Published: May 9th 2008
May 9th 2008
After such a hectic boat ride to Belize, the contrast couldn´t have been any bigger. Total peace and quiet!! We arrived in Punto Gordo, a little sleepy town in Southern Belize. It gave us the giggles how relaxed everybody was, especially when the only worry for the guy at customs was, if Mark had any ´profane´ material with him, (it took him a while to understand that it was X rated magazines he was enquiring about).
Once walking out of the immigration "shack" locals were sitting at the side of the street, welcoming and stating how happy they were that we came to Belize, like long lost friends. In the beginning admittantly a little bit intimidating. Those cool, relaxed looking guys, always ready with an answer (making you feel like a proper geek!) and chatting their lives away.... not a worry in the world! It was clear, we were no longer just in Central America, but crossed over to The Caribbean.
Whilst travelling here you have to learn to go with the flow. Every friendly local will tell you that the bus / boat will show up... (this resulted in us waiting for a boat for over three hours, whilst
growing roots next to the guys on the pavement), or they decide to cancel a bus just because there are not enough passengers, but hey...no worries, another one will come along!! But especially Mark managed to ease into it and was even greeted with the word, ´Rasta!!´ whilst performing the local handshake.
We met some great characters on the way and although maybe not the best practise for our spanish, it was a nice feeling being able to chat for an hour to a friendly hostal owner in this English speaking country ( he actually proceded to recall his life story explaining in detail the policies he´d successfully implemented whilst being in government office as the local MP)
We made one mistake whilst travelling up north, and that was forgetting about Easter. This meant that absolutely everything was closed, but for some reason all hotels were booked solid. The village we stayed on Good Friday, Dangriga, was like a ghost town and we ended up staying in the most horrible guesthous to date. The room was more wooden rabbit hutch than hotel ( akin to a hut you may find at the beach in Teignmouth or Scheveningen) the fan
didn´t seem to do anything, the smell was quite amazing, the bed was made of bulging metal springs with a lose coating of nylon and foam and I sware our pillows were made up of balled up dead mice... Luckily we met an English couple, whilst figuring out where we could find something to eat ( by this time we were close to low blood sugar induced comas). And you can always count on the English to know where to get some booze.... in the end we had the best sleep ever (thank god for alcohol).
Our plan of going to Tobacco caye, a tiny little Island of the coast, the next day also didn´t happen as all the hotels on the Island were occupied. After ringing around a couple of other places in Belize, we found a room in Caye Caulker, an Island of the north coast of Belize, and jumped in the next bus, haviong first witnessed the near mental breakdown of the bus station supervisor who had lost complete control of this normal sedate village during the Easter ´rush´
We spent three days on the Island and, as this was one of our main goals in Belize,
I want to take him home!!
did a day of diving.
For the both of us it was a year ago we did some diving and although I specifically asked for a refresher course, this didn´t seem to be an option. And although we loved the no worries, enjoy life culture, whilst being securely on the ground, this was absolutely not relaxing whilst getting into our diving again. Our dive master didn´t seem to have any understanding of stress, did a very small briefing... threw us off the sides of a tiny motor boat and started our dive with the words: ´Let´s blow some bubbles!!!´
After a slight panic attack from my side, it all soon came back to us and by the second dive we realised again how much we love being under the water. The dive site was unfortunately a bit disappointing and apart from some small fish and an old steering wheel there wasn´t much to see. The snorkeling between the two dives made more of an impression as there was a group of about 20 big sting rays passing us by and we were accompanied by a curious barracuda of no small size.
After experiencing a slightly sober underwater world in
Belize and taking the high prices into account, we decided to wait untill the Bay Islands in Honduras to continue regained passion.
To get there we travelled down the coast to Placencia, where we could catch a ferry to Honduras. On our way down we took a slight detour to Tobacco Caye, to spend two days on this beautiful palm lined little Island and by small I mean the size of 2 football pitches. Honduras
The ferry to Honduras took in total about 4 hours, but this was mainly because we were sitting on the boat for two hours waiting for an immigration officer to give us our exit stamp.
After a full day of travelling, having to spend the night in La Ceiba and taking the ferry across, we arrived in Utila (one of the Bay Islands).
As soon as our feet hit shore, we were overrun by dive centres trying to sell there courses. We ended up signing up for our advanced course. Mainly because we also got a couple of nights free accommodation when joining a course and uptill now we have still been restricted in some of our dives as without this course we
In our hostal in Utila
were not allowed to dive deeper then 18 metres.
The course was good fun and, as we also repeated several subjects from the open water course, I managed to get my refresher after all. In total we stayed a week on Utila and did a total of 10 dives, got our clearance to go down to 30 metres, dived a couple of wrecks, saw some amazing groups of fish and were pleasantly surprised by a big sea turtle... Again, the dive site and the state of the coral wasn´t great, but for us it was a fanastic week and we gained the realization we were slowly getting hooked!
As we were running a little bit out of time in Central America, we decided to travel down to Nicaragua. We only made one other stop in Honduras. We went to the Jungle lodge, close to La Ceiba to do some white water rafting. The journey there was fantastic, as we managed to hitch a ride in the back of a pickup with a couple of very friendly locals. It was the most beautiful ride, following the river through this jungle road! Luckily we saw the the little sign for the
Getting ready to dive in!
jungle lodge just in time and after we hopped off and thanked our drivers we were left at this basic lodge in the most amazing location. Right next to the river, with natural pools in front and with the jungle all around you it´s a perfect place to get away from it all. And to have some serious fun!!! Although we weren´t there at the best time of the year (dry season, so the river was very low) The half day rafting was very entertaining. After having us jumping from several rocks and getting us to swim through some rapids, we spent about two hours rafting down on the river. During one stop they made us float (without the raft) through a rapid, which for me quite unexpectedly, sucked us down under the water for what seemed to take forever. It´s amazing to feel how strong the water was and all I could do was just patiently wait and hope I would be brought back to the surface. It was a great relief to see our guide throwing the rope to pull me out. All I could hear was him screaming at me:´yahooo, you´re one of us now´!
The masks we bought in Guatemala
James and Toby, Do you recognize who this is?
Where do we always seem to get these guides from?!!.
There are more photos below