Belize and the start of guatemala!
Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
12Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Tis Becca here, and inbetween scratching my mosquito (bloody mosquitos!) bitten self, I am going to attempt to tell you all that has happened between Tulum and here - Flores, Guatemala. Enjoy!
So, to leave Mexico and go to Belize City, it was going to take a few hours - we decided to do this overnight and left late from Tulum, only to arrive in Chetumal - the mexican border town - to be told that the next bus to Belize City wasnīt until 5am.. bummer! So we had to sit around in the terminal for a good 6 hours, attempting sleep un successfully, not fun, but part of the "adventure", as they say.
Entering Belize was easy and we arrived in Belize city just after 10am. Unfortunately - and to our ignorance - there had been a lot of flooding in northern Belize due to the hurricanes this season- we had planned to stay in the northern part to go to a baboon sanctuary and to see some of the Belizean jungle, but this wasnīt possible.
After arriving in Belize city we went to our hotel and then set about exploring. Whatever you hear, Belize City isnīt that bad. I for one have heard many a horror story about what a run down, crappy city it is, where you get bugged all the time and that itīs incredibly boring with nothing to do except leave. But, it was fine - yes it is run down, but itīs not a rich city, itīs just ignorance on the story tellers part to not expect it to be run down. There are dodgy parts, but this is the same in every other city in the world. People do bug you, but we didnīt experience any aggression and they leave you alone if you tell them too and put them straight that youīre not giving them any money, so itīs all ok. So you heard it hear first, Belize city ainīt that bad!
Saying that, we went on a mini walking tour and were done within an hour, so had lunch - rice and beans ( Iīm still not bored of this dish!) and decided to go visit the largest Caye, Caye Ambergis. To get to the Cayeīs there are water taxis, which are speedboats with lots of seats - quite expensive but the return tickets are valid for 6 months, so I suppose that makes up for it. The trip to Caye Ambergis took about an hour and once we were there it was so hot that we fell into the first bar we could and supped on some Belizean beer - Lighthouse and then Belikin. San Pedro, the main town in Caye Ambergis, was gorgeous. White sands, turquoise waters, fishing boats strewn across the shallows and wooden houses and businesses bordering the mini beaches. Just gorgeous! But, unfortunately quite expensive (the most expenisve place in Belize, and Belize is the most expensive country weīve come to so far) so after a few beers we took the water taxi back to the city and relaxed for a few hours (because, obviously we werenīt relaxed enough before) before heading for dinner.
The next day we got up early to go to Caye Caulker, a smaller inhabited Caye, where some of you may remember my big bro Matt lived for 6 months a few years ago, teaching watersports. It was great to see where he had lived for so long and because Caye Caulker is so small I got to see all his recommended places, bars and eats. (luckily for us he recommended pretty much all of them) I have to say, the food on Caye Caulker was just flippin fantastic. I gave in and ate fish, but only snapper so it was quite easy and not too fishy. It was just the most amazing dish I have ever had, with a tangerine and mango sauce and coconut rice, washed down with a half price panti ripper (which is nothing more interesting then rum and pineapple juice). The real panti ripper, however, was a drink that was similar to a bloody mary, but made with beer instead of vodka. The amount of spice and tobasco they put in this thing was ridiculous, so you can imagine the affects the next day! Another favourite drink of mine was the "duck fart", pretty much for the name and because it looked a bit pooey in the shot glass. Yes, Iīm disgusting I know, apologies.
We spent 3 days in total in Caye Caulker, 2 more then we had planned and about 10 less then we wanted when we did leave. During those days we sunned, chatted with the lovely people staying at our hostel with us, drunk, ate and swum. The laziest weīve been so far! We did plan on going snorkelling at least, but unfortunately the night before we stayed up late playing cards and drinking cheap rum with another english couple and just couldnīt get out of bed the next day... what a waste hey! But, we really loved Caye Caulker and have both said weīre going back. I just canīt wax lyrical enough about the place; chilled out and relaxed, absolutely stunning scenary, great food, great people, great drinks, great accomodation, great everything!
Alas, we had to move on - our bank balance couldnīt cope much longer - so we left to get a bus to Punta Gorda, in the south east of Belize. Here we stayed a night and planned to get a boat into Guatemala the next day. Punta Gorda is a sleepy town with not much there, the people, as is common in Belize, were just great so this made up for it. We departed Belize in a speedboat and arrived in Guatemala an hour or so later. Unfortunately out of the two border towns we could have chosen to come in to, we chose the wrong one - Puerto Barrios, a crappy town with nothing but dust there - it appeared. Immigration was a friendly chubby guatemalan who stamped our passports with a grin whilst I felt the need to tell him everything we were going to be doing in Guatemala (he wasnīt interested). We then left for Rio Dulce.
Rio Dulce is a river town that is accessible by bus from Puerto Barrios, but most of the places to stay are on the other side of the river and lake and therefore can only be reached by boat. Because of the warm temperature and amount of water it also meant alot of mosquitos. Bloody mosquitos! The bane of my life! My ankles now look like mutated car crash victims, swollen and red, with weeping sores and welts everywhere...yummm I do hope youīre not eating! (Yes, I exaggerate, but I have to get my point across somehow!)
Why do mosquitos bite you in the most ridiculous places as well? This, I just do not understand. I can understand the logic behind biting me on my bottom, or my tummy - this is where the meat is (as it were..) but on the knuckle of my middle toe? my ankle bone? on top of another bite?? Itīs just pure idiocy.
