Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2012

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Flag of Belize  , Belize Cayes,
Friday, July 27, 2012

The dynamics of our trip have changed quite substantially since finalising a return date for early August. For the first five months of our journey we were only really concerned about one of the two precious resources that are too often in short supply in all of our lives. Money has always been limited, but time was never a consideration. We used to plan our trip on a day to basis, if we enjoyed a particular place or if there was still more to see or do there, we'd stay. If we didn't like it somewhere or if we wanted to see something else, we'd move. Sounds rudimentary, but this is probably a rare luxury that we are unlikely to enjoy again any time soon. Not that we're complaining, having to maybe rush a bit and actually plan a few things in advance isn't too much of a nuisance when the problem at hand is to work out how best to allocate our remaining two weeks between Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. That's one of those logistical nightmares where you think that you're having a nightmare because you look outside of your window and see an army of dragons and saber tooth tigers, but then you realise that they are actually your pets and that you're going to be the most popular kid in school when everybody sees you rolling down William Nicol with your dragons breathing fire and your saber tooth tigers nipping the shins of those irritating windscreen cleaner people.

So we were certainly living the dream when we decided to throw in Guatemala's towel and head to the small Caribbean nation of Belize, the 13th and penultimate country of our journey. Some interesting trivia on Belize: the country has a total population of about 340 000 humans, approximately the same amount as Pietermaritzburg; it is the only Central American country with English as the official language; Guatemala still thinks that it owns Belize, we saw several Guatemalan maps that include Belize as one of Guatemala's provinces; the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world; and lastly, Belizeans have to be the least stressed out people on the planet.

Due to our limited timeframe we could only spend a few days in Belize and thus headed straight to the island paradise of Caye Caulker (pronounced key corker) where we planned to relax and soak up some of the island's "Go Slow" mantra. Getting to the island was pretty easy, a 5 hour bus trip into Belize City, followed by a 45 minute water taxi. We had only heard excellent things about Caye Caulker, but we were still completely blown away by the island's tropical beauty well before arriving at the dock. After disembarking the boat we were greeted by a seriously relaxed Rasta that threw out some of that classic West Indian banter that somehow draws a laugh regardless of what has actually been said. The man showed us a few places to stay, didn't ask for any form of tip and then just before strolling off, turned to us and in that classic Caribbean accent exclaimed: "Welcome to Caye Caulker mon, remember to go slow!"

The tiny island measures not much more than a kilometre in length and a few hundred metres in width. All of the roads are made out of beach sand and are used mostly by people, bicycles and a few golf carts. The locals are super friendly, there is a great selection of small restaurants and beach bars, and almost every beach is worthy of appearing in a Caribbean paradise catalogue. It would be difficult to find a more relaxed setting, it was certainly the most relaxed that we have ever experienced.

We spent 5 days on Caye Caulker with most of our time spent making sure that we were going as slowly as possible at all times. On one day we enjoyed a fantastic snorkelling trip at the barrier reef where we saw moray eels, lobsters, barracudas and countless other tropical fish. We also stopped at one place where our guide lured a host of stingrays and nurse sharks close to the boat and then instructed us to jump in and swim with them. It was quite unnerving at first but the cretins were all very friendly and we were soon stroking them and picking them up after finally being convinced that they weren't interested in Saffer meat. Apart from snorkelling, we rented bicycles and cycled around the island which didn't take very long, so we returned the bikes and slowed down again. We also rented a fishing rod but sadly failed to land any beasts even though we could clearly see a big tarpon take our bait on two occasions. Novices.

That's pretty much that. We enjoyed a brilliant few days relaxing in paradise and would have loved to have had more time to explore the rest of what Belize has to offer, but unfortunately the clock was ticking and it was time to move on. Next up, Mexico, our final destination...
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