20,000 millimeters under the sea

Trip Start Feb 17, 2006
Trip End Aug 2006

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Flag of Belize  ,
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

This week I have been finding out that Tropical Island living suits me pretty well.

Caught a direct tourist shuttle to Belize City last Wednesday and from there a water taxi to Caye Caulker, a small island 45 mins across turquoise blue seas. Stayed for 4 nights, at Tina´s Backpackers: not 100% clean but friendly and safe.

The island is pretty expensive. Tina´s is the cheapest place on the island at US$10 a night for a dorm room - what you pay in Guatemala for a nice double with ensuite, and average meals are US$15. What makes it feel even more extortionate is Belize dollars are double the US dollar. So spent over budget, but it was definitely worth it.

Highlight was a day´s snorkling; somewhere along the line I´ve lost my nerve to dive since got my PADI open water in 1995. But luckily most life is pretty near the surface on the reef. Went out with Carlos, a superb guide who knows the first name and favourite colour of every creature on the reef. Best thing of the trip was coming fact to face with a manatee. Really gentle beautiful creature, shy but curious, came to investigate us for a few minutes. Bought an underwater camera so will have to wait to get those developed (spoilt with digital "I want to see them NOW!"), really hope the pics come out clear enough. Also saw quite a few nurse sharks, huge rays, moray eels, and lots of other creatures of the not-so-deep.

8 of us on the boat, all really friendly people. In fact everyone was friendly on the island. Met people for nights out on the rum at the beach bars and was pleased to run into Durske and Alwin from the eventful trip up to Flores last week.

Clocked up around 30 hours lounging in hammocks and under palm trees, so feel my time was well spent. Brief storm the first day and hot throughout, though constant breeze keeps it bearable.

The island is extremely chilled. One car: the police pickup truck. All other transport is bicycles and golf carts. As soon as I crossed the border from Guatemala it felt very different. Some signs in Spanish and most people seem to be able to speak Spanish, but otherwise everything is in English, and the atmosphere is very Caribbean. US-style wooden houses, bbq´s lining the streets cooking up fresh caught fish and lobster, reggae music to groove to.

Same route back to Guatemala yesterday, as little time as possible spent in Belize City, not a particularly nice place. Didn´t hear anyone have a good word to say about it and can´t say I felt particularly comfortable there.

Got back to Flores last night, and although had enjoyed my little tropical excursion was pleased to be back on familiar soil and speaking Spanish again, and not spending quite so much money...

Bus down south to Rio Dulce tomorrow.
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