Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Caye

OMG blog. If only the internet wasn't so expensive in Caye Caulker I would have updated you long ago. And more frequently.

After heading out of Tulum we ended up in Chetumal, a large Mexican city tourists mainly use just to pass through to the border of Belize. We arrived after dark, and promptly got lost as our taxi driver had no idea where our hostel was, even when we showed him on our map. Passing a group of missionaries, we bailed on the taxi, hoping to prey upon the helpful natures of these Mormon brethren. Alas, they could not let us curl up in the primary room, nor did they have any other bright ideas. So, having spent our taxi money already, we decided to walk. We periodically stopped to check in with locals that we were headed in the right direction, as there weren't any street signs to be found ANYWHERE. And no one knew where anything was. Literally. Not the hostel, not the street it was on, they couldn't even agree as to what the street's name that we were all ON. After at least 20 minutes of very muggy trekking with all our belongings, in the dark, in a questionable part of town, we asked a cop. He was confident that we would have another 20 minutes to go, at least, so we needed to get a taxi. We were SO LUCKY that the next taxi knew where our street was, and it was a block away. Success! And this hostel had a bunch of fun travelers in it chatting on the porch. Our walk had tuckered me right out though, so I left Sarah to be the sociable one.

On to Belize! We traveled with 5 other backpackers from Chetumal to Belize City, and then took the water taxi to the island of Caye Caulker. And let the backpacking bonding commence. We hung out with these five people for the next few days, and it was like having a wee family.

Eddie: 41, pretty socially awkward, occasionally crossing the line into inappropriate ("You should go to China, they'd love you there. Why? Because you are white and have big boobs. You'd have a rich Chinese husband in no time.") Completely well-meaning, and VERY well-traveled.

Matty: 26, Australian, tattooed extreme sports enthusiast. Spearfisher, amongst other skills. I believe he is THE funniest guy I have ever met. Fantastic comedic timing, and so friendly. Great addition to any gathering.

Celine: 24, Canadian, Matty's girlfriend, easy-going, sweet and has traveled a TON.

Eva: 20, from Holland, young but comes off so mature and on top of things, theatre person, total delight to be around. We're going to meet back up with her in Antigua.

Christa: 38, Minneapolis, traveling solo after her daughter graduated high school.

We hung out together during the day, and ate our breakfast and dinners together. We were so sad when the group broke up.

When we arrived at Caye Caulker, we planned 2 days there. And that was being generous, just because we felt we'd been on the go and had plenty of time for the small country of Belize. But as soon as we walked down the main street of this tiny island we knew we'd be there for at least 3 days. And, as it turned out, we decided to go back to school there-- for our Scuba Diving Certificate. We'd planned on going on at least one dive on this trip, but options are kind of limited when you don't have your certificate. Going for the Open Water Course would get us 6 dives, and far better opportunities for diving for the rest of our lives. So we committed to Caye Caulker for a week, since the class didn't start until Friday, which wasn't a problem for us at all. So here we are, bona fide scuba divers. It was fantastic. Caye Caulker is super chill, incredibly friendly (I mean really, by the time we left we were friends with so many islanders, these Belizians may be the friendliest people I've ever met), and it is gorgeous. Aqua waters, palm trees and coconuts, white sands, colorful buildings. There's one main street in town, you can walk it in 10 minutes. There's a fantastic hostel (which everyone in the group but us stayed at-- we opted for cheaper), called Tina's. Great ambiance. We hung our hammocks at Bella's, which is also lovely, though located next to the town brothel, with better kitchens, and we paid $4 a night-- pretty amazing for Belize, which is kind of expensive for Central America.

We met so many people during our week in Belize! Backpackers kept coming into Tina's and then Bella's and we hung out with fellow travelers every night, talking of the world and where we were going and coming from. After our core group broke up we hung out with a few European boys (Kriss, Pete, Tibor) who ended up in our hostel, add a couple of Scots (Ellie and Adam) and Frenchmen (David and Well) the last couple of days. And that's not including the locals yet! If you don't know Sarah, she loves getting to know the boys on the street. And there were plenty of boys on the street to get to know. We kept wondering where all the women were on this island because there was such an abundance of single men bumming around.

We, and all the locals, walked everywhere barefoot. Grocery shopping barefoot: delightful. One of the island dogs also adopted us, we named him Sherwin. I felt bad abandoning him today on the dock, but someone's been feeding him, so I'm sure he'll be alright.

So we just had a really lovely, chill week. Everyone on the island embraces Island attitude-- don't worry, be happy. No stress, running on island time. We had so much conversation, I read a book (Like Water for Chocolate), journaling, swimming, sunning, arguing, drinking, peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Some weird things happened too, but we just put it down to the name of the game when it comes to adventuring. We even ran into Adam from Cancun-- small world!

Scuba diving is beautiful, I recommend it to one and all. So peaceful, and beyond imagination. We were a big fan of our teacher, Hillary. It was cool to here her switching to Creole too-- she doesn't look the type.

I was sad to leave Caye Caulker today. It's a place Sarah and I both agree we could return to. A week sounds like such a long time to be in one place, and it kind of felt like it. We did a lot in our time there, and kind of turned into morning people, and as previously mentioned had an all-around great time, but i definitely had the itch to move on after a few days.

I am going to try hard to write more. So much has happened that I just don't have the time to write down now. Mostly just conversations or interactions, or arguments, but i would like to have a record of everything, not just posting where in the world we are. I'll do my best.

We are in San Ignacio tonight, and then on to Guatemala and Tikal, more ruins, tomorrow. I visited the ruins in town here today, I liked them because they're not groomed, things are growing all over and you can climb everything. In the jungle, really peaceful. Inland Belize is verdant. Rain forests. Beautiful (I know, i need to come up with another word already). I hope everything I see my eyes drink in, and it remains a part of me forever, because i've seen so much beauty in these two weeks of adventure.


Rebecca said...

That sounds so great! And I love that you were next-door to the brothel - that's just a great detail for stories.

Debbie said...

Laura thank you for writing; it's enjoyable to read about both you and to you both.

Sven said...

Sounds awesome. Go you.

Unknown said...

Hey!! It's Blake and Mo from NYC. Love reading your adventures. Wish we were soaking in the beauty as well. Blake wants to know if you've met any gays on your walkabout. LOL! We miss you! HUGE HUGS!