4th June 2018
Coming from Mexico, where the exit border control has been very smooth, I crossed the Hondo river in the “no-man’s-land”. The river is the natural border between Mexico and Belize. Starting my walk after the border control taxi drivers with different kinds of vehicles tried to sell me their service. Even on the Belizean side of the river, taxi drivers tried to make their money. Actually I had to cross the Corozal Free Zone before I reached the border control of Belize. The Corozal Free Zone has hotels and a casino. A taxi driver told me, that it is two kilometres to the border control. Though I asked him: “Really, not more?” and told him “Two kilometers are nothing” and kept walking. I do not know if it even are two kilometers between the bridge and the border control. I did not need a long time to reach my goal. A taxi driver has seen me coming walking and made this very friendly way, that he would help me to explain, where I had to go etc. I let him do. When he stand beside me while I filled the immigration form, I asked him, to leave me alone, please.
At the border control I first had to fill out that form with my personal information as well, why I will enter Belize, how I came to Belize, what I will do in Belize and for how long I will stay. I also had to fill in how often I already had been in Belize. The name of the carriage, e.g. the flight number was asked for. I wrote the truth, that I was coming walking from the Mexican border. (The taxi driver had told me, that I should write, I was coming by taxi.) There were two officers – a male and a female. When it was my turn, I had to go to the female officer. She asked me, if it was my first time to Belize and put then the stamp in my passport. When I have got the passport again, I saw, that she put the dates for a whole month in it. That is the maximum of days permitted without a visa, even I had asked for 28 days only.
I had to pass a screening station and declare, what I have with me. Even I usually check in advance, what is not allowed to bring into a country, I had missed it this time, but was mentally prepared, that it would not be allowed to bring agricultural products. I had not bought something to eat with me. Anyway I had two bananas (from the last two breakfasts at the hostel in Chetumal, Mexico). I also still had the tea, the honey, instant coffee and a bottle of water. I saw bananas beside the band, though I declared my bananas for the female officer at this station. She told me, that I could eat them or had to leave them. I decided to eat them, though I stepped back and started eating my first banana. Nearly done, a male officer asked me, if I had more bananas. I answered him: “Another one, but I will eat the other one, too.” He went away. Again at the screening station I asked, if I was allowed to bring in the water. It was OK. I was still waiting for, that my backpacks would be checked – like they did with other travellers luggage, but the female officer told me to go further.
Welcome to Belize 😀
That taxi driver, who already had met me in the Free Zone, was awaitIng me. I was looking for a combi (collective transport), but could not see one. Though I negotiated the price with him for bringing me to my first host in Belize. He was living in Corozal district, but somewhat outside the small town of Corozal. I did not know that at that time. We came down to 35 BZD (14.50 EUR), which is overpriced I learned soon. I was comparing with MXN (~350) and told the driver, if it is so expensive in Belize, this time would be the only time I was going by taxi in Belize, but he did not go down any more with the price (I realised by myself, how cheap it is in Mexico to use a taxi). Anyway he drove a little detour, though I could take out BZD at an ATM. He did not ask for a higher price either, when he had read the directions, I had got of my host.
Arriving at my host, he asked the taxi driver to be reasonable with the pricing. The taxi driver got angry at him and told him, that I already had agreed to the price and that he had driven me all the way from the border. The taxi driver had no change for my 50 BZD-note. Mark, my host, did help me out, telling me, that I can pay back when I have change. When the taxi driver had went away, Mark explained, that a combi from the border to the bus station is for 2 BZD and a taxi from the bus station to his house for 10 BZD as well as, the taxi from the border to his house should not have been for more than 25 BZD. He added, that the people try to make more money by tourists – the same as in Mexico, I answered him.
Mark has a little restaurant, called the B.L.D. Poolside restaurant. The pool is still not finished, but he has hired workers to do so. Mark lives with his girlfriend and their soon 3-year-old son. He also has a goat, a sheep and a dog. All animals are on leashes. He also has two huts, here called cabanas. In one of them (it was not really finished inside) I was allowed to sleep during my stay. All his houses have palm leaf roofs.
We had a small talk about my travel before Mark was going by car to town to buy some paint and other things. Mark used some short cuts, though we were mainly on unpaved, sandy road. The roads out of town to his place and further were even of this kind. Back again I was offered some pieces of water melon and a mango from his own tree. It was the same kind like in Mexico. I asked Mark for wi-fi and if he is willing to share it with me respectively if it is expensive. He gave me his wi-fi password to send an email to my children, though they know I am well. I understood, that I could not write my blog by using his wi-fi. I planned to try to find an Internet café in town.
When we had been in town, I told Mark, that I could not see, that the English had governed Belize. It looks more like Mexico and he told me, that the only British in Belize is the Queen on their dollars. Even the language spoken is not English anymore, but Creole. Back at Mark’s place I rested a while, because I would not take all of their time. Later I went back to the restaurant. Mark had customers that evening. One of them was an American, who had retired to Belize and lives on the other side of the bay, together with his wife.
By the way I was never invited to share their living room. Mark and I had a conversation about our families – even ancestors. When the son, Daniel, was with us, I played ball with him for a little while. I was still in the restaurant, when they cooked hot dogs and a pizza. The hot dogs were eaten by themselves – in the living room. They did not make enough, though it would be one for me as well. Anyway they offered me a pizza slice for free, which I happily took, because I was really hungry now. I ate it at the restaurant. I also had got a glass of purified water for free. Maybe you are wondering, why I describe this? I do it by trying to understand the different cultures.
Soon after the meal they said good night, though I was going to the cabana and tried to plan my second part of Mexico by using the map I had got of my Mexican host in Portugal. It was working well with all the notes I have from hosts and people I met at the hostels. The only problem I see is my time frame.
5th June 2018
I have had a horrible night, because of all the mosquitoes. I used my repellent, but I had to re-apply it several times. It was too warm for long sleeves and they even bit me through my clothes. I did not get much sleep.
My breakfast was a glass of purified water. Neither Mark nor his girlfriend did ask me, if I want anything more. Anyway he took me to the highway by car. At the first supermarket I bought some biscuits and tried to find coffee to buy. I did not. Fortunately I had a bottle of water with me – I had refilled it at Mark’s. I was walking to the opposite side of the town to find the Maya ruin Santa Rita. There was a little park in front of it and I rounded the park at the wrong side, though I did not see the Maya site. Soon I came to a T-junction. A man stood in front of a house, calling “hi, come here”. I did not go there. I thought, he will sell something to me. On the other side of the street where two men talking with each other. I asked them for the ruins. I just had passed them, but from the direction I was coming now, it seemed just to be a hill of stones. There was a fence around, though I was not awaiting more. I thought, the city makes fools of his visitors. Anyway I followed the fence and found the entrance of the site.
People were working there and a man with a shirt with the word STAFF asked me, if I want to visit the site. He told me to continue to the next gate. He met me there, asked me for 10 BZD (~ 100 MXN) and was going after the ticket, when I had paid the amount. This site is anyway not big. There is just one pyramid excavated. Though it took not a long time for me to see it. There were no sign with an explanation either. Therefore I added the link to Wikipedia for you.
I had a short rest in the shade of a tree at the park, before I walked back to the city center. Really hungry now, I entered a Chinese restaurant called Yummi. By the way, the most options of restaurants and stores in Corozal city are Chinese. Coming into the restaurant felt a little strange. There were only people with one bord, all of them were men. They had beverages and did not eat anything, but was staring at me. At the bar was another man. He did the same. I told the female bartender, if I could get something to eat. Though she handed out a menu to me. I took a seat and chose – after I had read all offers of the menu, Pork Chop Chew, if I remember right.
It was so much, it must have been made for a very hungry man. I ate as much as I could, without feeling sick afterwards and asked then for a doggy bag, which I got. The meal was for 8 BZD, the 1 l-bottle of water was for 2.50 BZD. I left a tip of 1 BZD. With other words I have got two meals for the price of 11.50 BZD (115 MZN resp. 4.80 EUR).
Just before I entered the Chinese restaurant, I had seen a computer shop, with a sign “Internet”. I went back now and eventually it was a place, where one could use computers with Internet connection. It seemed, computers were also sold and repaired here. I told the guy, who run that place, that I do not know, for how long time I need the Internet connection, because I will write my blog. I sat there for around three hours and had to pay 9.50 BZD. A smart application did count time and costs and show that for you all the time. Oneself could disconnect. It was, of course, much faster to write with a keyboard instead on the tablet, even the keyboard had English design, what I not longer was used to.
On my way back to Mark’s, he met me by motorcycle unplanned on the Ferry Road. I think from there was around 2 km left to his home. He was on his way into the city, but gave me a ride home. Directly afterwards he drove all the way to the city and bought cooking oil. While we were waiting for him, his girlfriend and I chatted about my upcoming destinations and more seriously about the outbreak of the vulcan “El Fuego” in Guatemala. Ashes of it had also fallen down at the border of Belize, but we were most thinking about all the people, who had been burned (partly or for full).
In the evening I ate the rest of my Chinese lunch. Marks girlfriend remembered to give me a pillow (the night before I tried with my clothes to simulate a pillow, because the couple had forgotten to give me one. In addition to that I have got a “fish” with me for the cabana. The “fish” is a spiral, which burns slowly and kills mosquitoes. Other insects often do not die directly, but become very slow and are easy to kill. Mark told me, these “fishes” are not allowed in the USA, because they kill the insects. I answered, that I think that is wired, because everyone is allowed to have a gun and can kill people. Mark furthermore told me, that I should not put that “fish” close to my head, therefore I put it on the foot end of my bed.
After I had put these things in the cabana, I was going back to the restaurant one more time. It was still daylight, what means earlier as 8pm. The girlfriend let me in throughout the living room, telling me, that it is more comfortable than the other door. When Mark was back, he ate his meal in the restaurant. He told me, it was river fish, that he was not used to eat river fish, but that he liked this one. He added, that his girlfriend and he fit very well about fish, because she likes to eat the back part and he likes to eat the front part for the eyes, which he likes to suck.
We did not talk much this night. He soon told me, that he will take a shower. I only asked him for hot water for my tea and he warmed it in the microwave. I did take it directly to the cabana, where I brewed my Chuachalalate tea and sweetened it with honey. I read the Mexican roadmap (about things to see) before I became too tired. This evening I felt asleep early.
6th June 2018
I awoke several times this night as well. Either I had to go to the bathroom or I had problems with the mosquitoes again. Around three in the morning I used repellent again. Anyway I awoke in the morning at my usual time, tog my medicine, wrote my memories, listened to a five-minutes-rain and took then a shower. Directly afterwards Mark offered me to take me downtown, because he had errands in town. I had to dress and be ready in five minutes, which I was, but I forgot my smartphone and could not take any photos this day.
Mark dit let me out close to the biggest supermarket in town (a Chinese as well). I had told Mark during the ride, that I tried to get a coffee the day before, but did not find a place selling coffee. He answered, that they sell coffee at his restaurant: Good brewed coffee of Columbia beans. He added, that in town they usually sell only instant coffee. On the other side was the market place with lots of stalls: Food (a few), clothes, vegetables and fruits and more. Just in the front was one, stating that they sell breakfast (in Spanish). I asked, what it was and if they also serve coffee. I have got a plate with scrambled eggs with ham, beans (looking like a sauce), bread (which somewhat remembered on tortillas) and then the instant coffee (I was allowed to take one teaspoon of instant powder). The breakfast including the coffee was for 8 BZD.
I visited the nearby supermarket and bought a bottle of water before I looked for the museum, which is inhabited in the “House of Culture”. Mark had told me, I just had to walk at the sea-side and I wood find it. Unfortunately he did not tell me, that it is the house with the red little clock tower. As usual I was on my way in the wrong direction and came to a point, where I was wondering if I was right or not. I asked a guy in his 30ies. He explained the way, but asked me for money with a nearly new story: He and his wife had been angry on each other, though he left, but would like to go home again. He had no money and no work. This story seemed to me very strange, but I gave him two BZD, telling him, that I could not afford more. By the way, I had to ask one more time, before I found that building.
As soon as I stepped inside, I was surprised and disappointed, because of the little space and the view items/photos there were about the history of the area, including the town, but there was no admission fee to pay. Fortunately there were some books for reading. Most of them were about all of Belize, like Mayan culture etc, but some were related to the town. I started reading about a company, which was 100 years old some years ago and continued with a memorial of the Palotti sisters, who had managed a school in town for many years. Nowadays are no active Palotti sisters left in Corozal. While I was reading this, the manager of the House of Culture told me, that she will close the house for lunch and had errands, though she could not stay. Meanwhile I was putting back that little book, she changed her mind and told me, that the other employee would stay at the site and I could continue reading, which I did. The last document I read was the marketing plan for Corozal. It reminded me very much of my work in the authority of the city of Perstorp, where I have been working on a job creation scheme. I did not read every paragraph, but got a good insight. Years ago it was e.g. planned to advertise the Maya ruins in the district better. The plan was, that more people would choose to stay over night in Corozal. On the way out of the museum I tog a flyer about things to see in Corozal. The Schofield Residence, Xavier College and the Central Park I already had seen, but I hoped, I will have time to see them all and have my smartphone with me to take photos. By the way, the Ahmad Residence and Store I saw, when I was on my way back to Mark’s place.
I was hungry, when I left and found a restaurant close to the museum, advertising “Chicken Kebab”. I went in. The restaurant was nearly empty, the waiter did not seem interested in working. Anyway I ordered such a “Chicken Kebab” and was surprised, when I was served a set with chicken and vegetables in a kind of tortilla. I also had a bottle of watermelon juice. The meal together was for 8.50 BZD and made me just satisfied. Before I walked back to Mark’s place, I was one more time to a supermarket. This time I bought food for the evening and even for the upcoming breakfast. I had passed the 24/7 gas station and was on the unpaved road, when Mark’s girlfriend met me. She was on her bicycle, with her son Daniel on the children’s seat. We had a short chat, before she continued into the city.
Finally at Mark’s place again, I bought a Belikin Stout beer of him (for 3.75 BZD). Belikin is the only Belizean brewery. All the other beer is imported. I chose the stout, because I like the Guinness stout and expected it was similar. It was not. It tasted more like a Pils or export beer. It is not my choice. Mark was away for a while, trying to sell an old car, but the deal was not successful. Meanwhile he was out of home I tried to find a host for Belmopan, which is the capital of Belize. Even hostels are expensive there. I only found three hosts, two of them had a very low answering rate. It is not worth to spend time on a request, there will be no answer. The third one was not available for my dates. I did not book anything and decided to discuss my stay in Belmopan with my host in Orange Walk, which is my next destination.
