I Can’t Belize It Part 1

This is a blog conversion. Last year I traveled to Central America for a month and blogged my entire trip. My trip started in Cancun traveling south to Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and back up to fly home out of Cancun again. I originally wrote this using a different blogging application and found this site to be superior. I have decided to consolidate the older site over to here. In transferring this over, I have noticed a number of typos, grammatical errors and all around horrible use of english. Partly, I blame on the laptop I was using and the other part, the tropical air and consumption of booze. I never promised that writing was a strong suit of mine, but I hope you enjoy what you read. It really is quite entertaining.

Mexico – Belize – Gautamala – Honduras 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Arrive in cancun – May the adventures begin

Like all good trips they should begin by being scanned, irradiated, and vigorously patted down by a man named edgar. He didn’t even buy me dinner.
I flew the redeye to Minneapolis St. Paul and had the worst unrested 5 hour start to a 7 hour layover I think I have ever had. At my departure gate there were only a few rows of seating with no armrests and pletty of space that I could have passed out on. But as soon as I try to lay down and get some rest, a gaggle of frat boy douche tards decided to have the dumbest conversation I have heard in a long time. On second hand, it was fun to laugh to myself. My next flight left at 1315 direct to Cancun international where I somehow managed to pass the F out and not wake up until 30 minutes before landing. Finally some sleep, not good but shut eye nonetheless. Fly through security, customs, had an entire bus to myself and finally land myself in central hustle bustle downtown cancun not knowing which way was left from up. So I grab a taxi and find myself dropped off at the wrong hostel and get to hiking. I get to figure out if he even took me in the right direction. Luckily I was only a few streets away from the right hostel and froggered my way through traffic.
So here I am laying in an entirely empty hostel, considering if this was a good choice of places to crash. Its clean, its comfortable, and it was cheap. Works for me. Peace kiddies, I’m out. Update soon with a tentative plan for what will come next.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cancun in all its drunkin craziness.

Ok! So the first thing I did like any reasonable person would do in mexico, is go straight to Walmart. Thats right, I went to walmart, to get some basics, and most likely will go back before I leave to a more rural part of mexico and beyond.
Following that I met with one of the guys staying at my hostel (the only guy, actually) and we headed to the clubs and bars on the hotel strip. For those of you unfamiliar with cancun, there is the downtown area that is hustle and bustle full of locals, shops stores, parks, etc…then there is a 22km strip of land surrounding a lagoon and preserve. This strip is mostly hotels, and in the middle of it all is a bunch of clubs and bars crammed into a tight 1/4 mile radius.
Having no plans, I decided to join my new friend and headed down to the clubs with him. The plan was to meet up with a bunch of people from a cancun forum called Cancun Care and go nuts. And they did. I wanted to take the night relatively easy so I used my camera as an excuse to not join in. It worked…till my camera ran out of batteries.
Things I learned so far about cancun.
1. Open bar does not necessarily mean all you can drink what ever you can drink, but it does mean they will make sure you have a drink in your hand at all times.
2. There are no rules to dancing on the bar other than don’t fall off getting up or down.
3. The ticketers for clubs are some of the best sales people I have heard in a long time. It’s all about the commission.
4. Walmart sells scooters next to the last minute check out stands between the water and the remote controls. Toothbrush – check, lighter – check, scooter – check?
Today was recovery day. not because I drank excessively but because I didn’t; enough water that is. Making sure I stay hydrated from now on out. Right now the plan is to go to a club call senor frogs. It’ supposed to be a happening place. No all you can drink for me today friends just cover, my one beer and water from then on out.
Tomorrow will be xcaret, eco reserve and park.
Friday is beach and lil john at the city night club, largest club in the whole yucatan.
Saturday is recovery.
Sunday to Tulum.
Till next time kids.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Xcaret

Thursdays personal excursion to xcaret was what I expected. Expensive and relatively anticlimactic. I was hoping it would be less of an amusement park and more of a ecological preservation, but alas my hopes were blasted by souvenir booths and over priced crappy food.

