I left the cayes of Belize as i had to start moving again as i hadn’t really got that far. I booked the water taxi and left for Belize City. Not wanting to stop there as i hadn’t heard that many great things about it, i had booked a coach that took me from Belize City across the Guatemalan border to the town of Flores.
When we all boarded the coach we were given a talk by the guy that worked for the company. He told us that the coach was a non stop coach and would go all the way to Flores, it would not stop and pick anybody up on the way nor was it allowed too. After it left town it stopped immediately at the gas station.
He also told us about the payment we would have to make when we left Belize, a departure tax and some eco friendly tax of some kind. We would then leave Belize, walk across a small piece of no man’s land and then enter Guatemala. When entering we would have to pay an entry fee of 3 dollars, he told us to make sure they stamped our passports as sometimes they didn’t and when you then tried to leave you were fined 100 dollars US. It all sounded a bit dodgey but passed without incident. Well, i paid my 3 dollars and got a stamp, i haven’t yet tried to leave.
Typical border crossing, full of taxis, people selling food & drink, money changers, etc,etc.
Yet another currency and conversion rate to deal with, this time the Quetzales, currently 7.5 to a dollar or about 11 to a pound, don’t know who the unhappy bloke is –
Another country another tipple, Gallo seems to be the order of the day –
I arrived in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye after about an hour and a half boat ride from Chetumal. The boat ride was quite straight forward just a little noisey as the taxi ferries aren’t built for comfort just to serve a purpose.
We disembarked the boat and waited for the Immigration and Customs offices to open. A large laid back black guy came out who was security and told us to relax, chill out, have a cold beer as you are now in Belize ! Everybody checked in quickly and with the minimal amount of fuss, i don’t think they were too bothered with the formalities, just wanted to get everybody on their way and close the office again.
International arrivals at San Pedro water terminal –
I stayed on Ambergris Caye for about 5/6 days, there was lots of activities to do including snorkelling, diving, boat trips, fishing trips,etc,etc. There were a lot of Americans and Canadians there getting away from the harsh winters on the east coast, i guess a few had retired there too.
There was an older guy staying in my hostel, think he had one of the private rooms above my dorm, i use to see him every so often especially at mornings where he would be up having a coffee and a cigarette. One thing you learn when travelling around is never judge a book by its cover. He never looked that well and always had completely messed up hair and always wore the same old sweater in the morning, complete with cigarette and coughing fits it didn’t always make him that approachable !!
Anyway one morning we met in the kitchen and waited for the kettle to boil. I found out he lived in Montreal, Canada, and was escaping the harsh winter. This he had done for the last few years saying it was just hard to live through it all, year after year. Having talked some more i found out his daughter lived in Chiswick and he had visited Brighton and some other places on the coast in the past. More interestingly he owned a motor cruiser in Europe and had gone up and down the canals of France, Germany, Holland many times and normally spent 3-4 months a year doing this as he loved the history and culture of living by the riverside next to the old towns of Europe. Another interesting person met who you might normally have ignored because of pre-conceived ideas/thoughts.
Shoreline of Ambergris Caye –
Many boat piers come off the island due to it being very shallow –
After a few days i moved down to the neighbouring caye of Caye Caulker. A caye is basically a sandy island on top of a reef, there are many as Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world. Caye Caulker is known for its laid back attitude and its backpacker population where as Ambergris Caye is slightly more upmarket with more restaurants and bars. I stayed in a nice hostel in Caye Caulker called Yumas, well equipped with lots of outside seating, chairs, hammocks, loungers. The second night i actually had the dorm to myself so sometimes it pays to stay in a hostel as you pay for a bed in a dorm but get the privacey of your own room.
I only had three days on Caye Caulker and the last two were actually quite blustery as the east coast of the states had been hit by big storms, this normally meant that the tail end of it would end up in central America somewhere.
Caye Caulker beach front –
Last but not least, the beer of Belize Belikin –
I wondered why they were always served with a serviette around the top until one day the barmen saw me looking at my new bottle of beer and explained to me. The bottles arrive by boat and because of the salt air you can sometimes get a little rust appear around were the metal bottle top is. Apparantly that is also how the craze of putting a slice of lemon or lime in your bottle started **. They would give you a slice with your bottle and you would wipe around the top of the bottle to get rid of any rust marks. Before long people just started to put their slice of citrous fruit in their drink and the likes of Sol made millions overnight !!
** This may or may not be true but bloke down the pub said.
Travelling the world by sea……..(and a bit of land)