macado's se asia adventure I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

1Jan/100

Unbelizeable – Caye Caulker to Flores, Guatemala by bus & ferry

Woke up next morning and checked out of Chinatown Inn. Walked down the street and had some breakfast. An actual proper breakfast place with eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and toast.

I had already previously booked my return ferry to ticket to Belize City using San Pedro Water Taxi Association. I believe the ferry from Ambergris Caye to Caye Caulker plus the return ticket from Caye Caulker to Belize City cost around 7.5-9USD. Unbelizeably cheap.

We arrived in the "great" and "wonderful" Belize City around 11ish. Giving us plenty of time to sort out a bus to Flores which supposedly leaves at 2:30PM. Booked a bus ticket on San Juan bus company in Belize City at the ferry terminal to Flores, Guatemala for 40 Belize dollars (20USD).

The bus finally left Belize City around 3pm. Originally it was supposed to leave at 2:30pm however a Danish girl had her iPod stolen while walking through Belize City only 4 blocks from the bus terminal and had to fill out a useless police report.

Belize City is an absolute shit hole of a place lined with shanty little shacks and filled with Rastafarian crackheads and nut jobs. I would only recommend going there in passing to catch a bus or a ferry elsewhere. In fact if you can skip Belize City and head to the islands directly from Chetumal or Corozol you are much better off. The sooner you leave Belize City the better. You see there are some third world cities that have a interesting aurora surrounding them. You know they're terrible but ultimately they end up being somewhat safe and have many fasinating things to see and explore. Unfortunately Belize City is not one of them; avoid at all costs since it has no redeeming values whatsoever.. I dont think I have ever meet anyone that had a good experience in Belize City. I have no idea why any cruiseship would ever dock here.

The bus through Belize and into Guatemala was largely uneventful with the roads being a little better in Belize. Once on the Guatemalan side we had to worry about dodging the occasional rogue donkeys, some pot holes and stray dogs. The border crossing at the Belizean checkpoint took a little over an hour however once on the Guatemalan things oddly moved much quicker. We crossed into the Guatelian border as it began to get dark and I figured I would experience some local culture by purchasing a Gallo beer for 10 Queztals at a local tienda before reboarding the bus onto Flores.

We arrived at Flores around 9PM. Total travel time by bus was about 6 hours including the hour and half that was spent queuing in customs and immigrants in Belize and Guatemala. Guatemala customs was much faster.

Although i've only been in Flores for about 2 hours this place is already starting to grow on me. It's a little colonial town with cobblestone streets and old shop buildings. Me and Mark ended up finding a pretty decent hotel room for about 12USD/night. Flores is actually an island on a lake connected to the mainland by a small causeway; it is the main travel point for most people heading to visit the famous Tikal ruins. So far it seems like a very safe little place with lots of charm. I will try to do more exploring. I have a catch a bus at 5am tomorrow to explore Tikal all day and then I have the entire rest of the day to explore Flores before finally getting the overnight sleeper bus to Guatemala City at 9:30pm before returning to Boston. Should arrive in Tikal around 6am tomorrow so tonight is an early night. Adios and Buenos Noches

1Jan/100

New Years Eve & Frenchies Diving in Caye Caulker, Belize

Woke up around 7am and checked out of the Rainbow Hotel since they only had one room available last night. Placed our bags at reception and walked to a breakfast place around the road. Met an extremely well hung over English guy who was living in Belize City and on holiday for the weekend in Caye Caulker. He was planning on celebrating two New Years, one at 6PM when It's the New Years in London and the local New Years in Belize. He suggested we check out a place called Chinatown Hotel, aptly located in the chinese section of Caye Caulker. Yes they actually have a "chinatown" here. It's about 2 stores, a chinese restaurant and a hotel. Rooms werent bad but very small; 110 Belizean dollars/night (55USD/night or 27.50USD split). It's clean, has aircon, hot shower, mini frig and a TV.

Walked over to Frenchies Diving to get our equipment sorted out. If you think Mexican dive shops are disorganized then you havent seen a Belizean dive shop. Again, the motto "Go Slow" applies here as well. We were supposed to be there at 9AM however by the time everyone got their equipment we didnt leave the dock until at 10am. In their defense, the divemaster gave a really good introduction and safety briefing. There were only about 8 divers on the boat which was split into 2 groups. 4 divers each plus one divemaster per group. Water was pretty rough but I managed fine, I could tell a bunch of people on the boat were getting see sick in the 6-7 foot ocean swells.

