Monday, 9 February 2015

L.A; Francis Ford Coppola and the Fried Chicken Dinner.

Craig Writes:
Wednesday 21 January
We arrived at LAX and made our way to The Farmers Daughter, a gorgeous LA modern meets country kitsch boutique hotel in West Hollywood.  It was a couple of hours before we could check in so we left our bags at reception and headed over to the Farmers Markets. 
The very funky Farmers Daughter.
The markets are an L.A institution and have been serving up a smorgasbord of American, Latin American and Asian food since 1934.  Mickey Rooney, Mae West, Elvis Presley and the Shah of Iran are just some of the names that have eaten there.  It was the perfect place for an early lunch.  Afterwards we fossicked around the knick knack stalls before wandering over to have a look at The Grove.
The Grove, a little slice of surreal.
It's a twenty five acre retail and entertainment complex built in 1999 and is so carefully arranged and stage managed you feel like you could be standing on the set of the Truman Show.  Everything was so perfect and pristine and clean, from the manicured gardens playing piped music from the sculptured hedges to the gushing hourly musical water show and the impossibly clean streets.  We laid on the golf green square of lawn that seemed to be the epicenter of it all and people watched before calling it a day.

Thursday 22 January
We had hired a tour guide today, Jasmine, and she was going to show us the sights.  We had her for the entire day after which she would be dropping us and our luggage off at the Knott's Berry Farm Hotel in Anaheim.  We went back to the Farmers Markets for breakfast before meeting Jasmine and heading to our first stop, the Griffith Observatory, and a photo op with the Hollywood sign. 
You can just see it if you look hard.
There is some interesting history to this L.A icon. It was originally a promotional sign that read Hollywood Land and was used to sell real estate in the Hollywood Hills area.  It was only supposed to be up for 12 - 18 months. Hearing of its imminent demise a group of influential movie movers and shakers bought the sign, removed the Land portion and the rest as they say is history.   

Griffith Observatory was built with money donated by the man whose name it bears, wealthy mining magnate and real estate developer Griffith J Griffith.  In addition to a bucket load of money he also donated three thousand acres of parkland to the LA County for the enjoyment of the locals.  Unfortunately, today the smog and lights of the city render it practically useless for any serious star gazing but it was a nice thought at the time.  
The illustrious and very generous Mr Griffith did however have a bit of a dark side, to the extent that the city waited until his death before accepting his ample gifts.  It appeared that the public teetotaller Mr Griffiths was in fact a nasty closet drunk.  He once served two years in jail for getting so paralytically drunk he accused his wife of plotting against him with The Pope. He then proceeded to pull a gun and shot her in the eye.  She thankfully survived but not surprisingly the marriage did not.

The white apartment in the middle with the two big windows was Marilyn's.
From Griffith Observatory we made our way to The Roosevelt Hotel, home to Marilyn Monroe for two years when her career first took off and the site of the very first Oscar presentations in 1929. 
It was a famous hangout for many celebrities and it is said that Marilyn and the late Cliff Montgomery still drop in from time to time.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre was just over the road so I had to go see if me and Jack Nicholson were still brothers in palms. We were. 
Fits like a glove.
Jasmine mentioned that we should be on the lookout for a star dedication ceremony. There are twenty five a year so there's a good chance we might get a celebrity sighting.
Lo and behold behind a small wall of reporters and cameras a sidewalk star dedication was being held for the late Ray Dolby, the founder and inventor of Dolby Sound.  Not exactly Matt Damon or Meryl Streep but better than nothing.  But, just when our excitement meter was nudging boring I look into the front row of the seated guests and there sitting waiting to give his dedication speech was none other than the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of Hollywood.  Three Godfather movies, Apocalypse Now, The Great Gatsby, The Way We Were and so much more.  It was the A list sighting I was hoping for.  We waited and listened to his short dedication, took some pictures and then happily moved on.
Hollywood legend, Francis Ford Coppola.

