We just returned from three days in San Pedro. It was our first time visiting, so we had pretty high expectations. And we’d heard good things about the place and read that it had the most sophisticated tourist infrastructure in the country. So you could say that our expectations might’ve been a little too high. But here’s the breakdown.

Transportation. We flew from Belize City to the small airstrip at San Pedro. It’s about four times the cost of taking a water taxi. But the idea of holding onto A. for an hour and half in potentially rough seas was so not appealing. Plus I kept having nightmares that all ended with him drowning. And we were able to take him on the plane on our lap at no extra charge. So, yay, for flying! And the flight was great. It was short and sweet (15 minutes) and smooth with a great view of the coral reefs below. On the flight back I even saw a pretty good-sized shark in the water. Rather intimidating. And the airline is flexible. It was pouring rain the day we were to return, so we didn’t feel like running all over the island. I called the ticket counter, and they bumped us up to an earlier flight at no extra charge. Thank you!

Transportation, Part 2. Golf carts. San Pedro is full of them. There aren’t many cars on the island, and they’re trying to keep it that way. So it’s mostly crazy tourists on golf carts and taxis. Unfortunately, we made our reservations pretty late in the week, so our resort was completely out of golf carts (and baby cribs…so we had to lug our portable crib as checked baggage), which was fine since it rained so much. But they had complimentary bicycles and kayaks…neither of which we used. Hopefully the weather will be better next time.

The resort. We stayed at the Villas at Banyan Bay and had a nice little two-bedroom, two-bath poolside suite. After the amazing place we stayed at in Placencia, I was expecting something similar. But this one was a little worn. It’s understandable…the Placencia Hotel is much newer and probably gets a lot less traffic. But it was still nice (if you don’t mind ‘80s motel art), and had a great restaurant right on the water. You can’t go wrong with any place that serves Rum Punch regularly. We didn’t spend much time on the beach, but it was fun to peer over the rim of my hurricane glass and watch the staff raking up the foot-deep pile of sea grass that accumulated along the shore every morning. I also cheered on the teenagers that were lobbing coconuts in the water, but I think it startled them more than anything else.

The town. Definitely not what we were expecting. In all fairness, it was New Year’s Day. So all the broken bottles and trash in the streets and the solicitous drunks wandering up to us to as we innocently pushed our infant along in his stroller could’ve just been leftover from the party the night before. But it still made a rather negative impression. Plus most of the shops were closed, so we couldn’t take refuge in retail therapy.

But we still had a good time. Here’re some of my most memorable moments in order of appearance:

1. Getting some great travel photos of A. on his first prop plane ride over the Caribbean.

2. Spending the afternoon at Fido’s Restaurant during a torrential downpour with wind so strong it blew all the napkins off the bar and took two guys to tie down the large sail-like partitions to keep us patrons dry. Best customer service in Belize. Good live music in the afternoon. Yummy bar snacks (wings, jumbo shrimp cocktail, fish and chips). And of course, lovely Rum Punches.

3. Surf ‘n’ Turf and champagne with my mom and hubby delivered by room service on New Year’s Eve. The restaurant was booked for the night, and the baby was asleep. So it worked out perfectly. And we were still in bed by 9:30pm. Party animals that we are.

4. Running into friends. One of the nice things about living a small country is that people tend to visit the same places at the same time. And it’s fun to hang out with them outside of a routine context.

5. A sensational birthday dinner with my hubby at the Palmilla Restaurant at the Victoria House resort. Again, we called at the last minute, and they had an early reservation free. So they “sent a car” for us…it was a seriously beat-up taxi (looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to the tape player), but the ride was complimentary between resorts since there’s no shuttle service. They later brought us home in a golf cart. It was in much better shape, but they had to coerce the battery a bit to get it started. The restaurant was phenomenal. I’m always excited when I actually see something new on a menu, and I was able to try THREE new things. For an appetizer, I had the Seared Sea Scallops atop fried seafood cakes with ginger lime beurre blanc. My main course was Fettuccini Jalapeno with fresh tomatoes, black beans, fire-roasted corn and fresh cilantro in white wine sauce. My hubby had the Cashew Crusted Grouper. And for dessert I had Caye Lime Brûlée in a graham cracker tartlet with pineapple and guava coulis…and he had something with coconut on it. It was heavenly, and I washed it all down with a glass of Baron Philippe de Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

Maybe our expectations weren’t too high after all. At any rate, it was wonderful to get away and make some new memories with friends and family.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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