Rock Love Honeymoon

5 Jul

drinks on beach

Our honeymoon really was exactly what we hoped for. We wanted a week to unwind, but also get some adventures in*. At any given time, we were usually doing one of two things: Relaxing in a hammock by the beach or pool, with a tropical drink and a book in hand or heading into the jungle or sea to meet the incredible wildlife of Belize. While we got to relax a ton, it was a great chance to get Caitlin out of her comfort zone to do things I doubt she thought she’d be comfortable doing**, like ride a tiny plane and jump off a boat to snorkel in the sea with sting rays.

*As we have shared with you here, we haven’t been great traditionally at taking “relaxing” vacations – we were used to rushing from place to place, trying to cram in as many experiences as possible. It was time to take it slow.

**Oh, I DEFINITELY thought I’d be terrified.

flight

Before we could relax, we had to get to our resort and that involved a 15-seat plane that Caitlin had been dreading since we first planned the trip*. It went shockingly well. It helped that the woman behind Caitlin was visibly much more freaked out than Caitlin and it let her express all the things she was feeling. Also, it was a smooth, short flight**. She was having fun by the end of it***.

*I made Zack call the resort to ask about safety statistics, and what other frightened people did to get through it.

**Also, Xanax.

***Definitely true. It was an 8-seater and the mom-and-daughter duo behind us really did make it super enjoyable — the mom would freak out audibly and make me feel less alone, while the daughter would make me laugh by being super embarrassed by her mom.

first dinner

Despite having taken three flights*, we arrived at the gorgeous Hamanasi Resort just in time for a late lunch on Monday. We were met by the incredibly kind staff, who got to know us immediately and remembered our names the rest of the trip**. We loved the food right from the first meal, with fresh mango salsa coming out before a slightly varied menu for each meal. It was delicious and especially accommodating for a picky vegetarian***.

*Plus a 40 minute drive — but it was awesome, because not only did we get a scenic view on the drive, we stopped at a convenience store so I was nomming on an ice cream sandwich the whole way.

**They also immediately took all of our luggage off of our hands, put drinks in to replace the luggage, and then took us straight to food. Pretty much magical from the word “go.”

***Seriously, the food was AMAZING. We never ate outside of the resort except for on our Monkey River tour, but we’ll get to that.

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After we finished our delicious first meal, we got to go check out our pad for the week — and, ohmigosh you guys, it was PARADISE.

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This was the view from our balcony. It felt like we were in a tropical rainforest.

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A l’il panorama to enhance the jealousy.

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This was the infinity pool where we spent many afternoons — and where I sort of learned how to snorkel?

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The folks who made up our room each day would change up the way they folded our blanket, and we also got turn-down* service every night — definitely some princess treatment.

*And almost every night I’d make a TURN DOWN SERVICE FOR WHAT joke. 

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Hey, at least they tried! And they definitely remembered our names whenever we’d go to dinner or on a tour. They did an awesome job at remembering our names, though one waitress called Caitlin Cathy the whole time and we never corrected her. 

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One of these was given to us by the resort; everything else, Zack picked up at the duty free shop at the airport (before we got onto the TINY airplane). I believe that I cried* while he was in the shop because I was nervous to get on the plane, which was awkward because there was a guy with us pushing Zack around in a wheelchair and Zack had left him with me.

*Awww I didn’t know this until now. Sorry hon! ❤

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Not only did we get the inscribed leaf, but the resort left us a sweet card as well. Seriously so thoughtful! Just out of view on the left, there was a jar of locally made fudge, and the note on the frog explains that the resort is a Green resort, so they were gifting us two water bottles so we could reuse those as opposed to getting plastic bottles every day.

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The shower was GORGEOUS. Love that tile! I was still injured enough that I was taking sitting down showers, and that bench in the back came in handy. 

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More awesome tile on the sink, plus the water cooler (they didn’t recommend drinking the water from the tap so every room had a water cooler to fill your bottles/glasses with).

