2.13.2015

#NextWeekNicaragua



Nicaragua fell into my lap.

I caught wind of great airfare, convinced a buddy of mine to join, threw our airfare onto my credit card, got my PTO approved, and went about my Friday at the office.

Over the weekend I decided on a few cities to visit, and the following Thursday morning we were wheels up to Managua.

Instances like this remind me how INSANELY lucky I am to live this life, and be able to up and leave the way that I did. I remember being in Belize and talking to a handful of backpackers who had been making their way up the coast, and every one of them raved about Nica. I couldn't wait to go find out for myself...




1.02.2015

01.02

You know what's fun... waking up New Year's Day with the flu.

And no, I don't mean the whiskey flu. I wish it would have been that. I would have felt a hell of a lot better today, then. Instead I'm still battling a 99somethin fever, a headache best equatable to an over-inflated balloon pending pop'age, and a quarantine sign on my office at work!


At least it waited to strike until after all the NYE festivities. I can't be TOO disappointed, I did have a blast ringing in 2015 with some of my most favorite people!

video

To continue on my quest of never having to step foot in a bar on New Year's Eve, we hit up a friends house (apartment?) party, decked to the 9s in our sparkles and smiles.  It's hard to be too bummer about being sick when I've only got a few more hours in the office before the weekend hits!

I hope this year brings everyone the happiest of happy days, 365 of them!


11.01.2014

San Pedro: The #OMGBelize Adventures


I'll let you in on a little secret. Occasionally, blog posts need to percolate on a blogger's mind for a month or two (or more) before they actually get written. You just can't rush these things...

In all actuality, I have a really hard time talking about Belize. Thankfully, I think the grin and the twinkle in my eye that appears at the first sound of the country speaks for itself. Something about it just spoke to me. That country was my jam, my love language.

Here at the tail end of another Indiana winter, writing about warm, sunny, happy Central America sounds like the perfect plan for my day though.

San Pedro actually consisted of WAY more than just jumping into the ocean to kick it with an abundance sharks and rays and turtles. For instance, I met a soul mate.

Granted, while I appreciate his proper use of "you're"... the fact that he took the time to put ALL of this into my phone as we sat around the hostel pool one night was a bit aggressive. The fact he was barely 22 was also a bit much for me. Sorry for never calling, Buzz. Sorry for avoiding eye contact that night at the chicken drop, too.


Ha. Chicken drop. The highlight of every Thursday in San Pedro is cheering for a chicken to take a poop. I'm confident atleast 80% of the inhabitants on the island were huddled around that stretch of beach that night.

What is it, you ask? You purchase numbers and hope like hell that piece of poultry takes a dookie on your number. You win a pretty decent chunk of change if that happens. Of course you also have to clean up the mess, first. Sadly (thankfully?) none of us ever got that opportunity.

Naturally, right in the middle of the festivities, the power on the entire island goes out.

That's not an exaggeration. The. Entire. Island. Apparently the blackout stretched up into Mexico too.

So hey... foreign country, no cell service, no power anywhere... we do what any sane person would do, blind-eyed our way to the town square to get street meat. Thank the heavens for whoever invented food carts and generators!

Jenn had headed back to the states the day after our Shark Ray Alley experience, so us three musketeers had upgraded out of hostel life for the first time since stepping foot in Belize, and shelled over the cash for a hotel on the beach. Conch Shell Inn. She was a hot pink beaut, and when we blindly stumbled back to her that night in the dark we found the fellas at the dive shop on the dock having a hell of a good time, so we graced them with our presence for a while. Somewhere between the chicken drop and 9am the next morning the power had returned, and we were able to bask in air-conditioned bliss for the first time in a while.



It's weird being somewhere so laid back. I am not lying when I tell you there isn't much to do. But there isn't much to do in the BEST way possible. You can leisurely walk down the beach to grab coffee, and sit there chatting for hours. Or belly up to your favorite bar to drink Lighthouse and play Three's all night, every night. Of course, when you do that, you become the bartenders best friend. And if you're real lucky, you may even learn your bartender stars in a local island soap opera, and then you REALLY get to give him a hard time! (Be careful though, as we came to find out sometimes other patrons get so annoyed by you hogging the bartender's attention that they write about you in their TripAdvisor reviews)


The entire San Pedro adventure really hit it's pinnacle the morning we rented a golf cart. Being our last full day on the island, we realized we had yet to go to the much talked about Palapa Bar. Since it's on the northside of the island you have a few options - a long ass bike ride, or a shorter long-ass golf cart ride.


