Day 5 – Last Day in Caye Caulker
Sorry I have not written in a few days. It’s really easy to get distracted from writing on busy days. So, on day 5 I started the day by getting breakfast at Ice N Beans. I can’t say enough good things about this place. The people are nice and the food is excellent. This time I was welcomed with another free shot of coffee and even a doughnut. I supplemented this duo with a other monster sandwich and an iced coffee. Then, I walked around the island with my new friend Tyler Thorne from Hawaii. We really wanted to do a day long spear fishing trip, but the weather was ill-permitting. We ran into our snorkeling instructor and he warned us that cloudy skies and rain will shy the fish away. Instead, Tyler and I strolled down to the Blue Sea Dive shop and booked a night dive. This marked my first ever night dive, so I was both nervous and excited.
We had quite a few hours until check-in for our dive, so we decided to go to the Split. This time we brought along a girl named Marta from Italy. We drank a beer there and dive some platform jumping into the ocean. The group even adjusted to sitting in the shade to help me recover quicker from my sun burns. I thought this was pretty nice. It’s still not a very rough life when you can sit on a picnic table in the water though. We all got really hungry and decided to have Marta cook us some true Italian pasta. We forfeited tomatoes because the quality of the island tomatoes was questionable. Honestly, I didn’t cook all—Tyler and Marta did everything (I helped pay of course). We ended up sharing Marta’s pasta with a guy from Austria at our hostel.
Tyler and I headed to the dive shop around 5:30 to rent all our gear. The sun sets really early in Belize so we only had about a half hour before the boat left. Tyler had all his own gear (which looked miserable to travel with) but I had to rent everything—mask, BCD, fins, weight belts, etc. We got on the boat around 6 PM and headed out to sea. The Caye Caulker channel was only about 10-15 minutes off the island. Since we had to wait until it got dark, we watched the sunset from the ocean. As soon as it set, we executed a backwards entry off the boat. The water was absolutely perfect as our dive started out at about 35 feet. In roughly 60 minutes of bottom time, we saw 4-5 lobsters, 2-3 octopus, a squid, and a barracuda. The encounter with the squid was brief but awesome. Three of us divers circled around it and it immediately inked us and then disappeared. The barracuda event was slightly intimidating. At that point in the dive I was fighting buoyancy issues so I was already near the surface. The barracuda swam within only feet of my head.
When we surfaced, one the other divers dropped his GoPro so Tyler went back down and grabbed it. The stars snd the moon appeared so close it felt like you could touch them. There was a thunderstorm, too, so we gazed at that in the distance. We returned to the island starving so we went back to Wish Willy’s for dinner. A girl from Holland joined us so we spent the whole dinner talking about our different countries. After dinner we went to the Sport’s Bar, which is essentially where everyone in the island goes. It was the birthday of one of our Swedish hostel mates so we got him fairly drunk. They also gave out free fireball shots every so often, pouring directly into people’s mouths. We also found that Belikin beers were 2X more expensive in the bar so we grabbed some from the supermarket and snuck them in the back. I got bored pretty quickly at the bar so I returned back to the hostel early. I slept terrible that night because my throat was a tad soar and my bunk was positioned right next to the air conditioner (or air con) as the Brits would say. It’s really difficult for the body to adjust from 90 degree heat and full humidity to cold air conditioned rooms.
Day 6 – Travel Day
Day 6 was the last day on Caye Caulker. Almost everyone in the hostel es duo by 6 AM for some odd reason. Charlotte (a girl from England) made porridge (oatmeal) for me so I went and refilled her water bottle for her. I also made a last walk about of the island to grab some money from the ATM and say goodbye. We went to the ferry dock at about 10AM. The taxi ride to Belize City was only about 30-40 minutes. I spent some time getting to know a new American friend named Clay. Clay is from Philly but has backpacking through Thailand, Bali, and other bits of Southeast Asia. We’re on roughly the same route and timeline so we will likely be traveling together till Honduras.
Once in Belize City, our group of about 5-6 backpackers made our way to the Belize City bus station. The city was alive and the streets were crawling with people and cars. The sun was scorching, ultimately making my sunburns feel even hotter. A ten minute hike to the bus station got us there just in time for the “Express” collectivo to San Ignacio. San Ignacio is a small border town to Guatemala with beautiful waterfalls. I honestly had not even heard of the town until only the day before we left Caye Caulker but since everyone was buzzing about it, I though I’d give it a shot. It turned out that the “Express” collectivo was no so Express after all. It stopped for any and everyone. From a time standpoint it sucked. You would think as a marketer I would have filtered through the way they branded the bus but I didn’t. Despite the stops, the diversity was shocking. Riders ranged from young school kids to farmers and us backpackers. It was also only $10 Belice which was kind of an incredible deal.
