Today is an 8am departure from the bus depot in Tulum. We will be riding in a large comfy coach bus to get to the border of Belize. The final girl to join our tour, Angelica shows up today making us a complete group. It’s a fairly easy entry into Belize…off the bus..walk over the border and through the tiny customs building, then onto the next bus. This Belizean bus….not so comfy. It’s an old school bus – no air con – just open windows.
The wind is blowing fiercely through my hair; gonna be a real bitch to comb it out later. It is a 3 hour ride but it’s not too bad. We have fun chatting and playing games, as the driver blasts some cool island music.
The bus gets pretty full as we stop a fair amount of times to let people on and at one of the stations, a few guys roam the aisle of the bus selling food that I’m way too scared to try…haha.
As I learn, Belize is a multiethnic country…with its residents being Mayan, Creole, African, European, Spanish…this is due to colonisation, slavery and of course, immigration. We even see a few Mennonites at the bus station in Belize City…they came over in the late 50’s and still wear traditional clothing. Wasn’t expecting to see that! Things you learn when traveling!
Belize is located on the Caribbean Sea, bordering with Mexico and Guatemala. There was a huge Mayan civilization here, as can be seen in many of the ruins located on the mainland. Belize was once a British Crown Colony and known as British Honduras. After 1964, the colony (renamed Belize) became self governed and then gained full independence in 1981. English is the official language so its going to be very easy to jive with the locals. In addition to English, you’ll hear some Belizean creole, as there is a large afro-Caribbean population here.
Sad facts about Belize – it is a huge center for drug trafficking and money laundering. This is because the US dollar is tied to the Belize Dollar at a fixed rate by law. Plus the coastline and jungle make it easier to get drugs into Mexico. Therefore, gang activity and violent crimes are abundant. If you are concerned, stay away from Belize City and concentrate more on the tourist towns. There’s so many beautiful things to see in this country!
We arrive into Belize City and get on the express water taxi to get to Caye Caulker 45 minutes later. Caye Caulker is a limestone coral island in the Caribbean. The island is split in two….some say it was due to a hurricane, others say it was man made to allow an easier waterway between the west and east sides of the island. Caye Caulker is very vulnerable to hurricanes because it has nothing to protect it!
Stepping onto the white coral sand beach, we grab our bags and head to the hotel. The town is so cool and laid back….there are no cars on the island. But that’s no problem at all…the island is easily walkable from one end to the other(and only a 20 min walk west to east). Most people get around by walking, or riding bikes or golf carts. Golf carts also serve as taxis! And the motto here is “Go Slow”.
There are no paved roads…just paths in the sand flattened by the odd tractor you’ll see here. Arriving at Hotel Chinatown – it is a decent modern hotel, clean and spacious. I am rooming with Angelica and we are on the top floor where there is a rooftop patio to overlook the island.
It’s now time to head out for dinner to a place called Maggie’s Sunset Kitchen. We sit at the colorful picnic benches, while the lobster cooks on the open grill beside us.
I get my lobster with a side of coconut rice and fried plantains. OMG it is amazing! Nothing like fresh lobster on the beach, and 2 for 1 happy hour(we go for the Panty Rippers – coconut rum and pineapple juice).
As awesome as this is, there is one small problem. Or shall I say hundreds of small problems…MOSQUITOES..damn these things! Even though I put on repellent, it still doesn’t stop them from finding any bit of skin that isn’t protected. Like I’m talking I have bites on my face and on my butt(who thinks to put bug spray on their ass??). After dinner, we grab a couple of beers from the store next to the hotel and have a little get together before bed. What a fantastic first day in Belize!