as we are exploring the town anyways and aren't carrying our heavy load anymore. We ask along the way if we are headed in the right direction and are greeted and encouraged by the smiling faces we meet. The small town center is gone from view within a few minutes and we are greeted by a much cleaner, greener area. We walk past a large park and find ourselves at a sort of large outdoor restaurant with gaming area for children. We decide to go and sit for a drink and enjoy the view of the wooded area. Steve asks where Midas hotel is and the waitress points through the trees, she says its right there, and then points to the road we had been walking on and says maybe five minutes and we are there.

We arrive at Midas, and find a small building which serves as the office. There is a young white teenager working. He is very friendly and has a thick Belizean accent. He tells us his name is Michael, that this is his mother's hotel and he was born in the Cayo District. We ask if he minds showing us a room and we are guided into a wooded area around back with a long winding path through at least a dozen small cottages. He shows us 4 or 5 of the cottages and the different styles and prices and we are confussed but happy, as we like them all. He asks us where we are from and we tell him Canada. He says he has family in Canada that he has wanted to go and visit, in Winnipeg. I laugh and tell him that that is where we are from. What a coincidence! He asks how long we have lived in San Pedro and we tell him we have lived here for one and a half years. He says that that qualifies us for a Belizean discount and we end up with a cute little cottage and airconditioning for $50USD. We tell him we will see him in the morning, as we have already paid at the place downtown and will be staying for three nights. As we are leaving we see the traveling couple from the restaraunt and they are happy we have found the place.

After walking around the very small town square for awhile we decide to go and have a beer or two at the pizza place, as we can't find anywhere with a patio open. Shortly after, the couple arrives again, so we ask them to sit. There names are Katie and Evan and they are from Iowa, but have great stories about living in New Orleans. We sit for a few hours until it starts to get dark and I suggest we go back to Casa Blanca for a shower and out for supper to the Italian restaurant, that we have also heard good things about. Our friends have decided to go for a night on the town. We say goodbye.

I awake in the wee hours of the morning to the sound of a fridge opening in my ear. I hear the pan go down on the stove top and realize my head is right beside the wall in the kitchen. The sun isn't up. I hear the tv go on in the common living room and people talking. I look at the clock on the cell phone and laugh. It's 4:55am. I wonder how happy the guy is that I heard come in at 2:30. Probably not. I decide I couldn't let it bother me, but then realized that I am smushed up against the wall with Steve on the other side of me in the tiny little bed with a terrible mattress that I almost thought was a water bed the night before with the way it swayed when we got in. We end up awake, showered, and packed up to leave the Casa Blanca hotel by 7:00am. We go over again and again how happy we are that we are moving to Midas cottages. We decide that we should find Evan and Katie and buy them a beer for getting us out of the downtown hotel.

At 9:00am we are already catching a taxi to Midas. We have realized we have missed every tour around and I am feeling a little down and want to find some sort of adventure to do for the day. We think maybe Michael will be able to help us. We arrive and realize to our dismay another person is working. It is another man who looks quite young as well but is of a Spanish or Mayan decent. We explain that Michael has said we could leave our bags at the front desk. He looks at us with a frown and says, "What? Reid? I don't see you guys in the computer......" then he breaks out into a grin and says, :Just kidding, you can get into your room right now! We were trying to find you a king bed, but if you are ok with 2 doubles....." We smile and still can't believe our good luck as he walks us to our cottage. I realize I didn't actually see anything about check in and check out times. We walk down the path and listen to birds chirping songs I have never heard and watch as the hotel guy points out different types of plants and trees, reciting what herbal remedy it is used for. I'm starting to think that time is not much of a factor out here.

That all we have, is time - more coming soon.

The Road to Cayo Belize - part 1

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Road to Cayo Belize - part 1 by Alisa Reid

We threw our backpacks onto the back of our golf cart and tied them in for the ride to town. We decide to leave the light on outside and the TV on inside. We have also come to the realization Steve's office might be a safer place to leave our computers and passports as we live outside San Pedro town, on the more remote North side of the Island.
Our ferry boat to mainland Belize leaves at 9:30, so we decide to go into town for breakfast. We have also decided to leave our golf cart locked up in town on Front Street, as taxis are not allowed on the North side of the Island. We park in front of another real estate office, an empty space now since our English friend Peter jumped ship to fly back to reality. Something you see on the Island on a regular basis.

We go to Estelle's, a favorite beach breakfast spot where Charles serves us fry jacks, bacon, and refried beans. Our favorite beach dog, who we affectionately named Playa, walks up casually to greet the customers until I say "Playa" and she breaks out into her nervous excited dance. We "adopted" her over a month ago, took her to the vet for shots, bathed her, and let her sleep in our house. After running back to the beach three times, we now realize we cannot own her, we can just be her friend. She walks us to the end of the pier where we get on the water taxi and she quickly disappears.

Our hour long water taxi takes us bumping through blue green waters past other Islands like Caye Caulker, our more relaxed counter part and Caye Chapel, an 18 hole golf course resort where we keep trying to justify spending $200 US each to golf.

We arrive in Belize City in a bustling area where they unload cruise ships full of pasty white tourists looking for a bit of Belizean culture. Unfortunately for them, they are corralled into an area with bars and shops all owned by the cruise ships where incidentally, no locals are allowed to go. We momentarily entertain the idea of trying to sneak in for American prescriptions and booze, but can't figure out how to even get into the area.

We are quickly escorted to a van that takes us to the bus terminal for three dollars. We have read that the bus station is in a dangerous neighborhood and are feeling a small level of anxiety as we walk into the bus station.

We see a young Spanish looking Belizean man and he asks us where we are going. I notice he has gold fillings around his teeth. I say "San Ignacio" and he points to the oldest looking school bus I have ever seen.

"Leaving in 10 minutes." I ask if there is an express bus, eying the nicer bus beside us thinking it might even have air conditioning. "Nope." He smiles. We climb onto the bus, realizing our pale skin is glowing to those already in the bus waiting. We are still anxious as we put our bags in the seat in front of us. Steve looks at me and says, "It smells like tomato soup." I think it smells like Lipton noodle soup.

We are in one of the roughest areas of Belize City. Where the murders here make any hood in the States look like a playground. Then a little white haired lady gets on the bus and I let out a sigh of relief. We drive through the city, filled with tiny stores with badly painted signs, junk, construction, and destruction. where the majority of houses and shacks look condemned but have bright colored clothes hanging on the line outside, or a mother holding a baby in one arm on the porch, and a cell phone in the other. I pull out my IPod and sit back for the three hour ride, letting people on and off, all the way down the Western Highway.

Along the highway we pass small villages with rusted vehicles without tires, small shacks with nothing in the window but a curtain, two neighbors talking through the window. Plywood shacks with hand painted signs advertising rice and beans, attempting to entice the hungry traveler. The landscape becomes less tropical with more bushes, trees, and mountains in the background. I smell rain before I look up and see it splashing the windshield of the bus. I wonder if the wipers work.

Off the highway I see a dirt road leading to a village. There is a school with windows and doors wide open. Two women are walking on the road and a drunken man is sitting on the road talking, possibly to them but it's hard to tell.

As we continue to cruise down the highway we come across an accident. A white Chevy truck has rolled, many times. I would be surprised if the person lived. This gets the people in the bus talking across to each other, mainly in Creole. The only words I can make out are FUCK. I think they might be speculating who the driver was, as there are only 250,000 people in the entire country. We pass, and I hope this serves the bus driver as a reminder that this is one of the deadliest highways in Central America.

-To be continued tomorrow