After roughly 10 days with our trusty comrades, we rose on a Monday morning and with a sinking heart knew our time together was nearing an end. To make matters worse, we were forced to pack up and vacate our Very Presidential digs in Isla Mujeres. It's pretty amazing how quickly one can get used to living in the lap of luxury, even when it's only been less than 24 hours!
After a slow pack, clean, and breakfast session, we said goodbye to our Presidential Suite at Casa de la Sueños and jumped in a cab headed for the ferry terminal. We made the 12:30 pm ferry just in a nick of time. While recounting our incredible week and a half, comparing rather disgusting digestive issues, and watching the bluest of blue waters breeze past our windows, we made the short 15 minute trip from Mujeres to Cancun.
We all jumped in one more cab together, this one to the ADO bus station, which we have become rather familiar with in the last month. Justin and Cori were to board a shuttle to the Cancun International Airport and we were buying two one-way tickets to Belize City.
Finally the time came and we said our goodbyes, or rather "See you on the other end". We had a few long hugs, and they were off, and we were left with 8.5 hours to kill in Cancun.
Our choices on how to kill time in Cancun: 1: slamming kamikaze shots and frozen sugary alcoholic drinks at a smokin-hot foam party at a Cancun Club OR 2: finding the closest cinema and getting stuck into a double-feature movie bender. If by some miracle 10 years instantly melted away, I may have considered the former, fortunately, it did not, and instead we escaped the blistering Mexican sun to the air-conditioned sanctuary of the 'Cinepolis' movie theater.
The only movies available in English and during the times we needed them, were 'The Avengers' and '21 Jump Street' or as Mexico likes to refer to them, 'Los Vengadores' y 'Comando Especial'. Luckily, I have the sense of humor and maturity level of a 16 year old boy when necessary and the 5 hours that followed were rather enjoyable.
We had a late dinner, and finally it was time to head back to the ADO. Another hour+ at the bus station watching Mexican Novelas or Soap Operas, and it was our turn to board the bus. The time was 10:45pm and it was a cool 8.5 hours to Belize City. Here we go again...
The bus ride was rather uneventful aside from the meat locker temperature of Mexican buses and the ever exciting process of off-and-on-and-off-and on the bus at a 4:30am Mexico/Belize border crossing. By 6:15am we were dropped off and left at a dusty, run down shanty that serves as the Belize City bus terminal.
A quick and friendly cab ride and we were dropped at The Red Hut Inn in the capable hands of our host for the next few days, Lewis.
Lewis was our personal savior at this point. Dazed and exhausted after the long bus ride, at the early hour of 6:30 am, he promptly lead us to our room, turned on our a/c and left us to sleep off our fatigue, AND sleep we did. It was one of those kinds of sleeps where you are so unaware of your body or your surroundings, you feel like you're floating. We slept a HARD five hours and woke up at 11:30, ready to take on Belize City.
We found Julia, Lewis' wife, and she kindly offered to drive us into town. We had very modest plans of checking out a museum, a cathedral, running some errands, and getting some lunch. That's really about all Belize City has to offer visitors...
First thing was first, Lunch! We hadn't eaten since our small dinner in Cancun and we were famished. Julia pointed out a Food Network rated local spot to eat and we quickly made our way in. The very local, very charming restaurant was called Nadie's. We feasted on a plate of rice and beans with Marie Sharp's hot sauce, with a side of plantains and ice cold watermelon juice to drink; Heaven!
After that meal, we were powered up and ready to get our learn on. We made it through the Museum of Belize in about 45 minutes. The museum itself was converted from a mid-to-late 19th century prison, where many Beliezeans were hanged for various reasons. The first of the exhibits explained and illustrated the devastation of Hurricane Hattie to the country of Belize. Before that tragic storm, which took the lives of 319 individuals, the capital was Belize City, but after $60 millionish in damage (1961), officials realized there was little hope for this low-lying coastal town and moved the capital about 60 km inland to Belmopan.
