Well, it's midweek here in paradise--um..."Belize"--and Team WestEnders chose to take a "rest at the resort" day in between all our scheduled outings, tromping through the rainforest, snorkeling with the fishes and whatnot. What this meant, first of all, was that we didn't have to set an alarm...although Derek still needed to be rousted from bed before he woke up on his own, in order not to sleep through the breakfast hours...and for some reason my eyes keep opening at 5:30 anyway (which is 7:30 at home, and apparently my body just doesn't want to bother adjusting. What can you do--at least I'm waking up at the BEACH, yeah?).
We've been at our little vacation home-away-from-home for two days now, long enough for us to fully appreciate how very different it is from anyplace else we've ever visited. For one thing, there are a total of 25 rooms on the property, so it's small and cozy. This might explain why, from the moment you arrive, the staff go out of their way to learn your names and engage with you on a personal basis. I'll be honest, it takes a little getting used to--for example, at mealtimes, when your server already knows (from when I reserved the accommodations...in March!) that I'm a vegetarian. And this morning, when another employee brought over a basket with gluten-free banana muffins just for ME, so I could partake of the special baked good of the day.
It's also an eco-friendly place (I know, right? Totally up my alley!), so the "welcome gift" they provided was a stainless steel water bottle for each of us, that we can use during our stay and take home when we leave. And speaking of hydration, each day there's a dispenser of infused water in the lobby of the Great House, like today's offering of watermelon/ginger, or yesterday's pineapple/mint. And we found out--from wandering through one day and stumbling upon it--that there's a garden on-site where they grow some of the ingredients they use in the cuisine, so those fruits and herbs might not only be fresh and tasty, but also "backyard-to-table"!
But the attentiveness goes even further: last night one of the managers stopped me as I was heading off to bed and asked, "I see that you and your family have a free day tomorrow, is that right? I just wanted to confirm with you, because we recommend to our guests to take a day off to relax!" Aww, how sweet--they're looking out for our well-being! Then this morning--I'm not kidding--she greeted me with, "How are you, Johna? Did you sleep well?" Okay, let's not take it too far...I'm likely to start feeling guilty about all the pampering! (But...not just yet...I think I can take it for a little longer!)
So, how to spend one's leisure time? Well, there were big storms last night, mostly while we slept--thunder, lightning, wind, heavy rain...the whole nine yards. When we woke up today it had cleared up and was brilliantly sunny...but also extraordinarily muggy. Still, the ocean breeze keeps it bearable, meaning that I began our "take it easy day" with a long walk on the sand, taking a million photos of the scenery, like I tend to do. Meanwhile the Male Trio took advantage of the free kayaks and tried their hand at paddling around in the surf for a while. Then we all convened at the POOL to cool off before lunch. So far, so good...
Later, because evidently we need a refresher (Ha! Sorry...) on the definition of the term "lounge", we borrowed bikes from the Adventure Center and pedaled the sandy, gravelly, potholed "road", into the nearby village, called Hopkins, to see what there was to see. The short answer is: not a whole heck of a lot. A couple of shacks with handwritten chalk menus out front, marking them as restaurants of sorts...a few larger establishments with a general-store-vibe to them...and several tiny souvenir shops that boasted handmade crafts from local artisans. One of them, "Alex's" beckoned us--literally, since the man sitting out front was its namesake, who entreated us to come explore his wares.
We decided to take him up on the invitation, and therefore got a very specialized tour of his unique jewelry, bowls, and decorative knick knacks--all made by him and his children, with natural materials found in the coastal environment. Alex obviously took great pride in his work, and even told me that if I didn't see a design I liked, I could draw something for him and he'd customize it for me. I ended up selecting a necklace and earrings made from conch shells, pleased that I'd be taking home a unique piece of the country, created by a native whom I'd actually met. Super-cool!
Whew, that was quite enough exercise...and tourist...ing...for one day, so we returned to the resort to clean up for dinner. Funny how our low-key Wednesday left us so worn out...but that's okay, since we should get to bed early anyway, to prepare for our next excursion...the van leaves for the Cockscomb Wildlife Reserve at 7 a.m. tomorrow, after all! Zzzzzzz........