Friday, April 11, 2008

Ziplining in Belize - Carnival Legend

Today's post is being written by he went on the excursion...not me!

For the first day of the cruise, Katie actually had to be awakened in the morning. After a second wake up call, Katrina nudged me to wake up to get the girls up (and pick up the phone to stop the wake up call “snooze”). After eventually getting the girls dressed and packing the essentials for a long bus ride to the jungle (each girls’ Nintendo DS), we were off to our usual pre-excursion breakfast location on the Lido Deck. Katie got another cheese omelet with bacon and found out that one of the muffins for the day was ‘chocolate’, so of course she brought one back to the table for herself and another for her sister. Madalyn had French toast, bacon, and a sausage link along with the chocolate muffin her sister brought her.

After the girls waited for their father to finish his three-course breakfast (it was going to be a long time before lunch), we headed down to the meeting place for our Lost World Canopy Tour through the Belizean jungle. While waiting there for instructions detailing exactly where to leave from and when to leave, Katie noticed a friend of hers whom she had met earlier on the cruise at Camp Carnival. Rachel, it turned out, had a sister (Kelly) who was close in age to Madalyn. The four girls talked the entire time waiting for our excursion group to be called… talked the entire time walking with our group to the tendered boat taking us to Belize… and talked constantly during the 15 minute boat ride to the shore of Belize. (This friendship worked out very well for the girls’ dads, who both noticed early on that having girls close in age to their daughters on the same excursion kept each girl distracted from constantly fighting with her sister).

After a recommended bathroom break by the bus tour guide at shore (it was going to be a long bus ride), we were off with our group to board the bus (air-conditioned… yea!) for the ride to the jungle. The four girls “called” the back seats of the bus to sit in for the ride. The next closest seat for the two dads was six seats ahead of the girls, and that’s where everyone remained for the one hour + bus ride. For the bus ride, the girls did not talk non-stop as they had earlier in the morning – they also sang. Most of the adult passengers on the bus ride paid attention to the tour guide’s telling of the history of Belize, as she pointed out many of the local landmarks.

About an hour into the bus ride, the bus stopped at a rest station operated by the company that puts on the tour. Passengers got a chance for a bathroom break and were treated to complimentary water or fruit juice, before quickly re-boarding the bus for the remainder of the bus ride. About 25 minutes later – through unpaved roads – we arrived at our destination to take a short walk through crevassed rock walls more than 100 feet tall to the jungle.

Shortly after the complete group arrived, the jungle tour guides began suiting up each participant with the safety gear for our journey (harnesses that would attach each person to the zip-lines and repelling points, and safety helmets). During this time, we were also instructed to be wary of poisonous snakes in the jungle.

Once everyone in the group had been suited up, the jungle tour guide led the group single file through a trail which led mostly upward toward a clearing. This clearing was shaded well with tropical rain forest trees and contained benches on which the tour participants could sit while our jungle tour guide gave us clear safety instructions along with a demonstration of the equipment. We learned how to hold on while “zipping” across the jungle, what signals to look out for as we approached the other side of the canopy, how to “brake” (slow down) if instructed by hand-signals, how to turn around on the zip line, and how to pull ourselves to the end along the zip line if we did not reach the other side of the canopy. They made everything look so easy. It actually turned out to be very easy too, as tour guides connected and disconnected us at every zip line and repel – all we had to do was sit with our hands holding the harness and enjoy the view, looking out for the guide at the other end of the traverse once we neared the other side. No one in our group had to worry about braking on any traverse.

For the first traverse, I decided to let Madalyn go first. No, I wasn’t scared to go first; I wanted to be sure to get a picture of the girls as they took their very first zip across the jungle. And what a zip it was! The very first traverse was almost 200 feet above the jungle floor and just over 400 feet across. Madalyn smiled as she was loaded on to the zip line and let out a little scream as she was quickly pushed to zip across to the other side. Katie was next. Despite seeing how easily Madalyn took her very traverse over the jungle, Katie was definitely quite scared as she was loaded in with her harness to the zip line (but it was too late to turn back now). Katie’s scream was clearly louder than Madalyn’s, and sounded more like a scream of fear than Madalyn’s scream of fun; but by the time she reached the other side Katie was exhilarated by the experience and couldn’t wait for the next traverse. Daddy was last and had as much fun as the girls zipping across the jungle. We had five traverses altogether, ranging in length from 105 to 500 feet. The 500 foot traverse was over 200 feet above the jungle floor! We also had two repels on our journey, where we repelled straight down for a 40 and a 25 foot drop. Everyone agreed that the repelling was fun, but not nearly as fun as zipping across well above the jungle floor.
(The girls and their new friends)

