Sunday, May 10th.
It was a 4 hour bus ride from Playa del Carmen to Chetumel which is a border town situated in Mexico and Belize. From here I had to wait 2 hours for the next bus to Orange Walk. I can see the real travel adventures starting now. The Belize bus pulled into the bus station with an almost completely flat tire. We then spent the next 20 minutes trying to find a tire shop which had a spare tire. All the other passengers were locals so just kept on talking with each other like this happens all the time. There were no problems crossing the border. "Do you have any flu symptoms", I was asked. "No", was my response. "Do you have any fruit or vegetables on you". "No", I responded. Bang goes the stamp in the passport and through the gate. One thing I have learnt with this though is do not cross borders on Sundays. All the currency exchanges are closed, so now I'm left with $600 pesos I need to travel around with and I needed to dig into my $US stash money to pay for the hotel. Lucky they accept US and BLZ dollars throughout the whole country.
I arrived in Orange Walk about 7.30pm. The hotel I checked into is one of the cheapest in town at $15BLZ dollars. The Belize dollar is about 2 to 1 with the $US so the hotel for two nights cost about $15USD.
My first impressions so far of Belize, which be reminded are from a bus window. It seems very Caribbean like. A lot of the houses are small wooden colorful shacks and white sandy roads. The people seem very friendly but I am a little confused which language to speak. I started speaking to someone in Spanish and they responded in English with a very Caribbean accent, but they were all speaking Spanish on the bus to each other. Odd , but I am sure I will work it out. The air also smells beautiful after being in Mexico for so long. There are a lot of sugar cane plantations so you have the sweet smell of molasses and a little smoke from them burning the fields.
Monday, May 11th
Went to the Lamanai Mayan ruins today. These ruins are in a tropical rainforest right on the banks of a river. Instead of catching the local bus out to them I decided to pay for an actual tour. I am glad I did this. There was a boat ride from town to the ruins site which took about 1 ½ hours, then lunch on arrival and a tour of some of the sites. The entire site is too large to see it all so they just took us to all the excavated buildings. Many, many others are still unexcavated. They say this site was occupied from around 1500BC. The jungle surrounding the ruins was also fantastic. The palms are as big as some of the big red gum trees back home. The trees are also home to the howler monkeys. We saw some of these while walking from site to site and also saw some spider monkeys while in the boat on the way. We were allowed to climb the largest building which was about 33 meters high. The view from the top was amazing. On the ride back we were supplied with rum punch, yummy.