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The flights home were relatively uneventful with no [further] delays. We were able to get Bruce onto our flight from DFW to LAX so that we could travel together. Although we weren’t sitting together so it didn’t really make that much difference.

It never ceases to amaze me how interested the boys are in the safety cards on the planes.

Safety first

One good thing about all the delays? It meant we flew into LA at night which is always a treat. Too bad I never get the window seat to take a proper picture.

Landing in LA at night

Home sweet home.

Cahal Pech

With our rescheduled flight now rerouted through Dallas and leaving at 3:30 instead of 11:30, we had time enough for a Sunday outing. We asked John for suggestions and he thought a trip to the smaller Mayan ruins site of Cahal Pech would be a good fit. He was right.

So at 8:00 we checked out of The Great House and he picked us up for another trip along the Western Highway, this time past the zoo and Amigos, about an hour and a half out. The site was apparently a marketplace and had a different feel than the other sites we’ve visited. It was much smaller and nearly empty of visitors. There was a small visitors center with information about the site and displays of artifacts.

Visitors center

Mayans were short

Mayan Chocolate pot

They also had a mural of what the site might have looked like when it was thriving. The main marketplace and houses of the wealthy people in the center with others living on the outskirts.

Mural

Mural

Then we went to see the ruins.

Heading in

Ruins

John said they think this was the main entryway to the plaza area.

Entryway

The arches were very interesting.

Arch

There were no grand “El Castillo” ruins to climb at this one, but rather a collection of smaller structures that were living areas. Here’s someone’s house.

Someone's house

And this was probably some type of meeting room for dignitaries. The green on the walls is one of the kinds of paint they used.

Ezra and Bruce look behind the doorway

The structures were kind of maze-like and we climbed all over. The kids loved it.

Going down

Ezra having fun

Ezra up high

John said this building was probably a sauna.

Sauna

Some of the areas had been recently cleared.

Running through the ruins

In fact they were doing some excavating while we were there.

Doing some excavation

After a full walk-through in 90+ degree heat, we were ready for a break.

Tired boys

So we headed down the road to the San Ignacio Resort Hotel for lunch, where fun ensued.

Spoon trick

Spoon trick

On the drive back, all the Moision boys fell asleep. I thought I would too, since I hadn’t slept well the night before due to the freakish lightning, thunder, and pouring rain we had, but, alas, no.

Sleepy Finn

Sleepy Ezra

Sleepy Papa

Pretty soon we were at the airport, saying goodbye to John, and awaiting our flight home.

The Belize Zoo

John, our same guide from last year, picked us up at Municipal Airport and we headed out of Belize City, along the Western Highway, to the zoo. We stopped for lunch first at Amigos where we saw a very cool Basilisk Lizard.

Basilisk Lizard at Amigos

We had a nice lunch and enjoyed the scenery. Finn had fallen asleep in the van on the way, so he was a little grumpy to start.

Finn and his Fanta at Amigos

Ezra at Amigos

Then we headed down the road to the zoo. Calling the Belize Zoo a zoo is kind of a misnomer as it’s really more of a sanctuary. All of the animals are a) native to Belize and b) either rescued, abandoned, orphaned, injured, etc. We knew we wanted to go back this year because we had such a great time there last year. And this year they have a new rare black jaguar that they rescued from an abandoned resort about a month ago. His name is Lucky Boy and it’s quite fitting — he was in terrible shape when they found him but he’s recovering nicely. We couldn’t wait to see him!

But first, the usual roundup of their animals. Here are some favorites.

White Tailed Deer.

White Tail Deer

The boys fed these guys through the fence.

Feeding the deer

Spider Monkey.

Spider monkey

Tapir.

Tapir

Turtle.

Turtle!

I don’t remember what this bird is called but he’s pretty cool looking.

Some cool looking bird

Blue Crown Mot-Mot. I just like the name.

Blue Crown Mot-Mot

Ornate Hawk Eagle.

Ornate Hawk Eagle

The boys really enjoyed seeing the Neotropical River Otter play around in his enclosure. He sort of looked like a fish when he was in the water, but would pop out and interact with the visitors. He’s quite social. Here he is swimming on his back.

Neotropical River Otter

And checking out Ezra.

Ezra loved the river otter

It was very hot that day — probably low 90s — and all of the cats were trying to stay cool by lounging in shady areas. It doesn’t make for the best photography, but I tried.

Ocelot.

