BELIZE CITY, BELIZE: CAVETUBING
Link to Cavetubing.bz website:
Since we had such a wonderful day the last time we did cavetubing, we decided it would be nice to do it again because this time around we had my oldest daughter and her family with us. So once again, we booked a day with cavetubing.bz. The last time we went my camera battery died before we made it in the water and caves and I had left my other one back at the van. So, I figured this was a good opportunity to get the pictures that I didn't get last time.
This was a tender port of course, as everyone knows, and I wasn't looking forward to it. This time we were sailing with Carnival so we headed down to get our tender tickets and it wasn't early like I did the last time we had to tender. So, we were tender #7. They had us wait in one of the lounges and the nice thing about this is that we weren't just "waiting" in a room like I have down previously. They had the big screen tv going and it was playing something like Funniest Home Videos. It was hilarious and it passed the time away quickly. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. A+ Carnival for having "some" type of entertainment while you way. That was an awesome choice.
So when they called the next set of tenders, they called about 4 or 5 different tickets...which included us. Yippee. (I think they were on tender 4 when we walked in and I thought it was going to take forever).
We boarded the tender and away we went. They made the normal safety announcements once we started moving and added in their little humor to the mix which was nice. They told us it would be a 20 minute ride over to the port. It was nice out and there wasn't a lot of waves.
We arrived at the port and made our way to the exit area of the port. Yep, it still looked the same this time around too. We knew exactly who to look for and where to go. The bright yellow shirt guys.
They led us down the road to their parking space, which is always the last parking spot along the road there before heading out.
Just like last time, they had us stand outside by the vans, along the wall and wait for the rest of the people to arrive that would be going on the excursion with us. I'm still not sure why they do this instead of putting you in the van with the a/c on.
The vans they used. I believe they have new vans since the last time we went with them. I know the van we had before, the a/c didn't work. The tour guide had told us that it would get colder as we got moving, but it never really did. I was hoping to not have a repeat this time around. It was hot.
While you are waiting, they give you a bottle of cold water to drink.
We all got in to the van, our party of 6 and another lovely older couple.
Our tour guide was Siaed. He told us about the Belize history, pointed out things in the areas, where people lived and how they lived. We had previously had Junior as our tour guide (and man was he good!!! We gave him a tip and then tipped him again he was that great) and we ask both our current tour guide AND Vitalino Jr if Junior was still with them and everyone acted as if they didn't even know who he was and that he never worked for them. Gasp. It had only been about 1 1/2 years ago when we had him. According to him back then, he had worked in the cave tubing business for years and had been with .bz for several years then. How could you not know your employees? Even if it was a few years ago I would think you would remember them. Weird.
So, we heard a lot of the same things we heard before along the way.
He told us about how they buried their people still 6 feet under but the tomb stones were above the ground. They are all buried in a certain direction (facing the north or maybe it was the south...I know from before that the sun has to rise over their head and set by their feet or vice versa).
**Keep in mind, it's not easy getting a decent clear picture in a moving van that is flying down the road and has tinted windows to discolor the picture**
There was a beautiful statue that was a gift from Taiwan to the people of Belize. It is a hand holding a magnolia leaf as a symbol of peace and goodwill.
He told us about a certain kind of palms that have seeds in them and when the temperature gets too hot, the seed spontaneously combust and burn with only the palms remaining.
We seen several places that had been burned and other places that were still burning. What better way to clear you land right? No need to heavy machinery here.
There were pineapples growing on the side of the road I believe he said. They were the biggest things I had ever seen. We later got a close up on the walk to the river.
We came up on the mountain in the distance and he started his story and I'm sorry, I blurted it out, I didn't mean to, it just happened and rolled off my tongue....It's the Gentle Giant...Oops. His reply "You've been here before right?" LOL
So, most of the things he told us, I had all heard before, same kind of jokes if not the same. I've been there, heard that, I smiled, acted interested, but it started to bore me. I'm sorry. I guess that's the reason why I usually don't do the same excursion again. But, it was my daughters first time and I "think" she was enjoying it.
So, since this is all a repeat for me, I'll skip a lot of the things (and I did as far as pictures because I already had them) and I just touched on a few things here and there that were different.
We stopped along the way (because we brought up the cashew trees from before) and he jumped out and picked a cashew fruit for us to try. Ok, that was new. Big grin.
We all passed it around and tried it. It was interesting, had a weird texture in your mouth and then left a "different" after taste. It is very juicy. It made you thirsty, that's for sure.
