You'll never Belize it!

Trip Start Jul 07, 2008
1
244
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Trip End May 27, 2010


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Chez Freemantle

Flag of Belize  , Cayo,
Sunday, February 7, 2010

6th February 2010

Chez Freemantle, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize

Cool

Oh my goodness, it's been so long since I wrote my blog I don’t know where to start. Firstly, I’m not online (telephone lines and internet connections are expensive in Belize) so I cannot look at my last entry but I’m guessing the last full entry was in Costa Rica and the last hurried entry in Honduras.  I have been keeping notes all the way through but I’m not going to try and type them up as daily entries, as I would do normally, I’ll do a summary and get back up to date as quickly as I can.

We set off from Uvita on 27th December and arrived in Belize on 1st February.  Apart from the 5 days we spent on The Bay Islands we had just 2 days off the bikes (marked*) during that time.   We had to be in Belize by the first week of February to meet with family living in Belize, and friends coming over from the UK.  Rather than take the scenic route through the area we took the most direct, although we allowed ourselves a couple of weeks scenic diversion in Costa Rica for Christmas and New Year.

Summary - Uvita, Costa Rica to San Ignacio, Belize:

Costa Rica                                                                                          kms

San Jose – Layby just past Frailes                                                         40

Frailes – road widening scheme 20 kms short of the peak (3335m)        51

RWS - ??Cabinas                                                                                26

Cabinas – Uvita                                                                                    97

Uvita – Dominical                                                                                 18

Dominical – Quepos                                                                             50

Quepos – Jaco                                                                                     79

Jaco – Puentarenas                                                                               80

Puentarenas – Jicaral                                                                            30

Jicaral – Bejuco                                                                                    60

Bejuco – Samara (via San Pedro)                                                         40

Samara – Nicoya                                                                                  37

Nicoya – Liberia                                                                                   85

Liberia* – La Cruz                                                                               60

La Cruz – Rivas (Nic)                                                                           57

Nicaragua

Rivas – Granada                                                                                   69

Granada – Tipitapa                                                                               43

Tipitapa – Cuidad Dario                                                                       75

Cuidad Dario – Esteli                                                                            70

Esteli – Ocotal  *                                                                                  78

Honduras

Ocotal – El Paraiso                                                                               42

El Paraiso – Mountain                                                                           96

Mountain – Tegucigalpa                                                                        32

Tegucigalpa – Comayagua                                                                    94

Comayagua – Siguatepeque                                                                  34

Siguatepeque – Santa Rita                                                                    94

Santa Rita – Tela                                                                                  95

Tela – La Ceiba                                                                                    110

La Ceiba – Half Moon Bay (Bay Islands)                                              20

Half Moon Bay – Ferry – La Ceiba                                                      20

La Ceiba – Tela                                                                                    95

Tela – San Pedro de Sula                                                                     100

San Pedro – Puerto Cortes                                                                   63

Puerto Cortes – Ferry                                                                           4

Belize

Placencia – Just short of Over The Top Camp                           115

Top Camp – Belmopan – San Ignacio                                       83

Total                                                                                                   2065

Some of the riding was very challenging, for example the ride out of San Jose to Frailes (40 kms) took the best part of 10 hours because the gradients were so steep and the weather at the highest point (3335 metres) was cold and wet, forcing us to stop short of our target.  Throughout much of Nicaragua we were plagued with northerly headwinds, which the locals told us were not usual for this time of year.  This was round about the time the US were experiencing blizzard and freezing conditions, it could have been that we were getting the tail end of that.

Costa Rica, larger and hillier than we thought it would be, was very lush in the east but as we headed out onto the Nicoya Peninsula and towards the Honduras border the scene became altogether drier and windier.  We had a mixed bag of weather too, from cool to very cold back to scorching hot.  Costa Rica has had a dry wet season and now seems to be experiencing a wet dry season.  We were washed out twice while camping in the east, after hours of torrential rain we looked outside the tent to find we were sitting in the middle of a swimming pool!  Some say it’s an el Nino year, Central America is certainly due for one (they happen every 7 – 12 years) and the odd weather they have been having might be explained away by el Nino.  In any case, el Nino is usually followed by el Nina.