Ocelot lounging

Puma.

Puma lounging

Margay. He was up in a tree.

Margay lounging

Jaguar. I just couldn’t get a good shot but was happy they were there this year as last year the staff was working on their enclosure and the big cats were gone.

Jaguar lounging

The Scarlet Macaws, so striking, were a big hit again this year. They came right over when John offered them some of Finn’s leftovers from lunch.

John feeds the birds

Scarlet Macaws

Scarlet Macaws

The Jabiru Stork.

Jabiru Stork

He’s huge and they have a cutout of his wingspan so the kids could see how they measure up.

Measuring up

Measuring up

Harpy Eagle.

Harpy Eagle

And, of course, the Crocs.

Crocs in the pond

Croc

After the rounds of the regular part of the zoo, we asked if it was possible to see Lucky Boy. He’s recovering in an enclosure in the back, while he gets used to being around people. For a meer $10 US total (which goes to his food and care) the four of us were escorted to the way back and got to spend some time watching Lucky Boy and getting information from a very nice member of the zoo staff. The cat is amazing — enormous, powerful, and gorgeous.

Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy

After that it was snake time. Ezra had been talking non-stop about getting to hold the boa constrictor again and he finally got his wish.

What Ezra was waiting for

Finn was a little more brave this year as well — he held the tail.

Snake!

I think Ezra would have stayed here forever.

Ezra's zen

But finally he passed the snake to Bruce.

Bruce's turn

Closeup of the snake

And then we were done. We hopped back in John’s van and he took us to The Great House — our hotel for the night. ¬†We considered John’s very nice invitation to join his wife and daughter for bowling later that evening, but we were all just too exhausted. And, we found out that evening that our flight through Miami had been canceled altogether and we’d been rerouted on a later flight through Dallas. So, we hired John to take us on another excursion the next day. We definitely needed to get some rest!

Goodbye, Ambergris Caye

Because we missed our planned excursion to the mainland earlier in the trip due to the vomitorium situation, we decided to leave the island a couple of days early to spend the weekend on the mainland before flying home Monday. (Of course, those plans also got changed when we moved our flight to Sunday due to the impending tropical storm Isaac set to hit Florida. But more on that later.)

Saturday morning came around and we headed out. On the way to the dock, Finn found this teeny, tiny crab.

Tiny crab!

We had gotten a drenching of rain earlier in the morning, but by 9:30 when we left, the water was like glass and the skies were beautiful.

Perfectly still morning

Leaving Los Encantos

We said goodbye to Jamma and climbed aboard our Coastal Express taxi for our last boat ride.

Last boat ride

Once at the airport in San Pedro, we took advantage of their super fast wifi and enjoyed the air conditioning while waiting for the plane. The boys found a stingray hidden in the sand in their aquarium.

Stingray hidden in the sand

Finally, we boarded our 11:00 flight to Municipal Airport in Belize City. We got to sit right up front on the little plane.

Finn and Papa Sitting up front

I took a few pictures out the windows. The stillness of the day made for a spectacular view.

Goodbye, San Pedro

View from the plane

View from the plane

Goodbye, island! We’ll miss you!

Last Day on the Island

Friday was our last day on the island before heading to the mainland on Saturday. The kids seemed to be on the mend, but Bruce was still suffering so we had a mellow day. We were heading down for bedtime when Finn discovered a tiny gecko on the floor. There quite a few of these in the house — we’ve all had a good startle when opening a cupboard to grab the salt only to see one of these guys scurry away — but this was the smallest one we’d ever come across.

Tiny gecko in the house!

Of course, Bruce tried to catch it.

Catching the tiny gecko

Papa catches the gecko

And he did! Then he gave it to Finn.

Finn holds the tiny gecko

Finn holds the tiny gecko

Finn then took it over to the screen porch to release it.

Releasing the baby gecko

On another note, Sergio made these adorable monkeys out of coconuts for the boys. Aren’t they cute?!?

Coconut monkeys from Sergio

Sleeping Tent

Ezra is a big fan of small spaces (forts, tents, under the bed, etc.) for sleeping. Luckily, Jamma is a willing and able tent maker. Here’s where Ezra slept the last few nights we were at the house.

Ezra's tent in Jamma's bed

His little corner of the world.

Ezra's hideaway

Blurry, but sweet.

