You'll never Belize it!
Trip Start Jul 07, 2008
270Trip End May 27, 2010
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Chez Freemantle, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize
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
Rivas – Granada 69
Granada – Tipitapa 43
Tipitapa – Cuidad Dario 75
Cuidad Dario – Esteli 70
Esteli – Ocotal * 78
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
Placencia – Just short of Over The Top Camp 115
Top Camp – Belmopan – San Ignacio 83
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
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.
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 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
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.