Water taxi. Bus. Another bus. Taxi. Boat. Heading off Placencia and north towards Caye Caulker I had to head back to the mainland. Doing the calculations in my head, I could leave at about 9:45 and be there in plenty of time.
Even Sponge Bob visit Caye Caulker!
Bus departing at 1030, takes only 10 minutes on the water taxi, 2 minute walk to the bus stop, and a little time if anything were to happen yes, I will be golden. Sure enough, I arrived at the bus stop at about 10:10 only to hear that the bus had arrived 25 minutes early, saw there was no one there and left. Well of course no one was there, it was almost a half hour before the bus! With the next bus at 12:30 I wasn't mad for long and sat on my bag and pulled out my book, and got talking to a local next to me. Perfect English, telling me his story about how he used to work under the table illegally in California before they caught him and deported him back to Belize.
View of the ocean from one of the Caye Caulker Hotels
I asked him, as I walked over to grab a water, to please keep an eye on my bag, and if he wanted anything from the store. He thought about it and replied "Ya, a Belikin" which seems to be the only beer in Belize. So I decided to grab a water, and 2 beers, to share one with him for being such good company. Belikin is the only beer I have ever had where the labels between the lager and stout are exactly the same, only the bottle cap notes the difference in type. Also the only beer than can be dead empty and still feel half full. My bus arrived and I bid him farewell and got on, only to see a couple minutes later, once everyone had boarded, he got on selling mango's and other snacks. Incredible to meet a gentleman at this old age, selling food to travellers and commuters on the bus, with such a positive outlook on life. You will only meet this people if you get out and explore the world.
The sand streets of Caye Caulker
As I arrive in Belize City, notorious for being quite dangerous, I decided to take someones advice and take one of the taxi's outside the bus station to the boat departure point only to arrive at massive line. Unbeknownst to me it had been extremely windy and miserable here all day which had backed up the trips over. One of the great things about travelling alone is I was able to sneak onto one of the earlier boats as there was an opening, as a lot of people were travelling in groups of 4 or 5 and didn't want to get split up. Journey to Caye Caulker was a relatively smooth one as out here the water is speckled with Cayes which are basically very low level sand islands, many of which are not large enough or solid enough to support human construction. The Caulker Caye is one of the biggest in this region and even though more than half of it has become separated after a massive storm and is abandoned. The other half, as I came to see as soon as I arrived, was all sand roads, palm tree's, golf carts and wooden buildings right onto the beach. All of these things and seeing my buddy Matias standing at the end of the dock as I arrived were all a very welcoming sight. We walked down the road and checked into a hostel, unsuitably named Dirty McNasty's as it was clean, well equipped and brand new.
The front side of Caye Caulker slopes slowly into smooth, clear water, where as the backside of Caye Caulker has tiny little entrances through the mangrove into some less appealing water. Matias and I rented a couple kayak's, strolled around the backside of the Caye and found as good a place as any and carefully propped ourselves into the kayak's. Such calm water, a couple of paddles and we were out of the bush and into some clear water with no one in sight. Such a contrast to the other side of Caye Caulker with bars, people, and balconies overlooking the water and horizon. Here, it was simply us and a fishing boat.
Beautiful hotel overlooking Caye Caulker beach
Close to the dock that leaves to Ambergis Caye and San Pedro, there was something sticking out of the water. As we paddled over we realized it was a sunken boat. With the water being so clear we could look down and see the fish swimming through the glassless windows and you could even see the algae and rust that had formed on the boat. We started to get closer to the mangrove area and some gigantic fish, about 3 or 4 feet long, keep swimming up to investigate the ripples from the drips of our paddles we were holding out of the water. I had a real craving from some sushi, and got some ideas about catching the fish, but we saw a no fishing sign, and I also remembered that I couldn't catch a fish if my life was on the line so we paddled in and lugged the kayak's back to the shop.
The next day was my birthday. I didn't tell Matias as I am not the type of person to announce my birthday months before and drag on the attention for weeks, but it popped up on the Facebook and he got wind so he asked me what I wanted to do. I said, I would absolutely love to go for a beach workout in the morning, a quick snorkel to cool off, and then head to my favourite one of the Caye Caulker restaurants and bars, Barrier Reef Sports Bar for the NHL playoffs. Matias agreed it sounded like an amazing day. We filled up on quesadilla's and Belikin's at the bar, which has an incredible breeze that passes through and between periods in the game we could just walk right out and have a beer at the tables outside on the beach. Definition of paradise.
Caye Caulker restaurants and bars, Barrier Reef Sports Club
To cap it all off, we walked with some people from the bar to the Caye Caulker split. The portion of the the Caulker Caye that was protected by a small protective wall, but a storm completely destroyed it and has separated the island in two bits. A great place to watch the sun disappear behind the horizon. I never celebrate my birthday, but I will certainly remember this day. The next morning, I was up with the rising sun to catch a boat through San Pedro and into Mexico for the final leg of my trip.