We took the cart around the island for a little exploring before venturing out to Palapa. I'll never complain about the potholes on Indiana roads after navigating those dirt paths. The bar was a blast, drinks were delicious, we made friends with some other patrons and wasted away our afternoon soaking up an equal mixture of rum and sunshine.



The problem came when we realized the day had faded into night and we had good 30 min drive ahead of us with no streets lights (hell there weren't even streets). We gracefully exited the bar where I turn the key and quickly learn our golf cart had no functioning headlights. Whit swooped in and saved the day as she grabbed our iPhones and flipped the flashlights on, proudly holding them out over the windshield. Linds is on the back is yelling at us to go faster as she's getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, we're all bouncing around because the "road" isn't really true to it's name, and I'm just trying to figure out which of the double palm trees I'm seeing is the actual one, and which is the tree that vodka invented.

We made it out alive, barely (Linds lost a shoe), and happened upon someone from the golf cart rental who had heard (damn gossipy island folks) about three girls running rampant sans headlights, so they promptly traded us for a new golf cart, and we made our way a few blocks further for heaps of chicken wings and very large glasses of water.

As we returned our 6 hour golf cart rental that we kept for an additional 18 hours I realized this is another one of those times you just thank God you are on the most laid back island ever, and they really didn't even seem to mind. Slurping up one last iced coffee and heading to the tiny airstrip I was the saddest little puppy. I was far from ready for our time in the BZE Islands to come to an end.

10.21.2014

Shark Ray Alley: The #OMGBelize Adventures

It's all fun and games until a local on a nearby boat throws a ton of chum right next to you and you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a legit sharknado.

Technically I think it'd be a cyclone, aren't those the ones IN the water? A sharkclone. Or a jackclone really, since it was 50% jacks, in addition to the sharks, plus a few sting rays.  A rayjacksharkclone. And that's my final answer.

(In retrospect, looking at that sharks eyes makes me second guess everything they said about this being totally safe)

Rewind. Way back when we first booked our flights, Whit started a Pinterest board for all of us to throw trip ideas into. That's when I stumbled upon Shark Ray Alley and it immediately became a MUST on my list.

Chelsea's MUST list: 
Swim with sharks. 
The end.

I don't believe in bucket lists, but if I did that would have been on it. None of the other girls were quite as keen on the idea of willing hopping into the open ocean with Jaws, but my power of persuasion is truly immeasurable.

Not long after leaving Caye Caulker, our water taxi docked on Ambergris and we made our way to our hostel. I brought up swimming with sting rays approximately 32 times during the trek, and swimming with sharks approximately 45. Give or take a few.

There's actually a very high chance everyone else just agreed in sheer hope of shutting me up.


Either way, on a sunny Tuesday morning the four of us set out on a boat to become live bait. Whit was the complete opposite of excited. Meanwhile, I rivaled a kid headed to Disneyland.

It was a pretty short ride out to the reef, and the water was so clear you knew EXACTLY what you were about to get into!


Throwing on our flippers and masks, it didn't take long before all 4 of us were overboard. We saw countless rays, jacks, sharks, clown fish, parrot fish, red fish, blue fish, one fish, two fish. Oh and an eel. Who wasn't too enthusiastic about seeing us, and made that very clear (chalk that up as another near death experience)


I befriended this dude, who let me swim next to him for quite a while. I was sure we would end up in Sydney, but it was actually only about 20 feet from where I found him and then he got tired of our Asian peace signs and paparazzi ways.



It was so wild being in the middle of the open ocean swimming amongst these beauts. Call me crazy, but they are just so graceful gliding through the water. Although I'm a little nervous that next time I'm in the water and spot a fin sticking out I may be a little TOO eager to approach the fella.

