Mexico, Belize and Guatemala
So, i have now just completed part two of my six week adventure tour around central america. So much has happened as always, so here goes!
After leaving Playa de Carmen for Tulum, we spent a few days hanging out on the beach and going to a some ruins, before heading on to the cooler climates of Belize. Crossing the boarder into Belize, was our first experience of the ´Chicken Bus´ which we now regulary ride with all the locals. Its a pretty fun ride, as its so old and battered. It really feels like your on this old time machine which has been around a while. When we finally arrived into Caye caulker, via two buses and a boat, it was a welcomed sight. The boat ride over was abit hairy, i dont think they could have packed anymore people on there if they tried. Not quite health and safety friendly, but then again, i dont suppose they would no what that meant. The Belizean way of life is pretty relaxed. Everything is done in Belize time, which means prettttyyyy ssslllooooooooow! We went for a meal at the local grill on the side street with the best mash ive ever eaten. It was so good that we went back for more the next night!
The best thing about Caye Caulker is the diving. Its on the second biggest reef in the world and what a beautiful one it was. I spent my$200 dollars wisely on a whole days diving, seeinf some of the most incredible sights. First stop was the world famous Blue Whole. It took 2hrs to get out to it and i wasnt feeling too hot after the boat ride. Then, when i looked down to jump in with al my dive kit on, i saw sharks circling the boat. Ummm, i have to say, i was pretty scared jumping into shark infested waters, but had been told that it was safe! Well, i took a deep breath, and plunged in. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my travels, swiming around with 6 sharks about 5ft long. Luckily, they were only Carribean Reef Sharks, but, they looked like they would eat me pretty quickly if they so desired!We then went into the blue hole, but i didnt go down to the 40m, as didnt feel conifident enough too, but, the ledge was filled with nice marine life. The second and third dive was even prettier, and was such great fun to swim in between all the rocks at the bottom. The coral was in abundence, and the colours was quite spectacular. Lots of lime green tubular coral and purple fans. The we saw two massive spotted Eagle rays swim really close to us, about 3m in size. Awesome!
So, after all that excitement, we left the cool isles of the carribean behind us and headed inland to San Ignacio. It was quite a different way of life there. Not so caribbean and chilled out, but more rural and very wet. Unfortunatley, it was hurricane season and the day we arrived in to the town, was the first day it had rained in 3 months. Typical! Except, it didnt finsh there, we have had rain for the past 10 days now. Sometimes we are blessed with the occasional sunshine, but few and far between! So as the rain came, so did the flash floods through the streets. It was soon time to cross the border into Guatemala and head to the little town of Flores. An island in a lake. The main reason of staying there was to visit Tikal. One of the largest Mayan ruins known in Central America. It was pretty important in its day and is still yet to be completey unearthed. Pretty much, 85% of the ruins is still hidden in the jungle. It was an amzing place filled with huge tombs and temples. We trekked for 4hrs in the jungle, in the rain off course, going between the different areas of importance and learning about its history. So amazing to learn about the lost civilisations.
After, Flores, we traveled on the chicken buses to Rio Ducle. We did the boat trip to Livingston, and saw the sights. Rio Dulce wasnt much of a pretty place, but a nice hotel/ bungalow to stop at for a few days. We stayed in a great hut thing and spent the night dodging the many bugs flying around the room. There was the nightly bug inspeactions before bedtime, and the fan was on full blast to get any unspecting victims that flew in its way. Theres nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night to find a huge, monster of a moth right in your face on the moth net! Im sure i will miss it one day, but not right now. We couldnt get out of there quick enough. We had the usual Breakfast club´dramas with the rest of our party (group) demanding the full works every morning rather than getting something on the go, true backpacker style. It came to a holt when at 6:30am we, meaning, myself and my room mate, told to get ready asap as the group wanted to get brekkie in town before the bus. Hmm, didnt go down too well with us! Especailly as the day before they were acting more like they were on an 18-30s holiday with all day drinking sessions and annoying the locals. Not very respectful of the culture. As you may tell, i dont like them much!
Well, after another long and tiring bus journey, we arrived into Antigua for the night. It was so refreshing to actaully like the town we were in. They have all been abit on the ugly side until then. It was only a brief stop, on the way to our homestay. On route, we paid a visit to the local markets of Chichcastanengo. Its was a shoppers delight. Full of trinkets, textiles, and bags. We stocked up on goodies and then attempted to post it all home. In the rush of getting to the post office, Sam slipped on a Banana, yes, she really did! Twiting her ancle. So i then had to barter with the lady in the hardware store to sell us a cardboard box, they need to make their money somehow i guess! We got it all boxed up, then the man, insisted on looking through every single item i was sending. He even looked through every page of my notebook. hmmm, well, anyway, when it came to the payment, he said it was going to cost $200 dollars. I didnt quite believe him, and then he refused to weigh it. He claimed it was 14kilos. It was more like 4! It took about an hour of trying to get him to weigh it and get the price down with a little help from my spanish speaking room mate, we finally got it sorted. But, if it ever arrives in England, i think it will be a miracle!
So onwards to the homestay we went. Some of the girls in the group bought a chicken for their familys, but we stuck to the more conventional option of a cake! All was received well, and we settled in for a night of guessing what each other were saying and pointing at things. We helped prepare the meal by making some tortillas, which looked so easy when they did it, but ours turned out more like fat dumplings than round perfect little tortillas! We ate in front of a shrine and went to bed by 9 o´clock, with 4 blankets over us and two layers of clothes. You could say its quite cold up in the highlands.
The following morning we caught the chicken bus into the local town of Panajachel, and walked around the markets. Although the drama of the day, was discovering that one of the members on our tour, was sending a previous tour member from Mexico, abusive emails. It was quite hurrendous. It always looked creepy and just sat in the corner and never spoke to anyone, if he did it was a mumble. Worst of all, he´s British! Great! Theres always one weird one! SO, all this came to light, but hasnt been chucked off the tour just yet. Shame, as we have to still remain in his company one more day, and its not very nice.
So we ended our stay with the families and went back to Antigua where i am at present. Relieved to be back in a normal, well ish, society, rather than the Mayan culture. It was a great experince, but theres alot of hard work involved in trying to comunicate with a homestay family.
This now takes me up to day 280 of my travels and im really starting to count the days down til i get home. Its not long now. I only have one more blog to write for the final part of my journey. Taking me around Hondruas, Nicuagua and Costa Rica. In 18days i will be back to my normal life and this will all be behind me.
Until then, i will continue south, singing......´¨Do you know the way to San Jose¨´....until i get there!
much love adele x