This will be the staircase for the stars come Oscar night.
We grabbed a quick lunch at the Inn and Out Burger joint, yet another Hollywood favourite.  They catered Vanity Fair's post Oscar party last year and were a big hit with all the celebs.  From here Jasmine took us to Greystone Manor in Beverly Hills, a massive big Tudor house built by Edward Doheny for his son in 1928.  It's been public property since The City of Beverly hills bought the estate in 1965 and it pays for itself by being a favourite site for many films and TV shows including the first two Spidermans, The Gilmore Girls and the latest Ninja Turtle effort.

You can't come to L.A without a drive through 90210.  Wide palm lined streets, opulent houses and expensive European cars.  No surprises here, the place is a renowned cliche and it delivers.  

One of the places I was glad to see on the itinerary was the J.P Getty Museum and Gallery.  It is a sprawling complex in the hills of Brentwood and houses one of the most impressive collections of European, drawings, paintings, sculptures and manuscripts in the US.  
This hat rack and umbrella stand was one of my favourites.
Regretfully we were running short on time having spent more time than necessary at both Griffith Observatory and the Greystone house.  We were really rushed through which was a great shame.  There was enough there to keep you absorbed for hours, fourty five minutes was criminally short.  
We endured the same problem at our last stop, Venice Beach.  This place was gritty, edgy and I'm not sure I'd like to be hanging around too long after dark but in daylight hours it was as cool as Vanilla Ice.
A little slice of Venice Beach
There was an MTV hip hopper called Snootie Wild who was shooting a new video in the sand just off the boardwalk, the smell of Mary Jane hung heavy in the air, skateboarders were cutting it up with killer moves in the skate park, loincloth clad black men were...well I'm not sure what he was doing, and a crowd of around a hundred homeless people, some with suitcases, some with cardboard boxes, were congregating on the grassy knoll waiting for the sun to go down so they could claim their piece of grass for the night. But, with our time almost out and a ninety minute drive to Anaheim still in front of us we were again restricted to what we could see within a couple of hundred metres radius and then it was time to hit the road.

Friday 23 January
There is a Santa Claus convention at our hotel.  The Fraternal Order of Real Beard Santas were having their annual convention at the Knot'ts Berry Farm hotel and we were lucky enough to be there. Over one hundred dedicated Santa lookalikes had gathered there on their annual get together to learn how to be a better Santa. You've never seen so many big bellied white haired old fellas dressed in red in one place before.  So much ho hoing, hair tousling and dispensing of good cheer. They just need a snow machine in the lobby and some friendly elfves and it would have been perfect.   
Santas adding a jolly touch to breakfast.
We had booked the first 8.30am shuttle to Disneyland to get in the early queue but we need not have worried.  We walked straight in the front door. It's the start of Disney's off season and certain sections of the park were in shutdown mode for maintenance so crowds were low. 

Disneyland number four. It never gets boring.
If this had been our first Disney we would have been pretty pissed off. Splash Mountain and The Matterhorn were both not running.
We still managed to kill ten hours and consume all manner of theme park calories though.  The giant turkey leg, the bottomless hot fudge sundae, the fried fritters and the Dole pineapple soft serve were all sampled.   
Even with the park in maintenance mode such is the enormity and variety of Disney's attractions that we had no problem finding plenty of rides to amuse ourselves and displays to marvel at. 

Speaking of which I have to mention the mind boggling ASIMO. It is an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility and is Honda's advanced humanoid robot.  It's an amazing piece of technology.  It can walk, run, climb stairs, kick a ball, walk sideways and off course recognize voice commands and talk.  It's an intriguing thought that if this is what the public are allowed to see what the hell do the military have.
Amazing, thrilling and a little chilling what this thing can do.
We watched the parade, made sure we had ticked all the boxes and then bid a fond farewell to Disneyland.  This is our fourth Disneyland and quite likely our last.  Our theme park thrills however were not quite over.  We still had our day at Knott's Berry famous roller coaster park tomorrow.