This time around, they didn't try to pressure you in to buying their famous "Cashew Wine". As a matter of fact, they didn't even mention it, I did.
Now, there have been discussions on here with people asking questions about how good it is, should we buy it when we are there, what people thought of it and so on...over the years. Well, our last trip with them, they really pushed you to buy it. After the cave tubing, you go to Vitalinos house and they give you samples of the wine. It taste pretty good. You buy this cheap bottle of wine, which of course the ship takes when you return and you don't get it back until the last day of the cruise. Then once you safely get it home, you are trying to recover from the alcohol you did drink while on the cruise that you decided now is not the time to open that cashew wine. Just save it until a "special" day...like you anniversary or something. When you open said bottle of wine, you take a sip expecting the same sip you took when you were sitting in Belize...um NO! You take a few more sips...hmmm, maybe it's just me and it will get better with more sips. More sips don't get any better and it leaves the worse after taste in your mouth and you throw out the bottle vowing never to purchase said wine again!
Well, I decided to ask about this since it wasn't voluntarily being offered or brought up this time around. I told my story, I told him how we liked it when we were here, but didn't after we got home. His reply "Well what you tried here is OUR actual cashew wine, it's not the same as what you buy from us." AH HA!!! THAT EXPLAINS IT! Well, isn't that like false advertisement, which I'm sure doesn't exist in other countries. So there's our answer.
So we arrive at our location.Man, where are we going to park??? I could not believe how many people were there!!! OUCH! It was going to be a jam packed sweaty people kinda day for sure.
We were off to the restrooms/changing areas to get in to our "water gear" and one last trip to potty before starting our journey to the river in the rain forest. Then we headed over to the building to get geared up for our trip and fitted with helmuts.
So we are all ready to start our journey in the rain forest and to the river. Wait, where are our tubes??? SAY WHAT? YOU CARRY THEM FOR US NOW? Now I know if you had any problems, were elderly, had walking issues, had children or for whatever reason before, they would gladly carry your tubes. However, this had obviously changed. We no longer carried our tubes. As a matter of fact, the guides with the tubes were long gone before we started. They took the tubes straight to the place you get in to the water and they are sitting there waiting on you. WOW, nice job .bz. Everyone else we seen were carrying their own tubes or their guides were lugging them around for them while they walked.
You come to a place that you walk down some steps to go in to a dry cave.Inside the cave you will see bats up in the ceiling. Later you would walk up some steps for more cave action along the way.
My grandson, Brayden, was getting slower and whinier by the minute. His burned shoulders were hurting him and the heat wasn't helping. The guides showed Sakari a mimosa plant, which curls up when you touch it, then waits for you to leave to uncurl. This was a first for us and wasn't shown to us last time. Maybe because it's a different season? I'm not sure.
We seen hanging vines along the way and the day was extremely busy. People everywhere. It was really hard to get pictures without people and tubes. Meanwhile, my grandson is moaning, outburst of cries, dragging as far back as he can, taking little itty bitty baby steps acting as if each step completely agonized him, and by far back I mean a good 20-30 feet far back too!!
Sakari was trucking right along and ahead of the group in the fast lane. She appeared as though she was with the group ahead of us...wonder if they want to adopt? (Just kidding).
We had to stop several times to wait for Kendra and "family" to catch up (and by that I really mean for Brayden to catch up). The guide smiled and waited and was patient and would find things to tell us about the land while they caught up. Now remember, I only took this excursion again because Kendra had never done it, so this was suppose to be her trip and I think she missed out on most of it because she was too busy trying to get Brayden to just WALK!!
Along the way...there is a plant. It is a nice plant. It is a highly sought after plant I would assume to some. Who says money doesn't grow on trees? Well you are wrong because that is exactly what this is...a money tree. Well, not really but yeah really. This plant has the ink in it that they use to make money with.
They had some type of huge water vine that grows in the rain forest. You can cut it and have a water supply. The vines were huge and I felt like playing George of the Jungle at this moment and pounding on my chest. We stopped to take pictures while we waited a good 5 minutes for Brayden to catch up again...dragging feet and all.
Along the way you could look over and see the beautiful water. We would have to climb some steps to head into some small caves along the route. For those days that your "significant other" gets on your nerves, you might want to grow some Guadua longifolia in your back yard, otherwise known as spiney bamboo. It had large spikes all over it.
Cohune Palm trees grow wild all over the rainforest in Belize. They can reach heights of 90 feet. Their giant palms are used for thatching houses or building shelters. They are the biggest things I have ever seen and so bold and beautiful.