Talking of bloody mosquitos, Mark had a bit of a situation with ants whilst we were in Rio Dulce. Previously in Mexico we had bought a bottle of cooking oil when a place we were staying in didnīt have any. Mark had successfully managed to carry it in is backpack for a couple of weeks until the fateful day when he put it in sideways and the lid came off, spilling oil into his whole backpack. This is only the beginning though! We spent the next few days attempting to clean off the oil (but as you will know this is easier said then done), we thought we had got the majority so left it after that. Whilst waiting for the boat to Guatemala, Mark put his bag (unbeknown to him) on an ant colony and they were all attracted by the oil and so when we got on the boat his bag was swarming with ants. We thought it was quite funny and then forgot about it.
When we got to our hostel in Rio Dulce, we left our bags on the bed and then went to get dinner. After dinner Mark was first into bed and a few minutes later began to say how itchy the bedsheets were. Before I got in we had a look under the sheets and it was covered in ants! And, poor Mark was also covered in tiny little bites, all over him! He says theyīre not itchy, but they look horrible! We got rid of the ants, but needless to say we slept on top of the sheets that night!
Anyway, besides from the bloody mosquitos and ants, Rio Dulce was great. Our hostel was hidden away within the river bank, surrounded by flora and fauna. To get to our room we had to walk through the jungle and swampy river bed on wooden raised platforms and the same for the toilet and retaurant. The hostel was really isolated and so we couldnīt get anywhere without using a boat, which was pretty cool, except this obviously meant all the food etc there cost a bomb!
The next day we decided to leave early to get to a place called Finca Ixobel (pronounced Ishobel) near a town called Poptun in the Peten region of Guatemala. We got on a bus that was full to bursting and had to attempt to stand and continue standing whilst our bus driver animatedly chatted on his phone, giggled like a school girl at the things his conductor was saying, spat out the window and shouted random words whilst also driving. My personal favourite was his almost double hat-trick of talking on the phone whilst changing gear and overtaking a truck on a bend going up hill. We then noticed that some lads who had squeezed up to let Mark sit for a while, had taken an interest in us, but not in a nice way - they were harmless but were saying minor insults about us and finding them hilarious (assuming that because we were ignoring them we couldnīt understand) Mark, who couldnīt understand 100 percent of what they were saying, still got the jist and illustrated this by turning to me and stating "that guy is a right twat."
Itīs true, he was. He was the ringleader out of the group, which I felt was an odd choice by the other lads as he was wearing girls sparkly butterfly earrings and back to front goalie gloves.
Needless to say we were glad to get off that bus!
Finca Ixobel is a hostel that is also a farm and is completely self sustained, growing and rearing all its own food. The food, as expected was just delicious (I had mashed potato, sauteed vegetables and salad with a sweet potato, coconut and bean curry and Mark had the same except ribs instead of the curry) and we had huge portions (but not huge enough as I still managed some yummy chocolate cake whilst Mark looked on aghast). When we first got there we were told that there were no rooms and so weīd have to stay in a bamboo hut in hammocks for the night instead. We really had no problem doing this because we hadnīt booked ahead, until they told us the price - it was more then staying in a dorm! Luckily some of the people who had booked to stay in one of the tree houses they have on the farm, cancelled at the last minute and so we got to stay in a treehouse instead!
That night we went for a run (yes, thatīs right, a run) and the farm dog who had temporarily adopted us decided to come to. It was great to see the farm this way, with all the vege patches and people working on it.
The next day we were due to leave, but as check out wasnīt until 1pm we decided to go on a tour of some local caves in the morning. Two canadians joined us, as did Canela (meaning cinnamon in English)- the farm dog who had come on the run with us the night before - and our guatemalan guide who spoke no English, so it was very good Spanish practice! To get to the caves we had to hike up and down through beautiful mountainous scenary and farmland for a good hour before ascending and then descending into the beautiful caves. The stalagtites and mites (or however theyīre spelt!) were amazing and some were flippin huge! Canela made a much easier job of navigating her way through the caves then we did - i.e. wading through the water or giving up and lying down, rather than slipping and sliding on wet rocks and not having a clue where weīre going! Towards the end of our trip in the caves we saw some bats which was really cool, pics to follow soon.
We spent about an hour looking through the caves, before heading back for a trek back to the farm and then leaving for Flores.
Flores is a gorgeous, tiny town on an island in a lake in northern Guatemala. We arrived yesterday afternoon, in itīs next door and on the mainland town called Santa Elena, where we then got a tuktuk (mini taxi thing made out of a motorbike with extra seats!) into Flores. The hostel we wanted was full, so we walked to another (making us realise exactly how small this place is as it was on the other side of the island and took us all of 5 minutes!) on the way spotting a lovely little restaurant with lake view where we decided to have dinner and watch the sunset (aww, how romantic!)
Today weīve been up early to change to hostel we previously wanted and take a 4 km round hike to some more caves, which werenīt as impressive as the day before but were still pretty darn good! Actually, to tell the truth I found them quite scary and was promoting leaving asap. We were the only ones down there and the only lights were our torches - when you canīt see where youīre going and all the rocks look like corpses or worse, itīs bad enough. But, when you shine your light on a random cave wall and thereīs lots of childrens handprints, it just gets a little too freaky for me! It was like the films the Blair Witch Project and The Descent being mixed together!
Tonight we will dine in the hostels fully vegetarian restaurant (donīt worry Markīs been eating plenty of fried chicken and carne inbetween times!!) and then get a bus at 6am tomorrow morning for Coban, our next destination.
This is all for now, I hope youīve enjoyed it...
p.s Markīs bum smells horrible.
p.p.s that was in retaliation to his comment about me being disprascic.
love to all!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx