Un-Belize-able (!)

Trip Start Jul 11, 2008
Trip End Sep 30, 2008

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Flag of Belize  , Belize Cayes,
Thursday, August 21, 2008

Claire: We have news... we've found paradise.

Belize is what I always imagined Jamaica would be like, only without
the gang- and drug-related crime and with a slightly more
understandable version of Patois (Creole English). We  did manage
to get here the day after we wrote our last blog. We met a guy who
called himself 'Flash' down at the dock and he said he had a boat that
could get us as far as Puerto Barrios in Guatamala and that if we didnt
make the ferry from there to Punta Gorda in Belize we wouldnt have to
pay him. So we hopped aboard his pick up truck (10 of us and our bags
in the back of one truck, it was a tight squeeze!) and we set off for
what we thought would be a nearby dock and his boat. However, it soon
became evident that 'boat' was a euphemism for 'pick up truck' and he
took us all the way to the border, across it, and to PuertoBarrios in
his truck instead. We got there on time and that's all that mattered so
we were amused at his little trick rather than annoyed at him for

As soon as we got to Punta Gorda we knew we would like Belize. Its like
stepping into another world, and this world is just like all the
postcards you get from various tropical destinations. Everything is
painted bright colours and all the houses are made from wood and
sometimes thatch, on stilts. Everyone walks a lot slower than anywhere
else I've ever been and they have more smiles. It is also lovely not to
have to speak spanish.

We spent our first three nights in a little town called Placencia. With
900 full-time residents and hardly any tourists, it was a pretty quiet
place. The sea was crystal clear and soooo warm, the sand was white and
hot, the sky was clear every day and the main street was car-less
because it is in the Guiness Book of Records as the narrowest street in
the world. We couldnt even walk two abreast. All the houses are built
on the beach and palm trees are dotted about the place with hibiscus
plants everywhere else. We had some amazing seafood and introduced
outselves to yet another national beer. This one, Belekin, also comes
in Stout form which Scott and Han were particularly pleased about. I'm
just happy I can stomach it, as Cuba Libres are off the menu here - one
tiny downfall about Belize is that it is a lot more expensive so we
have to be extra careful when ordering frivolous cocktails i.e. don't
order them.

We originally planned to stay in Placencia one or two nights, but we
only managed to drag ourselves away after three nights and even then it
was a struggle. We hopped on one of the ex-American school buses to
another seaside village called Dangriga. We didnt stay here long as we
took a boat out to Tobacco Caye. There was a storm over Cuba on the day
we went across so the sea was a little rough - the guy who drove us
over there in his little 10-seater speed boat (a rownig boat with a
motor kind of attached) didnt know what hit him and as we docked at the
Caye shook his head and complained that the sea was 'Rough as hell'. We
all got soaked through, like on the way to Utila. So much so that on
the return journey hannah took her goggles with her, but this time it
was much smoother.

You should check out Tobacco Caye on google earth. Its ridiculous. It
is much smaller than the inside of any football stadium i've been to,
and from anywhere on the island you can see the sea in all directions.
We stayed in a little cabin with stilts out over the sea and a little
verandah from which our views of the sea and sunset were unhindered by
anything else. You can snorkel right off the beach here, so we spent
the next two days sunbathing and snorkling and not doing much else!
Snorkling highlights included starfish, a stingray, a huge shoal of
fish and an unidentified ugly big brown fish. Again, we didnt really
want to leave Tobacco Caye but we were spending way over our budget
everyday and needed to see the rest of Belize before we ran out of

Belize City was a horrible stop over - as nice as the rest of Belize
is, that is how yucky and grim this city is.  There's nothing else
to really say about it.

We got out of there asap the next morning and took the 6am bus to 
Orange  Walk. When we got off the bus in Orange Walk everything
was made very easy by the lovely locals who helped us out with
everything. We told the taximan we wanted to book a tour to go to
Lamanai, a Mayan site, and he walked us round to the tour agency and
refused any payment. Once there, we asked to book a tour and they said
there was one leaving in an hour. We needed breakfast and a room, so
the guy from the tour agency drove us to a good hostel and also to a
place for breakfast and then walked back with us to the agency ready to
start. This tour was one of the best we've done - it involved a 90
minute boat trip down the river, spotting wildlife. Before we even got
on the boat we spotted a crocodile chilling out in the river and we
even saw him creep up on and catch a little black bird for his brekkie.
We also saw a river snake, bats, Jesus Christ birds (they walk on
water, hence the name), a couple of huge iguanas and best of all, two
spider monkeys who were as interested in us as we were in them. The
site of Lamanai was really interesting: the mayan pyramids were nestled
within the jungle and you could climb to the top of Jaguar temple for
views over the jungle and river. A pyramid looks and feels a lot
steeper from the top than it does from the bottom, we discovered. You
could tell you really were in the depths of the jungle because the
whole time you could hear jaguars growling nearby. We were assured all
was safe.

I'll let Scott take over here. Just one other thing - I think, judging
from your responses to the last blog, that we may have emphasised the
danger elements of the waterfall and hike more than the other, fun
elements. We were completely safe, mum, i promise. I will get back to
you in one piece as will the other two. :-)


But I am still getting headaches from that waterfall. Im only doing
today as it will take me as long as it took Claire to  do all of
the above. Today we went to ATM, whic was a lot more exciting than just
withdrawing money. It is a huge cave that the Mayans trekked into to
perform sacrifices  to the underworld. We started the day with an
hour trek through the jungle, having to wade through the river 3 times.
The cave entrance was blocked by a pool of water, so shoes and all we
had tio swim a few metres to get in. It was cold when we forst got in
but with our clothes on we sooned warmed up. We then spend about an
hour clambering though the wet chamber of the cave. A lot of the time
we were waist deep in water, holding onto the walls as we went.
Sometimes you would put your foot down on a rock, other times you'd get
nothing and just have to tred water. We had helmets and headtorches on
and so each time you looked up you got to see how tall the cave was and
a lot of those stag-lerg-mites and stag-lerg-tights (im sure the
phonetic spelling will help you pronounce it as much as it helped me
spell it). We made it to the dry cavern where we saw lots of pottery
that had never been removes from the cave. So where we saw it is where
the Mayans left it. There wwre also skulls of those they had
sacrifaced. One of the skulls belonged to a young girl and was attached
to the spine, arms and legs, a skeleton would be the word there. It was
a well preserved skeleton. A superb day id say.

Thats all folks, thats Belize. We are heading for the Guatamalan
tomorrow and for the ruins of Tikal. Hope everyone is well. I saw that
torres got us a goal and the win on saturday which was good news. Mark,
could you please email a copy of my dreamteam when you get a chance.
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hanscottclaire on

Re: i hope people realise there's more than one of
hello fern, claire here. i know i've said it before, but i'll say it again: Sophie. Sophie Tomkins is very sweet!! scott told me Matt can do earmuffs... love that! xxx

hanscottclaire on

Re: Re: i hope people realise there's more than on
we had a rather long conversation about the kids name Fern and Bryn and we came to the conclusion that you must have been having us on when you suggested the name tabitha (i just had to ask claire how to spell it) bacause its a truely terrible name. so is a list we complied; Sophie, lily, estrella (spanish for star), beth, ellen, eloise, amelie, maya, mia or lois. hope these help.

Josaf on

great blog excellent .

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