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Published: December 31st 2010
so now we are in belize... all of a sudden EVERYTHING from taxis to milk has at least doubled in price! taxi drivers seem like extortionists to us! but we paid the $30belize to get from the border to a town called San Ignacio, a bit of a border town but with many other attractions close by, worth the visit! (the belize dollar is exactly 2 to the US dollar so we're about the same, just for those interested). We found a hostel called Bella's backpackers run by a woman called Natasha who's daughter is called Bella... hence the name! we arrived so early in the morning that we had time to get our bearings and then for a small fee Natasha and Bella and a few other young girls came with us to the monkey falls, some pretty little falls in the river that continue down hill in little pools you could swim in. Very pretty scenery and the water was lovely, though a bit cold up here in the hilly area of Belize. The local beer here is called Belikin and its not too bad, about $3.50belize a bottle at the supermarket, so its ok expenses wise too.
We cooked dinner and lunch and ate cereal at the hostel every day as the restaurants here are too expensive for our budget if we want to do attractions too.
Next day we decided to just have a chilled out day, we'd had 2 mornings in a row that we got up at 4am so we were ready for a sleep in.... 7am we woke up and couldnt sleep anymore!!!!! so we went for a walk about 25 mins away to the local mayan ruins, $10Bz to get in, took all of an hour to see it all, its pretty small, but one of the first mayan sites built in Belize, Cahal Pech its called. We kind of chilled all afternoon, hung out with the family of the hostel with their dog named Scar (he was a rescue dog, his ears have been cut off as the original owner who abused him was training him to be a fighter dog so they cut the ears off to stop the other dog being able to grab on...sad!) he's avery people friendly dog, loves to play, but he has to be chained up all the time as he does have the tendency
to start fights with dogs.
Next day we went on the best tour of the area, we got recommended that if we only have enough money for one tour (whichw as true for us) and wanted to see the best thing then do this... the ATM caves.... stands for Actun Tunichil Muknal not auto teller machine. Its an hour and a half drive on a rickety old school bus they picked us up in out to the hills and jungle, then a half hour hike on a trail to the cave entrance crossing the river 3 times on the way... so our shoes get wet and we wore swimmers the whole time, the price included a nice lunch which was good. we did the evening tour, so arrived at around 1.30 before heading into the caves. The opening is pretty big and the river runs out of the cave so to get in we have to swim into it. then following our guide, Martín into the cave we continued into the dark areas (we all have helmets and headlamps on). It was pretty sweet! climbing up and down and through small areas and sometimes having to swim or wade through
the river, all the while looking up at the bats and the amazing stalagmite and stalagtite formations and crystals that sparkled like diamonds in the stones.
We saw ancient maya pottery that had been left in the cave as offerings hundreds, and even over a thousand years ago, and the bones of mayan sacrficies, the best of which is the body of a young woman that had been laid to rest high up in the cave in a dancing position, her bones are still in the same position, but most of the bones are now crystalline or taken over by rock formations that look a bit fluffy, there is one tiny bit of her real bone that is still exposed. but she looks amazing!
We emerged in the evening, saw fireflies and lots of bats flying out, but not much else. Our guide told us that a few months ago they saw a boa constrictor and a puma within a few nights of each other on the hike back to the bus but we weren´t so lucky 😞
Next morning we got up and took the chicken bus to Belize City, we had the luck to catch an express, it
costs about 1.50 more but it saves an hour or more, plus we were lucky because it wasnt that crowded! all the ones we've seen previously were packed full.
Belize city is pretty chaotic and full of beggers mixed in with super rich people. We couldnt believe how expensive things like biscuits were in the supermarket, more than we would pay in australia for the same thing. We had 2 hours to explore the place because the next ferry taxi heading to caye caulker didnt leave till 1.30pm. The place was choc full of people, mostly american tourists when we returned to the terminal, there was a bit of chaos when the boats arrived, they stack all the luggage on one boat that goes to caulker and to another island called san pedro, a much ritzier place to visit apparently, so everyone heading to san pedro got on first as its the last stop, then they filled the rest of that boat with caulker people. Then a smaller second boat picked up the remainder, but we were lucky, there wasnt enough room for everyone, we got some of the last seats on the second boat and they dont have room
for standing passangers, so some tourists had to wait till the 4.30 one! the ride out was uncomfy and took about 45 mins. we got there and out hostel was literally about 30m from the end of the jetty, little place called Yuma's guesthouse, we prebooked it and a good thing too, the gate and many other places we saw later said 'no vacancy'. Plus we had found out from other travellers a few weeks earlier that about 200 or more americans were coming here for a wedding on NYE, so we were lucky to already have a place booked.
The island isnt huge, but its got a great vibe, all hotels, bars, restaurants lining the streets and there are many mini supermarkets too. everything is slightly more pricey than on the mainland which sucks. We checked out some tours and booked with a company called ezy-boys tours, we'll see how they are tomorrow, its a snorkelling tour. Dario managed to find people playing football and disappeared for 2 hours this afternoon (30th dec). For dinner we had a set menu place in mind, $25belize each for: seafood bisque entree (delicious), choice of a few mains, but we had one
skeleton of young woman
this was preserved in the upper reaches of the cave, the archeologists think that she was a sacrifice to thank the gods for water as she was placed in a dancing pose.
serve of fresh lobster and one of shrimp (amazing!), oreo cake dessert and 3 rum punches come with the meal, really good food and good deal!
We're gonna kick back with a Belikin on the beachfront and watch the stars, so till later, adios.
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