The 25 foot repel was the end of the journey. After that, we walked to return to where we had begun our adventure and returned our harnesses and helmets and enjoyed our complimentary waters. From there it was back to the bus for the ride back. The girls returned to their seats at the back of the bus… but this time one of the couples was very happy to trade seats with the two dads in our group (they remarked how “The Song that Gets on Everybody’s Nerves” was really getting on their nerves). The bus stopped at the same rest station at the trip up to the jungle where everyone got another bathroom break. Also at this stop, the photographer who had taken pictures of each of the guests repelling boarded the bus with his laptop to sell pictures to anyone who wanted them (I was surprised at how well his laptop could burn CD’s on such a bumpy bus ride). The chatter from the girls was non-stop on the bus ride back to port, but was not as loud as on the trip up, as Madalyn had fallen asleep halfway back to our destination.
We had just a small amount of time after our 5½ hour journey to browse through a few gift shops at port before boarding a boat for the 15 minute ride back to the ship. A lady there gave the girls some Belizean coins:
On that ride, the girls and dads agreed to meet back at the main pool after each family had returned to their rooms to change into bathing suits. Mommy got to hear the highlights of the jungle journey as everyone else changed into bathing suits.

(I am so glad that Michael blogged about this…as the info I got from the girls was that it was awesome…and that’s about it. I did not do much while they were gone…rested my feet…read my book…and I went to check out the spa by having a foot and ankle massage.)

The girls did not swim for long as they had decided to go to camp carnival that night for dinner. They came back to the room to shower and change and then we headed up to meet the camp in the Unicorn café. Madalyn did not want to stay with her age group…but go with her sister and their two new friends. When we got to the café, we found out that it was swim under the stars night for Katie’s camp (we should have read our capers!)…and that they would not let Madalyn move up. So…back to the room we go. Katie got changed, and Madalyn decided to go after all because they were having mozzarella sticks for dinner. Back up and across the ship…my feet are about to die – and my foot massage has now become pointless!

After the girls are deposited…I went back to the room to collapse…and then change for dinner. Michael and I decided to check out TV theme song trivia before dinner…and we had a bit of time, so I went back to lose the rest of my quarters. Michael quickly lost what I gave him…and I kept winning small amounts…I finally cashed out with a little over $20 – which is more than I started with. I have a feeling I’ll be able to lose it either tomorrow or on our last day at sea.

The TV theme song trivia was fun. I was surprised at how many I knew…and not surprised by how many sounded familiar – but I couldn’t quite figure out which TV show it was! I got 11 of the 20 correct…which is really good for me…name that tune is not part of my expertise!

We walked across the ship for dinner…and Phillip and Memel once again had chocolate milk waiting for the girls…and they were so disappointed they did not come with us again.
On the menu for tonight:
Appetizer: I had wonton soup and fried mozzarella; Michael had mussels and shrimp.
Main: I had grilled and marinated pork chop; Michael had garlic rubbed mahi-mahi
Dessert: Michael had tiramisu and I had blanc and bitter bread pudding.

After dinner we walked over to the Follies lounge for bingo…and Michael went up to get the girls. It was half price bingo night…so I got the girls each their own sheet of three. Madalyn did not have a repeat!
(Tickling and Bingo go to gether, right?)

After Bingo was hypnotist Asad Mecci. I had to do some explaining to the girls as to what was going on. There was one part where Asad told the people on stage that he had hypnotized that when they opened their eyes, that he would be naked. Madalyn so did not understand how they could think he was naked when he was fully clothed to her! He had to stop quite a few of his antics before they ended up being more appropriate for the R-rated show that is tomorrow night.

After the show, we went back to our room…we have another “early” morning tomorrow for our last port of call – Isla Roatan, Honduras…

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Rhea said...

Fabulous re-cap of today's adventures! I would LOVE to Zip line through the rain forest. I'm so jealous. How wonderful the girls made friends. That makes things SO much easier on the parents.

Love the daily updates! I'm enjoying the vacation vicariously through you.

Keys to the Magic Travel said...

Rhea--Doing the daily updates is so helpful for to get the whole story out there. And when I am ready to will be so simple to put it all together. There have been times I have asked Michael to do it for me...and it takes months...or for some events...still hasn't happened! But because he knew it was for the blog...he had to make it snappy!

Unknown said...

The ziplining looks AWESOME.... not sure either of my girls would do it... maybe Gert might... maybe