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There was a hammock on our porch, as well, which Zack quickly cuddled up in. I took a lot of great hammock naps. 

hammock drinking

It wasn’t long before we were in a hammock on the beach sippin’ fancy drinks.

beach from room

We purposefully planned no activities the first day so all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the view.

zack swim

OK I went for a swim while Caitlin read on the beach. I was afraid of sting rays/jellyfish so I just watched Zack crawl into the water (his foot was still quite unsteady from being broken at this point) and be a goober.

zack swim time

I slowly…

zack swim head

disappeared.

caitlin smile beach

I took a selfie with him — he’s the dot over my right shoulder. That’s me. The dot. 

beach reading

As my wife read about an astronaut. I’m still working on this book, but I’m LOVING it thus far.

zack and caitlin kayak

Our first activity was a canoe trip Tuesday afternoon*. After getting the hang of steering a narrow path, we got into the open and had fun checking out giant lizards, interesting birds and looking out for crocodiles**.

*In crocodile-infested waters. CROC-INFESTED WATERS, PEOPLE.

**We never saw any, thank god. Our tour guides liked to joke that crocs only eat tourists. Sheesh.

bird weird

This was one of the weirder creatures we saw. A bizarre bird that Caitlin probably remembers more about than I do. I just remember when the guide pointed it out, thinking it was the spine and pelvis of some giant dead creature and it freaked me out until we got close and I could see it was a bird.

kayak view caitlin

It was a fun little ride and the scenery was better than our usual kayak around Lake Travis. Definitely less trash floating in the water, anyway (because there was no trash on this journey).

caitlin wave hayyyyA private “Monkey River Cruise” got us up early Wednesday morning and we had an unbelievable day of seeing wildlife*. We started with a boat ride on choppy waters for about 45 minutes** to get to the jungle to go looking for monkeys. On the way we got a fun ride and saw a manatee***.

*Zack was NOT stoked about getting up early on vacation, which I can understand, but I goaded him into it because we had to drop our horseback ride into the jungle due to his foot still being very solidly in a boot.

**Technically, before that we started with a 45+minute drive to the river that we’d be boating on. One thing I loved about every single activity we did was, every guide we had would know tons about the local culture and history and share it all with us. There was definitely some local pride going on, and it made our trips more meaningful.

***I hadn’t been on a speed boat since I was in elementary school, and it was a total blast! We just kinda hopped in and went.

zack binoculars

I’d never given much thought to wanting to see a manatee before, but after seeing one, all I wanted to do was play with them immediately. They look like such cuddly fun dudes*. I was checking out some birds with binoculars here.

*Their whisker-faces reminded us of Scoobus, I think.

cool awesome spider

After seeing the manatee, we got off the boat and started hiking into the jungle and saw this enormous spider that had an elaborate web we were glad we didn’t walk into while looking for monkeys. I wasn’t scared of it, per se, but I didn’t want to hang out next to it too long. Our guide, Ralph, was also so nonchalant about all of the critters we’d run into. I asked if there were snakes on the floor of the jungle and he said yeah, and then said something about “only the poisonous ones live…” and we couldn’t hear the rest so it was unclear if they only live where we were walking or if they were elsewhere?? Concerning.

caitlin excited monkey

Neither of us had ever seen a monkey in the wild, and it was exhilarating to see them in their natural environment, climbing from branch to branch and sticking in teams. Caitlin was an expert at spotting the monkeys in the tree and even cuter and pointing them out. Oh god what a face. But I will say, that juvenile that’s close to us was awesome because he came closer down to check us out. It was pretty incredible.

monkey great

Our guide made a few noises to attract them and a juvenile came down to chill by us. It felt way more exciting than being at the zoo. Though to be fair when we saw some apes at the zoo last week, they were just lying down sleeping in the shade.

dolphin sighting!

