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


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!

Belizean Sky

The night before last we had a spectacular thunder and lightning show and an outstanding rainstorm (all of which kindly waited to start until we’d walked home from Rojo). Finn slept through it all, but Ezra got to see it. The next day (yesterday) we had a few sprinkles and a beautiful sky that I just couldn’t stop photographing.

View north

Indigo's dock



We got more rain last night. It’s the perfect tropical weather — breezy and partly cloudy during the day so we can be outside and rainfall at night to keep the cistern full.


One of our favorite places to eat here in Belize is Rojo Lounge, but unfortunately it had closed for the slow season before we got here. They make an incredible lobster/bacon pizza and lots of other delicious stuff and the setting — right on the beach — is hard to beat. Obviously, we were very sad that we wouldn’t be able to go there this trip. Until … a few days ago they announced via Facebook that they would be open after all! Apparently they have guests in their villas so they have to have staff and food, so we get to enjoy the beach bar area and the wonderful food. We made the pilgrimage (up the beach) last night.

Before we left, I took a couple of photos of me and the boys.

Me and Finn

Me and the boys

And one of the lovely sky.


I enlisted Jamma to take one of me and the boys.


Then we were off.

Off to Rojo

Before long, we were there and enjoying their beach bar area with the little pool (as the boys call it).

Rojo Lounge

We ordered the lobster pizza, some spicy Asian noodles with shrimp and chicken, and a cheesy chaya dip (Belizean version of spinach dip) with tortilla chips. We also had a local dinner guest.

Dinner guest

The boys weren’t much interested in dinner — Ezra had a piece of the pizza and some chips, Finn just had chips. They really just wanted to get on with the real purpose of their visit: looking for hermit crabs. Although it wasn’t their migration time so there weren’t gazillions of them like last year, we did see a few.

Playing with hermit crabs

Hermit crab

On the walk home we dodged a bunch of regular crabs.



The Crab Hunters were in heaven.

Crab hunters

By the way, you may notice Ezra isn’t wearing shoes. Before we left he asked if he had to put on shoes. His argument against shoe-wearing was, “Sergio never wears shoes.” And he’s right, Sergio and Rachel, the caretakers here, never wear shoes. And thus, Ezra won the argument.

Random Belize

A few photos …

First, one night last week I came to bed to find Ezra curled up with Lamby and took this shot. I think it’s so sweet that he still loves that lamb so much.

Ezra and Lamby

This one is Finn while he was kicking back talking to Papa on the phone. The lighting was bad, so I Instagrammed it which helped a little, but not much.

Finn chats with Papa

A couple of days ago the boys were hollering for a snack (never-ending), so Jamma helped them make ants on a log.

Ants on a log


Ezra has been jumping off the side of the pool for about a week now, but until today Finn was too scared. He was, however, a big fan of me throwing him up in the air and really liked it when I managed to get him up pretty high. So finally Jamma and I coaxed him to give jumping off the side a try — in the shallow end. Well, one try and he was hooked. Before long, he was jumping into the not-as-shallow end, and then he got Ezra to join him for semi-synchronized jumping. I ran to get my camera.

And after the video I took about a million pictures. And I’m posting a bunch of them because I’m so tickled by them!






Oops, missed this one.

Oops, missed that one


One in

Later, Finn came over by the side of the pool looking for a little shade. He tried my hat.

Finn looks for some shade

Good day at the pool!

A Day in Town

We’d run out of butter and milk, and were down to half a box of cereal, so it was time to make a trip into town. Not bad considering we’ve been here for almost two weeks. First, though, we had an early wake-up call (5:45 from Ezra) due to the early bedtime instituted so I could catch the latest episode of Newsroom last night. Getting up that early is no fun, but getting up to this view is.


It was cool and breezy, so I opened up the upstairs, put on Sprout for Ezra and laid down for a few more minutes of sleep.

About 10:30 we started getting organized for the 11:30 water taxi to take us to town — insulated cooler bags, frozen coke bottles, regular bags for groceries, a crate, sunscreen, sunglasses … it’s a production. And it was raining off and on, so we were hoping to get a dry boat ride. On the way out to the dock, we saw this guy hanging out, getting a little sun while it lasted.

