Greetings from Belize!
So my grand plan of blogging everyday ended up being a bust due to a lack of internet and motivation while on the small island of Caye Caulker. The motto of Caye Caulker is “Go Slow” and that is just what we did, from the moment we got there, until the moment we left. I am hoping to catch up in the next few posts, but we are now in San Ignacio enjoying a different type of adventure, so the catching up may be delayed…
We arrived on the island at 9 am and the usually calm and tranquil island was even more calm and tranquil in the early-ish morning hours. We found a very small cafe and paid only $8 (US) for two breakfast burritos and a coffee for Logan. Everything from the tortillas to the salsa was made fresh in a tiny kitchen and served quickly to the four customers that there was room for. After breakfast we wandered around the tiny island looking for somewhere to stay. The first place we looked at was booked for the next two weeks and the woman at the front desk warned us that we may have trouble finding somewhere cheap because of the holiday. Luckily, we found Sandy Lane down a little alley (the men who we asked told us to simply knock on the door of the house at the end). Since we were so early, there was not a room ready yet, but she told us to leave our things and come back. Now, being from America, leaving all our possessions with a total stranger caused for a moment of pause, but, we decided to go it and left our backpacks under a bench in her yard.
For the next hour or so we wandered around the island. We walked to the northern tip of the main island (about 15 minutes) to “the split”, which is literally where the island split in two during a hurricane in the 60’s. At the time there were only 5 families living on the northern part of the island, so the split was never repaired and now the northern island houses the rich, well those rich enough to have a boat to get them to work on the main island everyday. We then turned around and walked south for about 30 minutes. On this short walk we saw about 50% of the island (that you can walk on) and at almost all times we could see the eastern and western shores.
We made it back to the hotel and checked in to our room. We paid only 19 BZE a night (about $10 US) and that got us a room with a bed, a sink and fan. We had a shared bathroom in the courtyard, with HOT showers. Feeling very pleased with ourselves and our money saving abilities, we decided to wander down to the beach and look for somewhere to eat and swim. We found that the was not really a beach, but a series of docks, mostly owned by hotels, so we focused on the eating goal of our excursion. We found a very cheesy bar right by the water called Bambooze (cheesy right??). But, they had swings instead of chairs, rum cocktails, ceviche and popcorn lobster (like popcorn shrimp, but with lobster) so we were content to sit and eat and drink and people watch.
We had gone to Caye Caulker with the intention of only sitting, eating, reading and swimming, but we were sucked in by the hordes of salesmen trying to book sailing and snorkeling tours for the hoards of people touring the island. We booked an all day tour with Raggamuffin tours for the following day and after wandering, having a rum punch and watching the sunset and sitting on the ocean wall for a while we decided to search for a lobster for dinner. Since Caye Caulker is a lobster fishing island (as well as a tourist destination) there were plenty of choices. We settled on one with benches overlooking the water and ordered lobster stuffed with shrimp. The chef came out to tell us he only had two lobsters left, but that they were large, and therefore more expensive. We decided to split one, but, being still green travelers, we did not ask how much more. So, after enjoying a delicious lobster we coughed up 67 BZE (33 US) for ONE lobster!! That may not seem crazy by American restaurant standards, but two days later we paid 35 BZE for a bigger lobster WITH three sides. Point being, always make sure you know what you are paying for.
The next day we woke up ready to spend the day snorkeling and sailing. I normally get very seasick, but in the spirit of Caye Caulker, I decided not to worry about it. The day was looking a little stormy, but it had been that way in the morning the day before and had only rained for 5 minutes, so we did not even consider that it would really effect our day. Well…. it did. It rained ALL DAY. And being the tropics one would think the rain would be at least a warm-ish temperature. No. It was COLD. And, to top off an already bummer weather situation, Logan and I got stuck sitting in two of the three seats in the boat that were not covered and were soaking wet and shivering as we sailed to the three spots we snorkeled.
Despite all that, the day was wonderful. The water ended up being warmer than sitting in the boat, so we snorkeled as much as possible. We went to Ray Bay, where we saw sting rays over 4 feet wide and a half blind sea turtle. The water was only about 5 feet deep so we had to stay horizontal and we got REALLY close to the rays. Next we went to Shark Alley where we saw, yep you guessed it, sharks. They were nurse sharks and they lived in this reef with spotted rays and they too seemed to have a non-violent rivalry going, where they would sit on each other for extended periods of time. Last we went to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and saw a Moray Eel, coral, fish, more turtles and more sharks. On the way back it had FINALLY stopping raining and our captain (Captain, or ‘Mistah’, Rob) mixed together 5 gallons of rum punch (there were only 16 people on the boat) while his first mate (only mate for that matter) Elio made fresh ceviche. We sat on the stern, drinking, eating, talking and watching the sun set (sensing a theme here…) The boat was very multicultural and included a family of three from Orange County, a group of three men from Milan, and couples from London, Germany, Sweden, Australia and us.
We ended the day eating snapper and drinking rum punch (surprise, surprise) at a small grill (Fran’s Grill: literally a grill on the road and a hexagonal hut to store food, nothing more ) set up by a local woman on the water. We sat and ate and talked with people from all over the world until we got kicked out for being there too long.
Life sure is hard.