Both dives were in the Hol Chan national park. It took about 25-30 minutes for the boat to reach the dive sites. The first dive we did was Eagle Ray Canyon. It was a 70ft dive for about 55 minutes. Thankfully the dive lived up to it's reputation and I managed to see 5 spotted Eagle Rays. An awesome dive in my opinion. The visibility was not as good as Cozumel and the water is a bit more rough but I really enjoyed this dive. The coolest thing about Hol Chan is that the groupers have absolutely no fear of divers. They will literally come inches away from your mask and allow you to touch them. In Cozumel you can't really get near them. I'm guessing they must feed them here. As we descended tons of groupers followed us along our dive. The 2nd dive wasnt as good but was still decent enough. We dove a place called Pillar Corals. It was a 50ft dive for about 45 minutes. Lots more groupers, a friendly turtle and nurse shark. Sadly, no Eagle Rays on this dive though there were a few absolutely massive groupers who decided to hang around us for part of the dive.

I don't really have any interesting stories for New Years Eve. It was actually quite tame in comparison to most of my New Years eves celebrations.

Met up with that Australian girl and bunch of people whom she had dove the Blue Hole with at a place called Wet Willy's.

Large BBQ joint on the otherside of the island. I actually didn't eat because I wasn't hungry but the food looked really good; everyone that ate there also seemed to agree. Cant remember the price but it was a sort of all you can eat buffet.

After dinner we sat around Wet Willy's and listened to a guy play guitar while people smoked weed and ate hash brownies. Seemed like they do a lot of that here. Sadly I didnt partake in this..

Apparently for New Years Eve the best parties on the island are I&I Reggae Bar and Sunset Disco Bar. Both places were absolutely packed. I&I is a cool reggae bar with an upstairs balcony and swing sets for seating. Very chill little place.

We stayed here for the countdown however I'm pretty sure we missed it. Almost every single person had a different time on their watch or phone so I believe we had about 3 "official" countdowns until we had realized that one of them must have been the real one after the locals started lighting off fireworks. No champagne here but plenty of Belikin beer and rum and coke to go around.

The group started to disperse around 1am since everyone was tired from scuba diving that day. I walked back to the Sunset Disco Bar to try and find those English girls so I could get their email addresses since they had taken tons of pictures last night. Unfortunately, I couldnt find them anywhere.

New I was leaving the next morning to go to Guatemala so I decided to call it a night and head to bed.

31Dec/090

Caye Caulker: More Belikin, Belizean karaoke and poker machines

After last night´s episode me and Mark got some breakfast and decided to get out of dodge and onto the next ferry to Caye Caulker.

The ferry to Caye Caulker took about 35-40 minutes and arrived around noon. Started walking the streets (or rather street) looking for accomodation. I use the term street loosely since there are no paved roads in Caye Caulker, only dirt roads where golf carts are the main form of transportation. While the population of Ambergris Caye is about 10,000; there are only about 1500 people on Caye Cauker.

As me and Mark searched for hotels we were approached by a shifty looking fellow offering us his hotel room which he had already prepaid up until the 2nd. For some odd reason which we couldnt figure out he was in an awful hurry to leave the island. Seemed like he wanted to make a bit of his money back since he was leaving early and they wouldnt give him a refund. He was going to charge us 45 bucks for the rest of his hotel stay however hotel receptionist wasnt very bright and didnt understand that the room had already been prepaid and wanted to try to charge us an extra 75 Belizean dollars a night to stay in his already paid for hotel. In the end he realized they werent going to let him do this so he left the island and handed us his keys to his hotel room. He told us to "use it as a party room or something." Odd.

Me and Mark decided to tempt fate and try to stay for one night. Back to this odd fellow again, he was in such a hurry to leave that he left a bunch his clothing and a bunch of important paperwork fron his job in the room. It begs to ask the question - Why did he want to leave so badly?

Before we could actually settle in the room the manager had told us we had to leave so we obligated which was good because I really didnt fancy staying in a room where some sort of crime scene may have occured. We eventually found a place called Rainbow Hotel for 100 Belizean dollars (50USD split between two people so 25USD/night) however they only had one night available. We were both tired of lugging our bags around so we agreed to stay there. It is a actually a pretty decent place with an air conditioner and cable TV. There are numerous more cheaper and shittier places on the island to stay however I have to give Mark shit about requiring that any place have air conditioning. Not that I mind; Air conditioning is great.

We rested up a bit and decided to "hit the town." Settled on a place called Oceanside Bar which I had been to on my last trip to Caye Caulker. It's a small bar/disco with a sand floor and cheap happy hour drinks with local rum. To my suprise they had karaoke tonight. We had dinner at a placed called Herbal Tribe and met up with a couple British girls who came along with us for the journey. Herbal Tribe was a good enough place however fast service was not their strong point nor is that the strong point of any place on the island. The Caye Caulker motto is - "Go Slow." They honestly arent kidding. It seems to apply to every faucet of life here.