Friend on the dock

The clouds weren’t very threatening. In fact, the sky was beautiful and we made it into town without a drop of rain. (We got rained on while we were in town, but by that time it was a nice cooling off.)

Sky from the dock

Once off the boat, we walked up the beach to Wild Mango for lunch.

In town

The boys got fruit punch drinks with cocktail umbrellas — their favorite.

Cocktail umbrellas

Cocktail umbrellas

After a great lunch, our tour of town included Captain Sharks (flippers for the boys), a hardware store, fruit/vegetable stands, Super Buy grocery store and more. Definitely cause for a cold Fanta in the golf cart.

On the golf cart, having a Fanta

Oh, and speaking of the golf cart, in true Belizean fashion the keys are on a bottle opener key chain.

Golf cart keys

We stopped here for fresh tortillas; must have another taco night soon.

Yum, tortillas

The boys got a kick out of watching the soda/beer truck making deliveries.

Soda/Beer delivery truck

After a stop at Manelly’s for some ice cream, we headed to the dock to catch the water taxi home. Ezra took his now-usual perch at the front of the boat.

Ezra's usual perch

None of us could wait to get into the pool. The boys got nakey swimming time and the chance to try out their new flippers.

Nakey synchronized snorkeling

What cute little white butts!

Back to Our Regular Programming

Today we woke up to beautiful sunny skies, warm temperatures, and a regular day in Belize. The pool is still a little chillier than normal, but we’re pretty spoiled in that department.

Back to our regular programming

The boys have been doing their journals, but before today we hadn’t broken out the Getting Ready for Kindergarten and Second Grade workbooks. Today was the day. Finn worked on numbers; Ezra worked on coins.

A little morning schooolwork

Then we went to the pool. Ezra tried out a new way to snorkel.

One way to snorkel

Finn relaxed on a floaty.

Lounging Finn

Then he got a ride across the pool.

Hitching a ride

We spent some time looking for shapes in the clouds.

Seeing shapes in the clouds

What do you see?

What do you see?

(Ezra saw a fat baby with no arms.)

Finn went through many moods today. Contemplative Finn.

Closeup Finn

Dancing Finn.

Dancing Finn

Mad Finn. (He wanted to go to the pool but we were at the beach.)

Mad Finn

He eventually gave in and, of course, had a great time on the beach.

Run free

When we returned to the pool, Ezra did cannonballs.

It was a very active day; I’m hoping it translates into an early bedtime.

Almost Back to Normal

Today the sun made periodic appearances from behind the cloud cover, the pool warmed up a bit and we’re starting to feel a little normal. Sergio continued clean-up efforts — raking, pool vacuuming, removing the hurricane boards from the other villas, etc.

Sergio getting things back to normal

Some other guys came to fix the roof on Sally’s house. The burrito guy showed up so lunch was delicious. The wind continued to blow uncharacteristically, and the waves were still oversized.

Waves are still big

The boys spent lots of time on the beach, looking for shells, finding shoes, and throwing sand into the ocean.

Down by the beach

Beach boys

The view was beautiful from our lounge chairs.

Beautiful late afternoon sky

Oh, and we discovered one of our tomatoes had frozen in the fridge. For some reason I found this utterly amusing.

Goodbye, Ernesto

Hurricane Ernesto moved enough north so that Mexico took the brunt, but we got very high winds and lots of rain overnight Tuesday. With everything boarded up (and the fact that it was pitch black outside) my pictures are few. But I did rush upstairs to take a couple through the cracks in the boards on Wednesday morning. This was about 8:00 a.m. — high winds, heavy rain, water jumping out of the pool.

8/8/12 8:00 a.m. Big winds!

Once Jamma and Finn were up, I went out her door (the only door boarded in a way that we could get out) to take this shot from the porch.

View from Jamma's room about 9:00 a.m.

And here’s video.

When the rain died down a little bit, we dressed the kids in trash bags and got ready for an adventure outside.

Ready for an adventure!