Ezra's sleeping tent

Sunrise

We’ve had one luxury on this trip that hasn’t happened before: the boys have been sleeping in. Well, relatively speaking at least. During the other two trips, the boys woke up each morning some time between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. as the sunlight streamed into our bedrooms. This year, they’ve slept each morning until between 7:00 and 8:00, probably later once or twice. The only downside is that we’ve missed the beautiful sunrise and the morning walks on the dock to search for sea creatures.

This morning, our next to last on the island, I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get up around 5:00 to take in the sunrise (and take some photos, of course). It was beautiful. The sky was just beginning to show some color when I walked out.

Just before sunrise

Pretty soon the sun started to make its way up over the horizon.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise with bird in flight

While I was out there, I saw a ray in the water. He hung around for quite a while.

Good morning, Mr. Ray

I saw the Coastal Express water taxi out on its first run of the day.

Coastal's early run in the distance

And then took this final shot of our dock after walking back to the beach.

Our dock at sunrise

After almost four weeks I am ready to be home and get on with the business of getting the kids back to school. But I continue to be stunned by the beauty of this place and will miss it.

Frog on the Window

The other night Bruce, Finn, and I were sitting upstairs when I noticed a frog on the window — not something you see everyday. I took a picture from the inside of the house.

Frog!

Bruce then urged me to go outside to take the photo, but for some reason the little guy kind of creeped me out and I didn’t want to go outside. Bruce then reluctantly grabbed the camera and went outside. He got this shot.

Frog on the window!

The lens keeps fogging up because it’s particularly humid lately.

My trepidation turned out to be legitimate — right after Bruce took the picture, the frog jumped from the window onto his pants! He tried to take a picture of that but between his own surprise and the camera’s zoom settings nothing came out right. Needless to say, Finn totally loved this whole process.

Vomitorium by the Sea

Well, it took us three trips and nine weeks but finally someone got sick in Belize. And boy is it a doozy! It started in the middle of the night last night with Ezra throwing up … unfortunately he was sleeping with Jamma so she got the joy of the aftermath. He made it through the rest of the night OK and woke up hungry. He seemed all right, ate a couple of Rachel’s fryjacks, and agreed to go on our previously-scheduled snorkeling trip. But clearly he wasn’t feeling so hot.

Not feeling so hot

At the first stop (Tranquility Bay), he stayed in the boat with his book (Comet in Moominland) while Bruce, Finn, and I, along with our guide, Roberto, snorkeled. Here’s Roberto.

Our guide, Roberto

Finn’s not a huge fan of the snorkel, instead he prefers to use his regular swim goggles and flippers. Roberto towed him around in a ring while he kicked — it was a great setup. The current was strong so we didn’t stay out too long, which is good because I didn’t like leaving Ezra in the boat one bit.

When we got back to the boat and headed to the next stop (Mexico Rocks) he perked up a bit but still wasn’t his usual self.

Boys on a boat

This time he wanted to go in the water and luckily the waters were much calmer. Bruce went with Ezra and I stayed with Finn and Roberto and we saw tons of fish, lots of colorful sea life, and a nurse shark lurking in the coral formations. Finn was thrilled to see the shark.

The setting was really quite lovely.

Beautiful

At the third stop, neither boy wanted to go in so I stayed in the boat with them. Ezra got sick again (luckily over the side of the boat) and then perked up quite a bit … momentarily at least.

Ezra

Finn still seemed OK; he was just tired from lots of snorkeling at the previous two stops.

Finn

Once we were back at the house, things got steadily worse. At least for Finn … and the cleanup crew. Poor baby can’t seem to hold anything down right now, although luckily his spirits are fine. He fell asleep on the patio upstairs.

Rough day

And took a long nap once I’d moved him into a more comfortable position.

Sleeping Finn

Ezra slept, too, which is nearly unheard of these days.

Sleeping Ezra

Finn’s gotten pretty good at aiming for the giant pot.

A boy and his pot

We’re currently trying to get some fluid into them and hoping the worst is over.

Cyclists

Bruce and Ezra rented bikes yesterday and spent a good amount of the day cycling around the island. Finn had a prime spot to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Getting ready to ride

Ezra really liked the bike. I think it’s time for him to get a bigger bike at home.

Ezra on the mini cruiser

Finn likes to ride in the basket

At the Pool

Some recent developments at the pool:

Finn has learned how to do a handstand.

(Sorry about the foggy lens — it’s the humidity.)

A little hermit crab wandered up to the pool area, much to the delight of two little boys.

