Despite only being there for a short time, I had left Mexico with many great memories. I had experienced things for the first time and I was already dreaming of my next visit. However, I didn’t have much time to ponder over Mexico’s paradise because we were about to enter our next country, Belize. Home of the party island of Caye Caulker, where the rum punch flows and the lobsters fill up your plate!
Before we could experience the Caribbean delights that Caye Caulker had to offer, we first had an eight hour journey to endure. At 6am we hopped onto our private van to the border town of Chetumal. Here we were ushered off our transport and quickly moved onto the public ‘chicken bus’. These are old American school buses that the countries of Central America bought off the USA. They paint them in a whole plethora of different colours and crazy styles. The name ‘chicken bus’ comes from how crowded they get, on average they cram three to a seat and have people squashed down the aisle – like chickens! Luckily our first experience with the chicken bus wasn’t so bad (we would be a lot more squeezed together on later trips!).
The border crossing from Mexico to Belize took about an hour – don’t forget if you’re leaving Mexico you need to pay a border fee, this changes from time to time so check how much it is when you’re in the country. After we had our passport stamped we were officially in Belize. It was amazing to see how much it instantly differed from Mexico. Driving through the country the atmosphere is much more Caribbean than Latino or Mayan like in other Central American countries. The landscape is a mixture of green plants, bare dusty roads and sparking rivers, which shine in the intense sunlight. The views were enough to keep you occupied on the four hour bus journey to Belize City. When we arrived at our destination we just had enough time to stretch our legs before walking to the port to catch our boat to the island of Caye Caulker. After hopping on the boat it’s just a short half an hour drive to the island, on your way you pass many other smaller ‘Caye’s’ which look desperate to be explored! Other boats come past you in the opposite direction. The sea wind blowing in my face was completely refreshing after the journey we’d had.
As the boat started to pull up we could see our first glimpse of Caye Caulker. From one paradise in Mexico to an even more picturesque one here. We hopped off the boat and stepped onto the white beach, covered in palm trees. We were unable to check into our hotel because the power was out on the island, which apparently happens quite frequently. We couldn’t be annoyed at this for long because we were in paradise after all. We decided to pass the time by exploring the island, it only takes you about 20 minutes to walk around it all. There is the main bar at the end of the island called ‘The Lazy Lizard’ here we enjoyed 2-for-1 drinks while some of the group swam in the water.
Night had arrived and there was no sign of the power coming back on. People shopped in the supermarkets with torches desperately trying to get what they needed before it closed early. We were starting to think we would be spending the night sleeping on the beach. After such a long day of travelling we were ready for food to lift our spirits. We went to a place called ‘Wish Willy’s’, which I think is just someone’s back garden. We sat and enjoyed a proper Belizean feast. Lobster, chicken, rice, potatoes, fish and whole garden of vegetables. All enjoyed by candlelight. The lobster was the star of dinner because we had come during Caye Caulker’s lobster season. People come from all over Belize (and the world!) to get their hands on it while it’s at its best. During our meal the power came back on twice, each time it was met with a roar of excitement but soon after it was off again. As we were about to head back to the hotel it finally came on for good.
With a full belly and a nice helping of rum punch it was time for bed. We left the group and wondered down the road to our hotel room. My first impressions of Caye Caulker were that it is out of this world. The scenery alone is perfect. The beaches and the surrounding sea are a travellers dream. The food and the party atmosphere are enough to make you want to pack up and stay here for good. I went to bed that night dreaming of what adventures I would get up to on the island when I woke up. I could hardly wait!