Mark was back around 5:50pm, so were his girlfriend with his son. His girlfriend cared about the son and Mark had a chat with me about his family, Jamaica, couch surfing and travelling. When it got dark, I went to the cabana (with a “fish”), had a meal and made my files. I did not have anything to read anymore, though I tried to sleep early. It took anyway a little while, because of insects falling down close to me.
7th June 2018
I awoke after midnight and had problems to fall asleep again, but after 1 1/2 hour, during which I even dressed in my long underwear and applied repellent on the bare skin, I did.
They have early mornings here. It seems, they start working as soon it is daylight. Mark has two guys working with his pool, though the Poolside in the name of his restaurant soon comes true. It is that noise I hear.
I bought a cup of coffee and a bottle of water of Mark, before I was going on my trip to the Maya site Cerros. This site is 10 mile (16 km) away from Mark’s place. Though I also rent a bicycle of him. He made me a special price, because I was couch surfing at his place. He did not have a bike, which fits me, though I have got his girlfriend’s bike. He pumped the wheels and oiled the chain, before he left it to me. The seat was a little low for me, I think his girlfriend is slighty shorter than me. I have got a good start and was soon at the “New River” (that is the real name of the river!), which I had to cross by ferry. The ferry was ready to leave, but they were not only waiting for me, one of the employees did also push the bicycle on board. This ferry is crossing the river on a metal line. It is hard work for the two employees to handle that. It takes twenty minutes to cross the river.
The road was worth on the other side, though it took a little longer than expected and the small hills were too hard for me in the heat to go by bicycle. It was quite interesting, e.g. did I see burned corn fields. Suddenly a pick-up truck stopped at me and asked me, if I want a ride. I was happy about that opportunity and he put the bike on the platform. He took me all the way to the junction for the Maya ruins.
I did not have a clou about, how far away the Cerros site was, but the road seemed to be never-ending, when I finally came to signs, where I had to decide, which road to continue. There were two signs with text and pyramids and two older signs with text. I followed the signs with the pyramids. One of them was a square blue sign, it looked like an official road sign, but there were nine different marks on it. The other one was oblong and beside the pyramid it was written Cerros Sands, because of the word Cerros, I followed that sign and came to a housing area, but fortunately with a restaurant.
I had nearly run out of water and was very thirsty. In addition to that, I was hungry. I have not had a good breakfast. The restaurant was open, but the kitchen not yet. Fortunately the cock was already there. The only thing he could offer me, was a Hamburger. I was OK with it and ordered also a bottle of water, because they did only sell soft drinks and water, which was without alcohol. The waitress told me, that I could sit outside, but I preferred to be in the house. The Hamburger was really big and with all ingredients one can imagine: a thick beefburger, cheese, bacon, salad, tomato, cucumber etc. I could not eat it all and asked for a doggy bag. I also bought another bottle of water, though I did not run out of water on my further way. All together was for 21 BZD (not even 9 EUR).
I had to went back to the place with the many signs, but when I saw that other sign with a pyramid, I thought I could follow that anyway. I came to a resort, even it was a very simple one. I asked there about the pyramid, but was told, that the sign was the sign of the resort and that I have to go back to the place with all the signs, even the old once, because the old sign is showing the direction of the Maya site. So I did and finally arrived at:
I had to pay 10 BZD as an admission fee – Belizeans had only to pay 5 BZD. There was a visitor centre with information about the sight and there was a plan outside the site about the places of the different pyramids and buildings. There was no leaflet to take with me and on the photo I took of it, I could not see much. There was only one sign for orientation in the big area:
For more photos of Corozal and the Maya site of Cerros click here.
It seemed, that the ball court was not fully excavated. The site I did not see before I had walked a couple of kilometres throughout the jungle with lots of mosquitoes. I used my water bottle to hold them away from me, because of my repellent was in my backpack, which I had left at the entrance. Close to the pyramid another staff member sat and had a rest. When I came there, he apologised, told about the heat etc. I think, he should have worked and bad conscience, when he saw me. I did not find many buildings and after the explanations in the visitor center, I think, I did not miss a lot. Most of the old buildings are probably not excavated yet. I went back to the entrance, picked up my backpack and the bicycle and started on the way back.
I had come a good bit of the road, but was not in the nearest village, when I had to force the highest hill. Though I was bringing the bike up. A car, driven by a woman stopped. She asked me, if she could help me in a way, but I told her, that all is OK, that I just have to come onto the hill. Anyway she tried to help me and got the idea to try to get the bike into the trunk of her car – and it worked. She asked me, if I will follow her home, though I could get something to drink. I told her, that is OK. A bit further she told me, her husband has a truck. He could bring me all the way home. Well at her home, I knew her husband. It was the American customer from the first evening at Mark’s restaurant.
He drove me to the ferry. Every time we had a car in front of us, he had to overtake. He drove all the time with a bottle of beer in one hand and dit drink of it from time to time. I did not feel save. By the way seat belts are often not working and if they work, only a very few are using them. We did not have seat belts. I was happy, when we had reached the queue for the ferry. He was looking for a car, which driver he could ask to take me over and further. The pick-ups where occupied by people, I mean the platforms as well. I explained to him, that I could cycle the rest of the road and he was happy about it. With the bicycle I had no problem to come with this ferry. By the way, all passengers has to walk on and off the ferry. I also should name, that the use of the ferry is for free.
I had no problem to go by bicycle the rest of the way to Mark’s home. I left the bicycle back and paid the rent. He was surprised, that I made it all the way, but I told him the truth. Furthermore I asked him, if he has or knows a detergent or similar to clean my trousers with. The legs of them had got very dirty by the new-oiled chain, because of the rust on the chain. He took car about it.
Even this evening I had a beer, I tried the Belikin Pils. Mark had told me, it is a Lager. I did not like it. He asked me to pay for the laundry as well. He made company with me and had some beer. His girlfriend was not at home and there were no guests, though he told me his most private things. It was good to here, that there are other people around the world, who are as lost as I regarding to partnership. Later we are dancing one salsa, because I told him, that I do not know, how to do. Anyway, it seems I have learned it by watching other dancers in Mexico. With the one beer I am also able to shake my back as they do.
Even later he tells me, he wants me to stay and that he has a very kind neighbour in my age, who could be good for me. He also called the neighbour, who arrived after a little while. Fortunately he did not stay for long. Mark’s girlfriend came and I asked for a “fish”. I had to pay for it as well, even only 0.25 BZD. Even this night I had problems with mosquitoes, when the “fish” had burned out.
8th June 2018
I awoke soon after midnight by the mosquitoes and hold them away from my by waving with my Mexican map, because I run out of repellent. I also put on long-sleeved underwear and my icebreaker pants. Luckily I fell asleep again and awoke not earlier than 6:30am. I am sure, I could have slept even longer, put people worked outside and were very noisy.
I was over to my host to buy bottled water for my medicine. Back in the cabana I sat in the bed for a while, because I was still tired. Around 8am I took a shower and went afterwards to my host again to buy a cup of coffee. I paid for it as usual at this place. Mark was not at home, when I left. I was not awaiting him back soon, though I took good-bye with a hug of his girlfriend and his son. I started walking with my backpacks and tried to hitchhike. It did not take long time, before I had got a hitch. At the 24/7 gas station I thanked the driver and was taking my position on the road for the bus to Belize City. I stopped a combi, because I could not see the destination. The bus was only going to another place in Corozal district, but the female driver had stopped very fast and without giving sign. Therefore the taxi driver behind the combi was very angry of her.
There was no bus coming for a long time, but the taxi driver came back and told me, that it is saver to take the bus from the bus station. I told him (which was not true), that I do not know, where the bus station is. He offered me to bring me there. I agreed to it just by the reason, that I easier would find the right bus and there was no need for, to stop more buses, which does not go to my destination. At the bus station I could not miss the right bus either. During the right, the taxi driver told me, that it is very easy to get a driver’s license in Belize. No proof is necessary, not even a written one. One had just to pay 300 BZD and get it. He continued, that most of the Belizean drivers drive very badly. At the bus station I had to pay 5 BZD, which was fair.
I had a little problem to find the necessary information at the bus station, though I asked a young woman in the departure hall. She told me, that the tickets are bought at the bus and pointed out the timetable for me. It was handwritten! I had to wait for the bus for around 30 minutes and took a seat. In good time the bus to Belize (city) was announced. It would be the same departure time as the one to Belmont (as written on the timetable), which will stop in Orange Walk (city). I was afraid, I could miss my bus, though I asked the driver for the bus to Orange Walk. It was that one. The conductor put my big backpack behind the driver’s seat. The little backpack I had to hold on my knees. I was lucky, that I had got a seat in the first row. I could see my big backpack all the time. When we had left Corozal, the conductor collected the fare. I had only to pay 4 BZD for the trip.
This trip was a little more interesting than the last trips on the Yucatan peninsula. The landscape looks a little different, even it does not change much under the trip. The sugar can fields were new for me. I have not seen sugar cane fields before. We also had during a part of the trip a big truck with harvested sugar cane in front of us.
At the outskirts of Orange Walk Town I was smiling, when I saw stone groups (two or three on top of each other) as borders of a property and every group had a different colour of the rainbow. It started over, when all colours were used. Furthermore there were skinny cows on the fields, which surprised me a lot, because of the size of the herds. Furthermore a man entered the bus at one stop with shit under his shoes. He was asked to go out again and clean the soles as well as the conductor did clean the bus with a broom and detergent.
Orange Walk city has only a little bus terminal for national routes. Fortunately there are anyway two street food restaurants. I took a quite big burrito and a bottle of coconut water. The burrito was for 3 BZD and the coconut water was for 2 BZD. I tried to find the way to my host’s home, but could not find out in what direction I should walk, though I chose the other opportunity and took a taxi to the pharmacy of the sister of my host. It was for 7 BZD. The taxi driver drove me actually to the hotel on the side of it. Though I had to ask around.
At the pharmacy Johanna’s sister called her. A little later Johanna picked me up by car, because she lives some kilometres away together with her parents and the son of her youngest sister. Johanna had only time to introduce me, before she had to go to work. I made myself comfortable in the room with own bathroom on the upper floor. I also enjoyed the hammock on the patio.
I also took a walk into town to buy repellent and sun screen. I had asked for a laundry and was told, Johanna will help me with that, when she is back from work. I washed my dress by hand. It dried very quickly. In the evening Johanna asked me, if I will follow her and her mother to a restaurant by the river. I was happy about the company. At the restaurant I chose the traditional Belizean dish: Rice, beans and stewed chicken. I had a pineapple juice as well. The dish was for 10 BZD, the juice, I think, was for 2 BZD. I only paid for the dish. Johanna also had asked for a “fish” on the floor beside the table, because of the mosquitoes. We had a nice evening and I finally got to know, what a Ceviche is for a meal, because Johanna and her mother shared one. It is a mixed salad with seafood, in this case with shrimps.
It was around 10pm, when we were back from the restaurant. The mother and Johanna told me, they will go to bed immediately, though I was going up to my room. I updated my blog somewhat and tried to sleep around midnight.
9th June 2018
It was getting cold during the night. There was no cover for the bed, therefore I dressed in my icebreakers and a long sleeve shirt. Anyway I could nearly got any sleep because all the dogs in the area. When one started barking, the others answered and it was always almost one, which barked. I had a dream just before the alarm clock was ringing. I took my medicine and directly afterwards a shower. I also had a breakfast with cold instant coffee. Just afterwards Johanna offered me breakfast, when I was downstairs to see her. She drove me to the hotel from the day before, because she had booked a tour for me (on my expenses) to the Maya ruins of Lamanai by boat. She had recommended me that tour, which is going through a nature reserve. After she had left me at the hostel, she left my dirty clothes to a laundry.
Nobody of the group operator asked me to pay, even they cared about me – asked me, if I want a coffee or water. Though I thought, that Johanna had prepaid the tour. I was waiting outside the hotel. An elderly man was already sitting there with a cup of coffee. He asked me, where I come from and something more, which I do not remember. Finally a couple from Hawaii, staying at the hotel and I were picked up by a van and driven to the boat. There we merged with a group from San Pedro.
The boats man was also our guide. He told us, that he is a Mestizo with 50% Maya blood. He drove very fast, which surprised me, because we were in a sanctuary. He had an eye for birds and reptiles and slowed very down, when he spotted some and told us about them. Unfortunately we did not see any crocodiles. Well at the Maya ruins, he told us, that we have to stay on the path, because of the ants as well as we were not allowed to touch trees, because some of them would be poisoning.
The guide told us, that there were different buildings and from different periods, which we saw. The archaeologists had been able to find them like peeling an onion. The Maya usual build new buildings on old once, but it is unusual, that it is done so often and shows, that this site has been occupied for very many years – actually around 2000. The “Olmecs” heads are still a riddle. Nobody knows neither where they came from nor why the heads are here.
The guide also explained the trees for us and their syntax. He showed us one, which is dangerous to touch, because it has lots of needles with hooks on the trunk. Once they are in your skin, they can only be removed by surgery.
For more photos of Lamanai click here.
We walked around two miles, which is not much for me and I did not have problems either by using flip-flops, because I cannot have other shoes to the dress. It felt crazy for me to be on the boat and walk in the forest in my dress, but unfortunately I did not manage to get my pants washed in time.
After visiting the Maya site we had a traditional Belizean lunch: Rice and beans and stewed chicken. 😉 in the area. We also were recommended to visit the shops and the museums. I prefer ed the museum. Lots of the history I already know, but there were some interesting stelae. The way back the boat ride was even faster than before. The boats man only slowed down for fishing boats. At land again, we had to wait for the ride back. Finally the owner of the tour business did it. I asked him to leave downtown, because I was interested in to take photos of the town hall and other buildings. The driver told me to be careful before leaving the car, because I sat on the left hand side and had to open the door into the traffic. I told him, that I also have a driver’s license and know how to behave. I added, that my driver’s license is not from Belize. That was like, I have not found my driver’s license in a corn flakes box.
The city center of Orange Walk is not big. I even found some more interesting sights than the town hall. On the way back to Johanna and her family I bought an ice cream. It actually was a time ago I have had ice cream and that was my first one in Belize. It was not very cheap. I took the smallest one for 4 BZD. I walked all the way back and came to a point, where I had to ask for the right direction. Johanna had driven on other streets in the morning, than the evening before, though I was a little confused. Belizeans love to help tourists in such situations and I was soon at my destination. First when I already was at her place, she was leaving to pick up my laundry. I could have followed her, but she was using the motorcycle and needed the space for my clothes. I paid her the 8 BZD for the laundry as well as the 90 BZD for the tour. She told me, that she had been called by the tour operator, asking her, where I stay. The employee added, that he had forgotten to ask me to pay. Johanna told me, that he will take care about it, next time she is going to work.
