(one of many Belize puns to come!)
We have had an excellent and very laid back week. After staying a couple of nights at La Playa at Xpu Ha we finally had to leave. Had to because there was some more long term RV’ers coming that wanted our spot so we were pretty much squeezed out! But it was time to go and we really enjoyed our time there and our great neighbours Rob and Priscilla.
We travelled an hour south to Tulum and towards Punta Allen which is at the end of this isolated and remote peninsula. However we didn’t make it very far down the bumpy road into the Sian Kaan Nature Reserve because we were distracted by this awesome spot right on the beach. It was private property but you could pay the man and stay over night. We did and parked overlooking the beach in the palm trees for 2 nights, all by ourselves.
During the day we travelled inland to join the crowds and see Coba and then Tulum, the Mayan ruins in the area, then retreated back to our isolated beach spot to swim and relax.
After all the salt water and even the showers, if any, being brackish, we were looking forward to Bacalar Lagoon. We set up our van right by the water at the Municipal Balneario or lakeside park. It was very tranquil and we were finally salt free!
The tranquil part only lasted until 8pm when we were inundated by a whole bus load of university kids coming to camp by the lake to do some research! The poor buggers got totally soaked with a downpour that night and spent a lot of the next day trying to dry out. We went to the Cenote Azul for 12/12/12 and were told that that was the place to be on that special date. We enjoyed the freshwater pool but sadly didn’t feel the cosmic energy that was predicted.
Our last stop in Mexico was at YaxHa campground just north of the border town of Chetumal.
We were told by our friend Rick that there was great Pescador Relleno (stuffed fish) at a restaurant and were keen to try it and celebrate our departure from Mexico. However, we got distracted by trying to drink all our leftover alcohol before crossing over to Belize the next day and the restaurant was closed. Mind you it was only 7:30 and Christine was trying to delay eating so that we wouldn’t be in bed by 9pm. Oh well, next time!
After gassing up in Mexico where it’s much cheaper ($0.85 VS $1.50 in Belize) and stopping one last time at Walmart we headed over the border. It was un-Belize-ably easy with no problems mostly due to a few fellow travellers (liferemotely.com) who have a super website detailing all border crossings of North and South America. It took us about an hour where we had some fruit confiscated and included a handshake and a big welcome by the immigration officer. That certainly doesn’t happen in many countries! Everyone was friendly and english speaking! Well at least we think it was English, as it’s hard to tell with the Carribean accents.
We were then on our way to Orange Walk to try and set up a jungle river tour to the Lamanai Ruins the next day, Saturday. We eventually found Lamanai EcoTours down by the river and they had space for us on the next mornings boat. And the very friendly owner offered to let us to stay on site for free too! We camped in the jungle with nice clean bathrooms, hammocks and a friendly security guard. The next morning we hopped on the boat with 6 other tourists and headed up the river checking out lots of wildlife along the way, including crocodiles, spider monkey, howler monkeys, tarantulas, bats, iguanas and too many birds to mention. Our guide Carlos was very knowledgeable and told us all about the Lamanai ruins, as well as the known history of the Mayans, including the current the current thoughts on why their civilization collapsed. We also saw a Mennonite community along the river and Carlos said that they contribute +60% of all agriculture grown in Belize. The Mennonite’s here were originally from Mexico but in 1958 some sort of legislation there caused them to leave and take up in Belize. They were offered land in Belize for $1.50/acre and now own the majority of agriculurally suitable land.
We got back from the tour by mid afternoon and headed for Belize City. We had read about this Cucumber Marina place just on the outskirts where you could camp and store your vehicle safely. We found that like many places we read about and then visit, it had had it’s day and was lacking a lot. The bathrooms were not so nice with no hot water, no longer any laundry facilities and we were overrun by these little tiny flies that got through our mosquito nets. We got woken up by the bugs and were packed and ready to go on our 2 night island excursion by 7:30am. We locked Ginger up and headed to the water taxi terminal to get a boat to the island of Caye Caulker. We were on the island before 10am, and found a hot breakfast and checked in to a fine hotel by 11. The rest of the day was spent exploring and enjoying the laid back vibe of the small town.
That night we had a nice birthday-eve dinner and drinks for Christine, as well as arranged for a day of snorkelling on the reef for Monday.
The snorkelling trip was awesome. We had been recommended to a great local guide (71 years old and born on Caye Caulker) who ran full day trips with his little sail boat. He turned out to be a true fish whisperer, bringing sting-rays, sharks, grouper fish, moray eels as well as turtles up so that we could touch, hug and kiss! Christine had a great birthday hug from both the ray and the shark!
Next week we are planning to make our way across to Guatemala, where we will watch the predicted end of the world at one of the biggest Mayan sites – Tikal.
Hopefully we will be able to report on this in the next blog…