Saturday 24 January
Knott's Berry Farm has been on my list of roller coaster parks for as long as I can remember so it was pretty disappointing to see that the 'biggy', the giant wooden Ghost Rider, was closed for maintenance.  On top of that the crowds were out in force.  The Silver Bullet was fun, but that was a forty minute wait, and the Xcellerator was as close to being shot out of a cannon as I could imagine but it was an hour long queue for a thirty second ride. 
Whatever goes up...
The boys wanted to do the Boomerang, another hours wait, but after that we all decided that compared to Disneyland Knotts Berry Farm doesn't quiet measure up.  It was time to go. 

You don't mind the wait if you get the front seats.
But not before we had experience one last Knott's Berry tradition,  Mrs Knott's famous fried chicken dinner.
The kitchen here has been dishing up Mrs Knott's famous fried chicken dinners since 1930 and they were delicious, crispy deep fried perfectly spiced skin covering the most succulent juicy flesh, it was outstanding and one the highlights of the Knotts Berry experience.  I'd go back just for the food.  
Mrs Knott's fried chicken will take your taste buds on a helluva ride.
Well that's it.  Tomorrow we fly out to Hong Kong for a one night stop over to try and readjust our body clocks before we land back in Perth.  We've covered a lot of diverse ground in six short weeks and although it's been busy we never really felt rushed.  Once again huge kudos goes to Christina for the many many hours spent finding the best deals, the right places to stay and getting us there and back.  Well done sweetie. xx  
There are no solid plans for another venture just yet but hey, never say never, right!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Key West and The Great Pie Pilgrimage.

Craig Writes;
Saturday 17 January
Today was another travel day. Two planes later and we were landing at Miami International Airport. By the time we got through immigration, collected our luggage and hire car, drove to the Quality Inn at Homestead and adjusted for the time difference, it was 8pm.  We were tired and a little hungry so we threw our bags in the room and head out to Sonny's BBQ. You just can’t beat some good old American BBQ when your appetite is up.  Juicy tender sweet and tangy pulled pork, rich and creamy homemade coleslaw and crunchy salty fries all washed down with bottomless tumblers of fizzy sugar.  Hello America.

After dinner we got back in the car and headed to a local Walgreens to pick up a couple of essentials making sure to step around the fresh poo that someone had just laid at the end of aisle five.  I kid you not, someone had actually done that.

We were chuckling to ourselves about the plonky in aisle five when we walked out into the carpark and straight into the middle of a police manhunt that seemed to be concentrating around our parked car.  Apparently the Homestead P.D had pulled a large primemover over for a random check and it was obviously carrying something it shouldn't have.  The driver had bolted and was last seen heading in our direction. Our carpark was surrounded by patrol cars, cops and plain clothes detectives sweeping through the bushes and chattering on their two-ways.  They had set up a perimeter - I heard that on the detectives radio -  around the block and there were flashing red and blue lights on every corner. I offered to help - by sitting in my locked car and putting my high beam on - but I was politely turned down.  
We sat glued to our seats, I had that feeling, where the hair on the back of your neck starts to prickle, like you know that something was about to happen.  Were we about to witness a 'bust', a shootout or maybe even the guy making a run for it after they discover him hiding behind a dumpster.  But time ticked by and the boys were getting restless and watching a guy root around in the bushes can only be intriguing for so long.  We asked for permission to leave the area and drove back to our hotel.