In the evening I took care about my clean clothes. Afterwards I was reading about Belize tourism areas. I decided to ask Johanna about “must see” locations and areas off the beaten path. I was already to bed, when it became dark.
10th June 22018
During the night I awoke of the barking dogs as well, but fell asleep again after a while. Around 5am I awoke, because I was freezing. I closed the windows, but I was still freezing, though I dressed in my ice breaker underwear and a t-shirt with long sleeves, because there were no cover. Anyway, I could not fall asleep again for the dogs barking.
I had my medicine already at 6am. An hour later I took a shower, still tired. At 8am I had breakfast together with Johanna. She asked me, where I will go next and I told her, I think Belmopan, but I would like to get some help of you regarding my itinerary for Belize. His father was joining us and Johanna wrote down it. They told me, that it is not easy to travel Belize without a car, because of bad infrastructure, which is depending on the few inhabitants of the country. Of that reason they also recommended me to go directly to Belize city, then to the island Caye Caulker, San Ignacio and first afterwards to Belmopan. Her father also told me, that there is a possibility to make a Maya homestay in the district of Toledo and that this district is very sparsely populated. Before I was up to my room, she told me, that the family probably will go swimming and asked me, if I was interested in to follow them.
I started booking hostel beds and similar, when I was in my room, because I had tried to get hosts already without success respectively not find any host in the area. At 11:30am I have got a message from Johanna, that they want to go swimming. I went down to them. A quarter of an hour later, we were on our way be car. I was still expecting, that we will go swimming in the river. I was surprised when I saw, that we were on our way to Corozal. We actually were going to Corozal beach in the town of Corozal. The family explained that the father usually take the kayak to another place, where they will go swimming. This time was different, because the grandson Ayden was keen in swimming there (he cannot swim yet, but he tries) and enjoy the water together with other children in his age, though we never was going further to the other place and Johanna’s father was not using the kayak either.
Johanna went to a restaurant close by and I followed her soon. There she told me, that she could pay for me just know and I could leave back the amount later, because I had not taken any money with me. I ordered a Hamburger with cheese for 10 BZD. It came with French fries, which were really good. Fun fact: Johanna eat the Hamburger with fries the same way as I do, first all of the French fries, then the Hamburger. While we were in the restaurant, she asked me for the prices in Sweden. As usual for my hosts, I promised her that she will be welcome at my home, when she is coming to Stockholm and if I am not travelling at that time.
When we were coming back from the restaurant her parents were going there. They also offered Ayden to follow them, but he wished to stay in the water. Therefore her parents had a pizza slice in a doggy back with them for him, when they came back from the restaurant. Now he finally came out off the water. Afterwards he drove his electric motorbike and his usual bicycle. It took a while until he was ready to go home. Before we really were doing that, Johanna’s father drove throughout other parts of Corozal, checking if his relatives were at home.
Back home, I was eager to pay Johanna the borrowed 10 BZD back and was afterwards directly going to my room again. I was happy, not to have kids around me. Johanna soon sent a message, that they all are tired and will go to bed. She reminded me of the local food stalls nearby, where I could go och eat. It was already dark, though I was not going anywhere and ate of the raisins I had bought earlier. I continued with my itinerary and sent CS requests as well as I sent an email to the Maya Homestay organisation. Furthermore I checked my bank accounts. At last I updated my blog until 3am. At that time the dogs stopped barking and even the rooster started screaming, I soon fell asleep.
By the way, the dogs got a shower with a water pipe and I was wondering, why they were punished. Though I have got explained, that it is too warm for the dogs and that the water has no high pressure. It would be good for the dogs.
11th June 2018
I was up around 7am to take my medicine even I was still tired. Around 8am I got a message of Johanna, that I could go with her mother to town, when she leaves Ayden to pre-school. Soon afterwards I have got another message from her, telling me, that her father will bring Ayden to pre-school with the motorcycle. I was finally up at 9:40am, had a shower and was after 10am downstairs asking for Johanna, but she was at work.
I left the house and bought a bottle of water at the closest (mini)supermarket. The cashier told me “1 coin, ma’m”, but he had such a strong dialect, that I did understand something with corn. I anyway paid the 1 BZD.
I was drinking of the water, before I went further to a real supermarket. There I bought some soft bread, a yogurt and a cold coffee with milk. I had the yogurt and of the bread directly. The coffee I had a little later that day, because I did not find, where I could buy a real coffee. I walked further to the museum at the “House of Culture”.
The entrance was free and it was the first place I have seen on this trip without visitors book. The exhibition was different to that I have seen before, but nice and interesting, even it was some stuff about the Mayas I already know. The place was also well maintained.
Additionally to the museum was also a part about famous people of Belize.
When I had finished my visit, I was going back to the Central Park, continuing to the home of my host. I took some photos of interesting places on the way. I also bought another bottle of water at that mini supermarket. He told me the same thing and when I asked him about it, he told me, what I already have written. He thought, because I look som a tourist, that I do not know the BZD well and it would be easier for me to understand the price.
For more photos of Orange Walk Town click here.
Well back I enjoyed the hammock, but started soon with my blog sitting with a table on the patio. My host’s mother came up with a papaya/banana smoothie. I was surprised, when I saw, that Johanna and her father put a tent on the terrace. I thought it was for Ayden, but there were other couch surfers expected. Johanna had messaged them, that the room is occupied, but they had sent a message, that they already were in Corozal and will arrive that day.
Later that day, they put the tent on the patio. The dogs are free during the night and the tent in their area would not be a good choice. I also was asked, if it is OK for me to share the shower with them.
Johanna invited me for tea and home-baked bread (of her mother). I have got a “Johnny”. That is dry wheat cake. I also got papaya and tomato with avocado sauce. During the meal she told me, that I should get of the bus at the Palotti Sisters school in Belize city, because of the shorter distance to the guest house, where I had booked a room. I was thankful for that, of course.
Johanna had to bring his nephew to bed, therefore she said good night, adding, that she has not got an answer yet from the other couch surfers, but hopes, that she want fall asleep, when she brings Ayden to bed. I was going to my room, making a new list about my destinations in Belize, saving it on my smartphone. Afterwards I read about all the Maya ruins of Belize. Before I was going to bed at 10pm, I made my files.
12th June 2018
Johanna had told me, that she could bring me to the bus, if I am ready to go at 8am. So I was, but not Johanna. During the drive she told me, that her other couchsurfers did not arrive. They had messaged her 9pm, that they will not come and go to another place instead.
I caught the 8:30am bus to Belize City and sat in the first row again. The place on the side of me, could not get occupied – there was no space for ones feet. Therefore I put my less big backpack on the side of me. My big backpack was put behind the last seats. It was raining a little on the trip, but only with two occasions and it did not rain heavily. I left the bus at the bus stop for the Palotti school and did walk to the guest house. Lots of taxi drivers did ask me to give me a ride, some where especially annoying, because I had to tell them more than once: “No, thank you.”
I arrived very early at the hotel. Anyway I was shown a room and could decide, if I will take that one or wait until another room will be cleaned. The room was quite nice with own balcony, but I had to force two stair cases and I told her, I am fine to wait. I left the guest house and my backpacks looking for a restaurant. The owner had told me the direction, where the restaurants are, but that was the seaside with the expensive ones. By that I made a long detour to the city. I bought a strawberry drink at a supermarket and postcards with views at a little shop close to a water taxi. Finally I found a restaurant for lunch. Unfortunately they only had different kinds of sandwiches and the first two I was asking for were not available. Usually I would have left, but I was so hungry now, that I stayed. A young man took my order, than the female cook came and asked me, what kind of bread I would like and even another question. I also had ordered a papaya smoothie, which was made after I had got the sandwich. This lunch was for 18 BZD. I was not really full, though I bought an ice cream at another place. The prize was good compared with the size. I had ordered a chocolate ice cream and was very surprised about the colour. I cannot really tell you either, what it tasted.
I tried to find new hiking pants, because I do not know, for how long my older ones will make it. I actually found a pair, I liked, but they were not available in my size. The shop also had sale, though they would not get new once in other sizes. I started on my way back to the guest house, but stopped by a supermarket to buy something to eat for the evening and for breakfast.
When I was back at the guest house, they were wondering if I ever would come back 😅. They thought I had forgotten them. I paid the 126 BZD incl. taxes for two nights and was shown the room. It had an en suite bathroom, which I did not need to share. That was better, than I had booked, but for the same price. I also got the password for the wi-fi and could write it down, though I could use it for both my devices. As soon as I was alone in my room, I checked WhatsApp and emails and also send some.
My dinner that night were two cold chicken sausages type “Vienna”, but they were spicy. I had “Pringles” till (instead of potato mash) and had apple juice to drink. After this great dinner I made my files and was happy, that I had not handed out too much money at any place. I also wrote done my memories of the day. I went down to the first floor and bought a 1 l bottle of water to the same price like at the supermarket. Unfortunately the guest house did not provide purified water.
At my room again, I updated my blog somewhat, but got tired early. I wrote the reference for my host Johanna and became new energy, though I was working more with my blog. I finally was to bed after midnight.
13th June 2018
I had planned to visit the Museum of Belize at 9am, but I was so tired in the morning, that I did not make it there for around one hour later. I had to pay an admission fee of 10 BZD and was there for ca. four hours. The museum is about the history of Belize.
There were three different subjects: Jade and Mayas, Slavery and insects. The museum has earlier been a prison and its own history.
I was very hungry, when I left the museum, but also happy, that it has been raining, when I was inside and not now. I walked to the city center again and was looking for a cheap restaurant, where I could sit and I decided, not to go to the sandwich bar again. At the end I found a place, who sold nachos with different “adds” on, e.g. chicken, pork, biff, salsa and guacamole. I also had a papaya smoothie. All together was for 14 BZD.
The next museum on my list was “Old Belize”, also recommended by Johanna. That museum is ca 10 km away from the city centre. It was too far to walk for reaching it before closing for the day. As I told you, it is always hard to find the right bus, though I made an exception and took a taxi. I asked the taxi driver for the price. When he told me 20 BZD, I was wondering, why so much. He answered, that it is 6 miles out there and I knew, he was right, though I agreed. I think the 6 miles were not really a problem, but the time he had to spend for it, because of all the bumps on the road. He drove me all the way to the entrance of the museum.
The museum is special, because you only can go by train through it. I think I was the last customer before closing for the day and I have got a “private” train ride. The admission fee was 5 BZD only.
There were different scenes built up like the Mahogany lumberjacks, the gum workers and colonial homes. Explanations were given by media player, the driver had to switch on and off the lights for every room/scene. We were soon through it. I was to the shop looking for a hat, but they had none in my size.
For more photos of Belize City click here.
Furthermore I was looking for the beach, but should have to pay extra to go there. It was an adventure bath island. I went back and to the road. A woman was standing there, though I asked her, if she was waiting for the bus. She was and I was sure, that buses would stop there. We had to wait a while for the bus. One did not stop, it must have been an “intercity” bus. The bus ride was for 2 BZD.
I left the bus too early and had a walk, but that did not matter for me. It was not dark yet. At a supermarket close to the guest house I bought another breakfast, but forgot to buy water, therefore I bought the water again at the guesthouse. Going online again, I was happy, that I have got a message from the CS host in Palencia, Stann Creek. It was positive. After making my files, I was reading about Southern Belize and the Maya Homestay network as well as I sent an email, asking for a week with the Mayan people. The rest of the evening I spent with my blog.
14th June 2018
I had a slow morning, but anyway I checked out just a couple of minutes before 10am. I had only a maximum 5 minutes to walk, but taxi drivers were around, telling me, they will drive me to the airport. They were so aggressive, that I got angry, told them one more time, that I won’t go to the airport and that I already reached my destination. I actually was at the San Pedro Belize Express Watertaxi. An employee of the watertaxi company asked me, if I will go with the 10:30am ferry and want care about my bag. I first rejected, because I thought it was not an employee of that company, but he told me one more time, that he is. I took a look at his shirt, trusted him, apologised and left my big backpack to him. He gave me a ticket for my bag, which with I could claim my backpack at Caye Caulker, my new destination. This guy also explained to me, where I can buy the ticket. Well at the cash, it was the wrong one. They had different cash for different destinations, but I could not see that. Of the right cashier I bought a return ticket, with an open return (valid for three months). It was for 56 BZD. The cashier first told me 28 USD or 56 BZD, but I could not hear the amount of BZD. Though I asked her for the amount in BZD and she replied: “28 USD or 56 BZD”. That was not really the answer for my question, but this time I understood the BZD amount. We had to line up for the watertaxi in two lines. One line for San Pedro, the other line for Caye Caulker. The same watertaxi is going to both destinations and we entered the boat at the same time.
After around one hour we arrived at Caye Caulker. Even here the taxi drivers, but with golf carts (which reminded me on the island of Holbox, Mexico) were offering to drive me. It was too early to check in at the hostel and I was looking for a restaurant. There were many of them close by – no need for a taxi. It seems that taxi drivers think, people in my age will go everywhere by taxi. Before I decided, which restaurant I will choose, I bought a bottle of water at a supermarket. I had it with me to the restaurant and did not order something to drink, when I ordered a “Cuban sandwich”. By the way, I could not find out, why it was called Cuban. On the sandwich were diced pork, sliced sausage and cheese. I had not had a coffee this day, not even a cold one, because I had forgotten to buy more instant coffee. Though I ordered a coffee, when I had eaten the sandwich. The sandwich was for 18 BZD, the coffee for 2 BZD. I also left 2 BZD as tip.
From the restaurant it was only a five minutes walk to the hostel. I really did not need any taxi. I left my backpacks at the hostel and started exploring the little island. It is so small, that I neither understand, why they are driving around with golf carts, but for transport of heavy items nor why people rent bicycles. I bought another bottle of water. This time a bigger one. The weather is very humid on this island. We are in the rainy season, though the humidity increases. There are some supermarkets and restaurants here, but also some souvenir shops, of course. In addition to that there are tour operators, offering tours to the barrier reefs and the mainland like the Marine reserve and to Maya sites all over Belize. I was around asking for the prices. The first tour operator was the “Caveman”. Johanna had told me, that I have to see the barrier reef and make a snorkel tour to the Marine reserve. She told me, I could not leave Belize without having done that. Though I asked at the “Caveman”, if they have an option for me, who can not see properly without my glasses. They had special snorkel masks with lenses. A tour was for 65 USD (130 BZD) with 6 stops and lunch included. I asked around about similar tours and prices. At one point I also asked for the special snorkel mask, but the information assistant in charge did not know, if they have. I should come back later and ask again, when her boss would be there. The result of asking at several tour operators was: All take 65 USD, but the amount of stops are different (between three and nine) – regarding to full day tours, which last for five hours at the sea. I went back to the Caveman and booked the tour for the upcoming day. I also bought a new hat this day, which is fitting perfectly and has space for air above my had, though the sun is really on the hat and not on me (photo will follow).
