Friday, January 13, 2012

Rum, rain & reggae in Belize

I knew it would happen at some point - falling way behind on my blog. The start of the year and change of scenery plus some previous engagements have eaten up all my days. But getting back on track slowly...

The new year was approaching and I headed towards Belize. After the cheap and organised Mexico it was a bit of a shock to arrive to the shabby and expensive San Pedro. The small town is located on an island, Ambergris Caye, about a two hour boat ride from the southeast corner of Mexico (Chetumal). I got a hotel room right on the beach and was happy with it since there were hardly any available, definitely no cheap options, and set off to explore the island. The sun had gone down and found a tiny tourist info to ask where I could go dancing. "Nooo no, it's too dangerous for a white girl". Ok... Not the warmest of welcomes.

Enjoying the sunrise from my hotel room balcony - the nice things about having a nice hotel room for a change!

Belize is home to "go slow" lifestyle that you get into it quite easily with reggae music and the local rum. Water is clear and sand is white. So what's special about northern Belize cayes? Food is simple, rice & beans with fresh seafood, and lobster was in season so that was a nice treat. You won't see cars but plenty of golf carts! It's actually not a beach destination, it's still mainly a fishing area and swimming is not that good. On the Atlantic side there's also apparently crocodiles.

Snorkeling and diving is supposedly superb - caves, wrecks, the Blue Hole. Expensive for sure but a reason for most people to come there. I had the misfortune to be there in bad weather (rare at this time of the year) just when I would have had time to do snorkeling so no water sports. One special sport though: the Chicken Drop. Gambling actually: you buy a ticket for your lucky number and hope the chicken will poop on that. A massive event and the grand prize isn't bad - 1000 Belizian dollars.

Reggae music, gambling, chicken, poop, rum.. what more could you need for a Thursday night out in Belize.
 So after two nights in the hot Ambergris Caye I moved the smaller Caye Caulker and that's when the weather turned sour. But I got plenty of rest then! And I was thrilled I stayed in such a nice place, with Madi Collins at her P.A.W. Cat Sanctuary and Humane Society where she provides shelter and care for over 80 rescued homeless cats with her four dogs. The kitties were very happy there and so was I, Madi was a lovely host.

Some of the P.A.W. residents - Madi knows all 86 of them by name!
Though I love cats it's the people in Caye Caulker made my visit, yet again. Madi and her family were so much fun and so helpful with everything. Met Allie and Pat from the UK for the third time! Siv & Rich from Stockholm who also stayed with Madi showed me around the island and bunch of fun American guys and gals shared the rainy days with me. Despite the rainy days we managed to celebrate the New Year, eat a lovely meal under the stars and burn the sandy dance floor!

Bye bye 2011 - welcome 2012!
But it was time to move on, to South America! Rio! Zouk! I was happy to put the rain behind me. I actually wanted to go to Bahia for the new year to zouk at the famous Berg's Congress but no flights... And even the connection to Rio was interesting: 3 stop-overs! Caye Caulker - Belize City - San Salvador - Lima - Rio. The first part was the best, on a tiny plane sitting just behind the pilot on the 7 minute jump from the island to the mainland. Was bumpier than I expected and the wind had been hard the previous day so it could have been even cancelled. But we were lucky that day.

This is the way to start my South American adventure!

Welcome to Tropic Air!

Belize islands

Hey dude, I can take over any time if you feel tired...

Sun setting over Peru

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