We liked Costa Rica, particularly the Nicoya Peninsula, and found the people to be delightful.  Dominical, Samara and Jaco are all beach resorts which have little to recommend them.  There are smaller beaches quite close to all these places, if I had to make a recommendation it would be to go to them instead, saving the larger resorts for simply stocking up on supplies.

We were a little concerned about travelling through Nicaragua because of stories we had heard from other travellers, however our experience was nothing but good.  We found the Nicaraguan people to be friendly and gregarious despite being the second poorest country (Haiti is top of the list) in the Western Hemisphere.  Alcohol abuse is a problem, we could always find a bar but often nowhere to eat.  Granada was a highlight, a beautiful colonial town even if it was packed to the gunnels with tourists.  We didn’t go to San Juan del Sur but we heard it is a beautiful beach resort although it also happens to be pickpocket capital of Central America.  Everyone we have spoken to recently who went there had something stolen.  The headwinds we experienced slowed us down considerably and took away some of the enjoyment of the ride but we wouldn’t have missed it.

We whizzed north from Nicaragua to The Bay Islands via the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa (try saying that when you’ve had a few).  Our guide book says nice things about several of the smaller towns we stayed in but we think they are just being kind, we couldn’t think of a single reason to go back to any of them.  The Honduran people are lovely, generous, helpful and kind people who it seems have just found their political feet.  While we were in Honduras the ousted President returned, hopefully to restore democracy to a country the world sees as a 'Banana Republic’.  The Hondurans we spoke to are hopeful and optimistic that the corruption and nepotism that has plagued all levels of government and business in Honduras for a very long time will be eradicated.  Fingers crossed.

The Bay Islands were a little bit of paradise where we relaxed for the first time since Christmas.  January is not ideal weather conditions for diving (July and August are the best time) but we managed 2 dives.  We chose to go to Roatan rather than the usual backpacker choice of Utilla, because the boat to the island was bigger and it was easier to transport the bikes.  The lovely man at the port also decided not to charge us for the bikes however, the return fare is a bit hefty at $50 return.  The islands are very Caribbean with Roatan being the largest.  We stayed at Half Moon Bay, one of the smaller resorts and we liked it.  We dived with Coconut Tree who charged us $25 per dive instead of $35 (‘because the weather was a bit shit’ as TJ the English owner said) and we stayed at Chillies who charged us $12.50 instead of $20 because there weren’t many people around.  I read a very thick book and Dave lay in a hammock a lot.  We had use of a kitchen at Chillies so we cooked up a storm everyday as we couldn’t afford to eat out.  Apart from a couple of little shacks selling chicken or tortillas and the like restaurants were upmarket and pricey, as were the bars.  The sandflies were a pain but we consoled ourselves with the knowledge that people on Utilla were suffering more.

It would be a short hop from La Ceiba (the ferry port for the Bay Islands) to Puerto Cortes (to catch the boat to Belize) if there wasn’t a rather large bay in the way, and, if there was a coast road, so rather than 1 long day it took 3 and a bit of backtracking.  A boat leaves every Monday for Placencia ($50) and 3 times a week for Dangriga (price unknown).  Had we known about the Dangriga boat we would have taken that as it’s further up the Belize coast and closer to San Ignacio, our ultimate destination, but we had told the family we would be arriving in Placencia and the chances are we would be picked up, had I given them the correct day we would be arriving that is!  Much confusion ensued with emails flying around, texts to mobile phones but in the end without speaking to anyone to determine plans we decided to simply start riding the next day.  Roy and Sonia discovered our emails and picked us up on the road 20 miles from San Ignacio, very sweaty and very hungry, we hadn’t found a single place to eat any decent food since we had arrived in Belize!

So here we are, with Dave’s sister (Sonia) in San Ignacio.  We have caught up with lots of the family (and there are a LOT of them) but there’s more to do over the next few days.  We are generally having a relaxing time, drinking lots of rum and catching up on news.

We are travelling to Belize City to visit more family on Thursday, and on Saturday we take the ferry to San Pedro on the Cayes to meet Paul and Yvonne (who will have travelled from Australia) and Matthew and Diane from the UK via Cuba and Cancun.  Watch this space.

Laters
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Comments

samvimes
samvimes on

Well done, people! I both envy and admire you.

50odd
50odd on

Thanks for your comment, it was a great trip!

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