I’m on my way to Semuc Champey (more affectionately known by my travel buddies as “Smoke Champagne”), and I realized I’ve officially been on the road for one week now and true to form I’ve done very little writing about it..
When I first arrived at Belize airport I took a taxi (US$20) and headed to Belize City. Honestly, at that point I still didn’t know whether I wanted to be dropped off at the ferry port so I could travel east to Caye (pronounced “key”) Caulker, the bus station to head west towards San Ignacio and Barton’s Creek Outpost, or if I wanted to explore Belize City. It took about 10 seconds of driving through Belize City to decide my choice would absolutely not be the latter. After experiencing Belize City, I thoroughly believe they included “city” in it’s proper name so that you might believe it was one… Belize not-City is an overgrown, scorching hot, dangerous town and had gotten me quite worried about the journey I was embarking on. I chose Caye Caulker because I feared heading inland would bring more of the unpleasantness that was the city.
Caye Caulker ended up being the best decision I could have made, what a way to begin my trip! Heeding to the advice of my taxi driver whom had three daughters of his own, I walked not on the sidewalk (where I would be sheltered from view between cars and the store walls), but in the middle of the street so I wouldn’t be shoved against a wall and robbed… or worse, while I walked into the ferry port. There I was thrilled to be in a seemingly safe situation. I paid for a roundtrip ticket (BZ$35) in American dollars (apparently it is standard practice everywhere in the country to accept US and Belizean dollars at a standard and unchanging rate of two Belize to one US dollar). I was the only tourist in the waiting area when I arrived there two hours early for my ferry but within an hour a few more showed up. The crowd in the ferry port was mostly school kids whom I found out were on their way back from school (there aren’t any colleges on the Cayes). The forty five minute ferry ride was pleasant and fun for people watching. I sat next to Frank and his wife whom were very happy to answer all my questions about Belize. Frank invited me to come by the Corona Hotel (where they were employed) on San Pedro for a rum and punch if I ended up making an excursion there during one of my days on Caye Caulker.
Upon arrival at Caye Caulker I walked off the dock and realized I hadn’t planned anything farther than my standing on the pier that had “Caye Caulker – Go Slow” artfully done in what seemed to be shell pieces. I remembered reading in a forum about Yuma’s Guesthouse, and being the only name I knew I asked to be pointed in that direction. The friendly Rastafarian waiting to escort people to hotels in hopes of commission artfully informed me they were full. Being, well me, I refused to take no for an answer so he walked me by anyway. Sadly, I saw a “no vacancy” sign hung up on the front gate. Well I’m still stubborn, so I called up to the woman at the open air front office and asked her if she had a bed for me.
“How many people are you?”
“Come in, I have one bed left… but you can’t stay here more than four days.” My stubbornness had paid off and I excitedly waved goodbye to my new rasta friend. The outdoor garden in the front was complete with hammocks, enclaved picnic tables, and a barbecue all looking out over the hostels private pier (also laden with hammocks)… however, for being filled to capacity it seemed… well, empty. Regardless I paid my key deposit (BZ$10) and my first nights fee (BZ$25), and Suzanne, the owner, showed me the bathrooms, kitchens, and my room. There was one top bunk open.. I threw my stuff on it, locked my passport up and headed to “the split.”