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2our_viewFor the last five days of our trip, we wanted to get serious with vacation relaxation (and, as you know, that is a very serious endeavour…).  Belize Legacy Resort is in the far north of the island.  It is basically inaccessible, except by boat.  It turned out to be a perfect family getaway.  We had a little one-bedroom apartment that had a deck open to the ocean view.  Kailani spent most of her day either in the pool or the ocean.  Soleil woke up in the early morning hours, but then took long naps – so having the view of the ocean was key so we could stay nearby but still suck in the ocean air.2soleil_view

The people at the Belize Legacy were very friendly – staff and guests both.  We made a lot of friends with all the visitors, who came from all parts of the world.  On the first day there, mike randomly ran in to a friend from high school, Vivian, who is now the proud owner of the Rojo Lounge – she invited us to her restaurant for dinner, and we ended up having the time of our life on our last night.  They generously filled us with delicious food and tasty wine – neither of which are plentiful in Belize – so we were so grateful.  We hope we get to stay in one of their magnificent villas on our next visit.2rojo

On our second to last night we had an earthquake give us quite a shake – 7.1 magnitude shook off the coast of Honduras and it woke us up at 3am.  Mike went to check and make sure the ocean was still there.  Through the next day Belize was on Tsunami watch – so this added a little excitement to our vacation, needless to say it was the talk of the resort all the next day!

We tried to go diving, but, unfortunately the weather became super windy and they cancelled all the diving trips for a few days.  That was a bummer.  We should have gone earlier in the week – darn procrastination.  We did do some snorkeling at Mexico Rocks – which was quite an adventure.  Kailani agreed to snorkel (with Mommy, specifically) by taking the Kayak about 1/2 mile out to sea to visit the coral heads at Mexico Rocks.  Because of the high winds, the waves and current were pretty obnoxious, but I was determined to get my little girl out there to put her face in the water.  I nearly quit several times, but Kailani encouraged me, so I dug in and paddled her all the way out there.  You could tell by the look in her face that she was pretty nervous.  We were in the middle of the ocean, 1/2 mile away from shore, and the waves were rocking us pretty good.  But she knew what an effort it was to get the kayak out that far, so she put her snorkel on and jumped in the water.  We saw a few coral heads with schools of fish teeming around, but Kailani quickly was ready to go – here is a 4-year old swimming in 15-foot deep water in super-wavy conditions and no flippers for her first ever snorkel adventure – pretty amazing.  When we got back to the Kayak and got ourselves settled for the paddle back, I must say I was beaming with pride – she is one kickass girl!2kayak2

All-in-all a magnificently relaxing week was had by everyone.  We returned home with beautiful golden tans and lots of quality time together.  Kailani now knows what hermit crabs, conch shells and iguanas feel like.  She also knows there is an entirely new world underwater that is just waiting to be explored.  Soleil has a deeper appreciation for how to maneuver in the water, what sand tastes like, and how to make the sign for fish in sign language, and she is also starting to take her first steps – opening doors to a whole new travel style – from baby to toddler overnite!

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We decided to spend the first few days near the town of San Pedro, so we could get any explorations out of our system, before we settled in for some serious relaxing.  We chose the Banyan Bay because it had a lot of good ratings, a nice pool, a nice beach, and a two bedroom apartment.  We don’t like staying in hotels with kids because when the kids go to bed, there is nowhere to go, so you end up reading under the covers with a flashlight – ugh.