When I later checked in at the hostel, I have got the worst scenario. I got a room upstairs, with a horrible staircase to reach it. I also got an upper bed, even I had asked for a lower one, when I booked. There was a ladder, with no ends above the upper bed and the upper beds in general has no security, not even guard rails. I was asked, if I could climb up there, but I could not. She anyway did not offer me another bed, though I asked her, if I was allowed to take the mattress down on the floor in the evening. I was allowed to do that.
Afterwards I was updating my blog. It started raining a little later. When the rain was over, a car was driving very slowly through the street with a horrible noise and spraying something in the air, which smelled horrible. Maybe it was against mosquitoes, maybe it was for the street. When I had to charge my tablet, I was going to the room. There are a kind of lockers in a small size, just to put the very important things in like passport, money and electronic devices. Though I put the tablet in there as well, connected with my charger and closed and locked my space of the locker. While I was in the room I had a short chat with two sisters. First I thought, they were twins, but they were not. They were from a place not far from Hamilton, New Zealand.
Soon I went out for an evening meal. I stopped at a restaurant and bar called “Enjoy”. They had Advokat Vodka with different flavours. I did not choose the bar for that. I chose it for the meal offers and ordered a meal with fried chicken breast, coconut sauce rice and vegetables. The dish was delicious. I had a bottle of tonic water as well, but no gin 😉. The meal was for 15 BZD, the tonic water for 2 BZD. With the tax added it was for 20 BZD and I had a doggy bag with me to the hostel as well. On the way back to the hostel I stopped at a supermarket, where I bought instant coffee, yogurt and biscuits for breakfast.
Sitting outside at the hostel, the owner of it was asking me, what bed I had got and if it is OK. When she heard about, that it was an upper bed and I could not enter it, she apologised for her employee, told me, that her employee only works here since a month ago and that she, the owner, was working at another project and that she will get me a bottom bed. First she walked in a room downstairs and checked. When I told her, that I am in the room upstairs, she just asked a young woman to switch bed with me, which she was so kind and did. I actually had to wait a while before all was managed, because the owner had first to care about her family. Though I have got a lot done with my blog.
15th June 2018
It was raining in the early morning hours and I was up before 7am, though I was first in the bathroom. All four bathrooms are downstairs. How many beds there are, I do not know, but it seems, we are almost 12 people for one bathroom. All dorms are mixed dorms and everyone has to go outside to the bathroom, which is not fun during the rainy season. When I had breakfast in the open kitchen, there were nothing but dishes and cutlery as well as some left over spices. Not even purified water was offered. That is the first place in Central America, which does not offer purified water. I hope, it will be the only one. I warmed the water for me coffee in a coffee machine.
It was raining most of the day and the sisters from New Zealand and I found out early that morning, that we had booked the same tour without knowing about it before. I was early at the meeting point for the tour, the operator’s office and got the special snorkel mask. I also got a pair of flippers. When the sisters where coming, they had to wait a while, because others had arrived before them. Finally it was time to fill the boats. The first one was filled with a group, the other one was filled with seven people, the sisters and me. Actually I had to ask for, if I also could go with that boat. It was perfect, because the boats take up to ten people each. During the tour we found out, that we all were staying at the “Go Slow Guesthouse” and all of us had booked directly at Caveman. The hostel, what the guesthouse really is, offers tours as well, but… Already before entering the boat, we were asked, if we had snorkeled before. Daniel, one of the guides and the boatman, asked me, if I am an excellent swimmer, when I told him, it was my first snorkeling (I do not count the one in X’caret, when I was trying to snorkel for a maximum of five minutes, especially for this one is in the sea). I answered him, that I can swim, but that I am not a good swimmer. He promised to help me.
The other guy on board was Sherman (?). I actually am not sure, if I heard his name right, because I already had taken out my hearing aids because of the rain, when I heard his name. I should tell you as well, as all was checked probably, though all will be right, like that they have the right meals on board (which we chose the day before). Before we were going to the boat, Caveman himself (the owner) talked to us, telling us a little part of his story and that his company is sustainable to 90%. He added, that it will become 100% sustainable soon. In addition to that, he told about the respect for the nature including marine life, his customers and asked for to respect him and his employees.
The first stop at sea was to leave a document to the Marine reserve guard. Soon afterwards the first snorkel session started and my first lesson. The water was actually warmer than the air. I had to stay close to the boat, but it was working. The long swim I was asked not to attend. It was for around half an hour with a ten minutes at the coral reef included. I was kept warm and dry by a plastic cover. That cover did help us a lot that day, because the rain continued most of the tour. On another point we saw a lot of nurse sharks. The sharks were on the right side of the boat and the divers waited on the left side of the boat until the sharks were swimming away. I only was looking at them from the boat. The water was so clear and the fishes so close to the surface, though I did not find a reason, why I should go into the water. At another stopped, they told me, that there is a current, though I had to stay over again. I was thinking about, to go swimming almost once a week, when I am back home again, but I am not sure, I will become a better swimmer, who can fully enjoy such a tour. At the coral garden I was snorkeling as well, but when I came a little longer from the boat, I was called back, though I did not see many different corals. The few I saw, were brown respectively beige or white. I asked Daniel, why there were no red corals and his answer sounded like he never had heard about red corals. On the way back, we were looking for manatees, but were no lucky. We were crossing the Split, where the guys showed us seahorses and gave as small fishes, though we could feed Comorans and a special kind of fish, which is protected. They jump out of the water to take the fish out off your fingers, just when you do not expect it. I would have liked to see more of course, but as the unused swimmer I am – specially at sea, I am happy for what I have seen. I really can recommend the Caveman Tours. By the way, Daniel told us, that the rain period last year started in September. I think this rainy day has to do with the recently active vulcan in Guatemala, because it should rain more by it.
Back from the tour and after a shower, I went to the Split (which easily can be reached by walking) looking for a restaurant. I did not find any I liked, most looked closed, though I went back. I also remembered my doggy bag, bought some vegetables and breakfast at the nearby supermarket. I also had bought some cheese, just a tiny bit. The cheese had a red cover like the Edamer has, but was different in structure as well as in taste, which was strong. I warmed my meal in the microwave at the hostel and ate it there. I continued with the update of my blog until 10:30pm, when my battery was running low. It was raining again, when I was going to bed.
16th June 2018
This day was sunny, but cloudy and very windy. I awoke between 6am and 7am and was waiting for, that my phone will be charged for 100%. During the night I had charged my tablet, because it takes longer to charge. The sisters from New Zealand left this morning. I was for breakfast to the kitchen, it was greasy and on a table were lots of mugs and beer bottles. I used the last bottled water I had for my coffee. I warmed the water for the coffee by the microwave. My breakfast contained yogurt with cereals, cheese and some biscuits. After brushing my teeth, I checked the timetables for the buses to San Ignacio. There was one bus/hour. Though I did not pre-buy the ticket. I updated my blog instead.
I left the hostel in the middle of the day. It was still very windy. The first I dit was to try a coconut with a straw, that means, the seller opens a coconut just as much as he is able to put a straw inside. That way you can drink the coconut water. If there is “meat”, you will get it afterwards. The coconut I had, had no meat. They opened even another one, but already emptied by the coconut water. There were no meat as well, though they were harvested immature. I had to pay 5 BZD included the experience 😉.
Walking further I passed the bar and restaurant with the Advokat vodka. I did not enter, because I was not interested in a doggy bag again. A little place selling a kind of waffles, I have not seen before caught my attention. I ordered a waffle with chocolate tops and almond flames. Together with a papaya smoothie it was for 18 BZD. I had some difficulties with the almond flames, because of the wind I had to care about, that they did not blow away.
Back at the hostel I made my files. I missed 20 BZD and I cannot remember at all, where I used them, because I had written down all my meals, the shopping at the supermarkets and my new hat as well. I actually found one in my size, without need for a band to adjust it and it is high enough to really protect my head from the sun. I only have to find a ribbon to fasten, though it won’t blow away, when it is windy.
For more photos of Caye Caulker click here.
Maybe I will remember after a while, where the money is gone. I continued with my blog and I am up-to-date now. Meanwhile I was working on my blog this afternoon, a Danish girl arrived. She had been to the Marine Reserve even it was very windy. She was out with another company with bigger boats. They had been 18 tourists on the boat and 4 guides. She also told us, that it had been most windy in the morning and that it did impact the snorkeling. I thought rain does not matter so much as wind and I was happy, that I have been on tour the day before. Anyway the girl was happy and saw manatees and turtles.
For the evening meal I went to the Split. I just felt to have a pizza, but unfortunately the pizza place had just shut the kitchen. Though I went some meters back in the direction of the hostel. There I had seen a restaurant selling Falafel. I ordered one as well as a bottle of water. The Falafel (in a wrap) was great. It was a little different to, what I am used to from Sweden, but it seemed to be homemade. I heard the blender. The Falafel wrap was for 14, the water she took 3 for and I also gave her a tip of 2 – all in BZD, of course.
I went back to the hostel and did something unusual. I was in my bed and watched YouTube – two older movies (the nice ones with happy ends). Though the wi-fi at this hostel was the only thing, which was great.
17th June 2018
It is always hard to know in advance, how many days are the best option for a place to stay. Would it have been nice weather the day before, it would have been a perfect stay for the place. In the contrary, I would never caught up with my blog. This day I awoke already at 6am and took my medicine and directly afterwards a shower at 6:30am. That was a perfect timing, because of the available bathroom. I checked already out at 8:30am and took the watertaxi to Belize City at 9am. In the waiting area a retired US citizen started to talk with me. We continued our chat until we were going on board the watertaxi. Some minutes after 10 we arrived in Belize City.
I asked a security guard for the way to the bus station. He explained it partly to me and told me, to ask then again, which I did several times on my way. Therefore I never made a detour and only walked throughout save areas. The walk took around 15 minutes and all the taxi drivers got a nope again. At the bus station I had a conversation with two guys from Texas, USA, which were going to the same destination as I. The first bus in our direction became full so fast, that we had to wait for an extra hour. The next bus we came with, but it seemed all the locals had the first choice. When I said something like that, a Belizean told me, that I should handle it similar, for that is Belize. With other words, the English did not leave the queueing to them, there is no courtesy to elder people either and the “go slow” respectively laid back attitude is not working, when people enter a bus. The bus left Belize City at high noon.
The bus got really full during the ride. When a woman with a baby entered, I made space for her, because nobody in the front of the bus did care, even there were lots of younger people than me sitting down. The bus driver did thank me for my courtesy and also cared about, that I have got the seat back, when the woman with the baby left. It had become really hilly since we entered the district of Cayo. After a high hill, the engine of the bus collapsed and we were asked to leave the bus. Another bus of the company would pick us up and bring us to our destination. I was not sure, that there would be space for all of us. Anyway, I was just waiting.
A man in his best age got very angry, told the driver, he (the customer) had paid for San Ignacio and want his money back. The driver offered him the amount he had to pay for going further by another bus to his destination, but that man was not satisfied. Now the driver got angry and told him: “Take it or leave it.” Though the still angry man took the few BZD, but asked the driver, why he is angry. Most of the passengers laughed, but the man still continued asking the driver, why he got angry. Finally the angry man got a bit further down the road. A taxi stopped behind the bus and asked, if anyone want a ride. I actually was going with the taxi (there were already two customers inside) and the fare was only five BZD, but he left me at the hotel. Just before the taxi stopped, I was thinking, if every car, which was coming meanwhile we were waiting there, would have given a ride for one or two of us, we would have come further very quickly. The angry man was still waiting beside the road, when I was going there by the taxi.
I arrived in San Ignacio, which was my new destination, around 3pm and could directly check in at the hotel. I had to go to the back side of the building, because at the front a company has its office. The owner did not have her computer by hands and did not remember for how many nights I booked. Anyway I have got my single room and was shown the facilities. She also explained, were I could buy cheap bottled water, because she neither recommended to drink the water nor offered purified water.
I do not know, if I found the Chinese supermarket she recommended, but I found a Chinese supermarket after I had asked customers of a nearby laundry. I bought a gallon of water (3,78 l as it is stated on the bottle), and breakfast for three mornings. I had to pay 21.25 BZD and it feels still strange to me, that there are smaller coins as 1 BZD. We neither have in Sweden coins less than 1 SEK anymore, nor has the Mexicans coins less than 1 MXN. It is so easy to get used to it. I was to a restaurant in the evening for dinner. I still would like to eat pizza. In the front of my hotel is a pedestrian street with some restaurants.
First I asked for tours at a tour operator, afterwards I choose a restaurant. They had four kinds of pizza, only of one of them I could buy slices. Of the others I had to buy a whole pizza. I chose “Pizza Bolognese” with bacon, sausage and minced beef. I also ordered a bottle of water, which was served without a glass – just in the bottle. I had to wait a very long time for the pizza. When I finally was served it, the bottom was not like a pizza bottom, more like a bottom for a fruit cake (indeed it was one raised by yeast, but very thick at the end). The pizza was big – like I know it from home as a family pizza. The toppings were not, what I ordered. There were ham added instead of bacon. The minced beef was OK, but the sausage were not thin slices, but small around 1 cm thick bites. It looked very grey and was spicy. I thought: Ok, they did not write “Italian pizza”, however pizza comes from Italy, I had expected something more in that style. Yes, it was a pizza: It was round, baked in the oven with a “bread” bottom and ingredients including tomato sauce and cheese on the top. I was generous with, that they could not choose bacon and served ham instead, though I started eating. One of the employees asked me a little while later, if all is OK. I answered him, that I had ordered a pizza with bacon, but got wrong. He agreed, that it was not bacon on the pizza, but neither apologised Norton me, that I could get an other pizza. My waitress also asked me, if all was OK. Same here. I could not eat more than 2 of 8 slices, before I was full, because of the bread. Though I asked for a doggy bag or similar for the rest. It took very long time, before I have got that “doggy bag”. I was waiting for, that I would get the pizza in a pizza box, but no, it was pressed into two doggy bags. When I paid my bill, I did not add a tip, because I was so unsatisfied. By the way, I had to pay 36 BZD for the pizza. I was thinking, it would be for two meals, but it was for four meals instead (because of the bread).
There were still tour operators, who were open, though I was asking there as well for tours, but I did not book one, because there was no tour for the following day. Back at the hotel, I tried to update my blog, unfortunately the wi-fi was of bad quality, though I was not able, too. I got tired of it and was asleep already around 10pm.