Sunday 18 January
This is the drive that both Christina and I have been looking forward to.  The 160 miles to Key West at the most southern tip of continental U.S.A.  The fun started once we made it onto the Overseas Highway.  We had the Atlantic to our left, the Gulf of Mexico to our right and 127 miles of US Route No.1 in front of us.
The Overseas Hywy on US Route 1 is one of Americas classic road trips.
Our first stop was Robbie's, situated just over the Indian Key Channel bridge.  It was a good old fashioned seaside flea market selling everything from conch shells to hats made of old canvas.  You could buy a bucket of fish for three bucks and stand on the jetty feeding the pelicans and the giant Tarpon that float under the jetty.
The Pelicans must be thinking how they could get a hold of one of those big Tarpons.
As we left Robbies we realised that we had gone past Ma's Fish Camp, according to Christinas list it sold the second best Key Lime Pie in the Florida Keys, so we turned around and headed back the way we came.
We had set ourselves the task of trying to identify the best Key Lime pie in the Keys and as a guide we have a list of the supposedly top ten.  We may not have got to them all but we gave it a good shot. Ma’s Fish Camp was the start of our pie pilgrimage and a bloody good start it was.

Hogfish Bar and Grill was number three on our pie list and just happen to be on our way to our B&B. It was a little Key West gem hidden away amongst the trailer parks on a sleepy harborside back street.  It was good but not quite as tart as we would have liked, it currently sits at number two on our list. They did do a frozen Key Lime pie on a stick covered in chocolate but that was strictly a novelty piece.
We were now only ten minutes away from our next home, the gorgeously restored 1895 Victorian manor now known as Avalon Bed and Breakfast.
Avalon, a beautifully restored old gal.
Once the boys were settled Christina and I put our walking shoes on and headed off for a wander. We passed by Hemingway's house - we'll be back tomorrow for that one - then did a u-turn and walked down Duvall st.  We stopped to peruse the drinks menu of The Rum Bar and got into a conversation with a troupe of drunk marathon runners who were all extolling the virtues of the Dark and Stormy, off which they had obviously had a few. It’s a tall glass of ice topped up with ginger beer with a liberal jigger of dark rum floated on top.  Squeeze a half lime in and gently stir.  Very very nice.
With the kids safely locked up back at the room we thought, why not.  And so there we sat for the next hour in a couple of soft cushioned chairs overlooking the crowded sidewalk, a tall frosty clinking glass of Dark and Stormy in one hand and a smooth Dominican Republic stoggy in the other. It was another great memory to bank.
We felt soooo good after that we decided to flag the idea of restauranting it for dinner and settled for a bottle of red and some delivery pizza to our B and B.

Monday 19 January
Charlies not feeling great today so we left him in the room and headed for Hemingway's House and Museum.  What a treat.  First his tiny room in Havanas old quarter now the beautiful Spanish Colonial home he shared with his second wife Pauline and his first two sons. They bought the house for $8000 in 1931 and he lived there from 1931 to 1939, periodically retreating to his hotel room in Havana.  It was here he finished To Have and Have Not, The Green Hills of Africa, The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, To Whom the Bells Toll and many short stories.  It’s inspiring seeing the space where these great writers sat and created.  Mark Twain's house in Hartford, Connecticut was another big treat for me.
Hemingway's studio above the carriage house was as he left it.  Large stuffed animal heads adorning the walls, fishing reel on the desk, book shelves stuffed with his favourite reads and of course a writing desk and chair.
Hemingway's writing retreat.
The grounds are beautiful.  The centre piece was the large sixty five foot swimming pool that Pauline had put in while he was away reporting on the Spanish Civil War in 1937. She had spent $20,000 -the equivalent in today's money of $300,000- and removed his much beloved boxing ring to make room for it.  Ernest was not impressed.
The first pool to be sunk in The Keys at a cool $300,000 in today's money.
She didn't swim and he didn't care too much for it either, certainly not at the expense of his boxing ring, but it was never about the need for a pool.  She was pissed that he had left to go overseas and had taken his mistress - and soon to be third wife Martha Gellhorn - with him and felt spending an enormous wad of his cash was the best way to express that.  The point was made and they were divorced not to long after that.   

With the cultural appetite quenched it was now time to continue our quest for the greatest Key Lime pie in the world.  Kermits sits atop of Christinas suggested list of locations for the best Pie, and as luck would have it it was only a short walk from Hemingways house.
We found it down on Duvall st and after purchasing and consuming we all agreed, unequivocably, that Kermits is currently well and truly number one on our pie pilgrimage list.  But, to be fair there are at least two more contenders that need to be sampled so the title is well and truly still up for grabs.