We up on a deformed tree...I was ready to use its legs as a crutch for Brayden...he's still dragging behind while the guide was patiently waiting. I felt so bad for the other couple with us having to wait as well. It's one thing if it's just your group, but an entire different story when someone else in the party has to put up with it too. I really felt bad.
We finally arrived at the water (which is really a fairly short walk), but as we already knew, this was the END of the tubing. So, we had to cross the river and continue on, which is the real journey of the walk, threw the rain forest to the beginning of the tubing.
The last time we were here was in September and they had rain for days prior to us coming. The water was high and Sakari actually had to be carried across by the guide while holding the rope. This time the water was really low.
The water is crystal clear and you can see the bottom. It is a perfect temperature. I believe he said it stays 74 degrees year round?
It was very refreshing. He allowed us to swim for awhile. The deeper area is over by the huge rocks that you will normally see people jumping off of in videos on youtube. But since we went during the "low" season, you were not able to jump this time around.
Even thought this is not the ocean, but a river, the water is still beautiful and has that blue color to it.Of course Sakari being the waterbaby that she is, we had to drag her out of the water basically. We bribed her by reminding her of the tarantula that she would later get to hold.Ok, convinced that it was going to be funner to hold a huge spider again (she remembers the last time she did it), she finally trotted out of the water and away we went.
We came to an area that had all of these little red seeds everywhere. Most were in a line and pretty well formed. When we ask about it, we were told of some type of ant that carries these seeds and drops them along the way forming a path. It was neat to follow their path. This must have been their resting place because there were a bunch here.
Along the trails Sakari had discovered these fuzzy little (what she thought) creatures and ask why they weren't moving. She proudly showed me her capture for the day (thinking they were caterpillars). It turns out they are some type of seed that bursts open and this is the remains. They were here and there along the trail. Just enough to make Sakari think they were a caterpillar on the ground each time. LOL
Then we arrive at one of the many all might termite nests. Yes, we tried this last time and we will be trying them again. Our guide quickly bust one open and started digging for us while they scurried away knowing their fate. I guess they have done this a few times in their lives. Sakari dropped a few of hers and had to try them again but first she wanted to play with them. Now last time we had them, they were so minty. This time, a little minty but I have to say that they didn't taste the same. I wonder why this was? Just because it was a different colony? Different time of the season? I'm not sure. It was just different for sure.
We come to the part that the tour companies will ask you if you want to keep going and head to the upper part of the falls or if you want to just get in the water here instead and just go to the lower part with only the 1 cave. We really debated on this. We inquired what the other couple wanted to do and said it didn't really matter to us. We didn't want to say "Let's just get in here since Brayden was having such a hard time with this walk and his sunburn" and rob them of the experience. Then I remembered, the tarantula was AFTER this area. So, I knew I really wanted to keep going and so did Sakari. It's all she talked about. So I mentioned this to the guide and he nodded and said "yes, you will have to go further to see and hold the tarantula." So, we did.
There was another plant that when you break it open it has a liquid inside that you could write with. It was like a fluorescent orange highlighter. At first Sakari was scared of it when the guide grabbed her hand. So, mommy being the brave person that she is let Saied perform this tribal initiation on her first. Then Sakari was fine with it. We both got smiley faces. I'm sad that my picture didn't turn out better because we were in the shade.
We were also able to take a close-up look at the pineapple growing, but it was a small one.
Remember the spiney bamboo? Well, we came across the older, wiser version...the knobby bamboo (just kidding, I can't remember what he called these, but it was something like cow horns or something).
Brayden still following way behind, complaining and whining, the
guide offered several times to give him a shoulder ride the rest of
the way. He declined every time, making the rest of us miserable
as well. So, Sakari's no fool, she took him up on the "free ride".
We kept telling Brayden about the big giant spider he would be getting to hold and tell everyone at school about if he would just WALK!
So, they tell you it's only about another 10 minute walk to the higher part of the river, but I don't know about that. It seems like much longer and it seems like eternity when you bring Brayden along. I suggest none of you ever take Brayden along for your excursion.
We FINALLY MADE IT....whoda thought?
Wait, hold up. We completely passed the tarantula? ARE YOU FRICKEN SERIOUS???? That was the ONLY reason we kept going on. I had been promising the 2 little ones to hold the big spider the entire trip and coaxing them to keep going for this spider that we didn't even stop for? Ok, now I'm upset! Guess who else is????