18th June 2018
I awoke already around 5am. Even I tried to fall asleep again, I could not. At 6am I took my medicine and was on twitter. One hour later I had breakfast (cold instant coffee, yogurt with cereals and biscuits), afterwards a shower. It was already around 9am, when I was to the laundry with most of my clothes. I actually was dressed in my shorts, which I usually dress in during the night, but it was the only par of pants, which still was clean. I also was wearing my last clean t-shirt. At the laundry I told them, how to wash and what not to tumble dry. Then I asked for the time, when I could pick up my clean clothes. First I was told, that I could come at 5pm, but when I told them, that I only had the shorts to wear, I was welcome to pick up my clean clothes at 1pm. It would have been easier, if I could have washed my dress at the hostel or at the hotel, but it was not allowed to make the washings there. The hostel had a laundry, but the dress is handwash. I still had the same problem with the dress, when I now left my dirty clothes, but I have got the idea, that it could be washed in the machine inside my laundry bag, which is cotton. I anyway put it everytime in the laundry. I had asked if they wash cold for otherwise, they should not wash it warmer than 40°C, preferably at 30°C. I was told, that they wash in cold water.
I was straight back to the hostel, which is maximum a fem minutes walk. Women meeting me looked at me with a special glance, like they would say, that I should not go dressed that way. I smiled, like to show, I am fine with it 😉. I tried the wi-fi again. It seemed, it was used of too many the evening before. Now it was working good and I updated my blog. I also was looking online for “tube caving and ziplining”, because such a tour was not possible from San Ignacio – there was no list. I found one operator, which I emailed, asking for the opportunity and the price. At high noon I had my famous lunch: Pizza, of the left over from the day before and cold. The hotel has a family sized fridge for their guests, but that is also all comfort.
12:55pm I was at the laundry. My clothes were clean and dry. I paid 14 BZD = 7 for washing, 7 for tumble drying. It was quite expensive, but I had no other choice. Happily I went back to the hostel. I sorted my clothes and put them in relative bag. By that I understood, that all clothes had been in the dryer. Anyway, there was nothing missing. I was happy for that.
Done that, I made my files. All was fine. Short time later, I had both booked the tour “Mountain Pine Ridge” by paying a deposit of 50 BZD and informed me by the Internet about, what I could see that day. Surprisingly I found, that there are Maya ruins outside San Ignacio. They are called Cahal Pech and are the oldest Mayan settlement known. Though I decided to visit it. To find the way was a challenge, even I have got a map and an explanation by the tourism office assistant. The problem is, that only a very few streets has name signs and if they have, it is not on all parts of the street as well as just that street is not on the map! I was lucky, that there was a traffic police and I asked him for the street. He told me the easiest and shortest way instead. After around 30 minutes, mostly uphill, I reached the Mayan site. Guides were waiting outside in the hope, they would get something to do and earn some money, but I told them, that I do not need one. I entered the museum, paid 10 BZD (Belizeans pay 5 BZD). There was on a little space all information about the site as well as about the Mayas. To come to the ruins, I just had to left the building by the rear door.
The way up to the ruins was cemented and had some information at the side of it. Arriving at the ruins, they were different to that I have seen before. There were more chambers to see and lots of gateways. It was allowed to go close to every part of the ruins and lots of stairs had handrails. I was lucky, that I found this one, even there were no signs with explanations, there were signs about at which part of the ruin one is. That in combination with the text at the museum gave a good information about the site.
On the way back to the hotel I stopped at a café and bought a cake with mustard cream and coconut cream. I had it for dinner at dessert. My main meal was another two cold slices of the pizza from the day before. The wi-fi was very slow again in the evening, though I was on twitter – unfortunately until very early in the morning. I just tried to read all the new tweets and I had not done this for some days. One of the tweets was from the Swedish television SVT and about shootings in the inner City of Malmö. I had to write emails to my children (two of them are living in that town) before I tried to sleep.
19th June 2018
Even the night was short, I was up at 6:30am and left the hotel at 8:05am for the Mountain Pine Ridge Tour. I paid the rest for the tour, which were 100 BZD and was waiting for the other tourists, joining the group. There were only two (a young couple). We were going by car with our guide. The roads outside San Ignacio were in very bad conditions. Luckily it was not raining. The roads are sand a natural stony on different places. The driver drove more on the left side of the road as of the right side, even it is right hand traffic in Belize. Sometimes he also drove in the middle of the road, if it was less bumpy there. I took two short videos during the ride. I try to upload them soon.
Finally close to our first goal – we hade to hike a little from the parking area, the guide told us a lot about the nature, we were walking through. We have seen a cashew tree and the fruit, with the cashew on the top.
He showed us a Waterpine and demonstrated how to do, if we run out of water in the jungle. In that case it is good to have a machete with us 😉. He also showed us the bullhorn ants eggs, which are very small and good to eat – especially for survival. The Copal berry can be used as repellent. 100% natural, no synthetic ddt! If I understood him right, one of the trees was an Aklei. I do not remember, what it was good for or if that was poisoning. He peeled a “basket paj paj” – it is that tree with the 1000th of small hooks on the outside. The middle is used to make baskets and is also possible to eat. A low plant, called mama mimosa rolls her leaves, if you touch it. There were more trees explained like the Mohawk tree, which is the national tree of Belize and the Palm oil tree. The fruits are also called mini coconuts, because they look like them from the out and inside. The meat from the inside will be cooked and the palm oil will foot on the top and become hard, though it is easy to separate it from the water. The guide even explained to us, how big a heart of such a tree is, compared with the size of the tree. We have seen grasshoppers and wings, which a grasshopper had lost.
Finally we arrived at the Rio Frio Cave, which was an open one, that means, not very deep. There was a sandy beach inside, carried in there by high water during the rainy season. There were also bats in the cave, but they were sleeping in their holes.
We continued to the Rio On Pools. Our guide explained, that the name has words in three languages: Rio is Spanish and means river (probably all of you know that), On is Mopan Maya (unfortunately I do not remember what it means) and Pool (you understand without former explanation). The pools were nice to look at, but the rocks were very slippery, as soon as they were wet – so also in the pools. The small waterfalls were nice to look at as well as they gave a good massage, once you came there.
After the others had cool in the pool (even the guide), we drove some 100 meters further to a picnic area, where we got the included meal for the day: The Belizean national dish: Rice with beans and chicken. Though if you make a lot of tours, your diet will be very monotonous. The guide explained, that in Belize a lot of people eat this dish three times a day and still likes it, so does he. I only like the platano (banana) – which comes with it, but just one piece of platano does not make the meal much better. We were offered bananas and mango slices as well. If I understood it right, the mango was from the garden of the guide. It was really big and seemed only to have a very little seed. The others had soft drink, but I had another bottle of water. During the meal we talked about the Mayan culture, Chichen Itza and X’caret as well. The guy of our group had also been there.
Next and last stop was the Big Rock waterfalls. It was not only a little closer to San Ignacio, but also the highlight of the tour. The other took a swim again, but the deep of the pools in front of the waterfalls were around 10 m deep, though I was just enjoying the view on the falls. The guide and the guy did rock diving or pool hopping (or whatever you will call it). The couple did take a lot of photos of each other and also videos with an underwater camera. Unfortunately they lost it in one of that deep pools. It took a while until they unhappy accepted, that the camera was lost.
We had to climb all the way up back to the road and the car. I have got a “well done” of the guide, when I reached the top. He drove us back to San Ignacio. When we entered the town, I saw that there was a market ongoing and the guide told us, that it was farmers market. Therefore I only left my little backpack in my room and was then going to the farmers market to see, what they offer. Unfortunately they did not offer sliced papaya or papaya halves. Though I went back to the hotel. At the corner of that street I saw an ice cream shop. I bought one scoop, which was for 2 BZD. Back at the hotel I ate my two last pizza slices (cold as usual) and had a bottle of juice I bought already the first evening.
After the mail I was on Internet for the last confirmation for the cave tubing. Well done I spent some time on twitter, before I updated my blog. I also tried to contact the owner of the hostel to tell her, that I will check out very early next day and was keen to pay for me. She did not contact me that evening and I did not see her either, though I hoped all will be fixed in the early morning next day.
For more photos of San Ignacio click here.
For more photos of Mountain Pine Ridge click here.
20th June 2018
This was an early morning, because I had to be in Belmopan at 8:30am and one never knows how long the bus ride will take. After my usual routines I paid for my hotel nights, which was for 90 BZD, taxes included. I left at 7pm to catch the bus at 7:30am, but it was only a five minutes walk to the bus station. Though I caught an earlier bus. The ride was for four BZD only.
I was looking forward to the activities of the day, because they were very special. I was earlier as expected at the bus terminal in Belmopan, where I will be picked up at 8:30am. Taxi drivers offered me their service. When I told them, “no, thanks”, one asked me, if I am sure. Though I told him, that I will be picked up. That was working very well. The man, who picked me up, was a guide of cavetubing.bz. I had booked via their homepage a combined cave tubing tour and ziplining, because my host in Orange Walk had told me, that these are activities I cannot miss.
Well at the office of the company I paid 200 BZD. That was for both activities together. I rented water shoes for 5 BZD. The responsible employee did not true, that I needed so small shoes like I chose and tried more than once to give me bigger ones instead. I had to attend a group of 14 people, what worked very well. We had two guides. We had got helmets and safety vests before we left the office area, but did not need to carry our tubes. It was a busy day and lots of groups on the way. We actually had to walk to the cave and also cross a river by walking through the river, but we could hold on a rope. The water was very called. Around ten meters before the cave, there were young men filling tubes with air pressure. All of us got a tube and they were not, like I had seen on other advertising and this day also could see in real, just tubes like for trucks, they were even closed in the middle and had comfortable back rests. We were divided into two groups at the river and the eight tubes were hooked together (unfortunately I had no camera, though I cannot show you a picture. It was not either going fast throughout the cave. The river was floating really slow. The interesting thing with this cave tubing was the cave, not so much, how we were forcing it. The Nohoch cave had a river floating through, which we were using. It was low. I think it would not have been possible to stand upright there, but that might have been my feeling only. When we were through the cave with its stalactites, we were continuing down the river until we were at the rope again. Other tour operators let there customers walk back, when they were out of the cave again. We had to leave our equipment directly, when back at the office, because the next groups were already waiting for it.
My backpacks had all the time been in the van, I was picked up with and I was driven by that van to my next activity, the ziplining. There were lots of employees around and all, who took care of me in the one or other way, did introduce themselves. I only remember two names: Edoni or Adonis and Emmanuel. I was very well treated by all of them. The ziplining was a problem for me, of course, because of my fear of high. I told the guide, that I have that fear and I was offered to do the ziplining tandem, which means together with one of the guides. This adventure I made together with a family of four. I decided from the first moment to be the last one out for every zipline. That was good, of course, for the circumstances. We had two guides. First we got a kind of hose. This one also had straps and hooks. In addition to that, we have got helmets and special gloves. We had to walk a little and climb stairs to the platform. Each platform, without the first and the last one, had an incoming zipline and an outgoing zipline. There were five or six ziplines all together, all were different. The last one was crossing the river. Emanuel was always the first of us for the ride, because he had to give signs, If someone needed to break. He also cared about us incoming people. The other guide had to help us with the technical things. Fasten our hose to the zipline, fasten the security straps as well and he was my tandem. He would anyway have to come over, though it was not really extra work for him. The first ride was the worst for me, because I did not really know how it works and it felt horrible to just go out in “the air”, even I was with one of the security straps attached to the guide. I had the feeling, that I have to hold my weight, what was wrong. The hose did hold me up. I closed my eyes, when I was leaving by the edge. During the ride I opened my eyes again. The hose held me and it felt fun. Unfortunately I did all the rides as tandem rides. Almost for the last two rides, I could have done it by myself. It was just stupid not to do it.
After this adventure I was brought back to the office for the included meal. It was – guess!* I was very well treated here as well. Before I was brought back by the same van, I was thanked for coming by an official of the company. Though I really can recommend this tour operator. The employee brought me back to the bus station.
I made my way to the Belmopan B&B by walking. It was for around 30 minutes. Lilly, the owner of the B&B was surprised when she opened the door and it was already me. Anyway she welcomed me and showed me around. She also told me, that I could come in to her later to sign the hotel guest’s document. I unpacked partly and used the wi-fi for a very short while, but I was so tired, that I laid on the bed for just a little while. When I awoke, it was already dark, but I was still tired and fell asleep again.
21st June 2018
I awoke twice during the night, but around 6am I was ready for new impressions. I tried to connect to the wi-fi, but even Lilly had told me, that it is possible, it was not. Though I made my usual routines and was at the breakfast table at 7:30am. Lilly and I started talking about the weather and she told me, that Cancun already have had storm with flooding. Even cars were just swept away. I was happy, that I no longer was in Cancun. After breakfast I filled and signed the form as well as I paid the 218 BZD for the room. Furthermore I had to made a deposit for the keys.
We were also talking about my further destinations and she told me, that I should not go to Dangriga and Hopkins would be a better choice, because of the absence of something interesting to see in Dangriga and the people, living there, has no respect for tourists and elderly. She also told me, that I should visit the Belize Zoo. The Zoo is special, she told me, because all the animals there are rescued. In addition to that, it is possible to stay close to the zoo – at the tropical education centre and have a night walk throughout the zoo. It sounded very interesting, though I booked a night at the TEC and two nights in Hopkins.
We came to talk about Canada, too. She told me, that her parents had immigrated in Canada from Austria, when she was five years old. They had lived in Vancouver. She had been travelling most of her time, since she became eighteen. Together with her husband they were mostly travelling by their own boat. More than twenty years ago, they decided to find a home on land, but felt, that Vancouver is too noisy. That was the reason, why they settled in Belize.
She also told me, where I can find the post office. I asked her, because I still had the postcards with views for my friends and relatives. Furthermore I had asked her, what would be nice to do this day. I had got different ideas of Johanna, but had only one day for Belmopan. Lilly told me, that the mini hike to the sleeping giant was neither easy, because it was difficult to go there by bus, nor cheap, because it is a resort there. I followed her advice to visit the St. Herman’s Cave and the Blue Hole, which is a sink hole. She added, that I then could go upwards and see the whole area.
Soon I walked my way in the direction to the bus station. Not far away I found the post office. It’s neighbour is the police station. Between the post office and the bus station is the market, where I bought fruit and I surprisingly also could buy a cord for my hat. At the bus station I bought a cold Hamburger. They are usually warmed up in the microwave, but I asked for, not to do that, because it was for my mini hike. Last but not least I bought a big bottle of water. I had to wait nearly an hour for the bus for the national park.
