Not so Latin America
Trip Start Dec 01, 2009
29Trip End Aug 01, 2010
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nadya: Well, weīve finally left mexico - after 6 wonderful weeks! Crossing into Belize was like landing on another planet. Belize is COMPLETELY different to Mexico, in every way... much more of an afro-caribbean vibe than latino, and itīs also the only country in Latin America where English is the official language: it was such a relief to be able to speak in full, coherent sentences again! Instead of town names such as San Cristobal de las Casas and Chetumal, we find ourselves heading to places like Orange Walk, Roaring Creek and Tea Kettle Village... and the landcape is dotted with wooden bungalows, like holiday-houses, colourful and often rickety; we pass shops with names like Gentleīs Cool Spot and Chillville Fast Food... and they arenīt kidding: Belize has got to be the most laid back country ever! We just canīt get over how super-friendly the people are...!
There are none of the infamous mexican "topes"... but we found them replaced by their close English cousin "the bump", though not nearly as numerous or viscious! Sadly, the food choice is very narrow, the most popular (and cheap) dish being "chicken, beans and rice": woop-de-doo... but then Belize is historically an old English pirate hideaway, so the legacy they left behind was good rum (which we bought a large bottle of), not their culinary specialities!
Our first stop was a very small village called Crooked Tree, which lies on the banks of a large lagoon and wetland, and the entire area has been made a wildlife sanctuary. We camped on a grassy bank right on the edge of the lagoon (for cheap), with the view all to ourselves, and watched the incredible show of birdlife right on into the evening...aaaah!
pengs: Belize is famous for its islands, right? So in order to get in on that action, we headed off to Dangriga, a small coastal town. We consulted our maps, found the best route, which included a stretch of about 50 kms along the Manatee Highway. Unfortunately, this was not a highway in the typical sense of the word (although an incredibly beautiful drive). See the pic for reference.
Dangriga was a rough and tumble kind of place but it had some great fried chicken! The weather was not playing along (yet again) and neither was our budget, so we decided to head to Tobacco Caye (a small island off the coast) for a day trip on the one and only sunny day. After a bit of a bumpy boat ride out to the island, we arrived at this tiny piece of sandy paradise and had fun snorkelling around the reef (the 2nd largest in the world, after the Great Barrier).
From there we headed off to the nearby "Jaguar Reserve" otherwise known as the Cockscomb Basin Reserve. The first day, we had a blast floating down the river in the midst of the jungle in inflatable tubes, and visiting a waterfall. Then the rain started hurtling down so we setup camp and spent the evening scratching our mosquito and sand flea bites (those fleas are real f***kers and the bites itch for days). The next day we climbed to the edge of the basin and swam in yet another glorious waterfall nearby. We didnīt see a jaguar, that jungle is thick!
nadya: There was a lot more outdoor stuff we would have liked to have taken advantage of in Belize, but unfortunately the rainy weather seemed to be following us, thwarting our camping plans too (the only cheap way to deal with this expensive country). So we abandoned our plans and decided to bed down in San Ignacio for the night - just as well cos it really poured down there...! Since the weather was still not looking up, we decided (with trepidation) to head through to Guatemala the next day, visiting the Xunantunich ruins just before the border...