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Published: December 9th 2015
Sunset from the roof of the hotel
We got an ADO bus from Tulum to Chetumal. The journey took just over three hours, with very similar scenery (mostly trees, with the odd pineapple stand and a couple of small towns) with a bizarre selection of films on the bus. Sadly not Paddington this time, which we watched in Spanish on the journey from Playa to Tulum!
Chetumal was a fairly sizeable place, but we only had to walk a few blocks from the shiny bus station to the market to catch our next bus. The buses to Belize are old US school buses that have been colourfully painted and a luggage rack hung inside. We managed to pay in Mexican pesos ($150 each) although for anyone reading this and planning the same trip, we realised as the bus pulled out that there was a little window changing money the other side of the bus stand and it seemed to be cheaper in Belizean currency. The bus was packed with people and luggage (mostly things bought at the market, including a lot of crisps, some bedding and a giant piñata!) and really quite warm, except for when going at speed with the windows all open!
Sunrise - waiting for the boat to San Pedro
It took about an hour to cross the border. Leaving Mexico was relatively straightforward, although we had to pay the departure tax and as two of the four non-Belizeans on the bus, we held everyone else up whilst the border guard sorted everything. We then drove quite a long way through the 'free zone' which has a lot of big shops to the Belize entry point. There foreigners have to queue to get a form, then fill it in, then queue again to hand it in and get your passport stamped... I can think of an easy way to improve their system... Anyway, the queueing gave us time to watch the other people going through with various odd-shaped packages, including a Mennonite family in their traditional dress. We thought we were holding everyone else on the bus up again, only to discover that we passed easily through customs and some of them we're having to unwrap their parcels!
Back on the very warm bus, it was a fairly short drive to Corozal. We got off the bus in the little bus station and walked through the centre of town to our hotel. The main square was decorated for Christmas. Palm trees look quite strange with Christmas lights! The hotel (the Mirador) was very close to the pier for the Thunderbolt ferry which we caught this morning, and had a roof terrace with a view, but little else going for it...
We explored the small town before sunset - there are a remarkable number of Chinese shops and restaurants. We ate dinner in Patty's bistro - very nice fish and chips in the local style, washed down with the local Belikin beer.
This morning we were up early (although it didn't feel too bad as there is an hour's diffence between Quintana Roo and Belize), to the very noisy sound of the dawn chorus. Our boat left for San Pedro at 7 am, and we got to the pier in good time. There was a nice looking speedboat docked, and another open boat... It turned out that the posh boat wasn't being used (apparently one of the motors was broken), and we, a few other tourists, lots of locals and lots of packages were loaded into the boat. It was a fairly bumpy 2 hour ride to San Pedro, but the weather was good, and surprisingly our hotel let us check in before 10am. More on San Pedro later, but for now let's just say I'n writing this from a hammock beside the beach!
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