Well at the park I had to pay 8 BZD in admission fee. The ranger explained to me about the park and how to come to my different destinations. I found the cave easily. It is not recommended to go further into the cave than 200 feet (ca 60 meters) without a guide and not without a head light. I had a head light, but my glasses got misty, though I did not even go in those 200 feet. It was an interesting view anyway.
From the cave I hiked the trail to the Blue Hole. The hike should take 45 minutes. I did not check, how much time I needed, but it was not a very easy trail. Sometimes I was not sure, that I still followed the trail. In addition to that, off and on fallen trees laid over the trail. They were hard to force, without holding on something like another tree. I am still not sure, which trees are poisoning and which are not, though I did not hold on any tree. Anyway I made it and I was welcomed of the ranger on the other side of the national park, which told me, how I can find the Blue Hole. It was very close and easy to find. There were also other people and a guide, though I asked how deep it is. It is around 8 m deep and one has to jump in from a rock, therefore I only looked at it. It surprised me, that the water partly was really blue, even not the way, the sea is blue.
At 3 o’clock a pre-ordered taxi picked me up. Unfortunately for that reason I had no time for the great view. Lilly had helped me to pre-order the taxi, because she has had guests, who made the same tour and barely came back to the Belmopan, because of the buses do not stop in that direction. The taxi driver had picked up his son, who had been in Guatemala and now even was in the taxi. Anyway, the taxi driver and I were talking about Belize, distances and similar and he told me, that it is a five hours drive by car from Corozal till Toledo, which means lengthwise through Belize. Close to Belmopan I asked the driver to leave me in the city centre, because I thought, the city is much bigger, than I have seen so far. Actually the area around the bus station is the city centre! I bought an iced coffee to pamper me and something at a supermarket for an evening meal, to have in my room with kitchen. Before I ate I used the pool and afterwards I wrote some more lines in my blog. When it became dark I entered my room.
22nd June 2018
It is already time to go further again. After my routines I took good-bye of Lilly – and got my deposit for the keys back. I also asked her, which bus I have to take to go to the Belize Zoo. I walked with my backpacks to the bus station, but on the way there and close to it I bought a new small towel to dry the sweat on my face and neck, because I lost the other one I had a day ago. I was happy to find one, because it was market day. Continuing to the bus station I saw a woman selling cinnamon rolls. That surprised me a little, though I bought one. I had to taste, if it tastes like home. It actually did, even they have a little different shape to the Swedish ones.
The next stop was at a pharmacy to buy bug spray (against mosquitoes and more). I usually prefer gel, but Lilly told me, I even should spray my hat and my shirt for the mosquitoes staying away from me. The pharmacy only had one kind of it and it was for 20 BZD. I was lucky and caught the bus to Belize without waiting time. The ride was for 3 BZD, with other words, the Zoo was not very far away.
It started raining while I was on the bus, though I used my great rain poncho when I got off the bus. The driver had let me out at the (long) driveway for the Tropical Education Centre (TEC), which is related to the zoo, but an almost five minutes drive away. This centre also has dorms and cabanas for rent. I was offered a forest cabana the day before, but told them while checking in, that I would prefer a bed in a dorm. The result was, that I have got a 3-bed-dorm for myself. It was 4 BZD cheaper than the cabana. With dinner, breakfast and night walk at the zoo for 20 BZD, I paid 114 BZD. Later I was wondering by myself, if it was worth it, because the bathrooms for the dorms were in other buildings and I guess, that the cabanas has the buildings inside. When the check in was done, I have got help with my big backpack to the dorm. I was also offered a ride to the zoo. Now it was raining big cats and dogs and I was thankful for the ride. There was a restaurant at the zoo, I was told and I hoped the rain would stop after I have had lunch there.
The admission fee for the zoo was 30 BZD, that fee really helps to run the zoo, even I cannot understand, why foreigners here as well have to pay more than locals. I had chicken fingers with fries for lunch and a banana smoothie, which was for 12 respectively 2 BZD. Unfortunately the smoothie was very sweet and only a small mug. Before really entering the zoo, I walked through the souvenir shop. I had not the plan to buy anything, just to take a look at the local art. I did not follow my intention, because I bought a metal water bottle. The good thing is not only, that I can refill it as many times I want, but that it has a hook, with which I can attach it to my new backpack. I have had problems before having water bottles in the outside pocket of the backpack. They often were falling out of it. This one I can secure. The bottle was actually for 26 BZD. I think it is worth every cent, even for saving the environment.
When I was ready to see the animals, it was not raining anymore. If you did not follow the link for the zoo, you have to know, that the animals are kept here are all local from Belize as well as they were not brought here, because the zoo needs animals, but for their lives were endangered, e.g. by wild fires, missing their mum or that they got behaviours not really natural to them and therefore at risk to be shot. The idea to use the zoo for education came later. The zoo is not really big, though I have not been there for more than two hours. I decided to walk back to the TEC, even I was told to ask the guard to call the TEC to pick me up. I was still on the drive way for the zoo, when the car of the TEC came with two employees, who had errand at the zoo’s office. Though I could not avoid to get a ride.
Back at the TEC I updated my blog. There is only wi-fi in the dining room. Therefore I was there even when cutlery was placed on different tables. That there was no cutlery on all tables depended on, that there were groups as well, who had other conditions for there stay. I was told, that four more people was placed at the table, where I sat and asked, if I was OK with it. I was, of course. I am at such places to get company. The other dinner guests at my table, was a family with teenagers (a girl and a boy). They were from Kentucky, USA and the parents were both teachers. They stayed at the place with a group and would go further to the reefs. They also told me, that the students had exercises to do as well as they had done the night walk the evening before.
At 6:50pm a couple and me were driven to the zoo. A family were brought there by car a short while earlier. The walk was guided by an employee of the zoo. We had been asked before to have head lights and I was again happy, that I had one. By the way, the excursion at the zoo started at 7pm. The zoo was totally dark, though we really needed our flash lights and were asked for to direct them on the footpath. It was a really great experience, because now I have got to see the animals I could not see daytime. We were offered to feed a tapir with carrots. All the other animals, which could bite off our fingers, were fed by the guide. There were an ocelot, pumas, panthers and more. One panther was brought up by the staff of the zoo, because he was rejected by his mum. That one behaved like a dog to get his extraordinary food. This feedings were done only for, that we could see them close. They usually got much bigger portions. To soon all was over again and we were picked up by the staff of the TEC.
For more photos of the Belize Zoo click here.
Back there I updated my blog somewhat until 10pm, when the dining room got closed. I finally was asleep around half an hour later.
23rd June 2018
I awoke already at 4am and could not fall asleep again. It sounded like it was raining a lot, but when I came outside, it was only drizzling. The aluminium roof did amplify the sound. I had a shower, starting at 6:15am, just in time before people were queuing. Though I was ready for breakfast at 7am without any hurry. I had the same company like the evening before, but they were a little late. We were served our breakfast on a plate each. It contained bean mash, boiled egg in halves with tomato sauce on the top, bread (similar to tortillas) and fruits in slices (pineapple, melon and papaya).
After breakfast I soon was ready for leaving. At the check out I was offered a ride to the bus stop close to the zoo. Even I had the straps on my big backpack and carried it (with the smaller one on my chest) to the office, I was very happy about this offer. By the way all these service rides were without charge!
My new destination was Hopkins, a little fishing village in the district of Stann Creek. To go there from the Belize Zoo, I first had to go back to Belmopan (3 BZD), then to catch a bus for Placencia via Dangriga (9 BZD). In Dangriga I had to change to a waiting bus for Hopkins (5 BZD). It seems the prices are different in the different districts. I never paid more than 5 BZD for a bus ride in Belize before. Fortunately I asked for the stop on the Main street, before the bus was going further. The hostel was only around 10 m away from that stop and well-known at this little place. I had booked two nights and had to pay 58 BZD including taxes for a bed in a dorm, even they do not have a dorm for the moment, because they are remaking it. I have got a bed in a 4-bed-bedroom instead.
In Hopkins there is only one ATM. I tried to take out cash with my Swedish MasterCard, because I nearly run out of cash and the Belize Bank only accepts MasterCard. Anyway, I was not lucky. The ATM did not accept my card. I have been told, that I can get money at a supermarket, but it is more expensive there. When I write this, I have not decided yet, if I will do so or if I will wait for my next destination and hope, that they have a Scotiabank, where I do not have problems with my European cards.
I walked to the pier and the beach, but was not staying there for a long while. I took a few photos of the village, went back to the hostel, continued working with my blog and made then my files. This time it was all OK.
Half past seven I walked down to the pier again. Close to it is a restaurant, where maybe drum music will be played, but it was not sure, because it is low season. Unfortunately there was not. I was looking for a restaurant for dinner and decided to stay at one very close to the hostel. They offered crepes, but only until 3pm, though I “built a burger” instead. I chose chicken breast, bacon and blue cheese. There was no salad on it, because I had to choose between salad and French fries. I also had a beer. I asked for a Guinness Stout, but got a Belikin Stout. Anyway I was so kind, that I did take it as well as I have given a tip. The Hamburger with the extras was for 18 BZD (with only chicken breast it would have been for 10 BZD), the beer was for 5 BZD. I left 25 BZD – that was quite a lot for such a meal! The restaurant closed, when I was leaving. They already picked the things from the tables meanwhile I was eating. It was around 8pm!
I went back to the hostel and to my bed, watching old movies by my smartphone. It was the first time on this trip I really was longing home, but I think it will go over soon again. There is still so much to see in Mexico to which I will go back soon.
24th June 2018
This was my second day in Hopkins. I was quiet early up again and followed my routines. Afterwards I had breakfast with the coffee of the hostel, which I made stronger with instant coffee. I refilled my new waterbottle as well and had to pay 0.50 BZD for it. It was cheaper than water at the supermarket, but anyway I thought it was ridiculous, that we had to pay for the water.
For lunch I had a sandwich with egg, bacon and a bottle of water at a café, because I did not find an open restaurant close to the hostel. It was for 15 BZD. The TV was on and people watched a Soccer World Cup game. Poland was meeting Colombia and the last named country won with 3:0. The Belizean people were happy about it, like it would have been their own country, which won. I was happy for the Columbian as well, because I think, they started as “outsiders”.
For more photos of Hopkins click here.
On the way back to the hostel I was to a nearby supermarket and bought food for dinner and breakfast (it was for 15.50 BZD). Finally back at the hostel I was looking again for Maya homestays, because I had not got any answer yet from the others. I was very interested in to find a homestay in Toledo district. I chose the village of Aquacate before, when I read about it and found another email address for a homestay there. I was prepared to go to swim, but at the end, I did not. I was just too lazy to go down to the sea, even it was very close. The weather was that hot and humid again, though I spent most of the time in my bed and on the Interne with a fan directly on me. Part of the time I watched old (1960ies) Swedish movies on YouTube.
The evening meal I had in the kitchen area of the hostel and also had a chat with other travellers (two girls from the Netherlands and a guy from Germany). The German guy had been for a few days in Mexico (Yucatan peninsula) and was thinking about to go further to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. He had two month for his trip. I was wondering by myself, why he did not make more of Mexico instead, but did not ask him. It is his way to travel and I think, I should not comment it. The girls from Netherlands were disappointed by the Belizeans e.g. they had been asking for the bus to a special place. They had got an answer, where the bus is going from, but not, that it takes three hours, before the next bus will go there. They also had been in Mexico and told us, that the Mexicans are much more friendly and helpful.
I had to stay in the kitchen area, to get my phone charged. Even I have a double electric contact close to my bed, it does not help me. It seems like someone put in a contact with to thick stifts and is unusable now. I finally got an answer from a Maya family, that I was welcome to stay with them and I also was adviced, that the village can be reached by bus on Mondays and Fridays only. Therefore I shortened my stay there and only will be there during the weekend. The two days before I will spent in Punta Gorda, Toledo district, instead. I also sent CS requests for the first two weeks back in Mexico, but I did not find any hosts for my time in Escarcega, Campeche, Mexico, from where I will visit the Maya site in Calakmul. In addition to that I booked beds respectively rooms in hostels/hotels for the necessary dates in Belize and for my return to Mexico. I rounded the day of with some time on twitter and was falling asleep just before midnight.
25th June 2018
It was time to go further again and I was happy about it, because I did not find that picturesque fisher village I have been told, that Hopkins is. I did not see any fishing boat either. Maybe I would have had walking along the beach for a long while – outside the village. What I have seen of the beach was mostly not public. Only around the pier everyone could go and take a swim. I was awoke already before 6am and ready to go around 8am. Even the bus officially was going at 9am, I already left the hostel at 8:15am, going to the bus stop, where I left the bus when I came to the village – it was only five minutes away from the hostel. At the bus stop I was looking onto the ATM and saw, that also Visa cards were accepted. In San Ignacio only Mastercard were of this bank. Though I crossed the road and tried to get cash, but the ATM did not accept my VisaCard either. I went back to the bus stop. A taxi stopped there as well, but the driver did not asked me, if I would like to go with him. After a while he drove away. He never told me, that I had to wait on another place of the junction. By the way, where the ATM is, is also a supermarket, where people were coming and going frequently and also a truck was there for a while, delivering beer and soft drinks. A Garifuna man crossed the street and asked me, if I was not afraid, because of how I look (I think he meant my trousers, my hat and my backpacks). I told him, I was waiting for the bus. He did neither tell me, that the bus stop was on the other street of the junction. A little later a Garifuna woman crossed the street and was looking for something. Meanwhile I had seen, that people were waiting at another side of the junction, though I was not sure anymore that I was on the right place and asked her, if the bus is going from where I am. She told me, it is. Finally the bus arrived, but only changed the direction, where I was standing. The conductor showed me, that I had to go to the other side of the junction. I was not allowed to enter the bus, where I stood! It was no problem to cross the street and enter the bus, but anyway I was surprised, that none had told me, that I was waiting at the wrong place. In Mexico they would have done!
I asked the driver for calling at the Riversdale junction and also told the conductor, that I will leave there. I had to pay 5 BZD. I do not know if it was less than for all the way to Placencia, the destination of the bus. I came off at the correct point. To find the way to my host, named Sunshine, was easy. Anyway I asked once, how to find her. The village Riversdale is so small, that all know her. I felt, that I could not say, that I am looking for Sunshine, it could become a misunderstanding. Though I asked for her by using her whole name. It took a little while, before the man I asked understood that I am just looking for Sunshine. Then he told me, where to go. There is actually a little park at the seaside in this small village. At the end of the park I had to turn right.