Hermie the Hermit Crab

Hermie

After much oohing, aahing, and giggling, Ezra took him back down to the beach.

Foodie Sunday

We had a couple of very good meals on Sunday. The first was courtesy of Bruce: his annual cinnamon french toast and sausage.

Breakfast a la Bruce

For dinner we walked up to Mambo.

At Mambo

Finn made sure I salted and peppered the olive oil before he ate his bread.

Finn enjoys bread

I love the way they use shells to hold the salt and pepper on the table.

Shells for salt and pepper

Janice and I had lobster.

Lobster

Desserts were flowing as well. The boys had coconut ice cream, Janice had key lime pie, and Bruce and I had chocolate souffle with macadamia nut ice cream. Wow.

Chocolate Souffle

Boats, Kayak and a Snake, Oh My!

Bruce’s first full day in Belize was activity-filled, mainly because Finn followed him around ALL day. “Papa, let’s go kayaking!” “Papa, watch me jump in the pool!” “Papa, let’s play checkers!” They even made lists this morning to make sure they got to do everything they’d been waiting to do with Papa for all the time we’ve been here without him.

It was a nice day for kayaking.

Nice day to kayak

Finn didn’t want to go out any farther than the end of the dock, but they went up and down the shore a lot of times.

Finn and Papa kayak

Kayak

Ezra got into the act as well.

3-Moision kayaking

Here’s one of their trips into shore.

They also had a great time with the remote control boats that Bruce brought. Finn took his in the pool, much to the delight of one of the other guests. Here he’s trying to make waves for the boat as Finn drives.

Finn plays with one of the other guests

Remote control boat

They tried them in the ocean, but it didn’t quite work. Not sure if the batteries were worn out or what.

Boating in the ocean

Boat repair

We also got to see our little snake friend again because “Little” Sergio caught him.

"Little" Sergio and the baby snake

Ezra couldn’t wait to hold it but decided to give it back quickly when he heard that it had bitten Sergio. Good thing it’s a) not poisonous and b) just a baby!

The Day Papa Arrives!

Today was the much-anticipated day that Papa arrived in Belize! The boys have been counting down the days for a week. We tracked his flights and when the flight from Dallas to Belize City was delayed over an hour, we decided we’d change plans from waiting for him at the house to meeting him in town and having dinner there. The boys were thrilled: “We get to take a boat!!”

But first, we had a lot of time to kill — we weren’t leaving the house until 3:30. We walked up to Mata Grande Grocery to buy Bruce a few of the local beers and Orange Fantas for us.

Want a Fanta

Ezra and Finn spent some time drawing and doing journal entries. Here’s one of Ezra’s.

Ezra and his drawing

The closeup: it’s a shark drinking an Orange Fanta. See the theme?

Ezra's drawing - Shark drinking Fanta

At some point, Janice and I shooed the boys out of the house so we could clean up. After a while, I went to see what they were up to and found Ezra here.

Ezra up a tree

Finn was down below, directing Ezra to the coconuts he wanted him to loosen.

Up a tree

Needless to say, I’m not entirely comfortable with this.

Finally, 3:30 came and we piled onto the Coastal Express water taxi … only to have the boat run out of gas a few docks down. The captain dropped an anchor …

Getting out the anchor

… and called the office to get someone to bring us gas. And we waited. Some passengers cursed, but most were good-natured about it. One made a phone call and told whoever was on the other end of the line that we were in shark-infested waters, to the roar of laughter from all of us in earshot. The boys were most interested in the little compartment where the anchor was stored.

Hmmmm, what's in here

After a quick trip to The Green House to pay our bill for the food they delivered yesterday and pick up some more Fanta, we got to the airport with a few minutes to spare before Bruce’s plane landed. The boys were very excited and made sure he got a taste of the Grape Fanta they chose.

Try the Fanta, Papa!

Then they talked his ear off the whole way to the restaurant.

Welcome, Papa!

Papa and the boys

And at the restaurant.

Finn and Papa at dinner

They took a break from talking to work on the new puzzle we got at Graniel’s.

Trying out the new puzzle

And marvel at this teeny tiny bug on the table.

Tiny bug on the table

After a quick scoop of ice cream at Manelly’s, we headed home. On the dock, Ezra (who’d run ahead) came running back to tell me to get out my camera because he thought he saw a snake. He was right!

Snake on the dock

That boy has an eye for spotting nature.

Welcome to Belize, Papa!