After nearly three hours, the bus was hot and all of us backpackers were feeling it. Luckily we arrived in San Ignacio after about 3 hours. We all followed Charlotte and Liza’s (German) lead and booked our stay at Old House Hostel. The hostel is completely unique in that it’s the top floor of a local bar. It’s also owned by two young Belizeans, where the male (Aldo) performs in a local band. It has a really laid back vibe with a ton of cool backpackers.
We all wanted some food and something refreshing after the endless bus ride. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at downtown restaurant where burritos at Erie size of your arm. We are well and tried some crazy spicy foods. By we I mean myself, Ramón, Charlotte, Liza, and Clay. The hostel owners strongly recommended that we go to this place in town called The River for a swim. We followed their advice and hiked 20 minutes after dinner. We found that the river was actually a meeting point of two smaller rivers which formed the larger Belize River. The water was just right, allowing for perfect refreshment. There were some locals jumping off of the bridge than spanned across the river, so we felt inclined to match them. Jumping off the bridge was sketchy. You had to climb over a waist-high chain-link fence and then stand on a 3-4 inch piece of wood. Nevertheless, we all jumped anyways—multiple times. Then we ended up jumping off a side bank into the river with the locals, too. This was even more sketchy because the bank stuck out 4-5 feet forcing you to get a running start. You also had to dodge a downed tree next to the bank. At first, Clay, Liza, and I were all reluctant to try it. After a few minutes of anticipation, we all jumped. It was a huge adrenaline rush.
Shortly after, we walked back to the hostel for the bar opening. The hostel’s band had a jamming session that left almost everyone in the room impressed. Clay and I met a few other Americans (Ellie and Jack) from his he state and chatted it up with them for a while. We finished the night by playing Kings and planning our trip for the following day.
Day 7 – Exploring San Ignacio
The next morning was brutal. Everyone had way too much to drink because Ramón bought so Caribbean rum. Still, we all woke up before 8 to go to the local weekly farmers market. I wish I would’ve taken my phone with me to record because it was huge. People were selling everything from fresh vegetables to Xbox’s to clothing. I tried a Papusa for the first time. It was beyond tasteful. Papusa’s are essentially two corn tortillas put together with meat, beans, and cheese inside. I couldn’t stop thinking about Papusa’s all day long because it was so good. If I didn’t have a papusa tomorrow I will probably keel over.
After the market, myself, Clay, and the other two Americans from the night before decided to rent a car and go waterfall hopping despite the explicit warnings from the “don’t go chasing waterfalls” song. Walked around asking locals where the nearest car rental agency was for a few minutes before receiving good directions. We end up at place called Matus Car Rental. It was unbelievably cheap at $25 USD per person for the whole day. We even got this tricked out Toyota. We named her Peggy.
Next, we began our way to the Mountain Pine Ridge National Forest Reserve. Believe it or not, four millennial Americans were able to successfully navigate through a city in a foreign country with no Google Maps. Our route took us through a small mountain-jungle City called San Antonio. We stopped here to try to get a CD or cassette for the car but had no lock. Upon entrance to the park, a shy little local girl gave Ellie this beautiful little flower attached to a cross. She was so shy she just smiled. People are nice everywhere you go down here in Belize.
I’m not going to go into the details about the day because the video says it all (it’s also almost 2AM here). Our first stop in the park was the 1000 Foot Water Fall. Then, we went to the Big Rock Waterfall, the Rio Frío Cave, and the Rio On Pools (not pictured). Today was the absolute best day of the trip so far. The landscape was breathtaking and left all of us feeling smaller. We watched the sun set from the Rio On Pools. First, it set over the mountain to the east and then the sky turned orange then pink. It was a stellar view from where we were. We all laid on the rocks in the pools for quite some time. The rocks were still warm from the midday heat. There were no mosquitos because of the gentle breeze. After the sun set we hopped back in Peggy and drove back to San Ignacio. We stopped briefly outside the city to star gaze. With no city lights, you could see so many stars. I’ve never seen anything like it before. We think we saw a shooting star right before stopping and then several satellites. This day was special and will be a precious memory to me forever. I could not be any happier right now.
Clay and I have booked the ATM Cave tour for tomorrow. It’s the largest cave in Belize and was used by the Mayans for human sacrifices. We’ve heard dozens of backpackers endorse this tour as an incredible experience. The only downside to the tour is that they don’t allow videos to be taken in the cave. I’ll be stuck having to describe it with words. If our tour gets done early, we may end up leaving for Flores, Guatemala with Ramón. I am still being told that the borders are closed in Nicaragua, forcing me to flyover this country. I can’t quite tell if this is hearsay or accurate information. If anyone has intel on this please message me! Thank you!!!
Thank you all for reading and sorry for the delay!
Countries I Have Met People From: