From Baja to the Land of Fire #4: Caye Caulker, Belize

4: Caye Caulker, Belize

Playa del Carmen – Tulum – Caye Caulker

29 Nov 2001

Like I promised in my previous entry, I have slowed down and there is much less to tell. While I am looking out over the Caribbean Sea from Hurricane, one of the beachfront cafe’s on Caye Caulker, I try to remember what I have done.

After settling in at the El Mirador caba�as, next door to the Mayan ruins on the beach at Tulum I met Helge and Stephan again. I am glad they were there, because I fell sick with a headache, muscle ache, fever and many trips to the bathroom. It was good to have someone check up on you every now and then. It is when you are feeling the worst at times like this, when you are thinking, “What the hell is so much fun about traveling?” I got over this quickly though.

As I was feeling sick, lying sometimes on the beach overlooking the turquoise water, I finally finished the first book during my trip, 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The story had a strong impact on me, and lying in my hammock at night I longed for the voice of Leonard Cohen to ease my heart, as it had all summer.

I stayed in the thatched roof caba�a for four days, until I was fit to travel again. By the way, being sick does have a wonderful effect on my budget: I didn’t eat or do anything which cost money for two whole days.

On the last day the three of us visited the Mayan ruins next door. After this Helge and Stephan left for San Ignacio, Belize. The next day I traveled via Chetumal to Caye Caulker in Belize. At the bus station in Chetumal I met up with Guy, a Brit/Aussie, just starting out on a six-week trip from Cancun to Costa Rica. On Caye Caulker we took a room together at Daisy’s Hostel and made plans for the coming days. There is really no other reason to come to the island except for snorkeling and diving. While eating somewhere on the beach I met Helge and Stephan; they had changed their plans again.

The first day we went on a snorkeling trip to Chol Han, Shark Alley and San Pedro on Caye Ambergris. This was great – I saw and swam with my first (nurse) sharks and eagle rays (you know, those graceful flat, round fish with a long, and poisonous, tail).

On the boat we met Kim and Manfred, a nice and relaxed Dutch couple from Arnhem. That evening the four of us joined up with our captain, Carlos, for diner. He has a great passion for the reef, and after feeling we reacted well to his eco-preaching, he went full out telling us things of interest. I ate my first lobster here at USD$10 per piece.

On the second day we went on a diving trip to Turneffe reef. After a very wild, hour-ride across the Caribbean Sea in a high-powered speed boat, captained by calm Tico, we arrived and went on three dives. Very nice but nothing spectacular.

Today, the last day, Guy and I just relaxed. Tomorrow we will be heading to Tikal, Guatemala and after that Rio Dulce/Livingstone. I had to leave my original plans to go to Placencia, Belize, since I found out the town has been hit hard by Hurricane Iris last month and you can’t visit at the moment. Belize is a strange interlude between Mexico and Central America. Everyone speaks Caribbean English and most people are black. There is a strong laid-back atmosphere.

It has been four weeks since I started, and slowly the new impressions are pushing away the last ones from home. It feels more and more like floating in a continuous present time period, a state of mind I am actually yearning for. More and more I am involved with planning the coming days instead of the things I left behind at home.

I feel like tomorrow I will really be starting to travel, since Guatemala is completely unknown to me, unlike Mexico. I am looking forward to this; other travelers say Guatemala is great, naming both the Mayan people and nature. I will be spending more days here after gaining some days in Belize.

I am surprised I have not met many other long-term travelers (on the road longer than three months). Many are just traveling a couple of weeks on the Maya trail (Yucatan, Chiapas, Belize and Guatemala). In Asia everyone seems to be traveling long term. Maybe I’ll meet some later, in much less traveled Honduras.