kailpoolKailani loved the pool – and basically from the moment we arrived, didn’t think we needed to go anywhere else.  We had arrived!  IMG_7503The restaurant at the Banyan Bay (Ric’s) was our first stop, and the food was edible, but that is about it…. The next day, we rented a golf cart to cruise around town, see a little bit of the island and pick up groceries for the rest of our trip.  Kailani loved cruising around in this thing, of course — no doors, no seatbelts, no carseats, no problem!  This is how everyone in San Pedro gets around.  There are a few cars, but most people walk or golf cart.  The town was cute enough, but a little disorganized — it would be nicer if it had a walking street so people could roam a little more comfortably.  We ate lunch at Elvi’s Kitchen, which was absolutely delicious.  The Belizian’s dish of choice is rice and beans with stewed chicken – and Elvi’s does a mean rendition of this.  Then we took a long drive north, over the bridge.  This part of the island used to be cut off by a cut in the island, but they recently built a bridge and now you can drive over.  It was a bumpy dirt road and mostly residential, but it gave us a good feel for the island life.  Our last stop – grocery shopping.  Mike and I LOVE going to grocery stores in foreign countries — it gives you a good idea of local ingredients and local culture – let’s face it, everyone who lives there has to go grocery shopping.  Groceries in San Pedro are mega expensive – everything has to be shipped in so pretty much nothing is cheap.

We decided to keep the golf cart to go in town for dinner that night.  We let Kailani play at the central playground on the island while Mike tasted some street food — he is such a sucker for street food.  On our way to dinner, though, Kailani had a complete meltdown with an obsession of having to buy a pink princess makeup kit — when we wouldn’t let her have it, she broke down into hysterics.  We decided to bag on dinner and “teach her a lesson”, but on the way home she fell asleep on the golf cart in mid-meltdown – literally.  She was simply exhausted.

I should mention my second daughter, Soleil, at this point.  She spent most of the days in the Ergo strapped to my chest which is so wonderfully cuddly.  As soon as we put her in the pool, though, she quickly learned how to navigate the calf-deep wading pool all by herself ( no, Mom, I didn’t turn my back on her while she was doing this…)  She did spend endless hours splashing around and laughing hysterically at her sister her went underwater and popped out to surprise her — this never got old.

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The next day we arranged for a glass bottom boat snorkeling adventure for all four of us out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley.  The first stop was Shark Ray Alley – the divers have been chumming the area for years, so there are many sharks and rays in the area, as soon as the boat pulls up, they gather around for a free meal.  As you can imagine, this was a little intimidating for a 4 year old, so she didn’t want to put her head in the water.  Our guide did jump out and CATCH (yes, with his bare hands) a four-foot long nurse shark and let Kailani “pet” it before he let it go.  Then he proceeded to catch a stingray so she could do the same thing.guynurseshark

kaisnorkelingThen we went to the conch graveyard and Kailani and I did our first snorkeling adventure.  I was so proud of her — you could tell she was a little nervous, but she jumped in and she and I held hands and snorkeled around to look at all the colorful fish.  When she realized the boat was a little too far away, she wanted to head back, and on our way back a five-foot wide sting ray flew right underneath us — her eyes popped out of her head.  She was so proud of herself…conch

Our last day at Banyan Bay we splashed around in the pool, swam in the ocean with the local kids and Mike got in a dive.  Kailani and Soleil were waterlogged and happy by the end of the day, getting to bed by 8pm (which for Kailani is an early night).

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The week before we left for Belize, we had a great visit with Kimberly’s parents before they returned to Dubai. We planned the trip to leave at the same time their trip departed SFO, so we all caravanned to SFO together. Of course, before leaving, we had to have the obligatory “one bag policy” fight — but I’ll leave that for another post.

We broke up our trip to Belize with an overnight stopover in Dallas. This was nice because it gave the kids a nice break from traveling. It also had the added advantage of fulfilling Mike’s life dream of “swimming in an airport”. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in DFW – which was pretty cool actually. We had a beautiful room watching the airplanes take off and land, and Mike and Kai got to swim on the roof with the roar of the jets overhead. In the morning, we walked down with our bags to check in for our flight, then went back upstairs for breakfast, a quick swim and a shower before going to the gate — definitely the way to travel!

The short trip to Belize was relatively uneventful — we got stoked with bulkhead which made for an easy trip. Upon arrival in Belize airport, we then boarded a puddle jumper airplane that fits about 10 people to fly to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye – about a 15 minute flight away. Next stop — Banyan Bay.