After a delicious lunch at a tiny restaurant with super fresh fruit juices, we got back on the boat to cruise back and had a pleasant surprise. After seeing another pair of manatees, we saw a bottle nose dolphin! As Caitlin kept saying, we didn’t even know this was an option. It was so exciting. Seriously — we’d been told about the manatees so we were hoping for a sighting of them at best, but then when this dolphin friend popped up out of nowhere we flipped out. I think our guide Ralph brought us the luck.

zack boat chilling

Much to Caitlin’s chagrin, I laid down on the boat and enjoyed stretching out on our ride back to the resort. I was so afraid the bumps were going to knock Zack right out of the boat, but he held on tight and eventually sat back up because we hit some bananas waves going both ways.

snorkeling

As incredible as the Monkey River Tour was, we had the best time on the snorkeling trip on Friday. We practiced with the snorkel and fins in the pool Thursday so Caitlin could get the hang of it. After first trying to hold the tube to ensure it stayed up, the scuba instructor yelled at her to trust her equipment* and before long she was flipping her feet and breathing underwater like a fish**. Since she was still a little apprehensive and I needed more support on my broken foot, we eased our way in on the beach while the rest of the group jumped right into the sea***

*He was nice about it, but I kinda wanted to be like — eyes on your own students, dude! I will worry about myself! Still, I suspect that him calling me out is part of why I eventually let go of my worries with every activity we did and just embraced the moment.

**Hardly, but I appreciate the encouragement.

***I wonder actually if it would have been better for me to start in the deeper water, because I was super panicked about accidentally stomping on a sting ray and feeling the brunt of his anger. I definitely had a few mini panic attacks in the water where I had to just sort of float with my head above the water and take my gear off my face for a minute.

snorkel

Belize has an amazing barrier reef to explore and we couldn’t go thirty seconds without seeing beautiful tropical fish. We held tiny puffer fish in our hands as they swam around, saw a large crab* and eel hiding around rocks, and saw two enormous sting rays that were easily six feet wide**. We were in constant awe of the fish we got to see and hold and hang near. I loved flicking these little worm-like structures and watching them pop back in to hide, as our guide taught us. We were surrounded by schools of fish of every color, the stunning coral and colors and every little thing was just gorgeous***. We came back completely sunburned, but it couldn’t have been more worth it. I can’t wait to go snorkeling somewhere exotic in the future****.

*I was very proud of the crab spotting, since I was the one that saw him first.

**HUGE. One of them swam off, but the other just stayed under the sand as a baby shark hung out by its tail.

***There was also a seahorse, barracuda fish, and big ol’ pelican dudes. SO much to look at!

****I’m pretty much on board at this point! I want to prioritize swimming with dolphins first though.

zack lena gasp

After more lounging…

zack hammock goofy

…and cuddling of hammocks…

hammock beach
…we needed to start winding down. This kind of view is a hard one to say goodbye to, so luckily, our last activity was a doozy.

dancing

This dancing was actually earlier in the week, on Thursday night, but we wanted to make sure we included some photos. The troupe was a choir/dance group based locally and they were awesome! I watched the faces of the young girls and remembered performing in the orchestra back when I was in high school, and thought about what the experience might mean to them.

dance keeper
This was the clearest photo we could get, since so many of the dance moves were super whirly/twirly. This one was awesome, because the girls were trying to bump each other* over as they got lower and lower to the ground. It was like a game built into a dance. *I liked when their butts touched. It was a fun game. 


champagne boat cheers
Here was the finale activity — our sunset cruise with just us, and two guides. Plus an amazing amount of delicious snacks, like the crazy fresh fruit sitting to Zack’s right in this photo.

caitlin looking boat good

At one point, when we were cruisin’, we FINALLY saw a crocodile in that croc-infested river we’d been canoeing on in earlier days. He was hiding out in the little pond-ish area in this photo, and he was super creepy. We could only see his eyes popping up, which was as creepy as it gets. 



caitlin drink boat

We told stories and polished off a bottle of champagne, waving “so long” to all of the giant lizards and birds and familiar boats. Caitlin was really into it and gesticulating a lot. 
caitlin boat face
This is my champagne and chocolate face, I presume. The chocolates on my left were scrumptious! That face though.

beach shore

During quiet nights throughout the week, we watched an assortment of films (Shakespeare in Love, RayBanksy Does New York, and Funny Girl), looked up at the stars from our hammock on our balcony, played Rummikub, and shared visions of our future — how we picture our family, where we might live, our hopes and fears. In this magical setting where we pushed ourselves, but not TOO much, we just got to focus on life and the moment, and it was perfect.

The trip often reminded us of one of our favorite Vonnegut quotes, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

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