To the dock!

Jamma and the boys

Bruce told me to channel my inner Anderson Cooper, so I did.

The trusty photographer

We didn’t stay out very long; on the way back Finn had a good time checking out the waves in the pool.

Finn checks out the pool's waves

The ocean waves were big (for our beach). It almost looked like we were at a beach in SoCal.

Big waves (for our beach)

We experienced high winds (30-50 mph) all day. Toward the evening the sky started to clear a bit.

Late afternoon clearing

A little post-storm blue sky

We made one trip out to the pool, but the water was much too cold for me. The boys jumped right in, of course, and snorkeled around — happy to have an outside activity.

Tuesday Storm Watch

We spent most of Tuesday checking websites for information on now-Hurricane Ernesto and running outside to take pictures of the weather changes. It was a beautiful, stormy day.

Indigo's dock

Lovely storm clouds

We had some periods of pretty heavy rain.

Heavy rain

We went out on the dock several times to check on the waves. I had never before seen any waves on this side of the reef.

Checking things out

Waves next to dock 8/7/12 10:30 a.m.

The sky was spectacular.

View north 8/7/12 2:00 p.m.

We were a little concerned that there was already some sand erosion.

Beach erosion already

In the afternoon we decided to take a swim to let the boys burn off some energy. Jamma decided it could be a nakey swim. For the boys. First we had to check out the situation on the dock.

Checking out the weather from the dock


One last photo before I headed out to join them.

Rainy swim

We had a great time — sprinkles and all. Janice and I had to stay underwater though because it was actually kind of chilly, which is rare. We ran in and took warm showers, and I thought we were in for the evening. But Jamma had other plans. During a break in the rain she suggested she take the boys out to hunt for treasures. Pretty soon she came back to get me because I was missing out. The boys were having a blast.

Treasure hunt


Happy boys

Treasure hunt

Treasure hunt

We saw Genie’s boat safely tucked up on land. He was out on his balcony checking things out, too.

Genie's boat safe on land

Then we went to the dock to see how high the water had gotten and see if any waves came over the edge. (None while I was there, but apparently they had before.)

Waiting for waves

The waves were crazy high at the reef. My pictures don’t do it justice.

Big waves behind the reef

The wind and rain picked up overnight, but the kids slept right through all of it. I woke up a few times to thumps outside, but looking around this morning I don’t see any damage here.

Monday Hurricane Prep

About an hour after I took the picture of all the boys in the pool, Janice came out to talk to Scott about the tropical storm (Ernesto) that was brewing and on a course to hit Ambergris Caye. It wasn’t that we were in danger, but that Scott and Dietmar needed to be home the next day and it was unlikely their Tuesday flight was going to go. So, sadly, we packed them up and sent them home a day early. The boys were very upset. Finn said, “Can we at least say goodbye???”

After seeing them off at the dock, we headed back to the villa (and the pool) and spent the afternoon watching Sergio board up the windows in preparation for Ernesto.

Sergio working on boarding up

Boarded up

The worst part was our new lack of view.

Boarded up

By late afternoon, the clouds were looking pretty great.


Later that evening, we made ribs and potato salad and had Sergio and Rachel over for dinner. Beforehand, Ezra made (and ate) a necklace out of Cheerios.

Ezra's appetizer

Finn had a more traditional appetizer.

Finn's appetizer

It was a nice dinner. Neither Sergio nor Rachel seemed overly worried about the storm, which was helpful. They’ve been through this before many, many times.

In the Pool with Scott and Dietmar

On Sunday night, after a great day of snorkeling, a pool outing, and several rounds of Make Your Own Superhero on the iPad (Super Scott, Fantastic Finn and Energy Ezra), Finn was obsessed with Scott. He couldn’t wait until morning when he could go over to their villa and coerce them into the pool. (Foolishly, perhaps, Scott had promised to take the boys to the pool in the morning if I wasn’t ready to go. Sounds like free babysitting to me!) We agreed that he wouldn’t come over before 8:30. My first wake-up call from Finn was shortly after 5:00. No, Finn, it’s not 8:30. Go back to sleep.