So I'm telling my husband how upset I was about not stopping for the spider otherwise we would have just went in a long time ago and got this trip over with since Brayden was being so bad. He then tells me that him and the tour guide were talking about the tarantula and the tour guide was acting funny about it. He was telling him that the tarantual doesn't like to come out...it's not wanting to be held now, it keeps digging its home deeper and deeper to stay away from the tourist...blah blah blah. Um ok then. Why didn't you just SAY THIS when all I did was talk about it and telling our kids they were going to get to hold it??? Really? Don't be advertising on your website that you're the ONLY company that takes the tarantulas out for tourist to hold and experience this if you are no longer going to do it. I honestly just think that it was this guide that didn't want to do it. If that was the case, I feel like he should have told us right from the beginning and not led us on about it. We had some disappointed kids now. Thanks!
Everyone from the other companies were all standing in the LONG lines waiting to get down into the water. Our tour guide says come on and motions us around everyone. Yes, we were getting the dirty glares from everyone. We are weaving in and out of everyone and I'm feeling a bit weird about this. We get up to the front and you are up high above the water. We stood there in this space while others are in line going down the steps to get in to the water. The guides that were there were kind of just looking around (these are the guides from the company that had been waiting on us and carried the tubes prior to us getting there). We stood and stood and finally we decided to grab the tubes and put them down and sit down. It was a LONG walk with the munchkins (well, with Brayden, Sakari didn't have a problem, even at 3 years old there was no problem).
Brayden, upset and whining still, decided not to be a part of the "group" and plopped down on the ground and pouted...about the walk, about no spider, about being burned, about being hot, about whatever he could.
So we were sitting there wondering what is going on and why we are just sitting there. Finally one of the guides decided that he would have to go stand in line with the rest of the people if we ever wanted to get down to the river. Um duh??? So trying to make up for this period of just standing around wondering what was going on and why we were rushed to the front as if we just become a VIFCTP (Very Important Cave Tube Person) only to find out we were not going to be let in by any of those already standing in line waiting for their turn (as I would expect no less from any of them), they tried to cover themselves and said "See, everyone else has to stand in line and here at .bz we stand in line for you while you rest." Then they informed us that they had one of their members standing in line for us so we didn't have to.
I decided to get up after awhile and take some pictures from above. It was beautiful and amazing looking and really far down.
So here come our "place in line" guide and what do you know...he's basically LAST in line with only 1 other small group of about 5 people behind him. LMBO! Really? Had we just got in line when we first arrived, we would have already been in the water.
So we "jumped" in line, with the mean glares of the 5 people in the group behind us and started down the steps to the river.
Since the water was so low this time around, the walkway ladder that you walk down to get in to the water was really steep. Like it almost scared me steep. There was no handrail to hang on to and only pieces of 2x2's to use to brace yourself on the "plank". It was a chore to get Sakari down it and even a bigger chore to get myself down it. I do not have a good record of having the ability to keep my balance (remember the broken hand review from St Maarten while on my cruise?).
Me squatting into the tube is probably one of the most embarrassing pictures I have ever taken in my life and the most compromised you will ever find me in (well, in public I guess) wink wink. But I'm in one of those "I'm burned out on school work and the day in whole" moods and you guys are lucky that I'm going to share this with you. I know I will regret it in the morning and for years to come.
So this, is how they get you into the tube. I know people have ask about this several times on the board. Well...here ya go. You turn around, plant your feet at the end of the dock, they hold your hand and you fall backwards into the tube while someone in the water is catching you. I haven't missed yet.
We are waiting for Kendra and Brayden to get in behind us... the enthusiasm on Sakaris face while she waits was a very impatient one.
We all made it in the tubes and we were ready to cruise down the river and relax for awhile.
Something else that was different this time around (from our last experience), they have updated the tubes and they now have the headrest. They also no longer link your feet to armpits. They are linked together with a rope and clamp.
We were in single file. I noticed others were side by side with 3 in a row.
Here we go in to the caves...camera(s) don't fail me this time around because this is the last time I'm doing this excursion again. We made it in the cave. Lights on everyone. Our tour guide took a few pictures of us. Someone needs to show him how to hold the button down to focus before pressing it the rest of the way down to snap a picture.
There is a place you come to that is pretty big and open. It has several waterfalls there. They take you right up by the waterfalls and ask you if you want to get wet. I did of course.
This cave comes equipped with a jellyfish stalactite too.