You can skip this paragraph if you dont want to hear about the cost and my recommendation to avoid it.
From what I gather there are 3 major parks down here, xcaret, xplor and xel-ha, all focused on experiencing the mexican culture with a slightly higher focus towards the geographical amenities that most regions don’t offer. Xcaret was no acception. General admission was $70 or you can pay $30 more and get a plus version, I chose the latter hoping to get a bit more. Either way, my suggestion would be to bring your own gear or buy it at walmart for $3 and arrive at 3 pm for half price. For the $100 value I got everything the general admission offered plus all my snorkel gear, a locker I could access all day, a towel, all you can drink, and all you can eat at one of the 4 buffets throughout the park. Honestly the difference in the 30 was worth it, the price of the park was not.
First thing I did was hit 1 of the 3 snorkel rivers, 1 on a raft, and 2 you float, the river I chose was a float, but mostly underground. caves made by lava were kinda boring outside the water, amazing and creepy underneath. Some parts of the water you floated over there was no bottom; the caves felt like they went on forever. since I felt like I wanted to get my moneys worth I spent the next 2 hours snorkeling in their water inlet throughout exploring the coral and fishes.
They cheated though. They had this thing down at the bottom of the water that made the fish swarm so the people doing underwater tours could see the fishes. No fair. The rest of the afternoon I spend walking around taking pictures of things I found interesting and exploring the park. By mid day I went to one of the buffets right on the coast and watched pelicans pretend to be seagulls and perch on beach umbrellas must unsuccessfully. Following that I parked myself in a hammock over looking the inlet and took a nap in the shade for about 2 hours. That was seriously the highlight of my entire day, unconscious. I was very tired not having but 3 hours sleep the night before.
By 6 pm I was still tired and ready to leave but for some stupid reason I already purchased my return bus ride back to cancun for 2050 and felt inclined to get my moneys worth so I went to the ‘big show’. Mexican history and culture crammed into a 2 hour show, which honestly really was just a 45 minute show of history, and 1.4 hours of mexican music, dances and mariachi.
By the third song, I was ready to shoot myself in the nuts. Well the costumes were amazing and the games were interesting to see at least, if you go, just leave at the intermission. Believe me, its not worth it.
For example one dance of about 12 women danced in circles and in line with a pineapple on their shoulder, why I have no idea, I couldnt understand a thing they were saying and it never left their shoulder. Following this was a mariachi thing, again by the same girls dancing a very similar dance with a bowl of fruit. Now I can understand maybe the bowl but not the pineapple.
Well, anyways, today is friday and the plan is The City. Will let you know how that ends up. I have been looking forward to this club all week.
For some reason overly sized mega clubs make me excited. Oh yeah and lil jon is supposed to be the headline celebrity! That can easily be a hit or miss.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tulum

A few more things I have noticed about mexico.
1. Cars have the right away, except for major speed bump/crosswalks, dont tempt them, they will win.
2. Mexicans love their music, even the cops walk around with their phones blasting; riot gear and all.
3. If you can walk, you can sell bracelets for your mom, child labor is still going strong here.
4. City buses can also double as a party bus after 9pm, lights, strobes, and all – that’s a new one to me.
5. viagra is not over the counter, but on the shelf next to nyquil and tylenol. and no I have not bought any…yet, hehe.
[…after the fact but not in the original entry, since I forgot or was drunk or something] Lets talk about The City. Its freaking huge. Somehow they have managed to cram 10k people into a single building and call it a club. it really is like a stadium and it was out of control. It is supposed to be all you can drink included in your ticket price, but the bartenders wont make you a drink until you tip them, which is crap since the drinks blow anyways. My advice is to simply buy a bottle and go nuts. Then promptly stumble home at 5am with the rest of the crazies.
Today I am in Tulum, I got here around 1230 or so and checked in to a very cool hostel, Casa del Sol. The kitchen is right in the middle of the lounge area and its huge. above the lounge area is another lounge area of hammocks, basically a chill out area. there are bungalows and rooms stacked everywhere to both sides of the commons area. They even had a hot tub, but it was more like a mosquito farm, so I stayed away from there.

After checking in I rented a bike from the hostel for $5 for the day, which beats the hell out of the local rental company for $30. I rode around town looking for food and decided I was just going to wait till I couldn’t stand it any more. Since my indecision got the better of me, I rode out of town about 6km to the ruins. Pretty cool stuff right on the coast. I hung around there for a bit and did some exploring, Unfortunately you aren’t aloud to climb or explore around the ruins anymore like I remember as a kid. Speaking of which, my family took a trip to Cancun when I was 10 or so, we also went to a ruin but I didn’t remember them very well, only that we got to climb on them and get up close and personal. Later after my trip i pulled some old pictures out and found they were the same ruins! Kind of nostalgic.
After leaving the ruins, it was definitely time for food. Before I left the hostel, I had an excellent 10 minute one sided conversation with the wife of the guy that ran the hostel. He speaks great english, but his wife speaks none. So obviously she was the one to show me places on the map to visit, eat, explore, etc, while he continue his nap right next to us. Funny thing was, I actually was keeping up quite well and didn’t have to have her repeat much. I was quite happy with myself considering. So my dinner option was a cocina economica, my new favorite places to chow, everything is 5 bucks and they only have 6 or seven things to choose from, all mouthwatering delicious. I ate mexicanas-something-something-or-other, every last bit and had a papaya drink which accompanied nicely.
As I write, I lounge in a hammock upstairs, after which I may head down to the jacuzzi for a soak (which turned out to be a bad idea and didn’t do it) then, I dont know, maybe back up here for a read in a book, maybe take the bike back out for an evening stroll, who knows. Tulum is my oyster and I plan on shucking, bitches!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Diving in Tulum

OK, so I was considering heading through and not staying here but plans had changed drastically. Tulum is a tiny town about 2 kilometers long, with lots of little shops and restaurants. There are four dive shops in the whole town and they don’t have a problem working with each other or competing with each other for that matter. I got here sunday afternoon and rented a bike and strolled around town exploring. I went by and talked to a dive shop trying to get the DL on somewhere to hit up in belize, its a small country but has lots of reef and coast to cover. Whiles talking to them, they had talked about diving the cenotes, which are cave systems created overtime by earlier volcanic activity followed by millions of years of cave-ins and flooding.

I had orginially planned on just making 2 dives and heading on and saving money and spending more time in belize. There were two problems to that situation. I didnt expect the dive instructor, JC, to one cool mother trucker or the dives to be 40 minutes + long. I ended up hanging out with the instructor all day. I even went to play pool with him and other instructors from other shops later that night. The dives went from 2 to 4, not only because they were breathtaking but because JC said he would basically give me the second 2 dives for free! I tell ya, one cool guy.
Diving in caves is absolutely amazing, if you have the opportunity and are hesitant, dont be, DO IT. There is something about floating through stalactites, stalagmites, chandeliers and curtains of limestone frozen in time. It beats the hell out of walking through them. There are signs all of over posted warning of death if you continue on past them. Also with the lack of current sediment never gets kicked up, so visibility is insanely perfect. I’m speaking like 100m perfect in any direction, as long as there is light. Every one is required to carry a torch, but your not required to have it on all the time. Getting deep into the back of the cave turning off in the dark and looking up through the cracks and cave-ins of light was breathtaking. Almost preferred to explore them without the torch.
The food here is also amazing. I have not had something I was dissatisfied with, even the chinese food I had last night for dinner, even though I didnt get a fortune cookie. Yesterday I had freshmade gaucamole, with homemade to order tortilla chips followed by some of the best ceviche I have ever had. That was during lunch while diving, We met some of the other dive instructors, one of which was a world famous cave explorer. I felt special. There is even a pizza shop here that you can smell about a block downwind. That was absolute torture considering the lack of breads that I have eaten on this trip.
Today I head to Cayes Caulker in Belize. the trip should take pretty much all day, but granted im not leaving till noon or so. I dont have a place set up so this should be interesting. Im just gonna wing it. I do have an idea of a few places I want to stay. So that helps at least. Either way, I think the tentative plan is to stay there through the end of the week and head to honduras after, from spending time with all the dive instructors I have learned that the diving is a lot cheaper there and just as nice. The plan is to get at least 10 dives in addition to an upgrade to my certification. That should put me at about 10 days left on my trip so ill head inland and try to find a place to climb in either gautamala or southern belize. I dont know. We will see what happens.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FINALLY BELIZE!

