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Getting to La Isla Bonita

For our first vacation since our honeymoon 1.5 years ago, we chose Belize and Mexico. We flew out of Seattle (much cheaper than flying out of Vancouver) but back into Vancouver (same price as returning to Seattle). We picked up a one-way rental car at YVR and drove to Seattle, arriving a few hours before our midnight flight.

The Seattle skyline
We stopped at the Capital Grille for dinner (truffled mac & cheese and mixed wild mushrooms … insane!) …
Dinner stop-over at Capital Grille in Seattle
before returning the car at Seatac and settling in for a couple of hours’ wait in the terminal.

We flew overnight via Atlanta, arriving in Belize City the next morning.
Leaving Belize City
In Belize City, we picked up a $13 bottle of Bacardi at the inbound duty free shop (genius idea!) at the airport and then got on a Maya Island Air plane (a Cessna Caravan seating a max. of 9 passengers + 1 pilot) and flew to Ambergris Caye.
Taking off in Belize City
This was the most beautiful flight I’ve ever been on. We both got to sit right behind the pilot. The entire flight was about 20 minutes long, all under 1,000 ft in altitude and we could see all the detail in the reef and the turqouise Caribbean and the islands we flew over. This is the same barrier reef that runs from Cancun down to Honduras.
Flying to Ambergris Caye
Just amazing.
Flying to Ambergris Caye

Flying to Ambergris Caye
We stopped in Caye Chapel to drop off a passenger who was going golfing, then took off again for Ambergris.
Landing on Caye Chapel
Leaving Caye Chapel
(We later found out that Caye Chapel is not just any island, but a private island consisting of a super nice golf course and a handful of private villas. You can rent one or all of them, and you get your own golf cart and staff, and never have to sign up for tee times … just walk out from your villa and start hitting some balls. Apparently it’s for sale for $75,000,000USD.)

We flew just under a rain cloud briefly – a very cool experience.
The rain storm

We came in for landing on a pretty crazy angle:
Flying to Ambergris Caye

Ambergris is the Isla Bonita from that Madonna song. We chose to spend our 9 nights in Belize on Ambergris because we had heard it was not too small (i.e. it has a couple of ATMs and a small town) and not too big (people ride bikes, drive golf carts, or take the water taxi around) and of course, because we had heard the diving was great.

Ambergris should be the southern tip of Mexico’s Xcalac Peninsula, except a channel dug by the Mayans about 1500 years ago at the north tip turned Ambergris into an island.

We landed uneventfully in San Pedro and waited for our suitcases to be brought to the baggage claim area. The Maya Island Air staff insisted on checking each tag against our boarding passes … even though there were only 6 passengers and 7 suitcases total.
The baggage claim area in San Pedro airport

More about our 10 days on La Isla Bonita in our next post.

Vancouver 2010!

We’ve had a great first week of the Olympics in Vancouver so far!

We went to the women’s 500m long track speed skating finals on Feb 16 at the Richmond Oval and a preliminary women’s hockey game on Feb 18 at UBC (China v. Russia).

We also saw Gonzales/Feist on Feb 17 at the Orpheum and The Lost Fingers on Feb 19 at Granville Island.

We’ve visited Heineken House and the O-Zone and watched the crazy fireworks show at Robson Square.

Much more to come in the next week!

Below is a set of photos from the speed skating at the Richmond Oval:

A Meatless Diet

Last week, I finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals. I had read Fast Food Nation and In Defense of Food when those books first came out, and watched Food Inc.  Those had already resulted in some changes to my diet (less processed food, almost no beef, organic produce, organic dairy and organic meat whenever possible, more farmers’ market shopping, and weekly SPUD grocery deliveries).

I don’t know why Eating Animals made such a MUCH greater impact on me. I tried to explain it to Ian, and I think I came across as a bit of a fanatic hippy. I ordered the book from Amazon and hope Ian reads it so we can have a more even discussion.

The point of this post is that today concludes my first week as a vegetarian. I’ve made it through three take-out dinners and three eat-out lunches without eating any meat products, although I have had cheese and milk and eggs (the latter rather reluctantly).

I never thought this would happen – I grew up on my grandparents’ farm and have always had a comfortable relationship with meat (and a VERY comfortable relationship with salumeria and seafood).  I don’t feel all holier-than-thou about it and it seems like a really personal thing.

I think the real challenge will be eating at other people’s houses; eating out at restaurants may also be a bit of a challenge, especially on vacations. Perhaps I’ll eventually forget Eating Animals or really really miss the taste of smoked bacon. We shall see.

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