X’Tan Ha Resort

Well – now that our ‘work’ day was over (phew!), we could finish off this visit with a purely play day. Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s tough having to structure your days this way, but it’s what we signed on for.

We’d been admiring the pretty pictures of a resort on north Ambergris Caye since we’d first started thinking about Belize: X’Tan Ha (pronounced “ISH-tan HA”). So I called them to see if we could come up for lunch, although we weren’t going to stay there (it has a 3-night minimum). They said sure, though we wouldn’t have access to the ‘guest amenities’ (beach play toys, etc). No problemo.

With the resort a little over seven miles north of San Pedro, we turned in our golf cart and opted for a new mode of transportation: the Coastal Express water taxi. It looks small in this picture but can actually carry quite a few people (and gets around at a pretty good clip, too).

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Plus it’s a fun ride…

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We pulled in at resort docks along the way to drop off or collect other passengers.

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And there’s way more of ’em up that way than we realized…

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We disembarked here, at the X’Tan Ha dock. Oh yeah, we were going to like this place…

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We headed first past this little yellow-roofed shack, home to ‘No Worries Tours’…

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Then the over-water bar…

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with its two in-the-water picnic tables to hang at, as well as some of the said ‘beach play toys’…

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And here’s the view down the beach from the bar…

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If this isn’t perfection, I don’t know what is. Gorgeous, gorgeous place.

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Beautifully landscaped, and all the buildings are so colorful and cute (each with an identifying art element like frogs, geckos, turtles, etc – I guess so you won’t forget which one is yours as you stumble inside from the beach or the bar…

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The only issue with a stay there would be that you’re pretty far out of San Pedro – but I guess the water taxi could cure that, if you wanted to go in. And maybe you wouldn’t care about going in.

So anyway, we bellied up to the bar for a draft Belikin or two.

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Watching bartenders Obie and Fabio at work and chatting up customers was very entertaining.

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We were watching some boats out at the reef so I asked Obie how close we were to Mexico Rocks, a snorkel spot just inside the reef that we’d been figuring for our next trip. He nodded over his shoulder and said it’s right there. You can kayak to it.

Hmm. It seemed to be kind of a slow day at the resort – Sunday afternoon, with folks mostly wrapping up their stays. So Ray wandered down to the tour shack and finagled a free kayak out of them; the girl inside told him there were places you could moor up to out at the snorkel site, and that it wasn’t that far – maybe a 15 minute paddle.

Well, there you go. What a great plan – something we’d been wanting to do anyway, free (instead of the $40 tour we’d been looking at at our hotel). Neither of us have ever kayaked, I’m kind of afraid of water, but what the hell – let’s do it!

We collected life vests, paddles and a purple kayak, and off we went. The water was insanely beautiful out there.

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Yippee! I told Ray this was definitely one of those pinchable “we’re in Belize” moments. So fun!

So, for those of you who noticed a recent Facebook quiz I took, I scored a “badass rating” the other day of 98%. Yes, 98 fricking percent! All these adventures in Belize must really be working some magic on me, huh?!

Well…yeah. Except that the 2% of me that isn’t badass apparently kicked in about halfway to the reef, when it suddenly occurred to me what we were doing.

Poor Ray. He clearly should have married someone who’s as much of a water baby as he is. Alas for him, he married me. So – while we did get out of the kayak into the water, it was not at the reef. My brilliant idea, despite Ray’s objections, which meant that we had no place to moor up, which meant the kayak was going to drift away from us if we tried to actually snorkel. Which bothered me much, much more than the fact that the water was over my head and/or that there might be sharks, jellyfish, stingrays or anything else in it with me.

Suffice it to say, we came ashore in short order. Ray angry that I wasn’t listening to him and probably making things harder than they needed to be. Me upset at myself for being such a wuss, but also hugely relieved to be back on terra firma, once we got there.

Back to the bar for beer, which can cure most things. I thought I was okay but then I had a moment – a few moments, actually – of shaky emotion, which made Ray recognize I wasn’t just being difficult, I really am “in over my head” when I’m out there (I think I had him fooled after our first snurkel expedition).

Being the wonderful guy that he is, he very sweetly reminded me that 1) I had never kayaked before, 2) I had jumped right in and tried it, and 3) I had kayaked in open ocean, in water over my head, and I had been doing fine with it – so I should be proud of myself, never mind that we hadn’t made it this time to the reef. Which made me start to cry with a mixture of frustration at myself and with how much I love this guy.

Then we were able to talk through what could have happened, if I would have been willing (able?) to hear him out while we were out there. Guess it would have helped if we had had this little chat before we hit the water, huh? Because it actually hadn’t occurred to me that the water at the reef would probably be shallower than it was where we got out, which would have made both snorkeling and getting back into the kayak so much easier – it just felt like it was getting deeper and deeper, leaving us further and further away from safety.

And we ordered some lunch (great food, too); and then we got the snorkel gear out and waded in past the dock and had a paddle around out there instead. Even this close in, there were lots of fish – mutton snapper, some jacks, a triggerfish, flounder, and even a baby stingray. And I remembered how much fun snorkeling is, and then I was even more pissed off at myself for making us turn around.

But, we had a few more hours on this beach and we’d have been fools to waste them being mad or sad…

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…before our water taxi showed up on the horizon (this is my view, laying on the dock waiting).

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So, a mostly lovely, lovely day – and we WILL get out to Mexico Rocks. If we do the boat tour first (so I’ll know what I’m getting into), my Non-Badass-Self might even be ready for that purple kayak again.

But mostly: Thanks, Ray, for loving all 100% of me no matter what. So fun to be doing this with you (even if it’s not always as much fun for you to be doing it with me). MWAH!

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