Hasta luego, snorkel dude!

Caye Caulker Travel Blog

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Hasta luego, snorkel dude!

After four quiet days on Caye Caulker, Belize, running the same three main streets more times than a kindergartner can count; enjoying stew chicken, rice and beans, or lobster or snapper at a number of restaurants (the cheaper and superior eateries situated on the poorer backstreets); reverting to bad vacation habits and constructing meals of cakes alone, sampling plastic wrapped pieces of caramel and pineapple upside-down cake from every bikefront pastry-peddler; and reading through the oppressive afternoon heat, passing quiet nights on our hotel's pier with a few Belikin and a little mota, I was tanner and revitalized for travel.

Jackson, the displaced sea-creature that he is, decided around midnight our last prepaid night on Caye Caulker, a number of stiff rum and cokes deep, that he wanted to join a group of nice guys who surely comprise half the population of Isreal and two cute girls we'd met that afternoon for a three day, two night snorkling extravaganza departing the next morning. I, more terrestrially inclined, opted instead to depart Belize for Guatemala, having completed my beach-trip checklist that afternoon, finally wading into the water after four days within a stingray's leaping-kill-radius of the ocean.

We've temporarily parted ways, and I'm sure Jackson's enjoying himself as much as I am. I chicken-bused out of Belize, though not without another history lesson from Prince Charles, who likely can't afford a change of clothing because he invests all his damn money in advanced military homing devices and radar. I made it to Guatemala, running into our Asheville, NC biker buddies at the border, and again once my cabbie deposited me in Flores, Guatemala, a beautiful and tiny island sanctuary in the middle of one of Guatemala's many massive lakes. The ride to Flores was eventful, the driver deftly dodging kamikaze pigs scurrying from the roadside brush, skillfully navigating his Toyota Corolla around what Guatemaltecos consider potholes, and what Americans more accurately describe as meteoric impact craters.

Franklin dropped me off at hostel Los Amigos, which, for $40 Quetzales (less than US$6) per night, provides a dorm complete with two fans, private bath, and an queen bed to complement our bunk, which God might fill with supermodels were I not it signed possession of Barry's soul, my intentions devious. If only I'd made everyone in high school pay with their souls for the right to copy my homework...

Anyway, the hostel is fantastic. Lots of travelers, many personable, some attractive, with clean rooms, a huge library, affordable internet and drinks with a good restaurant to match: the best and cheapest hostel yet, in a city I'd heard was too expensive and hardly worth nothing more than being a base for day-trips to Tikal. Moreover, we're a few hundred feet from a basketball court, and the hostel provides free sports equipment. The town epitomizes safety, midnight walks through the streets without trepidation.

Running, I can circle the island in less than six minutes, but it's densely built. The main street encircles the island, both sides packed with restaurants, hotels, shops and houses, breaks between buildings only for narrow streets leading up to the zocalo and basketball court. There is obviously wealth here, with as many upscale restaurants as cheap eats, and flat-screen TVs visible inside well-kempt houses, and a rare sense of total security, different from neighboring Santa Elena, the gritty city a Barry Bond's steroid-blast across the bridge.

A few days alone is exactly what I needed. I'm forced to swallow my misanthropic posturing and practice my spanish (and negotiating an ice cream deal for three scoops in a cup, which doesn't exist on the menu, is quite entertaining for both sides). I made quick friends with my German roomate René (who accidentally coined my new favorite word, the child of meat and beef, "Meef"; "Doomfuck," also Renè's, is a close second), and two delightful Danish girls, Kit and Cristina. Our quartet ventured for drinks the past two nights, a classyish steak dinner last night as well, for which we were accompanied by two cool Dutch newcomers. The way we laugh, spectators must assume we're steeped in serious substances. Truthfully, we're four afficionados of absurdity, cracking up over lingual mistakes in foreign tongues [Kit: "See you tomorrow morning at 9pm"; "I was sick in Guatemala for 4 years (intending days)"; y "I just love papel (intending pastel!) de chocolate."], slang and obscene phrases from across the globe, the Dutch duck dance and grandpa's glass eye. "Keep it real, pop." Alas, Kit and Cristina split this morning for Rio Dulce, René will be heading out in the next few days, hopefully we'll all cross paths again. ¿Por qué no?

Youth Hostel Los Amigos now holds less amigos, but I'll wait in Isla de Flores, cheap lodging, eats and drinks with good changing company, locals quick with smiles and salutations, chasing hoops dreams overlooking a majestic lake until I hear from Jackson, hitting Tikal before moving on. Guatemala could be home for a while.
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Caye Caulker
photo by: vulindlela