The day after Kate left, I hopped on a bus from Guatemala to Belize. The trip was fairly short and uneventful. I arrived in Belize City around midday and grabbed a bite to eat at a street stall. Everyone here tends to speak English so for once I actually felt like I knew what was going on!! Belize City is not a great place and I was glad to only spend an hour there before boarding the water taxi to Caye Caulkner. The weather was incredible, bright blue skies, hot sunshine and the water was completely calm. After 5 mins there was some confusion over whether the boat was seaworthy, but eventually it was decided that it would make the 1 hour crossing and once again we were on our way. There was no wind at all and when we arrived there was white sands and a cute looking town - paradise! The island itself is tiny but full of fun & happiness! I checked into a hostel - dorm beds, yuk, but no choice here as due to the beautiful location the prices are extremely high.
In the evening I booked a snorkel trip for the next day. I was told that a cold front was on the way and that today was much calmer than normal! I had a nice meal and met one of the snorkel guides from another company and we had a few drinks. The island is split in two from a hurricane a few years ago, so we sat at the dock between the two islands by a funky bar called Lazy Lizard and watched lightening in the distance (which luckily didn´t come our way). It was great!
The next day I hopped onto my boat at 10am. It was a 6 hour trip - great! The weather was a bit cloudy which was probably a good thing from sunburn point of view. Our first snokel stop was about an hour away. There is reef along the whole coast and from the shore you can see the waves break. They say it is the second largest reef and so there are loads of brightly coloured fish, sting rays (massive) etc. We saw reef sharks - stroked their tummy as the guide caught one. They don´t really have any teeth so can´t bite. Also saw a turtle just cruising along - was amazing and I loved every minute of the whole trip. On the way back (the sun had come out by this point) we started on the Rum Punch - very strong, but seemed to get weaker and tastier by the glass. Then the highlight of the trip we saw DOLPHINS - woohoo!! They were fairly close to the boat so the guide pulled down the sail, turned around and the dolphins swam towards us and under the boat - it was amazing!! By the time we sailed back, the sun was just starting to set and as we were all now best friends on the boat(!) we all headed to the Lazy Lizard to continue the fun! Great sunset, great dinner and great dancing.
Woke up for a lazy breakfast the next day and bumped into my new friends from Arizona: Chase and Andy. We had a bite to eat then I just relaxed for the rest of the day listening to my ipod and planning on reading but snoozing instead. My plan had been to catch a 3 day boat trip to Palencia but they were not running until Tues - too late to meet Lou - due to the cold front. Although on the island the water was still calm, this was only due to the reef. So, new plan, water taxi back to Belize City and bus it down to Palencia instead. Also the lighthouse reef (above) trips were cancelled due to the weather outside the reef. Maybe just as well because it is VERY expensive. Apparently it is better to see from the air - but that is most definitely outside of my budget!
The next day on the bus change of plan once again. Headed to Punta Gorda - took forever, caught the bus at 10am and arrived around 3.40pm. I had planned to stay overnight in PG but there was a boat to Puerto Barrios in Guatemala (boats to Honduras from Palencia only go twice weekly so this was the best option) so I decided to continue my journey as the crossing was at 4pm so seemed like fate! When I saw the boat my first thought was ´that´s very small´. Bearing in mind the cold front which had popped in and that there was no reef here to protect the coast line the waves were massive. I handed over my bags and got in the boat - not easy in a skirt and with the waves splashing in. The guy said "if you are scared you will fall in the water" - nice to know, made me feel so much better!! So 5 mins later I am in a boat with two swedish people and four other guys - probably drug runners. The guy passes us all black plastic bags and says "you´re gonna get wet" and he wasn´t wrong. Within two waves I was drenched. It was quite exciting at first - just like being on a rollercoaster which I love!! But, then the waves became more rough, I got more wet and the engine cut out. As I was mentally figuring out how I would be able to replace my passport, the boat was helplessly flaying about in the water and started to turn side on to the waves at which point I was sure we would capsize. Of course we had no radio and I don´t think we could be seen from land - at least that´s how it felt. The engine started for a few minutes but then cut out again. Starting to get a bit scared. It transpires that the front of the boat was too heavy - so I was asked to move back to a nice wet seat all the while trying to keep my passport dry and to not fall out of the tiny boat. The engine started and we were off once again. Towards the end of the 1hr15 trip when I thought we were nearly safe the metal poles holding the capony on started to come loose, the engine cut out for the final time and I honestly thought I would never see dry land again. Eventually we got there and then I took out the lonely planet to see where I was and where to stay. Lonely planet says something along the lines of ´Port towns are notoriously dodgy and those with international borders even more so. Perhaps here the edgy, slightly sleazy feel is authentic´ - great so I was safer in the boat! So, I start walking down a dark and lonely street with my fingers crossed. My only hope is that I look so bedraggled and worn out no one will try to mug me. I eventually get to Hotel Lee which looks like a prison with paint peeling off the walls and am shown to a small room with shared bathroom - if you can call it that. I am starving so venture out into town with only a few dollars and no camera, passport, etc. The room isn´t very secure but if I am going to get mugged anywhere it feels like this is the place... The only place I could find to eat was Pollo Campero (like KFC). As luck would have it, I met a really nice guy in the restaurant Fredy and his son Alex (12). We chatted for a while. He lives in the town and is a tour guide in Rio Dulce. He offered to show me the sights (there aren´t many) and it seemed a better plan than my skanky hotel room... He showed me the oldest hotel built by the American United Fruit Company and then we headed to the town next door and ended up playing basketball with two random strangers while his son played football. I was rubbish having never played before but everyone kept passing me the ball...I think we lost about 200 - 15! Very hot and tired but very happy. We met some other guy who was in a tournament the next day and said I should come. Fredy said I could stay with his family but I said I needed to get to Honduras... Rest of the evening was nice, met his family - two daughters and wife, had a beer and went back to my cell!
Next day escaped early and headed to Honduras. At the border I went through passport control and made the long 15 min walk with all my bags and no shade to the buses. The landscape is very green. Journeys are always double the length the book says. To get to Camayagua took forever - three buses later and I finally arrived at 7pm. Checked into a NICE hotel with cable tv. Supermarket was shut - will have to get some stocks so that I don´t run out of food any more! So, went to bed a bit hungry but was so tired from travelling for what seemed like forever I went straight to sleep!
Tomorrow I am heading to the capital to meet Louise - can´t wait, only I hope I get there in time. It says 1hr30 so I´ll leave 4 hours and hope to get there to meet her. We plan to go to Copan Ruins, waterfall place, maybe a cloud forest and the beautiful beaches...