I have had a most interestingly upsetting last 36 hours.

First my plan was to sleep in, I was looking forward to a mostly lazy day relaxing and slowly making my way down to belize, but instead I had the most disrespectful annoyingly loud backpackers leave before me. the problem here is the girl that stayed next to my bunk decided to explode her pack all over the place talking, singing, laughing and blaring loudly for about an hour and a half. While doing this her and her friends decided that they needed to leave and enter the room about 300 times slamming the door the whole time. When I finally decided to get up after dealing with this for way too long I said something but it didn’t matter since they were walking out the door. Pissed I was, to say nonetheless.

The next major flaw in my plan was not knowing that there is only one ferry that leaves chetumal at 3 pm. so when I went to the station to leave the next bus was at 1pm. not knowing how long it would take to get to chetumal as well as not knowing the ferry issue. so when I arrived at the station to find that I had to stay for the night, not having a plan, an understanding of the town or where to go, I was not very excited. while at the station I gathered all the info I needed to get for the ferry and found a hostel, luckily enough, across the street from the station, literally.

The place was not nearly close to the definition of nice, except the guy that set me up there, he was extremely nice and did all he could to accommodate me. I was very grateful. there was a full bed with sheets and i got a towel. for $10 getting my own room was a value that most dorms can’t compare. the downsides were the mosquitos, the dead cockroaches, lack of a real pillow, and heat. all were relatively easily manageable except for the mosquitos. I got devoured. [The beginning to a very bad feeding frenzy, me as the main course]. It sucked. for a while I was ok, when I came in I saw a bit of citronella curled up unburned on a table and stole some and burned it in my room. not sure what would have been better, dealing with the mozzies or the headache. on the upside, I was down the street from a store so I bought a loaf of bread, some jam and peanut butter. Comfort food for my soul. I practically ate it all.

The next morning, I went to the station early and got my tickets for the ferry. The guy directed me I can either take a taxi or the collectivo, which is more of a mini private version of a bus. The upside is that its an 10th the cost of a taxi. so I went to the street to wait for them; they either never came or were identified as something else. so I was forced to walk the 5K to the port. which was fine aside from the blazing heat and the huge blisters I got. I should have worn socks. Finally at the pier all I had to do now was wait. which was quite pleasant, actually. I hung out for 4 hours reading and relaxing in the breeze listening to the surf. I decided that I wanted to find something real to eat before leaving and walked back a few blocks to a busy street looking for food. This was immediately a bad idea when some guy whom I thought was very nice suggesting a few places to me. Then proceeded to ask me to give him a blow job, He was a little less tactful in asking, pretty much just coming out and saying “suck my cock”. Disappointed in my lack of interested our talk ended quickly. Seriously disturbed, I decided to get the $1.60 slice of pizza that was right next to me and run back to the safety of the pier. That too was a mistake. Worse pizza in my life.

Eventually, when the time came for the ferry, it wasn’t. It was a water taxi that chopped through the waves with little to no grace. I am relatively immune to sea sickness but it was a  miracle I did not vomit. By the time I arrived in Cayes Caulker it was sundown and I had no place to stay. Luckily the entire island is ridiculously tiny, I didn’t take pictures today to show you but its quite a unique island feel to it, tomorrow hopefully. I walked down the main strip for 5 minutes and found a great place almost immediately. Lots of packers, socializing, stories, experiences and conversation. I am extremely happy with this place. The sense of community is fantastic. A great ending to an absolutely retarded day and a half.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cayes Caulker