Anyway I decided to do a few karaoke songs. Much to my surprise my performances were a big hit. The bar must have been set pretty low. This bar also has a bunch of poker machines. It's pretty odd seeing poker machines in a bar that only had a sand floor. I keep forgetting gambling must be legal here. San Pedro actually has a casino on the island.

Around 11pm one of the Australian girls I met at the hostel back in Cozumel about 4-5 days walked into the bar while someone was performing a rendition of Sweet Child of Mine by AC/DC. Appropiate? - I think so. Pretty small world; I hadnt even realized that she might be on her way to Belize and last time I spoke to her she was headed to Tulum. I imagine it's a bit like South East Asia where lots of backpackers follow the same route and tend to run into each other since Lonely Planet tells them to stay and go to the same places. She stayed out for a few drinks but had to leave early since she was waking up the next morning at 5am to the dive the Blue Hole. The English girls were also ready to leave as well since they were still a bit jet lagged. I also figured it was time to take off since me and Mark were diving at 9am. We all planned to meet up tomorrow for New Years at the same place. I really hope I end up finding them all again since they all took about a hundred pictures last night and I forgot my camera like an idiot.

24Feb/070

Caye Caulker, Belize

So far my first experience back into the backpacking world started at the airport in Atlanta before my flight into Belize City.  I met a group of people I like to call the blatantly "Canadian" Canadians.  How Canadian mind you?  Well every item they carried, their hats, backpack, jackets, camera bag, and t-shirts all had Canadian flags on them.  From what I gathered from their conversations (obviously..they had to tell everyone they were talking to they were Canadian) they're spending 4-5 months backpacking through South American and Central America. I can understand them not wanting to be mistaken for Americans but at some point the Canadian flag thing borders on being downright ridiculous.   Every Canadian I met on SE Asia, Australia, and New Zealand was cool and I have nothing against Canadians but I sort of thought it was funny how they attempted not to stick out.  I just find having 8 Canadian flags on your persons is pretty funny, if Americans did that they would be ridiculed but apparently it's okay for Canadians because they're not "ugly Americans"     END CANADA RANT. 🙂  Sorry Canadians
Getting to my first destination so far has been interesting.  I flew into Belize City which probably has one of the smallest International airports i've ever seen.  Once I got through customs which took 5-10 minutes I booked a puddle jumper play on Maya Air to get to Caye Caulker (island) for $54 USD.

If I wanted to save money I could have taken the water taxi for $10 USD however by the time I got to the marine terminal by taxi which would have cost $25 USD I would only have saved 20 bucks and wasted about 3-4 hours of time.  The puddle jumper plane took about 15 minutes.

With the island being so small naturally all the "Lonely Planet" accommodations were booked solid. Nevertheless, I managed to stumble around and find something basic at a place called Sandy Lane Cabanas for 20 BZD a night (10 USD/night).   Nothing special but it has a fan, a comfortable bed and was clean enough for my needs.  The bathroom is shared but they do have some private ones for a bit more, I didn't really mind.

The entire island, although in Central America has a distinct Caribbean feel to it.  The local population consists of Creoles, Indigenous Mayan peoples, Africans and a small minority of other groups.  Every bar seems to have a reggie theme with Bob Marley blasting on the jukebox. The island is extremely laid back, small and easy to navigate. I believe the population here is about 800-1000 people. I would guess the entire island is only about 1-2 miles around and all the ins/outs can easily be explore in a few hours of walking around.   There are no paves roads and the main method of transportation besides walking are bicycles and electric golf carts.  It seems every local has an electric golf cart.  It's pretty funny, most of the locals and from what I gather tourists drive around all day drinking beer and driving the golf carts.  I don't actually know how safe or legal that is but it seems like every person I see driving a golf cart also has a beer in their hand.  There are a handfull of vehicles on the island, literally ONLY about two or three trucks that were imported from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye (the neighboring much bigger island)
Went out drinking my first night and sort of just walked around to different places to see what the island had to offer.  Later on at night I settled one drinking at a place called Sunset Disco Bar, the only disco/club on the island.  Seems like a very dodgy/divey place.  I basically just sat on the balcony outside drinking Belikin which is the national beer of Belize and it's amazingly good.  Maybe one of my favorite beers.  It has a great taste and have a very strong alcohol content.   Anyway, I probably wouldn't attend Sunset Disco Bar again.  Seemed like all locals and what looked like Belizean prostitutes hanging out at the end of the bar.    Unfortunately, I stretched my basic Spanish to it's limits but the brief conversation I had with them was quite interesting.  None of them spoke any English other than "Where u from? and "U want fuck?" as amusing as it was I wasn't interested but I did at least try to humor them by explaining in Spanish that I "yo no tango mucho dinero"