Sunshine, who comes from Colorado, USA, has built a house in kind of Belizean style here. First she built a cabana (hut) and lived there meanwhile her house was built. Now she lives in the house and hosts couchsurfers in the cabana. She uses rain water as much as possible. She has had a very interesting life, before she was moving here. She told me a lot of private things, which I won’t name here, but truly tell my best friend, when I meet her in real. I just are comfortable with to tell you, that she has four children like me: Three boys and a girl. They are all grown up as well. Furthermore I can tell you, that she was a hairstylist for many years.
This day she had to go to Independence in the afternoon. To come there, she usually goes by car to Placencia and from there by a watertaxi. Though she did take me to Placencia, drove me through the little town, told me about a good café and an ice cream shop as well as she told me, where we will meet. The first think I did was to go to the Scotiabank. I had seen the branch, when we were entering Placencia and was happy, because my debetcards are working there. Afterwards I walked through the village and also used the smallest street in Belize – it was more like a gangway between the buildings alongside it. Then I was buying of that delicious icecream. They had really dark chocolate (my favorite ice cream). In addition to this I chose Baileys ice cream. Both were very tasty. It was Italian ice cream, which is hard to find throughout Belize. Unfortunately I had the ice cream before my lunch. It was OK anyway. I continued to the café, which looks like a tree house. They serve a delicious organic fair trade Guatemala coffee. A cup is for 5 BZD. I also had a toast with Papaya jam. I had still time before I should meet Sunshine again and I needed more insects repellent. I found spray in a supermarket, but for “after bite repellent” I hade to find a pharmacy. I could not see any in the central city, though I was asking a pedestrian for it. Unfortunately I had to walk 2 or 3 km to find one. Coming back to our meeting point, Sunshine already met my by car a little earlier in town. She told me, that she was back for a long while, because her errand had not taken a long time.
We were going together to a restaurant named Bistro, where she met friends as well. The Bistro had “happy hour” as usual between 3pm and 5pm with a special menu. Drinks on the menu were for 4 BZD and food for 8 BZD. I ordered two mini lamb hamburgers. They looked cute, but were enough for me to get full. When it became dark we were going back to her home. One of her girlfriends arrived soon afterwards. She also is from the USA. She is still married, but does not longer live together with her husband. She is staying in Belize for a quite long time already. The girlfriend is a little special, but whom is not? I was thinking about, if I am so enervating for some people like this girlfriend was for me. I hope not.
26th June 2018
The first time I awoke that night was at 4am, then 6am. At 8am I had coffee, washed afterwards my bikini and took a shower. Around 10am all of us were going to the Bistro for breakfast. Sunshine had decided to take a day off and the weather was great, but a little windy. I chose a big American breakfast with both pancakes and egg and bacon. It also came with toasted bread, some small slices of fruit and coffee. It was for 22 BZD, a lot for a breakfast, but actually it was a brunch for me and the only meal I paid for this day. Afterwards we were going to the pool area. I also had a swim, but mostly I was enjoying the sun on the chairs, so did Sunshine and her girlfriend. All this was for free, because of the breakfast we have had.
We stayed until 2pm. Just before we left I was looking into Sunshine’s face and had to tell her, that she had a broad red vertical stripe on it. She told me, that it is an allergy and depends on the little slice of mango she has had for breakfast. First Sunshine thought, not to go so far as to Placencia, but she changed her mind. She had to go to the pharmacy to get a pill against her allergic reaction. On the way there she was to the Marina of Sein Beight to get some fuel. During the drive her girlfriend told us, that allergies are emotional.
Well in Placencia Sunshine bought some veggies and bread. The grocery shop was on the other side of the ice cream shop, though I used the opportunity to buy another Italian ice cream. This taste it was dark chocolate in the bottom and coconut on the top. Half of the time I ate it, I had coconut as well as chocolate ice cream on my spoon. That is a combination, which I think is perfect.
For more photos from Placencia, Sein Beight and Riversdale click here.
Back at Sunshine’s home we were all together using the Internet, but everyone using it on it’s own device, of course. Around 8am Sunshine served me pasta med salsa and salad. Her girlfriend did not have anything of the meal, because she told Sunshine, that she (the girlfriend) would have bought mango if she had known that Sunshine will serve salad. Though Sunshine had told her girlfriend, that she (Sunshine) is not forced to feed her and did not offer pasta to her either. When the mosquitoes became aggressive again, she took out a “fish”, but she had another name for it. Later she also gave me one for the cabana. Furthermore she was asking us, when and how we want to go to Punta Gorda the following day. Actually her girlfriend and I had the same destination. I tried to avoid to go with her in the same bus, though I chose to take another way than her.
Sunshine was taking her evening shower, though I was going to the cabana, especially because I had to wake up early the following morning. My bus would leave at 9:30am at the junction where I left two days before. I wrote my memories for the day and started updating my blog, when the electricity failed. I decided to try to sleep, but before I could fell asleep the electricity was back. That did not change my mind and it did not take a long time, before I was sleeping.
27th June 2018
This night I awoke around 3am and could not fall asleep again, though I was on twitter. I became very sad by reading so many Nazi comments. It seems there are very active on twitter. I was also ashamed of the comment of the German minister Seehofer, which was that people, who save others out of the sea, are criminals, just for they are saving refugees. He is a member of a so called Christian and social political party, but his thoughts are the thoughts of a Nazi. Unfortunately the trend is growing in some European countries and I think, the American president has this thoughts, too, even he is much more special and seems to be mentally unreasonable. I really hope that the younger generation will not give up and change the world again – in time!
Around 8am I have got coffee after I had showered. I also got my hair cut this morning. It is now so short, how I would have liked it already in Campeche, where I unfortunately had chosen a hairdresser, who was not good in her job. Before I left Sunshine I have got another healthy smoothie of her and left one of my business cards to her, though we can stay in contact. Sunshine drove me in good time to the junction for the bus ride, but the bus did not stop. We were waiting a while in the hope for another one, but there were no other one. She had to go back and pick up her girlfriend, because she would like to go in the other direction from the junction, to catch a bus for Dangriga and there changing to a bus to Punta Gorda. Though I had to try to hitchhike.
The first two cars did not stop. Then a car from Rivers dale were coming and luckily going to Placencia. The driver stop and picked me up. He had his children with him. He left his daughter in Sein Beight and had to go further. It started raining and became really heavy, though he drove me all the way to the watertaxi even he had not to go so far. The watertaxi was for 10 BZD, even Sunshine had told me, it was for 6 BZD. Maybe they took extra for my luggage or they took extra, because of I am a tourist. It was still raining, when the taxi arrived after more than half an hour. During the ride we had a plastic cover for not getting very wet. The cover was already wet, though it did not help enough. My backpacks were placed in a kind of trunk.
Sunshine had told me to take a taxi in Independence, when I arrive there by the watertaxi. I tried, but had to wait a while until one arrived. It was one, which could transport almost six people. I asked, how much it will cost to the bus terminal and actually I asked twice and even if it was in BZD, because the taxi driver told me 5 BZD and Sunshine had told me, that it will be for 10 BZD as well as some taxi drivers try to take 20 BZD by only one passenger.
While waiting for the bus I used the bathroom, which I had to pay for and also bought some biscuits. I have not had breakfast before. The conductor put my big backpack in the trunk – it was one of the few buses, which had one. The ride to Punta Gorda was for 9 BZD. I was surprised, when I saw Sunshine’s girlfriend at the bus. Fortunately I could keep our conversation to a minimum. The landscape was changing from totally flat to hilly during the ride. Somewhere I saw a sign about the help by the EU and I was again thinking about, that the country’s government take a lot of money of us tourists, because of the additional extra payments of admission fees even they get sponsored by us.
Well in Punta Gorda, Toledo district that girlfriend thought that she needed to help me for finding my way to the hostel. I hate it, when people think that, especially when they know, that I am travelling solo for month. If I want help, I will ask them. Actually I was better by my gps than she knew about that place even she lived here for a while. There is a bus stop at the University and from there it is only a five minutes walk to the hostel. By the way, this woman is in my age, but very different to me and also to the Americans I know so far.
I checked in at 2pm, payed 76 BZD for two nights in a bunk bed – breakfast not included. They also have a restaurant, ut Iit opens at 3pm and I was very hungry. Though I asked, if they know others, which are already open. I have been told, that there are at the seaside and how I could get there. I had to cross the cemetery, but that seems to be usual for the people living here. While looking for the restaurant a Garifuna guy on a bicycle was starting a chat with me. He told me, his name is Wadabu (I hope I spelled it correctly), that means dolphin. He added, that he is working on an organic farm outside town. Furthermore he told me, where I find the restaurants. Unfortunately both restaurants I found at the seaside were closed. Though I was entering the Mainstreet. Just when it started raining again I found an open restaurant. Some boys on bicycle did say something stupid to me, therefore I told him, that I am used to rain. They did not try another time. It was an Chinese restaurant, what did not matter. I had a pork chew mein for 10 BZD, a big bottle of water for 2 BZD and also left a tip.
I thought, I should look at the town, but did not feel for it. I went back to the hostel, left my laundry and made my files. I am missing 21 BZD again and cannot explain, where they are gone, because I am very careful when I pay. I updated my blog somewhat afterwards, but was soon watching movies on YouTube. In the room beside mine, which is bedroom, kitchen and living room in one, people were watching TV with a high volume. They watched a horror movie. I was happy, that I did not here it, when I was watching my movies with the headphone on. When I was going to the bathroom around midnight, they still hade the high volume, though I asked them for lower volume and told them the hour. They did, but there were other noises disturbing me (see below).
28th June 2018
The night has been horrible. I did not fell asleep before 3am. There was a noise I neither could really locate nor did I really know, what made this noise. Anyway I guessed, that it came from the room at the side of mine and that it because of playing craps.
I anyway was in time for breakfast, which should have been served at 8am, but the female cook was not. It became 8:50am before my breakfast was served. It was neither a usual breakfast, but a la carte. Though I think, it also is for the price of the menu. I do not know the price yet, because the cook did not have change. I chose an omelette. It came with onion and tomato pieces in the omelette. After breakfast I asked for my clothes and was told, that they are in the dryer. I was not sure, they really were. It took a lot of time, before she brought me my clean clothes – unfolded, for the folding is not in the price of 10 BZD for one load.
I took care about my clean clothes, before I was going to town for lunch and to see it. I had two Salbutes (1 BZD) and a pineapple juice (ca 1/2 l för 2 BZD) åt a very little restaurant). At a coffee shop I had a coffee shake (7.50 BZD) and a very small piece of a chocolate cake (1.50 BZD). Walking further I found a cacao factory and a museum, but the later one was closed. This coffee factory is very small, but it gave me the missing knowledge to my visit of the cacao farm in Comalcalco (Tabasco, Mexico). There was no charge, though I tried to buy something. I decided to buy a little chocolate cake, but they did not have the really dark ones, though I left without anything. In another street I surprisingly found a stall selling pants with big pockets. I needed the help of the sellers to find my size. First I did not realise either, that the numbers were inches. At the end I found a pair, which was OK for me. I would have taken pants an inch smaller, but they did not have it. I paid 25 BZD for the pants. Finally I bought a piece of cheese and a bottLe of drinking chocolate at a supermarket before I was returning to the hostel, where I arrived at 4pm.
For more photos of Punta Gorda click here.
The rest of the day I updated my blog. The TV was shut down at 22:15pm this evening, but the noise from the carps was there again. I tried to get them to know, that it disturbs me, but nothing helped.
29th June 2018
The night was as horibel as the night before, but this time I wrote emails to the owner of the hostel as well as to booking.com. I did not get an answer during the night. It was 3 or 4pm before I fell asleep. When I had breakfast in the morning around 8am, the owner told me, that she had got my email, that nobody is on the second floor and that the restaurant closed already at 9pm. She added, that the noise maybe came from the neighbourhood. When I had paid for both breakfasts and my laundry, she told me, that she will try to figure out, where the noise were coming from. I think, the house is very responsive, what it should not be. By the way I had pancakes this morning. They were for 8 BZD, even on my booking confirmation it was stated, that breakfast is for 7 BZD.
I paid my breakfasts and the laundry, went back to the room with my bed, brushed my teeth, filled my waterbottle and packed. I also sent a WhatsApp-message to my friends in Tijuana, though the will not be afraid, it may has happend something bad to me, when they cannot reach me for some days. I took some more photos of the hostel and uploaded all the photos from the day before as well to my account at Google photos. Afterwards I updated my blog by my smartphone for the time before leaving the hostel. I also was on twitter for a while.
At 10:45am I checked out and was going to the bus stop for the bus to Aguacate, which is a little village in the Toledo district and where Maya homestays are offered. The bus to the village is only going on Mondays and Fridays as long as the bridges in Blue Creek and Aguacate are not flooded, which is not unusual during the rainy season. The bus trip takes around two hours and is for 5 BZD. The long time for the trip depends on the bad road half of the way.
After I had tried several times to get in contact with someone of the homestay program, I finally succeed some days before my arrival. I was told, that I will be met at the bus stop, but did not know, that every family has his own bus stop. The bus driver told me, that there was a man looking for me and that I had to go off the bus. Though I did and met Santiago, a Maya man in his 50ies. He told me, that Louis, the contact person for the program, had decided, that it was Santiago’s families turn to host a “homestay”. Santiago carried my big backpack on his shoulder to his house. I was shown the room, where I should sleep, There were two beds in the room, one of them with a mosquito net. This should be my place for the upcoming three nights. I was very happy about the mosquito net, of course, but surprised about the comfort with the bed, because in the description of the homestay program is written, that one has to sleep on the floor like the Maya families. Santiago and his wife sleep in hammocks.
Santiago soon excused himself, that he has to work with the house, he is building. The new house he works with is made of stones and cement and will have water and a bathroom inside, but the floor will be done of board. He also apologised, that his English is not perfect. He learned English at school, but does not often practice it. With the family and in the village they speak Quechi, a Maya language. Santiago and his wife have four daughters and one son. His son’s family as well as two daughters with their families are living on the same plot as the parents. The son and one daughter live in their own houses, the other daughter live in the same house like the parents and as I could see a glimpse of, also has a bed. They all have children.
There are other houses on the plot, too. The two small ones are the shower respectively the privy. There is also a house, where they have their clothes and similar things and even the kitchen is in an extra house. The houses, they live in, all have a big room, where gatherings are possible, but not much furniture at all. There are no tables, but a low one in the kitchen, which they mostly use to make tortillas two to three times a day. In the kitchen are also two small tables in for Europeans usual high. Here they also have two chairs. One was an elder wooden chair with a padded seat and they other one was a chair of plastic. At the table with the first described chair I was placed, both during the meals and when I had company with them in the kitchen.
