Sitting here in the jungle (in San Ignacio), it is hard to believe that I was on an island only two days ago, but writing this blog is helping my process and hopefully internalize what we have seen and done. My near drowning experience (or at least my near being swept out to sea experience) combined with walking through a city where taxi drivers won’t even pick up locals, has really made me realize how safe my life, and essentially everywhere I have been in the United States, is. I rarely am truly fearful for my life and safety and live in comfort at almost all times. It has been scary and exhilarating at the same time to live so differently than we do at home.
Our third and final day in Caye Caulker started VERY slow. We slept in late, moseyed to the bakery for some breakfast, stopped in an Internet cafe to check our email and book our hotel in San Ignacio (the lack of rooms in Caye Caulker had made us nervous). We did not blog as I was feeling too lazy. We went back to our room and read, which turned into my taking a nap. The weather had continued to be cloudy and rainy that morning so we didn’t feel too bad for doing nothing. When I woke up, the sun was mostly out so we decided to swim the split and explore the north island.
Now, no one had suggested this to us and we had not seen anybody attempt this, but the split is very narrow (about 200 feet) and we had seen some kids on the northern island jumping from the trees into the water and the swimming back to the docks on the main island, so we knew it could be done. We jumped in and started swimming. And then the tide went out. What started out as a leisurely swim across as narrow channel turned into a fight against the current as we were slowly swept out to sea. This description is a tad dramatic as there were about a hundred people who saw us flailing toward the north island and could have sent boats had we been in real danger, but I was terrified all the same, which made swimming even harder. Logan stayed calm and was able to make it onto a mangrove tree sticking out of the water on the northern side of the channel. After he made it I knew I could and I swam for what felt like my life and grabbed onto the tree. We laboriously and slowly pulled ourselves onto shore. We walked around the island a bit, which was beautiful and very rural, but the people who live there did not seem to take well to visitors as their dogs barked and their signs warned of how they felt about trespassing. So, we turned around and gathered the courage to make the dangerous swim again. This time we were smarter and swam in essentially the opposite direction we wanted to go, letting the current take us. Logan was able to make it right to the ladder to get out of the channel, but I overshot it by about 20 feet and ended up under the dock of the Lazy Lizard (the bar at the split). A nice rasta man reached down and grabbed me out of water. It was a scary adventure, and I do not think I would do it again, but it did feel good to accomplish something that felt impossible.
We went back to our room, took hot showers and went back to the split for a final sunset and rum punch. Once the sun was set we searched for our last dinner on the island. After our setback with the lobster the first night and the unexpected/unplanned sailing trip we were feeling a little poor so the goal was finding a cheap dinner, but our insatiable love of seafood prevailed once again when we walked past a restaurant displaying beautiful lobsters. Learning from our previous mistake, we asked how much each cost and decided to share one for 35 BZE ($17.50 US). This time our meal came with three sides as well. We drank Belikin beer (THE beer of Belize), sat by the water and gorged ourselves on grilled lobster and grilled garlic butter. It was easily the best meal we had on the island, possibly one of the best I have ever had.
The next morning we woke up early to catch the first ferry back to the city. When we arrived back on dry, non-sandy land we debated whether to get a cab or take a chance and try to find the bus station ourselves. We decided to save the money and adventure into scary Belize City by ourselves. Since it was the middle of the day, we felt pretty safe, but neither of us felt…comfortable. People were nice, but even locals did not seem thrilled to be living in Belize City. We walked past some kids who yelled “look at the white guys!” as we passed. And we sure felt like white guys. A local Belizean saw us struggling (none of the streets were marked in any way, making map reading very difficult) and told us how to get the bus station, and then took us there! It was so nice of him! We arrived at the station right on time for a bus to San Ignacio and crammed into the aisle.
Off to the jungle!!!