Our 2005 Biking Cruise

Page 3

These are a couple of the "Towel Critters" that we would find lurking on our bed we we retrurned from our late dinner. They were cute and harmless and didn't need feeding. There was a class on the ship you could attend to learn the art. We were content to just look at them.

This is a map of Isla Roatan. Roatan is owned by Honduras and is off that country's coast. We docked on the south side of the west end and biked over the hills to a bay on the north side of the west end. It was a 17 mile round trip bike ride. Roatan is a lot like St. John in the US Virgin Islands: Hilly, rural, nice bays and coves, and not a lot of "fancy shopping" - mostly tee shirts and locally made crafts.

Roatanians speak Spanish and/or English so I had a chance to practice my espaņol there.

This is pier in the town of Oxham Hill before 3200 passengers streamed ashore. You can see the busses and vans waiting for their tour groups. You can also see the hills that we biked over.

Also, this is the view from the waterfront road at the end of the pier. You can see how massive the ship is from here. Perhaps you can imagine the impact of 3200 shoppers crowding into this tiny port.

Here are some beach bums on the pretty beach called West End. That's Richie and Jim in the top picture . Marianne, Mary Ann and I are in the lower picture (notice that they have a palm shelter and that we're in the sun. (Richie always goes "first class".) We snorkeled at this beach. There were lots of fish and coral here. The whole place was quiet and peaceful. Just wait until the developers find it!

This is the big excitment in Roatan. Crowded little market alleys with lots of cheap, but nice handicrafts. My guess is that the cruise ships bring in most of the cash these folks earn.

Back on the ship after a shower and a drink (I smuggled a bottle of rum aboard to avoid the "drink persons"). Mary Ann takes her usual position at the window and watches another cruise ship pulling in as we leave Roatan.

Here is a map of our next "port of call": Belize. Belize was called British Honduras until they became independant 20 years, or so, ago.

We anchored 5 miles off shore (so as not to damage the coral reefs) and we were tendered into Belize City. From there we had a bus from Belize City to the jungle to the north near Altun Ha where we biked 5 miles on a slippery, muddy, rocky trail on junky bikes.
Belizians speak mostly English with some Spanish. There are many ethnic groups here: Creole, Mestizo, Mayan, Spanish, and English.

Here is where we started our Jungle Bike Ride. We scrambled to get a decent bike to ride. There were few decent ones. Mary Ann (in the orange tee shirt) ended up with a good one after Jim "volunteered" his. My bike skipped, had no brakes, and would not stay in gear, and was too small.

The lower picture shows one of the bridges. It was like an "Indiana Jones" bridge. It took us over an hour to go the 5 miles. We mostly slipped, slid, and walked to the end. All in all it was not the best ride we took.

We Biked to "Altun Ha" which is a Mayan ruins site. Melissa, one of our guides, gave an excellent talk about Belize: It's history, culture, people, and society. She was well informed! Our other guide was Oscar. He was also well informed and kept our tour on track and on time. At each port we had a specific time to return to the ship - which would set sail without a late passenger.

Here are 2 pictures of Altun Ha. The first is a partially excavated site. The second is a fully excavated and stablized temple. There are numerous sites that could be excavated here, but there isn't enough money to excavate, explore, and maintain any new sites properly. Limestone is the major building material used by the Mayans, and, in time, limestone dissolves in water.

Notice the people on the top of the temple. You can get an idea of the size of the structure.

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