This guy was hilarious.
We were told that you can’t come to the Keys without going to Mallory Square to see the sunset. Well we’ve seen some pretty stunning sunsets so we thought we’d have a look.
A stunning sunset shot by Christina.
The sunset was beautiful and worth the effort.  Most of the action happens on the quay that backs onto Mallorys Square and it was fairly pumping.  There were fire jugglers, magicians, a bustling flea market, pop up bars and eateries and to top it off three big cruise liners had docked and spilt hundreds of passengers onto the quay.  It was a bit crowded for us so we took the sunset photos and headed back down Duvall st to find some place quieter to eat.  
I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking how funny it would be if he fell in.
Tomorrow we leave the relaxed and cool vibe of Key West and drive to Miami.  It has been fantastic.  A couple more days here would have been very easy to do.

Tuesday 20 January
Our search for the perfect Key Lime Pie continued as we left the Keys and headed into Miami.  There were two more stops before the judges would hand in their final results. First stop was the Midway Cafe at Islamorada on the Overseas Hywy. This one was a little on the non traditional side.  It had mile high meringue with a pastry base and was served just a little to much on the cold side. However, given a few minutes to warm up it started to show what it was really made off.  Nice texture, lovely bitey limey flavour that the sweet meringue complemented beautifully. This is a top contender.

Fifth and last on our list was Mrs Macs, still on the Overseas Hywy but further down in Key Largo. We stopped for lunch and should have stopped at that.  While the texture was silky and smooth the biscuit crust was a little thin and it should have been called a Key Cheesecake.  There was no lime to be seen, smelt or tasted.  It was just a very nice cheesecake.  Sorry Mrs Macs I'm given it back and you unfortunately are our back runner.

So, the final results are in and the judges have made their decision.  The winners are;
  1. Kermits, Duvall st Key West
  2. Midway Cafe, Islamorada
  3. Ma's Fish Camp, Islamorada
  4. Hogfish Bar and Grill, Key West
  5. Mrs Macs, Key Largo
The winner of our hunt for the best Key Lime Pie, Kermits.
With the rigors of the Great Pie Pilgrimage behind us we continued on our way to Miami where tomorrow we will be departing to our second last stop, L.A.

The CVW's arrive in Miami.
After checking in to our hotel we headed straight down to Ocean Drive for a look at the Art Deco hotels and restaurants that line the strip.

The Miami Beach Art Deco District has the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and if you like that sort of thing - which I do - it's a treat to see.  
We couldn't get this close without heading down to world reknown Miami Beach. It's a very pretty stretch of sand, a couple of kilometres long, easily a good hundred metres wide and has a variety of small stalls dotted along it's gritty albino shoreline.
Walking off into the sunset.
The sea breeze was in and a thin line of kelp had blown on shore but you could see it would be a stunning beach to spend a day at.
Miami Beach.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Belize Part Two. Man vs Fish. One All.