Finally, at 9:00, I let him go over there. Before I knew it all the boys, big and small, were at the pool. When I went to the balcony to take some pictures, Finn looked up and yelled, “Mommy! I’m pushing this big heavy guy around!” Scott was on two floaties, getting a ride from Finn. Maybe he’s not so foolish after all.

Big and little boys in the pool

Ezra was snorkeling and Dietmar was sunning.

Finn pushes Scott

This was definitely the calm before the storm.

Real Snorkeling!

When Janice asked me, the day after we arrived in Belize, if I thought I might want to take the boys snorkeling when Scott and Dietmar got here, I wasn’t all that keen on the idea. They’d only been in the pool a couple of times and were still very cautious. Of course, by Saturday, they were snorkeling in the deep end and diving for torpedo toys, so we decided to give real snorkeling a go on Sunday. We piled in Genie’s boat for a trip to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley.

Heading out for snorkeling trip

Here’s Genie. He lives a few lots south of us.

Our guide Genie

Thirsty Finn


When we got to Hol Chan, there were some fish around and under the boat.


We put on our gear and headed into the water. Here’s Scott and Finn.

Scott and Finn -- peace!

We took a few minutes in the very shallow part to get our bearings. I still wasn’t sure how the boys were going to do. Finn was a little apprehensive. Ezra took to it immediately.

All of us

Then we were off!

And we're off!

Genie planned for about a 40 minute swim but we cut that short to about 15 minutes. Finn wanted to go back and when I reached the boat with him, I realized that Scott and Dietmar were also ready to stop. But even in the short time we were out we saw tons of cool sea life, including a nurse shark chomping on a fish under a rock, lots of coral, and many different kinds of colorful fish. Ezra could have gone on for days.

Next we headed to Shark Ray Alley to swim with the sharks. When we first got there, there were lots of fish in the water, but no sharks.

Scott, the boys and I

Then they showed up.


It was incredible to watch a fearless Ezra snorkel around with those sharks. Of course, they are nurse sharks and don’t bite, but still! He loved when they swam right around his legs. We also saw a pretty big ray which was very cool.

After a little bit of time there, we got back on the boat and headed way north to Tranquility Bay for lunch. Of course, Finn dozed off.

Sleepy Finn on the boat

The resort at Tranquility Bay is a collection of little bungalows — it’s super cute.

Tranquility Bay resort

Here’s the restaurant.

Lunch spot

The view north. The water was beautiful.

View north

Lunch was good. The server took my leftovers to feed the fish which the kids (and heck, all of us) had fun watching.

Feeding the fish

Feeding frenzy

Feeding the fish

They hang out under the dock but moved faster that imaginable when he hung that plate over the edge.

They also had a dog there — Foodie, who was appropriately named because he would eat anything. The kids fed him some of Finn’s quesadilla.

Foody looks for more

And then we headed home. Ezra found a new perch for the ride.

Ezra's spot for the ride home

Great day!


In an effort to get the boys snorkeling for real (something they have wholeheartedly resisted in the past), Jamma bought them both snorkels and masks and yesterday’s evening swim was the first try-out. It was a rousing success.

Two of the big kids next door are swimmers, snorkelers and swim teachers, so they volunteered to help out with some tips. Here are Joseph and Jamma getting Ezra ready to start.

Snorkeling start

I was upstairs getting dinner ready, and by the time I came out, this is what I saw.

Snorkeling boys

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Here’s a video. Ezra has a very interesting way of swimming while he’s snorkeling.

Based on this success, Scott and Dietmar took the boys out to the end of the dock this morning to see if they would try snorkeling in the ocean. Both boys went in, but neither wanted to stay — I think they were a little freaked out. Here’s Scott bringing Ezra into the water. He tried swimming but I think he was worried that he couldn’t quite touch the bottom, so he got right out.

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Finn went in with Dietmar.

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And he was OK for a minute or so while Scott held him.

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They were much happier when we went back to the pool, and pretty soon Ezra was snorkeling all the way to the deep end. And don’t they look cute in their snorkel gear?

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