- Mexico to Belize, via the Chicken Bus
- Slowing down, Caye Caulker island life
- ATM caves, a must-do adventure
Last October on my Mayan travels, the second country in the trip was Belize. At the end of a marathon journey by public transport we reached Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker is a tiny island, it is possible to walk North-South and East-West in a couple of hours. If so far the trip had been a light jog, with a few sprints, this was the rest stop. After this we would pick up the pace for the finish.
If you were going to design a rest stop, Caye Caulker would probably be the blueprint. In the absence of any police, the only code the locals seem to follow is the islands motto ‘Go Slow’.
Island Life Highlights
We had three days on the island, for many this was the highlight of the entire trip, for me it was too long for such a small place with little to do. That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable. We had great sunsets, with October weather really nice and chilling with a drink watching the sunset with some pelicans was new.
One of the main activities offered from Caye Caulker is a boat trip from the island to go snorkeling or diving. The group were all keen on a snorkeling excursion and this was the highlight of the time on Caye Caulker. There were two Intrepid groups on the island, our group was traveling south towards Guatemala the other party was coming north towards Mexico. Together we were enough people to hire out a sail boat. I’d enjoyed some snorkeling in Cartagena and I was looking forward to jumping in again.
We arrived at the boat in the morning and the crew informed us it would be a few more minutes and then it’d be ready to board. Apparently, the boat had experienced some engine trouble but ‘it’ll be all good in a few minutes!’. To the captain’s word it wasn’t long before we had set off. Before too long though the boat it was clear the boat was moving very slowly. There was little, to no wind, on the ocean so the engine was crucial if we didn’t want to take the island motto to the extreme. Soon the owner arrived, left and then returned with an engineer. As the engineer worked on the problem the crew attached the owners small speed boat to the main sail. This finally provided some momentum and we made headway.
The snorkeling itself led to some dodgy sunburn all round, but ended on a high. As we drew up to the final spot, revving the engine brought a school of nurse sharks to the boat. The sharks associate the noise of the engine with food (though this company does not feed the sharks, others do which has trained them to the noise and vibrations). Once in the water we spotted a sea turtle, a second first in marine life for the day.
Caye Caulker’s Other Side
The rest of the time on the island was a chance for partying for most of the group. This is perhaps my only real criticism of the tour. I was there for the exposure to different cultures and adventure, others appeared more interested in partying every night.
On balance though, for many people their journeys had lasted much longer than mine and the time on this English speaking island was the chance to recharge and decompress.
An unusual and actually unpleasant element of the island was the smell. Sargassum seaweed has invaded swathes of the island and fair to say is not about to inspire a perfume range.
The day before departure, majority ruled to take the last possible ferry off the island. Not a unanimous decision, nor my first choice . When we docked back in Belize City the itinerary had us on another chicken bus for the next leg. However it’s fair to say this was not viewed as an appealing option by anyone. Instead we decided to pay a small excess to take a minivan. Enough slow. Next stop, San Ignacio – including one of my favourite activities on the trip.