Love Me Tender

Belize is surrounded by beautiful corral reefs teeming with marine life. This means that sailing into the port and right up to a dock is impossible for cruise ships like the MV Explorer, and we passengers must tender a ride to shore. Loading onto the tender boats can be a little bit hairy for some of the older passengers with both the Explorer and the tender rocking and swaying in the waves. Thankfully, we had calm seas (by ocean standards) and all made it safely aboard.

Tendering a ride to shore in Belize

Tendering a ride to shore in Belize

Tendering — well, doing almost anything — is a lot more fun if you do it with an enthusiastic Scotsman by the name of Dr. Iain Campbell.

Shannon sports the windblown look after boarding a tender with Iain Campbell

Shannon sports the windblown look after boarding a tender with Iain Campbell

Once ashore, we set out on a tour to Lamanai, a set of Mayan ruins only accessible by boat. Our tour guide was the inimitable Captain Chino. I like a tour guide who cuts through the usual touristy schtick and mixes a healthy dose of personal opinion and patriotism in with the raw facts about a place. Captain Chino is just such a character: “Being a third world country doesn’t mean uneducated, it only means undeveloped. In Belize we are undeveloped, but we are smart and educated; and we are ready to grow. We might look very poor — and we are very poor — but we’re living in Paradise.” He was also full of practical common sense about traveling in a guided tour bus: “In 20 years of guiding tours I have seen many things. It’s un-Belizeable. Some people don’t want to stop me to go to the bathroom, and they end up, uh, peeing on the seats of the bus. This is embarrassing and not fun for anyone. We will have many stops to use facilities, but if you need to go when we’re not near a bathroom, tell me. I’m not kidding. We’ll find a tree for you to use or something. That would be much better for you and much better for me than going in your pants.” Well said, Captain Chino, well said.

The ruins were spectacular and fascinating, and we saw lots of wildlife both at the ruins themselves and on the way — spider monkeys, howler monkeys, iguanas, crocodile, many beautiful birds, and even a katamundi. These things weren’t exactly expected, but the preparation for the trip at least had us hoping for as much. What was totally unexpected, however, was the rollercoaster-like boat trip up the river to Lamanai. I think part of the reason Captain Chino likes living in Belize so much is that he gets paid to race up and down the river like a mad man, taking turns at breakneck speed and hydroplaning like crazy before accelerating out of one turn and into the next:

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  1. Lisa Meadows
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Sam you are a great camera man! I love the fade in and smooth movement. It felt like I was actually on the boat. How do you get the picture quality so good on YouTube? Mine are never crystal clear even though the original is?? What’s your secret?

  2. Posted May 16, 2009 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Lisa! I wish I could take credit for the good picture quality, but my secret was just using the Export to YouTube feature of iMovie. Maybe Apple is doing something brilliant behind the scenes to compress the video without losing quality…or maybe I just got lucky with the compression algorithm this time. 🙂 Some of our previous video wasn’t as good but that was because we accidentally recorded it in portrait instead of landscape and had to crop it like crazy in the “editing room.”

  3. Eric
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m beginning to wonder if you guys are going to come back. Are you looking for some permanent cruise jobs?

  4. Posted May 16, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    @Eric I would be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed our minds. Maybe we can figure out a way to get on one of the full semester voyages as a first step — I’ve been exploring options there with one of the professors that is traveling with us. He said we’re having a pretty classic first voyage, and he thinks it will get in our blood and prevent us from ever permanently returning to shore life.

    I am pretty darn content on board the MV Explorer. About the only thing I really miss are friends and family (including Amelie and Alley Cat). If I could bring a few of you guys along I’d be set. I also wouldn’t mind having an internet connection fast enough to watch the last couple episodes of Lost.

  5. Uncle Dave
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Sam and Shannon,
    Helio and Danica have no chance if Captain Chino comes to Indy. I am jealous of both of you and Captain Chino! I want to drive a boat full of tourists up a river in Belize as fast as I can!

  6. Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Uncle Dave. It definitely was a fun ride, and it looked like a fun job to have to me, too.

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