Weekend of Paradise
Caye Caulker Travel Blog› entry 4 of 14 › view all entries
Fri 24 Oct 2008
Tanya and I decided to go to Caye Caulker for the weekend. Mostly everyone was against the idea due to the flooding. Getting to
At half past one, Tanya and I packed up and had sufficiently convinced Carmita that we’d be alright and safe. After my first trip to the bank and a stop at the china store, Tanya and I caught the 2pm bus to
Our taxi driver drove us to the San Pedro Express Ferry for $7BZ. 2 round trip tickets to Caye Caulker were $44BZ, cheaper than the other Caye Caulker ferry across the way, which is $50 round trip. Tanya found out that this business has been running only 3 months while the other one has been running for more than 10 years. We were glad our taxi driver sent us to the cheaper one, otherwise we would have never known the difference.
The small speedboat we boarded carried a handful of other passengers. Most notable were two guys who were backpackers like Tanya and I, and also had with them 2 mountain bikes. As daylight diminished, we began a conversation with the two guys who were sitting across from us.
Justin and Tim are two childhood friends from
It wasn’t yet 6:30 as we arrived at Caye Caulker. We all decided to get budget accommodation and went in search of Tina’s Hostel which happened to be right off the pier. Lucky, since we could barely see five feet in front of us as it was already so dark out. The four of us booked a room together for a measely $15BZ/night each.
I love hostel living. We hung out with 4 crazy British guys who were quite entertaining. I also chatted with 4 Germans about politics, religion, school, life, careers, and travel. Little John was so sarcastic he was almost difficult to keep up with. In all my travel experience I haven’t met a German I didn’t like. The language barrier isn’t much of a problem, but it always gives us something to laugh about. After a long, crazy night, we retreated to our rooms and kept the conversation and fun rolling.
Sat 25 Oct 2008
As morning broke, I didn’t want to waste any time lounging in bed. I enjoyed my first warm shower in 3 weeks. (Apparently we DO have warm water in San Ignacio �" as I just found out from Tanya. When we arrived, Miss Nellie showed us what supposedly was the warmest it could get and I never thought otherwise. If the water isn’t on full blast, a warm shower CAN be experienced. Yes, I’ve been a fool). Then, happily barefoot, I began my exploration of the island.
Front Street has many shops and restaurants to satisfy both tourists and locals. The grocery stores are small and run by Asians, just like in San Ignacio. Restaurants advertise everything from scrambled eggs to fresh lobster on outdoor chalkboards. Taxi drivers in golf carts (no cars here) fervently asked me if I needed a ride. Most travel is barefoot, either walking or on bike. The island is so narrow that the east coast and west coast could be viewed from the middle of the island. The
From studying guidebooks and maps I knew the layout of my location. Caye Caulker is made up of two islands. Only the southern island is inhabited. The two pieces of land are divided by a narrow strait called “The Split” Most of the touristy places are on the northeastern end of the southern island. There are three main roads, locally known from east to west as
Since Tanya and I had walked north along
By the time I came back, the British guys had found a kayaking deal for the 8 of us. Two of the guys were fitted with single kayaks. The rest of us paddled in doubles. We paddled in a counter-clockwise direction, per the recommendation of the kayak owner. Our first encounter was the
About midway through we hitched up kayaks up to a dock and took a break. Not one for relaxing, I jumped in the water and swam around, looking for sea creatures. To my amazement, there wasn’t much to see in the murky water besides sea grass. In disbelief, I continued swimming around, leaving Tanya alone with the 6 guys. Most areas were shallow enough to stand in (chest high) and on my way back to the pack, I chose to walk. While the others were refreshed from their relaxing break, I was beginning to slow down from tiring myself out.
We continued our paddling, unable to find the crocodile, sea horses and other animals we had been told we may encounter. We soaked in the sun and bobbed through the water in intervals of aggressive paddling and relaxing breaks. Around the southern edge, I was itching to get back in the water. I slipped in, leaving Justin to man the boat alone. I bounced around on the sea grass for awhile until I stepped on something sharp and decided to hop back onto the kayak. At one point Tanya tipped Tom’s kayak over and paddled off with Tim. As we finished our ride, we limboed under several piers instead of paddling around them. It was funny seeing Tanya shriek with a foot of clearance, while Tim behind her escaped by barely a smidge. The paddling was quite a workout and we all looked forward to a relaxing afternoon.
