It was my birthday last week and an important one too. A milestone reached; 39 for the second year running. I’m saving ageing another year until I get back and throw a massive party with all my family and friends in attendance. Life begins at 40 so they say and so my life will start with a huge hangover.
I wasn’t completely alone for my celebrations though. Dom is with me of course and a couple of our good pals flew over from London. Not only did Abbie & Jamie undertake a huge journey to join us in the sun, they also very kindly treated us to a stay in a luxurious apartment complete with swimming pool.
Mine and Dom’s week long holiday started at 5am on Monday the 11th, one day before birthday o’clock. We got, showered, had breakfast and made our way to the bus stop where we witnessed the sunrise whilst waiting for the express to Belize City.
Although we were en route to the one of the murder capitals of the world, and in a region where reggae is king, the tunes blasting out from the drivers stereo were mostly a mix of love songs and country & western. Not really a fitting soundtrack for anyone with a lust for blood but it could be a contributing factor to why the murder rate is so high. I for one, was ready to kill after six hours of listening to that noise.
We finally arrived and made our way to the ferry port. Our final destination was Caye Caulker, a beautiful tropical island which can obviously only be reached by boat. Dom connected to the WiFi and discovered that Abbie and Jamie were in a bar around the corner and so we headed off to start the pre-birthday celebrations.
Due to jetlag and an early morning start, our mates from back home were tired and already drunk. Being the legends they are though, they carried on regardless and we spent the rest of the day sipping cocktails poolside.
Tuesday – Birthday day
We awoke early. Not as early as Abbie and Jamie who went to explore the island and top up the old drinks cabinet, but early none the less. My first present was something I least expected. Proper cheese and English mustard. Right on. Not only did Dom get me the cheese and mustard, she only went and made me a delicious breakfast sandwich out of them.
Dom also got me a camera and a shaving kit. The camera did not have a memory card though so there is a massive lack of photo’s of my birthday week. Instead all images are stored in our memory banks. Not content with just buying me the razor, Dom treated me to a birthday grooming. An al fresco coffee and shave. None of that back home.
With breakfast eaten and beard trimmed it was time to get the party started. Abbie and Jamie returned and so we donned our drinking hats and swimming trunks and partied like it was 1999.
After an afternoon of drinking we headed to a restaurant in town and had the worlds biggest fish and some more beers. Next up was a trip to the supermarket, something I do almost every year on my birthday, to stock up on more drinks before heading back to the villa to continue the party. My memory of the evening is a little hazy but if you remember the party, you were never there.
Although none of us felt that rough we decided to have a lazy one by the side of the pool. We again had a few drinks and a dip in the pool. It was almost like a tame action replay of my birthday. A good old rest up was needed though and I finally got some colour into my ribs. The colour is bright red but it’s a colour and that’s good enough for me.
We were supposed to go snorkelling on the Thursday but some people had pulled out and the tour was cancelled. The people operating the tour very kindly offered to take us out fishing instead so with that sorted for the afternoon, we went for a dip in the sea and a couple of bevvies.
Fishing was ace. We went miles out to sea, dropped anchor, the guy gave each of us a line and we fished by hand. I caught three but had to throw two back, Dom caught two, both keepers and one which proved to be the biggest catch of the day, the boat owner caught three, one by line and two by spear gun, and our friends from the big smoke caught none. Dinner would be provided by the Welsh couple.
We managed to get a last minute snorkel trip so after a breakfast of tamales we boarded another boat and headed for the second largest reef in the world. My mask kept leaking due to my moustache and I can’t quite grasp the concept of only breathing through my mouth, so I spent a lot of time removing and emptying my mask, and coughing up water. I still loved it though. Dom is great at it and was like a mermaid possessed, swimming for miles and getting to see loads of different fish. We also got in with some sting rays and nurse sharks which was a bit weird. Although the water was only waist deep, I didn’t fancy standing up in fear of standing on a ray and getting a taste of what Steve Irwin got.
As it was the last day with our buddies before we went back to PG and they headed off to Mexico for a holiday, we once again got drunk by the side of the pool. An excellent end to an excellent week.
Our bus journey home would be an hour or so longer than the trip to Belize City as we were not on the express service. It started off badly as the bus was packed and the only place for me to sit was over a wheel arc, and therefore my already cramped leg room on a bus designed for US school kids, was further reduced. Thankfully, at the first stop about an hour down the road, most of the passengers disembarked leaving us with loads of space. This meant Dom got to have a kip and I got to stretch my legs and enjoy the scenery. Pity about the memory card for my camera.
Our holiday wasn’t over just yet either. Dom had met a guy who owns a luxury retreat on the outskirts of a jungle about fifteen miles from our house, and in exchange for some consultancy work, he let us spend the weekend there. We would have free accommodation, a free tour and half price meals. Good skills Dominique.
The place was ace but due to our partying and travel we were exhausted when we arrived, and so hit the hay after dinner.
Our free tour would be a cave tour. We would hike to a cave and swim, climb and fall our way through it. It was quite good fun but pretty cold. We were joined on the tour by a couple from the States, their three kids and the woman’s mother. Although the expedition wasn’t too strenuous for most of us, the 65 year old grandmother and her granddaughter, 60 years her junior, found it tough going so it was hats off to them when we finished the trip.
The adventure didn’t end there though. At the exit of the cave there was a killers bees nest and they were not in a good mood. Our guide told us to keep quiet as the bees may attack if they hear us. Too late though. The guides next advice was to run as he had been stung. We didn’t need telling twice. Me and Dom, the forever caring dudes, decided to save the children so we rounded them up and legged it. The little girl couldn’t keep up though and so she was next on the bees hit list. We went back and got her and got out of there again.
The terrain was pretty tough and so the old lady was having a hard time. This meant that her son in law waited for her and he got it bad by the bees. He got stung loads and then went into anaphylaxis. Luckily he was a doctor so not only did he know what was happening to his body, he knew the best way to slow down his condition.
Obviously there is very little in the way of health and safety here and so our guide hadn’t thought to bring the first aid kit with the antihistamines in, and so his wife ran back to the van to get some. He was still in a pretty bad way after taking a few pills and so Dom looked after the kids and I ran back to the van to get more tablets for the guy.
He was OK in the end but it could have been a lot worse, and it makes you think about how dangerous everything is when there is almost a complete lack of any services. We don’t even know the bloody phone number for the ambulance or anything.
As horrible as the situation was, there was a happy ending for nearly everyone involved. The guy who got stung took a while to recover and so not only did I get to eat his lunch, his wife bought me and Dom a mojito each and we got to share his four course dinner as he wasn’t up to eating. Which was nice. A fitting end up to a brilliant birthday holiday week