Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Benannamoon: Belize

When your wedding is over, the cake is eaten, the guests have gone home, you are only left with...


Well, that and pictures, but usually the pictures don't even arrive until the honeymoon is a few weeks past...and let's be real here; the honeymoon is HANDS DOWN, unequivocally, the best part of getting married. If you want to talk about bang-for-your-wedding-planning-buck, this is truly it, because you have a whole week to make memories (and babies if you want) and you will actually remember it! Ours was so memorable, in fact, that when I'm in savasana in yoga and the teacher says "go to your happy place," I go on our honeymoon again. It truly was paradise.

Ben and I were so excited about our honeymoon that we actually booked it before we even had a venue for our wedding (although, that was not intentional but the result of an unfortunate situation. I didn't post much about it because it was super stressful, but we lost our wedding venue three months before the wedding and had to scramble to re-envision the entire thing within 12 weeks of the big day. Yeah, that was by and far not the happy ending to my fairy tale! And also why I took such a long hiatus from blogging during the summer - I was just a little preoccupied :0). We (okay, I) trolled Groupon and Living Social for several weeks searching for a good deal on a resort that also had outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor. There were a couple things we knew in advance that helped make our search a little easier:

  1. We picked the Caribbean as our ideal destination. Flying halfway across the world to Fiji sounds idyllic...but 23 hours in the air? Too much time and stress for a honeymoon. I love flying, Ben does not, so we had to kind of meet halfway on this one.
  2. Our goal for our honeymoon was to lay on the beach all. day. long. Ben loves to remind me that there is a difference between a vacation and a trip. We can take trips where we cram in all kinds of sightseeing and go-go-go all day long another time. For the record, I'm a fan of super over planning our trips and running us into the ground with activities galore. For our honeymoon, we wanted to just be able to finally relax after all of the drama that surrounded the big day.
  3. Ultimately, we decided to forgo the all-inclusive deal because we like to experience the food and fun of other cultures and truly get a sense of the personality of the foreign place. It may have been slightly more expensive to go this route, but we certainly exercised our need for adventure by trying some of the hole-in-the-wall Belizian restaurants that were most definitely not up to American health code standards! It was also good for us to get off the resort to find food and try some new things.
Finally, after several weeks of searching, we came across an amazing deal for a little resort in San Pedro, called Xanadu. The pictures online didn't even do it justice, although the reviews from other travelers were awesome and convinced us that it was the place to go. The grounds were lush, like a rainforest, and the monolithic huts (I totally made Ben promise to build me one as our future house) were rustic and authentic and spacious. Although the forecast predicted rain for the ENTIRE week, we really only saw the sun disappear twice the whole time. Because it was the low season, the town was relatively quiet and filled with more locals than tourists. The resort did include non-motorized sports (we took advantage of kayaks and bicycles to explore the land and sea), a one day golf cart rental for getting to the far ends of the island, and easily scheduled adventure tours like snorkeling and scuba. Fun fact for the day: San Pedro is an island off the coast of Belize that is bordered by the second largest barrier reef in the world, so water sports are huge there. We did haul ourselves out of our lounge chairs to do two half-day snorkeling trips, and they were rocking awesomesauce. Hands-down craziest thing we did while we were there was our snorkeling adventure with (as in: swimming-in-the-water-with) a boatload of sharks and stingrays. Ben actually held one of each (I was a total scaredy-cat and put a fully extended finger on a shark, but that was as close as I was getting).

Because most of our activity took place in the water, I didn't take a lot of pictures of us actually doing anything, as filing an insurance claim for a water-logged camera was not something I wanted to add to my list of things to do when I got home. So most of our pictures are of the scenery and sunsets...both of which took my breath away.

Our digs...

Above, we had our own hammock on our porch! It was wet most of the week so we didn't use it as much as I hoped. Instead, we spent most of our time on the lounges inside the hut below, which sat out in the ocean on a pier and shaded us from the scorching sun. (PS. These are soft and dreamy because they were taken with my fun Diana lens!)

The Belizians are very ecologically conscious, which is why you can still find shells with critters in them like the one below on the ocean floor. Our friends returned him to his home after I took this photo. In fact, there are still manatees and sea turtles that swim near the shore because the area is peaceful and not overrun by humans.

The San Pedro town square. Definitely the nice part of town!

Lots of fun wildlife...Lizards all over the place! My sister would have been less than impressed.

In case you didn't know, we are tried and true cat people. All over the world, they flock to us.

There was this wonderful little restaurant called Ms. Elvi's that we ate at twice (it was that good), but they make their own hot sauce! My hot-sauce-loving husband enjoyed it!

For my know who you are...these are in fact the most amazing FACOs ever. No lie. And if you are new to facos well let me just enlighten you. Two words: fish taco. Trademarking that.

Hello gorgeous sunsets!

Okay, so there are pictures of Ben. But because no one knows how to work my camera, you won't see much of me. I love my sexy husband!

We did also leave the resort for a sunset cruise with Seaduced (the sea puns were ALL OVER THE PLACE). We drank Belikins (the local beer) and watched the sunset go down over the island...very peaceful and relaxing!

Octagon house. I'll take one of these if I can't have my monolithic hut.

Aptly named for us. I'm sure they had us in mind when they came up with it.

This totally cracked me really is an operating day spa. I'm skeptical.

Got papusas at this lovely establishment...and a rum with a splash of coke. That's how they do it in pirate country.

Funny thing about San Pedro...the only "cars" are these 1980s Toyota vans that are actually taxis. EVERYONE else drives heavy duty golf carts or rides bicycles. In fact, the island only has one main road, and it is only paved through the main town. Everywhere else - dirt path.

In my hometown, we have something known as cow patty bingo. It's where you sell bingo tickets and then bring a cow onto a football field that has been painted with a bingo board and wherever the cow drops its patty, the person with that bingo square wins. San Pedro does this once a week, smaller scale, and with a chicken. They call it Chicken Drop, every Thursday.

On the right is our fearless scuba guide, L'il Alfonse. He took us to the sharks and rays and was a wealth of knowledge about all kinds of coral and fish...he totally has found his calling in life!

Swam with this guy...

To see more photos:

Follow me on Instagram, and search by #benannamoon.

And if you made it all the way down to the bottom of this post, there is a surprise! Tomorrow, there will be MORE PICTURES, all thanks to Hurricane Sandy. See, we were scheduled to fly back just as it hit the Mid-Atlantic, and all flights were suspended for three days, so our honeymoon was extended. Best gift from the universe ever!!! Come back tomorrow to see the rest :D

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