This island is amazing. Immediately when you step off the boat you your filled with an island feeling. There are signs all over, ‘go slow’. There are no cars, only golf carts on crack, jacked up on huge tires, every one else rides bicycles or walks. The island used to be a lot bigger but a hurricane came through and literally cut the island in two in 1963. It’s called the split now and is a great place to do nothing but drink strong drinks and bask in the sun. So I had planned on writing a while ago but I just haven’t been on my laptop. Honestly the second I got off the boat I stepped into a time warp that cuts time in half. All the buildings are up on stilts no one wears shirts. I have not worn a propper pair of footwear in a week. All the roads are fine dirt or sand, or maybe both, I dont care. The island is called Cayes Caulker, the chalk keys, and yes it is chalky here. The hostel I stay at mops the floor every day from the daily traffic.
The hostel is called Bella’s, if you dont mind a mini party every night and moderate to semi acceptable bed space, I highly recommend it. All walks of life with stories of travel and places visited are here. I have met some of the coolest people and have made new friends that I will cherish for life here. It truly is amazing how you can just connect to some people. The second I walked in there were about 9 people lazying around chatting, drinking and hanging out. every one welcoming and friendly. I have never felt so comfortable at a hostel before.
Every one wakes up early here. Regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed the night before, everyone is up and around by 8, not voluntarily but because of the heat. With no AC and staying for $10 a night there are few things you sacrifice, sleeping in comfortably is one of them. If your not somewhere with a breeze, or in the water its stupid hot.
The first day here I booked a trip to go snorkeling throughout the reef. It was an all day trip on a sailboat with 14 other people, mostly from the hostel since it was a half a block away. 3 dive sites, lunch included, fresh conch ceviche and rum punch on the way back. This was probably the best $40 I have spent in a long time. I got to feed a 2 meter wide stingray, not a manta ray,by hand, and swam with a few nurse sharks. I spoke with a number of people about diving here and it seems to pretty much be limited to the blue hole, which is a site to behold, but apparently not impressive and not worth the pricetag. So I have been renting snorkeling gear every day and swimming out for hours. I have been in the water so long I have 5 blisters on my feet from the flippers. yesterday I took a break.
Bella’s has 2 canoes that we are allowed to take out any time we want, which we did often. If you dont feel like walking to the split, take the canoe :). The water is extremely calm on the west side of the island. While you coast around you can look to the bottom which varies between 2-3m and see the underwater flora. I swear some of them looked like trees and bushes and farmland. With the slightest bit of imagination, it really felt like you were gliding over natural land like a lazy bird. Or looking down like Greek Gods would from the heavens. That was quite a tranquil feeling, even when the fish or rays swam into view, it just added to the scene.
Most of the people had decided to just go to the split and relax. I headed out there and met some people at 1045. With a thick coat of 30 spf I spent the entire day on the beach, in the water and exploring the split.
By sundown we had a reservation for dinner that was not to be missed, after all if was my birfday dinner. I celebrated it with 12 strangers, and had a blast. I brought my camera with me and every one passed it around taking goofy pictures of each other, I want to say 243 in total, there could be more.
Someone got it in their mind to try the local karaoke bar, but the gods were kind and the only night they weren’t doing it was that night. So we set to our default and got 4 bottles of rum and went to town at the hostel. I was smart though for the most part and hid and drank about double the amount of water. Felt great this morning.
Oh yeah, disregard the scary leprechaun, he really is harmless even though he’s a ginger.
The plan is still sound. Since diving is too expensive here im heading to Honduras. A random stranger that owns a boat came to the hostel last week asking for a few hands to help out. He was planning on setting sail for honduras mid week. If there is room and the plan is sound I’ll be on that boat, because what we do in central america is trust every random stranger that offers you free boat rides. plans arent set but if they are good. thats my route. ill be off to an island quite similar to this one called utila. diving is less the half the cost and its whale season. they apparently have some amazing night dives that are not to be missed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Leaving Paradiso