When I arrived, I was served lunch immediately. It was scrambled eggs and corn tortillas. Neither vegetables nor fruit was added and this was applied for all the other meals. Though I was wondering by myself, how they could be as healthy as they are. The adults told me their names, but I cannot remember them as well as I do not remember the names of the grandchildren, which I have got to know by asking the children. All sounded strange to me.
Santiago asked me soon, how old I am. That time he told me, that he is fifty years old. Anyway for my age, he had the opinion that I have to rest often and that I cannot walk a lot. Even I told them once, that I can walk 20 km a day, he did not change his mind. My first rest in one of their hammocks I had this afternoon and I actually fell asleep. I was sleeping around an hour. Awake again, I watched the daughters and daughter in law to make tortillas. They were sitting on stools around the low, round table using round, quite thin plastic pads on which they formed the tortillas by only using their hands. One of them sat very close to the stove on which top they had a big round plate. The daughter, who sat close to it, also put the raw tortillas on the plate and cared about them.
The dinner this day was fish and tortillas. When I told them, that I am allergic against fish (and seafood), they made an omelette for me. I always had water with the meals. The other options were coffee or tea. The grandchildren got water with sugar to drink. I saw, that almost one of them did not accept the pure water. It also took time for me to see, that sugar was added. I first thought it was something healthy added instead.
After the dinner Santiago showed me around on his plot. The family has two horses, one of them still a foal. He told me, they use the horses on the field and to carry the firewood home. In addition to that, they have two big black pigs and a little pink piglet as well as chicken, roasters, turkeys, turkey chickens, ducks and ducklings. Furthermore they have almost one cat and two dogs. When I asked Santiago about the pigs, he told me, that they eat them at special occasions – always when they have many people to feed, like celebrations, weddings and when they have many people, who help them. He also told me, that there are ca 60 families living in Aguacate, 15 of them participate in the homestay program. They alternate to have the guests. The last time they have been hosting was three month ago.
There are five different churches in this little village: Katholics, Baptists, Pentacoasts, Menonites and Anglicans. The Baptist Church is very close to Santiago’s home. We hear the hot music of them every evening. If you are wondering about “the hot music”, it is not a joke. It is very different to the church music in Europe. Furthermore he said, that he cannot show me the fields, because of the flooding they have had two weeks ago. The path to the fields is still too wet for use, so is even the path up on the hill behind their plot. On their plot they have a couple of cocos palms, a cacao tree and other healthy trees and bushes, which names I not remember.
Regarding to his new house he added, that the neighbourhood is exchanging services. There is no money involved and continued that they have enough to eat, but that they do not have money. It is hard to find paid work in Punta Gorda, therefore his son is working in Dangriga. He works in the security sector and is not often at home. Santiago also offered me, that his grandchildren could show me the village.
In addition to this I have got to know, that school holidays just started and that they will last for two month. Still the children learn English at school and not at home. There is a school bus for children, who has a longer way to school. The bus leaves 5:30am Monday to Friday. The first lesson for the day starts at 7am. At 2pm school is over for the day. The children are back home between 4pm and 5pm. They start at school at the age of 5. There is no pre-school in Aguacate. The children go till school there until they are 14 years old. For college or university they have almost to go to Punta Gorda. How they manage to come there every day or if they are able to rent a room is their own problem. The state of Belize does not help them.
In the evening we were going to bed around 8pm. Daylight ends already around 6pm and it seems, they are used to go to bed earlier than 8pm. In the morning they start with their work when daylight is coming between 4am and 5am.
30th June 2018
I awoke with the sun some minutes after 4am, but was still too tired to leave the bed. At 6am I was going to the kitchen and apologised, that I was late, because my host family had been up for a while already. They told me, I did not need to apologise. Santiago’s wife did prepare an omelette for me, the Maya did before – with green leaves (I think from the corn) instead for a pan. This day I showered after breakfast in the hope, that the sun meanwhile had warmed up the water a bit. I do not like to shower ice cold. While I was in the kitchen, I have got more answers on my questions about their life. The granddaughter was sent with me to show me the village, e.g. the school. She did not really show me more than the school, but she also told me about the trees around. I was impressed. The school has several buildings, which she called were different schools. There is also a kitchen building, a soccer field and a field for basket ball. A greenhouse is at the border of the school plot and on the other side of the street were sheep. The little girl told me, that all that belongs to the school, but Santiago told me later, that the greenhouse and the sheep are owned by a neighbour. By the way on one wall of the school building is a world map painted, where I could show her, where Sweden is situated.
We were back soon and at 9:30am I was already again in the hammock. For dinner that day we had beans. That were the best beans I ever have been served in Belize and Mexico. In the afternoon the youngest grandson was sent with me to show me the river. They told me, that it will be a 20 minutes walk and if that would be OK for me. It seems, that Maya people in my age do not walk much. I had seen the river before, because of coming by bus, we had to cross the river by the low bridge. Some 100 meters before the bridge, there is a sign for a Mayan site. The little boy told me, that it was not possible to follow the trail, which Santiago and his son later explained. The ruin is on the lowlands, which still are too wet because of the flooding.
Before dinner, Santiago’s wife told me, that her daughter is weaving a bag and I was welcome to attend. The daughter had a very simple typ of frame. On one side, it was fasten around the boards, on the other side it was fastend around her body. It is amazing, what nice pattern she could make. Afterwards I was sent to rest in the Hamaca again. Actually it is not the way, that the family was looking for time for itself. They did not have a lot of work to do, which I later got explained. In the rainy season, they cannot work with the fields, because they are too wet. They have no other things to do either, though they are sitting in the kitchen. From time to time, they talk a little, but not much. I also followed Santiago to his new house, where he explained, why he did leave so many places without using cement, e.g. because of the view.
At 6pm I had to visit Louis, who is the coordinator of the homestay project and also it’s creator. He asked me, how the family is treating me. He explained, that there is no much to do at this time of the year, though I cannot participate in a lot of the Maya family’s work. He has a big house and no much furniture either. It seems, the space is mostly for gatherings. There was also a daughter, I guess for the age, who had a little baby. It was wraped like a gift with a small blanket and two light blue ribbons with bows. Before I left he gave me a mango from his own tree.
We had rice and beans for dinner, but without chicken or similar. I was to bed at 8pm again, but awoke during the night of the thunderstorm and heavy rain. I was afraid, that the river will flood and I unable to leave Belize in time.
1st July 2018
The Howler monkeys, which live in the forest behind the plot, were very noisy early in the morning. I was up around 6am, showered and got an oat meal afterwards in the kitchen. Santiago’s wife explained, that they always have oat meals on Sunday mornings. I forgot to ask, if it was for religious purpose. They had asked me to follow them to church, though I was dressed in my dress. All the women told me, how nice it looks and were surprised, that I had bought it in Mexico.
To see a very short video of a Howler monkey click on the name.
Actually I am happy that I followed them to the service, because it was so very different to all I have experienced before. The service started with almost an hour of songs with very similar rytm like in the Baptist church, that means, the songs were not only happy, but also swinging, even not really like gospels. Furthermore, people arrived during this hour – there was no absolute time for start and they could ask for the songs they like. Santiago was one of the musicans, he played the bass guitar. There were three more musicians, all teenage boys, one played a melody guitar and the other two had a keyboard each. For a while one of Santiago’s young grandchildren was playing his bass guitar. He was good in it. A member of the church seems to have birthday, because one was celebrated with the song “Happy birthday to you” and it was sung several times.
With the song “Let the Saints go marching in”, the service was opened. It seems they had no professional priest in Aguacate. The service were held by reading out of the bible without any interpretation. At the beginning of the kyrio, the man, who read it stammered. Nobody cared about it. All together it was a very positive atmosphere, even it was a Catholic church. By the way all the songs and the spoken words were done in Qechi.
On the way back home, Santiago explained some things for me. By that I have got to know, that the greenhouse and the sheep do not belong to the school, but the most his grandchildren had already explained to me. I changed from dress to pants again, when we were back at his home. The women here are all dressed in skirts, but the younger dresses even in short pants, no matter their size. They also change clothes everyday, because of the warm and humid weather, which makes one sweat a lot.
For lunch they baked fresh tortillas again, it was corn tortillas – they are smaller than flour (wheat) tortillas. This time I was allowed to make a couple of them as well. It is not very hard to get them round, but it needs some practice to make it as good and fast as these women are able to do it. The meal contained even en omelette for me, because of the others had fish and beans for all of us as well. I had water to drink as usual, so had the others.
Even this day I used the hammock after lunch for rest and fell asleep. Awake again I was asked, if I would like to see the Howler monkeys, they were very close to the house of one of the daughters. I went there, of course. A lot of them were very active and nice to see in the very nature. I asked the daughter if they also come closer to the house, but she answered me, that they never do. They always stay in the trees. Always at the house of her, I asked, if I was allowed to take a photo of her weave. I was and she opened it for me. Unfortunately she was not working on it, though I could not take a photo, how it looks like. The Green ribbon below she ties around her body. The upper green ribbon is tied around the board (wall) of the house. All material of the frame is from nature and not really even, but it works.
At 6pm I had to be at Louis’ again. He asked me one more time, how the stay with Santiago and his family was as well as I had to pay 131 BZD (20 BZD for every night, 7 BZD for every meal, 10 BZD for improvement of the village and on top of it the “hotel tax”). He explained, that e.g. the pupils in Aguacate have got school uniforms. He also told me, that he is a teacher and works at the school. The school has eight classes. The pupils are between 5 and 14 years old. Furthermore he explained, that a lot of Swedish groups are visiting Aguacate during the high season. Most of them are coming by a ship called Gunilla. There is a Swedish travel agency selling those tours. He has a company as well, which helps him to have Internet, even he has to go to Punta Gorda for that. Though he answers the emails in the evenings. The email address in use is: firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a Gmail address, but he does not use it anymore as well as they do not use the “Toucan Trail site” anymore, though I asked him for respective up dates. Also neither email address on the site “southernbelize.com/mayahomestay” nor Belize Explorer did give any respons.
I was to bed around 8pm again, especially because of the early bus I had to take the next morning to leave the village. I packed as much as possible for not needing to do it in the early morning. Even Santiago had told me, that it will not be any risk of flooding, because it will not rain, a thunderstorm was a fact and it was a heavy one again. Therefore I was worried about a flooded river again.
2nd July 2018
I was up at 4:15am, had a quick shower and was ready for the bus at 4:55am. Santiago carried my backpack to the bus. I said good-bye to his wife, who already was in the kitchen. The bus leaves Aguacate 5:15am, though the bus driver picked me up on the way down to the rest of the village. Unfortunately this was so unexpected and Santiago put my backpack in the back of the bus, that I did not have a chance to take good-bye of him. For the early entering of the bus, I have seen the entire village. Each plot seems to have a bus stop and of most of the houses were people in all ages coming out and going by bus. A woman was carrying her little baby child in a sling on her back. The child was wrapt like I had seen it at Louis’ home, though it was longer than the back of the woman. It seems, that only baby childs are worn in a sling. Some left on the way to Punta Gorda, others were going all the way to town.
In Punta Gorda I bought a ticket to Belize City, because I am on my way to leave the country, but the bus ride to Chetumal would last for 10 or 11 hours. So much time on a bus is as horrible as on a plane. Therefore I divided the bus ride in two. The ticket was for 24 BZD. The bus was not going for more than an hour later and all passengers were waiting at the bus station, but when it was time to enter the bus, we had to go to another bus stop because of road works.
The bus got really full and sometimes it was not possible for people to come with the bus, especially not for groups or people with a lot of luggage. So it was e.g. a group of Amish people. They were at the bus stop with horses and carriages, but tried to go further by bus. There are not many buses during a day between Punta Gorda and Belize City. For all the passengers, we were late and the bus was going as an Express bus between Dangriga and Belmopan respectively between Belmopan and Belize City – it was signed in Dangriga as an Express bus to Belize City. The extra bus to Belmopan filled very quickly in Dangriga as well.
By the way, the driver told us always at the stops, how much time we have to leave and be back on the bus, e.g. for the bathroom. That was a good service! In Independence I bought a pizza slice and a bottle of juice of the sellers, who came on board – for five BZD together.
Unfortunately the driver was taking over where it is not permitted. He also was talking in his cellular phone – the phone directly on his ear and worse, he dialed while driving.
At the Belize bus terminal I had lunch – a hamburger and a bottle of juice. Även this was for five BZD. Directly afterwards I went to the McKay’s hostel. It was not far away from the bus station and actually an apartment, which now was used as a hostel/hotel. There was a double room and two single rooms. All were occupied. In the other single room was a girl from Texas, USA. The double room was for a well-educated couple from Colombia with good jobs. I write this, because one had heard so much about the poverty of the country. She is a teacher and he a lawyer. They were not used to English, but did well. – I paid 83 BZD for the night, breakfast included.
I had to go to an ATM, because I was short of BZD cash and I know, that I have to pay a tourist tax, when leaving the country. It is a similar system like in Mexico. Instead for tax free options, tourists have to help the country twice. First we have to pay the usual tax for service and goods respectively higher admission fees for attractions, managed by the government and institutions, than we have to pay an extra tax. Anyway I found a Scotiabank not far away from the hostel. On the way back I also bought a dinner, it was for 9 BZD, because I bought it at a supermarket.
At the hostel I had a short chat with the other guests and was then updating my blog somewhat, but got tired very soon.
3rd July 2018
We were told the evening before, that breakfast will be served between 7:30am and 8:30am. I was in the kitchen a little earlier than the others and saw, that the door to the kitchen – which also is the way in for the owner, was locked. I opened the lock as well as the door, though the owner could see, it is opened. During the waiting time I shared a coffee with Sarah from Texas. I had found some ground coffee, just enough for two mugs. At 8am all of us were waiting for the breakfast. We got it 8:30am and the owner explained, that her adult son had tried to come in at 7:30am. The breakfast was served in doggy bags. There were beans, eggs, bread and fruit. During the breakfast we all had a nice chat about travelling as well as some words about Colombia, even the owner told us about herself and her own travel experiences.
I checked out directly after breakfast – around 9am and was very lucky to catch the bus to Chetumal, which already was leaving the bus terminal. The fare for the ride was only 14 BZD. Also this bus became very full, though I was happy, that I had got a seat.
In Orange Walk I used the bathroom and had to pay 1 BZD for it. From here, the bus was not so full anymore. In Corozal district I saw children in school uniforms. It seemed, they did not have summer holiday yet.
Leaving Belize I had to pay 40 BZD and I was told, that it was the last day of my permit. I was aware of it. That was the reason why I had been afraid of flooding in Aguacate, but I only answered “yes, I know”.
With the same bus I was coming with, we continued to the Mexican border. About the prozess at the Mexican border and if they let me in again, you can read on Quintana Roo by following the link.
* Rice and beans, chicken and coleslaw