Still floating along. I have no idea where, but there were a lot of people that came from out of nowhere or why they were out of the water. It must be a different part of the tour. Maybe the first entrance instead of going to the second like we did. The guide mentioned something about if we would have took the first exit to the caves instead of going on, you know...in order to see the tarantula? Then this is where you would get in. But, I'm not sure because it's on the opposite side of where we were unless I was really turned around.
Brayden was still not happy and neither was Kendra at this point. I have tons of pictures that I turned around to snap pictures of Kendra and her family...they all pretty much had the same scene to them...Brayden crying.
The water is just so pretty. Are you sure it's not the ocean? Since we went during "low" season, there were a lot of places they had to yell "butts up". Yea, some of these rocks could really hurt you.
Can you guys tell I'm getting tired? I'm actually running out of things to say about the pictures. A cave is a cave, this one just happens to have water running in it, we just happen to be floating down it and that's that. I'm not sure what else there is to say. So, just sit back and enjoy the rest of the pictures and try your best to drown out the crying you hear in the background. It's just Brayden.
There was a time that the guide says "If you want to get out of the tubes and swim the rest of the way back, you can here." Who do you think was the first out of the tube? Who do you think you didn't have to tell twice? I bet you guessed right. It was funny just minutes before this (and I caught this on film) Sakari said "come on already, I have some swimming to do. Is this over?" Sakari was having a blast, despite my water drops on my camera, and it was the most exciting part for her, because anything involving her IN the water is her thing.
So like always, when it was time to go...she was upset about having to get out of the water.
We made it back to the beginning and
it was time to pack up, head for the van,
and off to Vitalino's house for lunch.
It was a short drive, right down the road, to Vitalinos place and we were ready to get our grub on. I remember from the last time, it was darn good and I know we were starving after such a long day.
We arrived and was seated and immediately it was time for the hubby to access the wifi so that he could try to play catch up on some of his work while we ate.
Our meals are coming...yum! Stewed chicken, rice and beans, and cole slaw. It was just as good as the last time. Sakari even enjoyed it so much she ask for more chicken.
Yes, I had to have a second plate. I wasn't about to pass that up.
Last time we were there, they had a few of the tables set up and had it as their "gift shop". They have expanded a little now and actually have an area dedicated to their store which left the dining room bigger. The dinning room is outside and it is under a roof.
One of the good things is that they serve you drinks from a glass bottle. I love drinking soda from a glass bottle. Although they didn't have any diet or "light" as they call it in the other countries, I had to have a regular Coke. I'm positive this caused at least a good 2 pounds of my weight gain on this cruise. wink wink
Sakari had orange and when I told her that her tongue was now orange, she made me take a picture of it to prove it. I'm sure she has lost all trust in me at this point since I promised a tarantula and didn't deliver.
Once we were done eating, we piled back into the van and headed back to the port. Everyone was very quiet and some family members fell asleep in the van. It had been a long, tiring day for all of us and everyone was ready for a nap on the hour long ride back.
Coming back to the port, I'm going over in my head the craziness we encountered when we returned last time. We pulled up and it was like an entourage of paparazzi waiting outside of the van for you to get out and try to get you to buying their items. They were pulling and grabbing and you were doing your best to make it to the steps, flash your ship card and make it through the doors safely.
This time, nothing. No one at all waiting and we were dropped off right before you get to the other place we went in last time. I was very happy about that. Maybe it was just the time we were returning? I'm not sure.
They get you back in plenty enough time to do some shopping and looking around it you'd like. No worries.
We had a wonderful time last time we went cave tubing, and this was just as wonderful (WITH THE EXCEPTION of not getting to see the tarantula, which the kids were really looking forward to). The guide was wonderful, very informative, and we were actually told some different things this time around compared to the last time around. I like that we learned new things. I was disappointed to hear that "Junior" from the last time we were here, was no longer with the company. As a matter of fact, no one there could figure out who is was or when he worked there. I thought it was odd that they didn't know who he was. They said the only "junior" that worked for the company would be the owners son, which they all call junior, but I know who that is and it was not him. Oh well, maybe he'll turn up on one of the many other Belize excursions.
If you get a chance to come to Belize, this is a "must do" at least once. Just to experience it, see the sights, hear the history and all of the neat things they show you during the walk alone is worth it. I highly recommend doing this excursion and I highly recommend .bz also. As you can see, it has changed some since the last time we were there with the tubes and them carrying it for you. This is a big improvement.
Since I have done this excursion twice now, I will probably not be doing it again. I usually do not like to repeat places or excursions, but felt that I needed to because I had more family members with us.
Since we have done cavetubing, they have also added their own zip lining at the owners house, just down the street, as well.