Belize – Smiles, Reggae and beautiful Sunset
Belize definitely a country worth visiting. Its colourful history has certainly given the country a diverse and rich cultural heritage. Though we only spent a week in Belize we noticed the diversity among the people. We met the beautiful Creole people (Afro-Belizean’s’) and came across some people from the Amish community and all were very friendly.
The border crossing into Belize went very smooth. The staff were not overly friendly but not unfriendly either. We crossed the border with Mark and Carina from Belgium that we have met a few times earlier when travelling through Baja California in Mexico. For some strange reason we managed to get a permission to stay three weeks in Belize, from the Immigration Officer, but Mark and Carina only got a week… very weird but the officer told us that he is the one who makes the decision…
However, if the people at the border weren’t overly friendly the people in Belize certainly were. Everywhere we were met by smiling and waving people. After four months in Mexico we had not been spoiled with spontaneous smiles. That said, people in Mexico are not unfriendly at all, just a tiny little bit harder to get these spontaneous smiles from. In Belize, there were also lots of lovely smiling children everywhere and gosh what we have missed that since we were travelling in Asia.
There is hardly any traffic in Belize, which of course is due to the small population (331,900). The roads were not the best, lots of potholes and dirt, just what we like 🙂 The houses, many on poles, reminded us a lot of the houses we saw when traveling through Laos.
The first day we only rode about 50 km (31 miles) to Orange Walk, which is a small town with a population of about 13,400. We found a camping place or actually we’d had been suggested a campsite by Lisa and Simon (2ridetheworld.com) who had visited the place several times. The campsite, Lamanai Riverside Retreat, turned out to be a very nice place situated next to the river (New River), where we were lucky to see both crocodiles and turtles. We pitched the tent just a few meters from the river, after the owner promised us that the crocodiles do not like to eat people and that he had been swimming with them earlier… yeah right, as if I believed that 😉
We stayed a couple of days in Orange Walk and luckily, there was an election in a couple of weeks so we happened to be in the middle of an election campaign. When arriving to the market place where all the people had gathered we were met by wonderful rhythmic music and people dancing, my god these people do know how to dance. This was for certain different to the election campaign back in England and Sweden.
After a couple of days it was time to leave. As both Anders and me find it very difficult to make decisions about what road to take or places to go to, we have come up with the brilliant idea of flipping a coin. So nowadays it is actually the Queen of England that makes the decision of where to go and so far she has done a pretty good job.
This time it was between two different roads from Orange Walk and Belize City, one high way, which we were told went through villages and farmers and the dirt road through the jungle. We flipped the coin and if the Queen (heads) came up, we would take the dirt road and if tails came up we would take the ‘better’ road. Not surprisingly, the Queen won and we headed for the dirt road. Ok the road was bumpy and dusty but we had a lot of fun. There was hardly no traffic at all only a few lorries full of oranges. We had a good couple of hours enjoyable ride.
We arrived quite late to Belize City and checked out a few places to stay, but found it too expensive so we decided to continue. However, we first stopped at an Indian restaurant, and my gosh so nice with some food that actually had some taste and that was hot and spicy when it says hot and spicy in the menu. After the superb meal we managed, though with some problem due to eating too much food, get on the bikes again.
We only rode for about ten minutes when we saw the marina called Old Belize. We went in and asked if we could put up the tent somewhere, which we could. We only paid BZD 16,80 (USD 8,40) and that with hot shower, a sea view and some sort of security, what else is there to ask for?
Placencia a cool place on the Caribbean Coast
The day after it was time to flip the coin again and this time we ended up on another dirt road. The Queen really wants us to get ‘dirty’. This time the road had too much sand for my liking but overall it was fun. We made a short stop for lunch in Hopkins Village which is a beautiful coastal village in eastern Belize with very friendly people. In Hopkins they told us that there was an art and music festival in Placencia so we headed for that, our own decision the Queen was not involved in that at all.
Placencia is situated on a peninsula and swarming with gringos. Here you could clearly see that there are some very rich people in Belize. The houses on the beaches were ridiculous big and very posh. We stayed in a hostel, which was ok. First night we were alone in the place so we had a very good night sleep. The second night there were a Belizean guy and a Japanese girl that were constantly smoking weed so one of them ended up puking the whole night, which kept us awake… nice. Anyway we had a good time listening to reggae music in Placencia but this is not a place I would recommend people to go to, stay in Hopkins, so much better.
We took the ‘famous’ Hummingbird highway to Belmopan and that was indeed a very nice road through jungle and orange plantations before we came to San Ignacio or Cayo as it is called. It’s located on the Macal river in the Cayo region and it’s the last town before Guatemala and is known for having ruins, caves, and rivers close by.
Later on in San Ignacio we found a camping, River Park Inn Camping, which was very nice and quiet. It was at this place we met, probably, the nicest guy so far on our trip. He lived in the no man’s land between Belize and Guatemala but came here to sew clothes to the people in the town. He went shopping for some food and came back and cooked a nice curry for us. He also gave us lots of fruits and vegetables. He certainly liked to hug and kiss and I don’t lie but I think I got more than 25 hugs and kisses from him. A lovely man that we will certainly never forget.
Maya ruin, Xunantunich
The day after we decided, or actually the Queen decided, to visit a Maya temple called Caracol about 80 km from San Ignacio. We had heard that the road was really bad but we thought, ha we’ve been on bad roads before so how hard can it be. This was a fucking shit road and after about 20 km we decided to turn around. The road was not a technical challenge as such, only a fucking boring hard bumpy road that gave us a headache and backache. There are some roads that, if you ride fast, you can kind of float over the potholes and there are some bumpy roads where you can be crisscrossing to avoid some of the potholes. This was neither of those, it was just a bloody bumpy road in whatever speed you had. As we knew that we had to ride the same way back, which would have ended up with 160 km (100 miles) on this road, we just said ‘no Maya ruin in the world would make us do that’… just to clarify, we are not hugely interested in Maya temples so that made us take that decision quite easily. Ok, so we headed back to San Ignacio and ended up staying at another campsite, Mana Kai, which we had heard was very nice. There was nothing wrong with this campsite if you don’t mind the noise from the cars.
The day after it was time to leave Belize. We headed for the border. About 5 km (3 miles) before the border we passed sign post to another Maya ruin, Xunantunich. We had to take a hand cranked ferry to cross the Mopan River to get to the ruin. Well, that is always a fun thing to do and this time it was free of charge.
After the ruins we headed straight to the border and after a very smooth and fast border crossing we were in Guatemala, another country, another culture and hopefully more adventures.
Random photographs – Belize