Tucked into the Caribbean Coast between Mexico and Guatemala is the tiny country of Belize. It is officially an english speaking country, though most people have a different mother tounge – Mayan, Spanish, Kriol and many others. But everyone does speak English, and border immigration was all in English which made our two weeks here a bit easier.
Our first night we relaxed at a river side camp in the town of Orange Walk. Just from a quick trip into town we noticed a huge culture shift from Mexico. The buildings are no longer Spanish colonial style, but reminded us a bit of Southern US style. The food was a bit more Caribbean and a bit blander than we had enjoyed in Mexico. Beans and rice with everything, a lot of foods like chicken strips and burgers on menus and for the most part pretty bland. Good thing the local hot sauce, Marie Sharps, was tasty and widely available.
After Orange Walk we headed to Crooked Tree reserve hoping to do some bird watching. Instead, we found a big bopping party (The Tilapia Festival) going on until 4am with a bass that probably scared away the birds. Oh well. We had something to look forward to anyways: Yolanda!
Our second guest of the trip flew in for a few days of island life and scuba diving on Caye Caulker. The island is a popular backpacker spot and has a lot of Caribbean vibe. The motto of Caye Caulker is “Go Slow”, and it is hard not to follow after a couple rum punches at dinner. We had perfect weather and amazing snorkel and scuba trips. Our scuba trip took us all the way to San Pedro. We had perfect visibility and saw beautiful coral formations, sharks, turtles, fish, and swam through a 20 foot tunnel and through coral canyons.
Either the nitrogen got to her brain or Yolanda was having a good time in Belize, because we were able to talk her into staying another night and coming to the Belize Zoo with us! She camped with us by the zoo (All 3 of us in the Landy) and joined us to see some good Jungle animals the next day. The Belize Zoo rescues injured and otherwise damaged animals that cannot be released into the wild and provides them with a good habitat – no cement cages for these guys. They also do animal rehabilitation and releases some animals back into the wild that are able.
After parting ways, we journeyed down to the coast again to the town of Dangriga. There we visited the Garífuna museum and Marie Sharps factory. The museum was small but we lucked into a drumming performance for local schoolkids and did learn a lot about the people. We then headed inland and uphill to find some relief from the heat. At Blue Hole National Park we took a short walk to Herman’s Cave and to The Blue Hole.
The last few days we spent in and around San Ignacio. Spanish Lookout – a Mennonite village with good hardware and grocery stores, as well as a beautiful park with free camping. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve – Beautiful Waterfalls and swimming holes, but with a crazy number of biting flies. And San Ignacio itself – small town with the best produce market we’ve seen in months! And the Landy got a Spa Day with the last Land Rover specialist we are likely to see on the trip. She’s all spruced up and ready to carry us through the countries ahead!