Craig Writes:
Wednesday 14 January
San Pedro is a stunning little town on the southern island of The Ambergris Cayes and it was here we met Captain Pany, 'the greatest captain who ever rode the seven seas.' This old fella is straight out of a Hemingway novel.  A crusty weather beaten cliche whose wide toothy grin and sparkling eyes belied his aged years.  He came complete with the requisite fishing injury required of an old man who had spent his life on and in the ocean.  He had lost his thumb and index finger of his right hand when they were blown off by a dodgy shotgun shell as he attempted to put a hole in the side of a four metre hammerhead with a bang stick.
The indomitable Captain Pany.
With our luggage piled high in the bow he slowly idled his 250hp Evinrude through the shallow waterways of the quay.  When we hit the dark blue water he opened her up and the force of it pushed us back in our seats. It was exhilarating, the smile on my face was ear to ear.
We were still a twenty five minute ride from the resort when he spied an approaching front moving quickly in our direction. The half canopy would never have been enough to protect us or our luggage so he decided to try and outrun it.  He eased the throttle forward until we were skimming the tops of the small breakers at more than 50 klm/phr. When the rain hit it was like being lashed with nettles. We were soaked through within a minute.  He slowed after realising that the rain had won the race.  Within minutes the showers had eased, the clouds had passed and Captain Pany had us back to full throttle.  We were completely dry within minutes.  
Waiting at the dock of the resort was Imelda holding a shiny tray with four icy cold fruit punches, two liberally laced with rum. After a short introduction to the facilities she walked us down the  small beach towards Sea Turtle, our home for the next three nights.
We couldn't believe this was our home for the next three days.
The beach is a broad brushstroke of the purest whitest colour.  It is dotted with deck chairs and kayaks and provocatively leaning palms bulging with coconuts. There are ten brightly coloured cottages discreetly placed along the beach that are literally a stones throw from the blue warm water.
View from the kayak. We were third from the right.
The only way in or out of the resort is by boat and we are the farthest you can be from anywhere before hitting the mangroves of Mexico.  We'll be eating in their restaurant and drinking in their bar for the next three days and I couldn't be happier.

Thursday 15 January
You could not photoshop a more idyllic slice of paradise than Tranquility Bay.  The Belize Barrier Reef passes three hundred metres from our beach providing a sheltered bay full of hundreds of species of fish and coral.  The turquoise waters are balmy, warm and as clear as a nuns conscious. There is a gentle morning current that intensifies as the afternoon wears on.  After lunch you can paddle your kayak out and tie up to one of the buoys, snorkel for an hour or so and then just let the current slowly pull your kayak back into shore.  
This was our front yard.
Most of the other guests were out on trips today so the beach and the reef were ours.  We had breakfast and then the four of us paddled out to the reef for a snorkel. You know you’re relaxed when time ceases to have any meaning.  We paddled in when we had had enough, showered up and then it appeared it was time for lunch. We ate, we reclined under the coconut palms, dozed, daydreamed and eventually decided to go back in and float around the coral for a bit longer.  I’m in paradise here, did I already say that?

Friday 16 January
This morning we were headed north along the Belize Barrier Reef up towards the Mexican border. We were following the path of the diving Terns and Pelicans hoping to find the schools of sardines that we would be using for bait.
We were guests on Captain Pany's twenty five foot Skiff, The Tackle Box, for a full day of fishing and snorkelling.  The weather was warm and the seas were calm, it was going to be a good day. We were fishing for snapper and hopefully barracuda and then later  diving for lobster. The boat was packed with all the fishing and snorkelling gear we would need and floating in the icy water of the esky was an assortment of water, softies and the beers we would need for our lunchtime beach cookup.
While the birds snacked effortlessly, crashing face first into the water and surfacing with a gullet full of sardines, we were having less luck.  The Captain decided to drop some lures over the side and we tried to catch something by drag fishing. That didn't prove successful either so we hoisted rods and continued in search of sardines.  A circling flock of Frigates, dive bombing Pelicans and White Egrets gave us hope.  We pulled in only metres from the shore and the shallow depths fairly shimmered with the number of fish.  Captain Pany steadied himself and threw his net wide pulling in a haul of shiny white sardines. Two more throws and we had what we needed.
Loaded with buckets of live bait we made our way to Rocky Point and commenced to pull in a variety of black snapper, red snapper and something called a grunt.  Callum hooked the first biggy of the day, a 25lb Tarpon that unfortunately was lost to his youthful exuberance.  He would more than make up for it later in the day.
Much bigger things were to come for young Callum.
He might not have hooked a real bigun but he got a lot of these.
Kiss and release?  I don't think so.
She didn't catch the biggest but she caught the first.
We fished Rocky Point for an hour or so before Captain Pany decided we were good enough to head down to Bacalar Chico, the river that divides Belize from Mexico.  This was the stamping ground of barracuda, one of the toughest fighting fish in the world. It was here I would fight for ten minutes to bring a 30lb barracuda to within a few metres off the boat before the crappy little reel I had disintegrated in my hand.  Captain Pany valiantly grabbed a hold of the line but it quickly became evident he was going to lose a couple more fingers if he held onto it.  It was the one that got away.