The rest of the museum showcased about 100 years of Belize (British Hondurus) stamps, impressive jade masks and figurines, native Belize Insects, and most importantly the history of Belize (Mayan Civilization, skirmishes with the Spanish and English, and modern day Belize). Done and Done.
After the museum, we quickly took care of our aforementioned errands (copies, book buying, and post office run). On our way to check out the tourist village (aka the port where ALL the cruise ships come in) we met a rather interesting fella. He called himself Professor Prince Paris Paul. He knew the ins and outs and all the goods on Belize's history and he was desperate to share it with us.
By the end of his 20 minute rant, Adrian and I were crowned "Junior Belize Historical Ambassadors", we learned the meaning and where the word "Belize" came from, and were $5 poorer, as the Prince, in the end, just wanted a bit of "cheese".
Easy come, easy go... And he was rather entertaining. Continuing on, we reached the St. John's Cathedral, which is the oldest Anglican church in Central America, but certainly isn't much to look at. And that about wraps up Belize City sight seeing.
We made a quick pitstop for money, water, and a few groceries before heading back to the Red Hutt Inn. The late afternoon was spent catching up on blogs, reading, and watching a fascinating documentary on The Clintons. At 7pm we were called for dinner. Lewis is not only a gracious Inn keeper, but also a wizard in the kitchen. He whipped us up some lovely garlic shrimp with pasta with garlic bread. Garlic heavy, and delicious.
After dinner and a chat with some of the other Inn patrons we hit the hay. We had an early 7:30am pick up to partake in the real reason for our Belize City stop: Cave Tubing.
At about 7:22 am the cave tubing company had arrived. We piled in the van and quickly made our way out of town. One quick stop for gas and another to pick up the cook responsible for our lunches and we were off. The ride was about 50 minutes west of B.C. We turned off the main highway and went another 20 minutes along an atrocious dirt road into the jungle to the drop off point. Here we were joined by MANY other tourists, only these weren't the young, dirty, backpacker types we are use to. No, these folks donned generic 'Cozumel' tourist T-shirts, had American South and Midwest accents, and sported Carnival Cruiseline towels...and, we were surrounded by them.
The hike out to the jump off point was longer and more strenuous than I had imagined. After an hour's hike in the hot Belize jungle I was more than ready to jump in when we finally reached the riverside. We waited somewhat patiently for the tourists to pile in one-by-one until finally it was our turn.
While, the trip wasn't exactly the high adrenaline, cave tubing adventure I had imagined, it was very beautiful and relaxing. You start off on your tube in the hot sun, but quickly you enter a long cave system where it is totally dark except for the beams from the headlamps everyone is wearing.
We went through 2 different caves which were both pretty long. Being the very tail end of the dry season, the water was about as low as it gets, which made for way mellow tubing except for the times when the guides would yell: "BUTTS UP!!!!" when we entered a really shallow section...so as to prevent us from bruising our arses. The cruise shippers got a real kick out of them yelling "BUTTS UP!!!"... every single time...it just never got old for them.
Finally we finished up and headed back down the path to the bus which took us to the bar/restaurant where we had a light lunch of steaming hot and very delicious tamales washed down with an ice cold (south-of-the-border hence real sugar and glass bottle) Coca-Cola. Mmmmm...
Then it was back on the bus. A quick 50 minutes and we were back to the Red Hut Inn. We spent the next few hours basking in some lovely and necessary R & R. We ventured out only to get supplies for breakfast, water and commuter lunch as we would be bussing it west to San Ignacio, Belize (Guatemalan/Belize border) in the morning.
That evening we enjoyed another of Lewis' culinary creations, mango beef burger and fries for Adrian (with 'Uncle Lew's famous BBQ sauce) and crispy white fish burger for me. Delicious, no doubt about it.
In the morning it was back to the dusty shanty bus station for us. We hopped the converted school bus (aka: chicken bus) that was pulling out of the lot just as we arrived. We grabbed the last two seats in the back of the bus and sweated our way out of town.
Belize City, there ya go! She ain't pretty, but she gets the job done!