On our way back to the hostel, the boys picked up a phenomenal BBQ from one of the street vendors. Tanya and I searched for $5 shrimp kabobs and picked up a free golf cart ride on the way. The shrimp kabob vendor was an expatriate from the
After a delicious mini-lunch, Tanya and I went for a swim in The Split. We came across a restaurant/bar, a diving board, seasoned locals, and international travelers. In the water I met Patrick, a half-Irish, half-Belizean island boy, who works as a tour guide for the noteworthy Raggamuffin Tours. I learned his story, finding out that his mother lives in
Earlier, Tanya had gone back to the hostel so when I left The Strip, I accompanied Patrick and his friend/coworker Dice (Nicholas) to Patrick’s home. Along the way we stopped by a few local fisherman who were hacking away at the day’s catch. I watched in excitement as the lobsters were beheaded and thrown into buckets. The fisherman at the end of the pier had the job of extracting a long inedible strip inside the lobster tails. We collected 6 tails and I carried them in my sandy skirt to Patrick’s home.
Patrick’s home has only 2 rooms: a makeshift kitchen and his bedroom. A colorful hammock is strung up across the room. Despite the small quarters, Patrick does have a few small luxuries including cable TV. On a bookshelf sits a few photos of his 10-month old son who lives in
Tanya and I went to Patrick’s place and met a few more of his friends. The aroma from the kitchen was almost too much to handle. When Patrick was done cooking, we gorged out on the most satisfying cuisine we could have hoped for. The lobster tails had been cooked in a non-spicy Creole sauce with coconut milk and cabbage. On the side, we had white rice. Unsurprisingly, I went back for seconds. After hanging out some more, I made plans to catch back up with Patrick and his friends at the karaoke bar.
Back at the ranch, everyone was pretty much heading to bed already. I was hoping Tanya, Justin and Tim still wanted to go out for karaoke, but they were all winding down. Not wanting to go out alone with the locals, I decided to hold back for the night. Justin and I sat alone outside reminiscing about the day when Patrick and his friend showed up. We weren’t supposed to encourage locals to be on Tina’s property. Tina’s biggest dog began barking up a storm, somehow knowing immediately that they were locals and not backpackers. He jumped on the picnic table and furiously barked at the two Belizeans. The manager came out and demanded that Patrick and his friend leave, but they wouldn’t. Patrick tried to coerce me to hang out with him, but I respectfully declined. The manager crossed his arms and held his ground, even though he was quite smaller than both of the island boys. The heated situation had Justin and me wide-eyed and frozen. Eventually, Patrick and his friend left as the manager and dog glared at their dark figures disappearing into the night.
Sun 26 Oct 2008
On Sunday, Tanya and I decided to forego snorkeling since there wasn’t enough time, and decided to relax, photograph and swim. Justin, Tim and I went out for a hot breakfast, and were incredibly satisfied. I had a papaya smoothie and grilled cheese and pineapple sandwich. Yummmy. The majority of the day, I focused on photographing. I was so absorbed in it, that I skipped swimming and lunch. I traveled through the mini-reserve which was teeming with mosquitoes, hermit crabs and geckoes. I also walked through the small cemetery. Caye Caulker is a barefooter’s paradise �" everywhere except for one place �" the cemetery. (Not that anyone needs the strange advice of not walking around the cemetery without shoes.) There were burrs (Belizean: bur burrs) everywhere and I couldn’t manage to dodge them. My fascination with the cemetery though shouldn’t be that surprising. The graves are above ground and create an interesting look. Surprisingly, there was one Jewish grave, which was painted in vivid colors. At 4pm, I managed to get a scoop of coconut ice cream, which was delicious, although not quite as good as the Belizean Fudge.
With only an hour left on the island, I was nearly panicking at the shortage of time. There was so much left that I wanted to do. I began speed walking and was told be several locals to slow down. Yes, I knew that it was custom to walk at a relaxing pace, but little did they know I wanted to cram as much in my last hour as I could! I said goodbye to Patrick and his friends and couldn’t manage to grab a real lunch/dinner or go for another swim. Instead I packed up and spent my last minutes watching the boys fish off the pier. My final excitement on Caye Caulker was witnessing Justin reel in a deadly stingray. Yes, we had been swimming in those waters! After some heartfelt goodbyes to the boys on the pier, Tanya and I boarded the boat back to
Mon 27 Oct 2008
Monday wasn’t the best of days. Of course, I wished I was still on the island. I have more bites on me than I realized. I’ve tried every method I know to stop the itching: Anti-itch gel, spit, ice, rubbing alcohol, drawing Xs with my nails, Burt’s Bees lip balm, a cold shower, distraction �" to no avail. When one spot doesn’t itch on my body, somewhere else does �" and usually it’s like five other places simultaneously. The worse problem areas: my upper arms, lower legs, feet and ankles. Falling asleep and concentrating on work is difficult. On top of that something disagreed with my digestive system. I counted all the abnormal bumps on my skin caused by mosquitoes, sandflies, and whatever other critters are out there. The final count: 198. I’m still taking suggestions of anti-itch methods.