He let me throw the bait net to try and ease my disappointment but the water was too deep and I could only manage two lonely sardines.  
The hard part was not following the net in.
Not one to give up the Captain baited up his personal rod with the biggest, juiciest sardine we had and Callum and I had one more valiant attempt to hook ‘the big one’ before heading out to dive for lobster.  
As fate would have it it was Callum who was to redeem the family honour.  With the lighter of the two rods not only did he hook a 20lb thrashing barracuda he played it like an absolute pro. From the bow to the stern and over the top of the canopy he kept the pressure on, releasing and reeling in until the fish had exhausted itself. When finally it came crashing into the port side of the boat, Captain Pany was there with a large gaff to pull it on board.  
Barracuda boy.
I can’t remember the last time I saw such a huge grin on my young fellas face.  He was so proud, we were all so proud, proud of the way he kept his cool, letting it run when he needed to and then reeling in as soon as there was slack.  It was a tremendous effort.
Feeling pumped and now guaranteed of a huge feast we laid the rods aside and headed back towards Rocky Point.  It was time to snorkel and see if we could add some lobster to the menu.
One of the glorious things about the water around the reef is that the average depth is about 1.5 metres. In some places you have to inflate your lungs to maximum capacity just to float over the coral reefs.
A small window into this magnificent underwater world.
We dove with a gaff, peering into the tiny crevices and holes looking for a stray feeler poking out and listening for that telltale clack clack clack sound they make. We didn’t have to look for long, Captain Pany knew exactly where they would be.  He doesn't dive with a craybag preferring to hook and drags them from their holes and killing them on the spot by piercing their heart with the tip of the gaff.  Thirty minutes later we were heading back towards the Tackle Box with him clutching seven large lobster in one hand and his gaff in the other.  We would eat like kings.  
When too many crays are barely enough.
We pulled the boat into a small piece of beach where a friend of his was caretaking a small failed beach bar.  An unsuccessful venture by a Denver dentist.  In the shade of an old bush kitchen in a large cast iron pan he cooked up a feast of fish, lobster, potato, onions, salsa and hot sauce.  We sat drinking ice cold beer watching the generous Caribbean Sea, eating lobster and snapper and barracuda and thinking it doesn't get any better than this.
Yes, it tasted just as good as it looks, actually, it was better than it looks.
There was an offer to go back in and snorkel but lunch was so enormous it was more likely than not that we would just sink to the bottom.  The Captain, still disappointed at my lost barracuda, took us a little further out where we dropped our lines into the deep water for one more go at something really big.  We baited triple hooks with whole sardines and dropped the lines down twenty to thirty metres. Within minutes something huge took my bait and nearly ripped me out of my seat.  Whatever it was it took everything, hook, line and sinker.  We quickly rigged new hooks and bait and went back in but whatever it was had moved on.  We waited for another twenty minutes but there was nothing, not even a nibble. The day had suddenly seemed to disappear, the sun was hanging low and it was time to reel in.  Minutes later we were skimming across the surface of the Bacalar Chico National Reserve, tired, sun kissed and very very happy.
There were a couple of kilo of fish fillets left, some yellow snapper and some barracuda as well as some Conch that the Captain had picked up with the lobster. Dinner was going to be another feast.
We couldn't eat it all, half went back to the kitchen staff.
We have certainly lived the postcard paradise dream here at Tranquility Bar.  The small intimate beach, the attentive staff and the limited number of guests make it very special. The only dark side was the several trillion sandflies and mosquitoes and their relentless appetite for humans and of course the dodgy fishing gear.  
Parasitic little bastards.
If not for those two things it would have been absolutely perfect.