From Guatemala we travelled to Belize City and onwards to Caye Caulker.
How can we describe Caye Caulker... Heaven. It's small, it's quiet, and there's not much to do other than lay in the sun, snorkel, eat jerk chicken, cheap seafood and drink rum... Like I said, heaven.
When we arrived via ferry we went for a stroll along the main (and basically only) strip to see if we could find accommodation. A man on a bike came by and told us "he knew a place". Being new to travelling and sceptical of EVERYONE we weren't sure whether to follow him, but after a little bit of conversation we let him lead us to Jeremiah's Inn. Here we hired a room for one night just to see what it was like.
Once we'd paid for our accommodation we dumped our belongings, chucked on our swimmers and went for an explore. We walked to the north end of the island to the Split, a deep fast flowing channel caused via a huge storm many years ago that cut the previous island in two. On the split was a colourful bar called Lazy Lizards that served cheap rum and tasty frozen strawberry daiquiris.
On day 2 of island life woke up for THE FIRST TME of our entire trip without an alarm. We strolled to the split for a swim and an explore and on our way back to our room we came across our hostels owner who had just returned from collecting his lobster traps. He had caught heaps! We bought a whole lobster each from him for $5AUD and grilled them on the wood fire bbq made from an old drum at the back of our hostel. Delicious!
On our 5th day on Caye Caulker we went on a snorkel tour for $100 Belize Dollars (~$50AUD) which was EXPENSIVE comparatively to the rest of our activities thus far on the trip. On the tour we visited coral gardens, shark & ray alley and Hol Chan Marine reserve. All of which were beautiful and lots of fun. We had some amazing snorkelling. We saw huge grouper, tarpon, and plenty of sea turtles and moray eels. We also saw some beautiful coral formations including a very cool underwater tunnel swim through. The day included an endless supply of fresh fruit, a rice and chicken lunch as well as plenty of rum to drink on the boat trip back to the island.
We originally planned to stay only 2 nights, and ended up staying 5 (which was A LOT on our extremely tight time schedule) before embarking on an island hopping sail with Raggamuffin Tours to Placencia in the south of Belize.
Our Raggamuffin 3 day/2night sail begun in Caye Caulker and spent one night at Rendezvous Caye and one night at Tobacco Caye (both tiny islands south of Caye Caulker). Unfortunately the weather wasn't great during the sail however it didn't stop us having a great time with plenty of snorkelling, eating, drinking and spear fishing. Sean even caught a lobster! The night we spent on Rendezvous Caye was unlike anything we had even imagined. This tiny "island" was smaller than a football field and realistically wasn't much more than a sandbar with a dock and a few palm trees. We camped out under the stars on this tiny speck of land in the middle of the Caribbean.
Once we got to Placencia we planned our journey to Honduras. Did someone say 3 countries in one day?
We arrived at the island of Flores after our bus-boat-bus journey. It was nearing dusk and we stayed at the nearest accommodation we could find, Hotel Mirador de Lago. It was a place to rest our head before we set off bright and early (at 4am!!) to visit the Tikal ruins. And at 90 Quetzals (~$12AUD) we could almost overlook the close call Sean had with a dodgy electric shower head.
We set off on our tour to Tikal (cost 150 Quetzals, around $20AUD per person) at 4am in the hopes of seeing the sunrise from the top of Temple IV. However luckily for us our tour guide, Borris (a Guatemalan with an American accent due to teaching himself english from watching movies with subtitles) told us that it would be far too misty to see anything and it wasn't worth rushing for. So we set off to the other end of the national park to visit other parts of the ruins and within the hour had heard various disgruntled tourist complaining of exactly what Borris had predicted, a non-existent view of the sunrise due to the standard morning fog.
Tikal as a whole is hard to put into words. It was amazing. Despite the huge number of tourists that visit these ruins each day, the vast size of the place ensures you can still feel totally immersed and get lost exploring the ancient jungle city. How can you put into words the combination of visual, olfactory and auditory sensations you experiences as you stand atop Temple IV, 87m high, whilst howler monkeys screech in the sea of green trees below. Mind blowing.
Upon returning to Flores after our trip to Tikal, Sean and I went for a stroll around the island. Due to an EL Clásico football match being screened on television the entire island felt like it was in hibernation as it seemed every resident was glued to the closest screen. We stopped for a drink and soaked in the afternoon sun whilst listening to the bars owner yell GOAAAAAAAL at the television. It was great. Later that night we visited a local food market for a cheap and tasty dinner.
The next day we were off to Belize. I told you, our trip was rushed.
Our Central American 6 week journey began in Mexico City.
We landed at 11pm and had seriously overestimated the amount of English that would be spoken. Needless to say we were a little out of our comfort zone. Luckily we'd booked a transfer and hostel for the night through our travel agent (at a ridiculously expensive price we later realised) so we didn't have to fend for ourselves.. yet.
We awoke the next morning and set out for the bus station. After many broken conversations, mispronunciations and a series of buses we arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas. San Cristobal was a cute colonial town with beautiful colourful buildings and a groovy local market. We stayed at Planet Hostel, a standard hostel and at only 220 pesos for a double room (around $18AUD) we had nothing to complain about.
From Planet Hostel we booked a tour that would take us to the town of Palenque via Agua Azul, Misol Ha and the Palenque Ruins. The tour was a great way to get from A to B and all the stops were definitely worth visiting. See photos below.
The town of Palenque itself is nothing special as it is mostly a place to rest your head before or after visiting the ruins (which themselves are amazing!) depending on the time of day you arrive. Nether the less we stayed at Hostel Yaxkin for 200 pesos ($20AUD) and had a cute little room with a double bed and hammock out front.
From Palenque we booked a bus-boat-bus from one of the many local travel agencies in town to cross the border into Guatemala, and onward to Flores. The bus-boat-bus is exactly what it sounds like, catching a bus to the Mexican border, then catching a small boat an hour up and across a river, and then continuing on to Flores via some seriously dodgy roads on bus number two. We were a little nervous prior to leaving as we'd heard various rumours about buses being held up on the Mexican side, and passengers being assaulted and robbed at gunpoint on this road out of Palenque. However our journey went along without a hitch, and I'd definitely recommend it as a fairly hassle free border crossing to fellow travellers. During the journey our entrance and exit fees, and passport stamps were taken care of via the 'tour' leader, making it an easy and stress free option for crossing our first border. And at only 350 pesos (~$30 AUD) per person we weren't in a position to complain.
Next stop... Guatemala.
G'day I'm Bec
I'm an Aussie who loves travelling, hiking, trail running and pretty much any activity you can do outdoors.
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