Published: April 11th 2012April 10th 2012
Chetumal, Mexico. This was to be the first of many times Hannah and I would arrive in a town with no-where to stay. At the bus terminal, I asked the nearest backpackers if they knew of a decent hotel/hostel. They gave us the name Maria Dolores. We took a taxi there and got ourselves a room - no air con, but a lovely clean (avocado!) bathroom, a tv and generous sized beds. We spent our evening planning the next part of our adventure with the help of the guidebook and Hannah's laptop. I had the inspired thought, that instead of killing time with Hannah in Honduras over the next two weeks, we could see if we could arrive on Utila early. Hannah thought it was a great idea - instead of the project, she could come to Utila and learn to dive, and we'd get to hang out with some of the people from Merida. I emailed the project co-ordinator (not Original Volunteers - they're a bit useless) and in the morning we got the good news that we could come early. Hannah and I did a little happy dance to celebrate.
That morning, Friday, we had our breakfast and lunch in the restaurant next to the hotel (Cesar salad...without the dressing?!) before catching a taxi to the ferry terminal. We did the necessaries at Customs and bought our tickets to San Pedro, on the Belizian isle of Ambergis Caye. We had to stop there to continuing to Caye Caulker so we thought we might as well spend a few nights there. Anyway, guess who we bumped into at the ferry terminal? The boys from Playa...following us round Mexico, it seems! They were off to Caye Caulker though, and on a separate boat, so this time it was goodbye for good.
On arrival, I left Hannah by the ferry terminal and went off in search of accommodation. It had completely passed us by that it was Easter weekend, and, as a consequence, all of the hostels and hotels were full. The only room left on the whole island was a suite big enough for 6 (a double, two single beds and a sofa bed) because the hotel had had a cancellation due to some guys missing a ferry or something. They wanted us out of the place by 7 in the morning so they could clean in time for their arrival, and it was a bit out of our price range - £30 a night each, but we reluctantly said yes, since the alternative was camping on the beach.
We showered and headed out again, for tea and to see if we could find another place to stay for the night after.
San Pedro is beautiful. There are just 3 streets and the roads are narrow. All that is on the roads are tiny cars and golf carts. It has a tropical, carribbean feel to it. The houses are timber fronted cabins on stilts, ramshackle and sunbleached, and they wouldn't look out of place in Pirates of the Caribbean!
We found a pizzeria (at last! I'd been craving one for weeks!) and I bought a few slices and chatted to the American owner, who tried to find us a bed in a hostel he knew of but to no avail. Time for plan B. We would leave the Island the following day and head to Caye Caulker to stay there. Back at the hotel, we checked Hostelworld. No vacancies. Plan C then. Head straight to Belize city in the morning, and then head south to Dangriga or Hopkins. But we'd think about that in the morning - all we wanted now was a drink. We found a bar that had been recommended in the Lonely Planet - our bible. It was awesome inside, a high palm-thatched ceiling, a view of the sun setting into the sea between palm trees and a bar doing cocktails. From 8pm. It was 7. Easter had caught us out again.
So we went to look around some shops instead. I bought myself an orange top, nice and breezy but a little expensive at £17. Back at the bar we mixed our old favourite, a Mojito, with some new Belizian cocktails. Our barman was lovely and let us wait until the end of the night to pay. A guy with a guitar started up on stage - dreary pop-rock-ballads to start with but it soon turned into some reggae-pop, including a cover of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably numb'. Eventually he was joined by a band and they played some Weezer, before finishing with a cover of the Cures 'Just like a Dream'. One of my favourite songs, in a bar, in Paradise, cocktail in my hand. I didn't think my night could get much better, but then the DJ's started, playing the most fantastic cheesey 80's/90's pop that I love (Madonna, Queen, Michael Jackson, Vengaboys, Eiffel65?!) and we began dancing and singing rather enthusiastically. After chatting to a few Guatemalans we left, only to be stopped in the street by two middle aged Brits on our way home. 'Are you pair English?' they said. We'd seen them in the bar earlier. 'Yes...' we said. 'You're dancing is TERRIBLE!'. First and last time I get stopped in the street to be told I can't dance, I hope. We had been flailing around, singing our little hearts out, but that's the best way to do it isn't it? Like you mean it! We went back to our suites and set our alarms for our depressingly early start in paradise the next morning.
On Saturday we woke at 6 am and began packing and showering. Except...by ten to 7 I realised that the alarm which had woken me was still on Mexican time, making it just before 6. Hannah spent her bonus hour in the bath, and I used mine to nap, since I was already packed and ready to go. Nowere decent was open for breakfast, so we got a yogurt and fruit from the supermarket and returned to the hotel to use its wifi. We e-mailed a hostel in Dangriga, our next stop, south of Belize city to see if they could fit us in, and then got the ferry to Belize city.