After more than two months away, standing on deck the night we approached Tampa Bay, it was clear that we were finally back home. The first clue: the extensive and well maintained navigational aids. The second clue: the glittering lights lining each bridge and road, even Belize City had not been so brightly illuminated!
The speedy four and a half day trip to St. Petersburg from Belize the entire crew--student and professional--had an energy of expectation, eagerness, and impatience. It was an 850 nautical mile passage, not much shorter than that eleven-day trip from the DR to Honduras, but thankfully stuff winds and strong currents had us logging over 150nm each day. A day away from our destination, one student commented on how we were finally going to get there. Here we were a day ahead of schedule, but that emphatic finally summed up everyone's emotions. It was not just the return to our home country, it was Parents Day, Spring Break, laundry, showers, and phone access.
Belize City was a great last Caribbean destination. Our last day ashore in the Caribbean, we visited the Mayan ruin of Lamanai, took an hour boat trip there and back (great birding yet again!), bought hammocks in the city, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner ashore at an open air restaurant. Lamanai was amazing. Standing atop the High Temple, just above the rainforest canopy, I could not help by marvel at the fact that the limestone temples were all built by hand, without even use of the wheel or beasts of burden. It certainly makes us look lazy with our cars, wheelbarrows, etc.