Bed Bugs and Beyond

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Belize  ,
Saturday, March 10, 2007

From Tulum it is a few hours to the border of Belize where we were greeted by the friendliest border staff on the entire trip.  They happily stamped our passports and we commiserated with them about the fact that we were heading to the beach and they were working.
On the Belize side we found our "chicken bus" so named for the fact that on any given day you can find any number of farm animals (particularly chickens) traveling along with their owners to another part of the country.  The buses are actually old smoke blowing, gas guzzling yellow school buses from the USA, repainted in the brightest eye catching colours they can find.  With the windows open for some air conditioning it was a windy few hours to Belize City which sadly was very seedy in the darkness of nightfall.  We found a taxi driver who was happy to drive around till he found a guest house with accommodation available.  Although it's hard to get a good impression of a place at night we were a little perturbed by the corner store, where all the stock and the teller were behind metal bars.  It looked like he worked out of a jail cell.  There was enough space to slide the money across the counter and for the thinnest of groceries to be passed back.  Sadly our impression of the place was not improved by the dodgy looking hotel manager, the huge dead cockroaches on the floor and the cold showers.  We made the most of the night and played a round of cards whilst listening to a local preaching her varied and elaborate opinions outside our window.  Apparently according to her all the prisoners in the jail turned gay because they painted it pink!
During the night Carlie heard what she thought was a mouse rustling around in the room but what you can't see (in the dark) can't hurt you, so she ignored it and went back to sleep.  After a hot, restless night we woke to find a mouse or rat had indeed crawled into Megan's open day bag and helped itself to the leftover bread.  Oops!  A lesson learnt there; close all zips.  Rick was scratching like mad and we discovered he had managed to pick the bed with the bed bugs in it.  We hit 40 bites (huge itchy red welts more like it) and stopped counting.
We were more than happy to be heading to what we had heard was "paradise", Caye Caulker.  Catching the ferry over we discovered it did indeed look like paradise but that since it was a long weekend everyone in Belize was attempting to get their bit of it and all the hotels were full.  Bugger!  Eventually after walking around for a while and incidentally discovering that the ATM was out of cash a lady approached us and offered us a room (at a discounted price no less).  I think she felt sorry for us but the room had a great view of the reef in the distance on one side and the bay on the other side.  We were smack bang in the middle of a flat 50 meter wide island.  Three stories up though, so hopefully safe from a tsunami. 
We had planned to stay 1-2 days but after about 30 minutes on the island we voted unanimously to stay as long as we felt like it and to just head straight to Guatemala after that.  We spent the first 2 days relaxing, walking around the island, swimming and eating.....oh and watching pay TV.  It's amazing how much you like TV when you rarely watch it while traveling. 
Sadly we couldn't stay at the first place the whole time as she only has space for two days so we moved two doors down to another cheaper place.  We headed out on the third day for a snorkel trip on the local reef, swimming around in the crystal clear water, following the fish and looking for sharks.  They took us to a place called Stingray Alley where there were about two dozen stingrays converged on the boat.  The brave few jumped in first and swam for a while whilst the rest of us assessed if it was really safe before jumping in for a quick swim.  They are really slimy creatures and Megan was too scared to put her feet down in the sand for fear of stepping on one.  Instead she clung to Rick like a jellyfish, with her legs around his waist safe from being brushed by them.  Brave?  I think not, but she still brags that she swam with stingrays.
On our last day in paradise we nursed our sun burnt backs.  Although we did wear sunscreen, and lots of it as it stops the jellyfish stings, we all managed to get burnt.  We spent the day wandering around the shops and the evening watching the amazing sun set over the water.
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