The morning flew by, and the camera roll filled up. As we headed back to shore, I think we were all in agreement that it was definitely worth every penny we spent!

Belize is home to the second largest reef in the world... I wont lie, it's kind of fantastic having the bragging rights that I've snorkeled the two biggest reefs on the planet!



Things to note:
-All underwater photos were taken with my good ol iPhone 5s, in a LifeProof case. Expensive, but worth every penny.

-We went with Greg from Ecologic Divers, and I cannot speak highly enough of them! They were amazing, and definitely went above and beyond.

10.14.2014

Caye Caulker: The #OMGBelize Adventures

I'm not saying you shouldn't plan ANYTHING on your next trip... buuuut... ok, I am saying you should probably not plan out your next trip. Not to a T atleast. Wing it.

Do it, you'll like it.

We showed up at the Belize International Airport with nothing but a couple tickets on the puddle jumper to the islands, and a guaranteed place to sleep at night.

And guess what? Not only were we NOT BORED. We stumbled upon a whole lot of awesome that we probably wouldn't have stumbled upon had we showed up with a detailed itinerary of ToDo's.

(Side note: even if the guy working at the counter for your tiny island airline says go to the bar and drink until its time to leave on your flight, don't go to the bar and drink until it's time to leave. Because then they'll tell you you missed your flight and you'll have to wait another hour for the next one, and you'll probably be grumpy.)




We touched down to a drizzly Caye Caulker airstrip roughly nine and a half minutes after taking off from Belize City, and immediately started laughing.

What had we just gotten ourselves into?

That cheery fella was the entire operations of the "airport", and that building back there... yea that was the airport. He insisted on taking our luggage on that cart the 30 yards back and having us pick it up under the porch And when we asked for a taxi since it was raining, a jolly ol barefoot chap pulled up on a 6-seater golf cart and scooped us up and dropped us right in front of our new home for the next few days.


The benefit of staying in a hostel is that you make roughly 32 new friends within like 20 minutes of arriving... couple that with the benefit of staying on the worlds tiniest (may be a slight exaggeration) island is that you actually know every bartender, shopkeeper, chef and dog* within a day.

*Never in my life have I seen so many stray dogs in one area. Let alone stray dogs that are the nicest, most laid back, chillest dogs ever.



So, let's summarize shall we? Caye Caulker: Tiny.. full of pooches, backpackers and expats. Oh, and Go Slow. The islands motto, it's posted up EVERYWHERE in case you forget. (Supposedly it's for the golf carts... I personally think it's a reminder to just sit back and chill the eff out. Who knows)


And me?

I fell in love. The island didn't even have streets. You walked everywhere. Barefoot if you were really embracing it. You got the best meals sitting in lawn chairs on the sand. Afternoons were spent laying in a hammock at your hostel or on a dock at the far end of the island with 50 other people.

I had carry out Chinese food, while laying out, and drinking rum punch. How could you NOT fall in love?!



Our favorite hangout became the sports bar, owned by an expat from Pittsburgh, and the sweetest pooch Sir Finnegan. I wish I could count how many beers we had sitting in those old wood chairs. What started as a table of 4 gals quickly grew with every visit. We acquired accomplices from New York to California to England to South Africa and everywhere in between.



The island was so, so quiet being slow season. And BOY do they take slow season seriously... our last morning in Caulker we tried 3 different breakfast spots, to find all of them had closed down for the month until business picked back up. Have no fear, we made our own fun... if that wasn't already evident. Ooh the shenanigans that begin with a bottle of local cheap rum and a can of Arizona Kiwi-Strawberry...

After spending three nights at Yuma's House (safe to say it was definitely one of my favorite hostels I've stayed in) we headed to the water taxi dock Monday afternoon, and I was pretty pouty about leaving our little island behind. After being reminded we still had a weeks worth of Belize left ahead of us though, so let's be honest... I turned the frown upside down.

Ambergris Caye, here we come!

Other babblings:
We flew TropicAir from BZE to Caye Caulker, and used the Caye Caulker water taxi. Great service from both! 
Some favorite eats: Paradiso, Happy Lobster, Bambooze and the little Chinese food joint across from Frans

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