So plans did not come out as expected. The sail did not follow through. The other guy that was going to join me on this free sail hurt himself the night before. He broke his arm, and not just a little break; a clean break through both ulna and radius. So Mr. floppy arm got a temporary casting made from cardboard and gauze and was shipped off to the mainland on the first boat available. Only to flew back to canada for proper treatment. He just started his trip, granted it was for only 2 months, he had been here for less then a week. The other guy also bailed on the boat, so not being one of the main people sailing. I also did not go.
THIS COULD HAVE BEEN ME!!!
Since my plan was to originally be here for the duration of my stay and I wanted to dive as much as possible and I have only upheld half of that deal. I had wanted to leave after 5 days here and head to honduras for diving there at a much cheaper value then head back to cayes caulker till travels end. but since i had so much great company here, a free nights stay from playing pseudo hostel manager for a day, and a private room for 12.50 a night as opposed to the dorm for 10 I figured I will stay here till the next efficient method of traveled showed up.
Meaning, there are 2 ways of getting to Honduras. by land or by sea, both running only certain schedules. The bus would take forever having to stop and stay at many places on the way down, by sea the water taxies only run 1 or 2 days a week and since I need to save time and my other by water method of transportation failed I figured I would wait it out. im on one of the best islands ever, why not.
So today is the last day of being in paradise and heading to the mainland tonight to catch the 530 am bus to dangriga where I will get the water taxi to Porta Cortez, Honduras. Best that I waited since this express service is also the express skipping ports otherwise not skipped. Once in Porta Cortez bus to Le Ceiba, and if time allows be on the last ferry to utila by 7 pm, at which time I get to wonder around looking for a place to stay, pack in tow.
Since I am not leaving here till the last ferry im heading to the beach for one last laze in the sun, then trek on.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Freezing In Punta Gorda

Literally freezing.
So I have managed to avoid 2 things quite well without effort, air-con and a hot shower. Honestly I can do without the latter and have no problem with cold showers here; air-con is a different story. The only times I have experiences any form of it is on the express busses, and when they mean they have, they use it like they are driving through hell, full blast. I was freezing. I couldn’t feel my toes the entire trip down to Punta Gorda. Guess I should be grateful that I got to experience air-con at all, But for 5 hours I froze being dressed for the beach not for Alaska.
So I finally left the island, which was hard to do. I swear to you, the second I got to the hostel I took my flops off and didn’t put on another pair of shoes until I left. It was great. I swear its even strange to see cars driving down the street. Tell you the truth, I don’t miss them, nor their smell.
So last night I stayed in belize city only so I could leave ass early and catch the express bus down to Dangriga to get the saturday morning water taxi to Porte Cortez Honduras, only to find that the website that updates the schedules, doesn’t. Luckily the taxi driver that wanted the fair saved me the time and I just got back on the bus and continued down to Punta Gorda. For some reason I had a backup plan, otherwise I would have just turned around and went back to the island and chilled there for the rest of the trip! No joke. I arrived at the dock in Belize City and grabbed a taxi to the hotel. the lonely planet map, was not to scale cause I could have walked the 3.5 blocks, but the upside to that was the guy that drove me was nice enough to even give me a ride to the station the next morning at 5am. When I stepped out the front door, then the inner chain link gate, then the outer rod iron fencing, low and behold he was there waiting for me! So I paid double for the ride, which was like a whole whopping 7 bucks or something. I was just grateful to have a safe reliable ride that got me on time.
Currently, I am sitting on the back porch of the immigrations office looking at the pier for the boat to Porte Barios, Guatemala. The boat just arrived and will set off again at 1pm. From there I will either take a ferry to Porte Cortez, a chicken bus to the honduras border, or find fellow travelers heading my direction and split the cost of a taxi. This being the quickest method, fingers crossed this works out, I want to get to Utila asap. Goal is to be there by tonight, but I may have to stay in Le Ceiba for one night, then be there tomorrow. Which is fine too. I am supposed to be meeting some good peoples that I celebrated my birfday with on Cayes Caulker I hope they are still there so can hang with them once more. If not there are supposed to be others catching up to me too, so its ok.

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