Victor’s Inn is about a 10 minute drive or BLZ$15 taxi ride from the bus station so we were thankful for the offer from Sonia of a free lift in the morning. Dropped off right at the temporary bus station we got cheap as tickets and waited excitedly for our first chicken bus of the trip. And it didn’t disappoint, with flashing lights and banging reggae tunes the whole way to Belize City. An hour and a half later we peeled ourselves and our two backpacks off our sticky shared seat and grabbed a meat pie and conch fritter from one of the food stalls at the bus station.
Unsure how far the ferry terminal was we jumped in a taxi, discovering later that if we’d done our research this is a pretty easy 15 minute stroll away, so save yourself the BLZ$8 and just walk it. There’s also two options for ferry’s and people will always try to shuttle you to the more expensive option (San Pedro Express). The boats leave from two different docks, the cheaper option (Caye Caulker Water Taxis) from the Swing Bridge which is on the way to the alternative ferry terminal so worth checking out on the way. Not knowing this at the time we were roped into the expensive ferry and upon boarding found we weren’t the only people comparing the number of lifejackets against the number of people (one of which seemed to be significantly lower than the other!).
Speeding across the Caribbean waters, we were given the occasional glimpse of aquamarine seas that this side of the coast is famous for when the sun peaked out from behind the clouds. Pulling up at the Caye Caulker dock, we were given our first introduction to the islands vibe of ‘Go Slow’. As tourists lingered on the dock to grab their backpacks off the luggage cart, they were sent to the far end of the dock to await their luggage on the mainland. Only a short walk of about 20mts, it took the luggage guys a good 15 minutes to wheel the trolley down and start handing out bags. Remember, there’s no hurry here people. With Sarah waiting in the sand with the bags, Matt went on the scout for a cheap room which didn’t consist of an overpriced wooden dog box, as most of the hostels were offering. Half an hour later he returned to interrupt Sarah’s game of marbles with a little local kid named George (even the kids names are English here!).
After half an hour she still wasn’t sure what the rules were, especially when the game descended into throwing the marble as high above your head as possible and hoping it didn’t smack into your skull on the way down. Saying goodbye we carted the bags to the left the main road to Caribbean Motion, above Fantasy restaurant, where Matt had managed to score a double room with fan and private bathroom for only BLZ$40 a night (a steal when the hostels by the dock were renting tiny wooden boxes big enough to fit a double bunk bed with two foot to spare for BLZ$27 per person!). Dumping our bags we hit the sandy car-less streets for a slow stroll through town. Be prepared, everybody in this town will offer to sell you drugs. If you say no to weed, they’ll promise you they have the best coke on the island.
Asking around about a snorkelling trip to the reef the next day, the longest reef in the world after our own Great Barrier Reef in Australia, we settled on the guys at Blackhawk. Owned by a local guy and his Czech girlfriend, we said we’d be back at 9am to ensure they had enough people to sail that day as currently they only had four people.
After a lazy afternoon on the Caribbean Motion’s hammock hunger took hold so we headed out for dinner at a start up restaurant called Roy’s. Matt had run into a guy on the street earlier in the day and he’d convinced us to give it a try. Owned by a young guy, Roy, whose father was a famous cook around town, the food was ok (they were out of whole lobster, so we had to settle for a plate of lobster tails) but cheap and filling, and the cocktails were strong. The guys had a heaving rotation of tourists churning through all night, so they’re obviously doing something right!
There’s something about visiting a Caribbean island that screams ‘DRINK RUM!’. So we figured we should oblige. Sitting on the veranda above Fantasy Dining a breeze finally whisks up, so we slung into the hammocks with the flavours of Kuknat Coconut Rum quenching our thirsty taste buds, and contemplation of the forth coming night passed as gently as the breezes coming in off the coast. A couple of drinks later we wandered around the corner to the I&I Reggae Bar, one of only three bars in town you can actually go out late and drink in. Pulling up a swing at the bar we got chatting amongst the locals and tourists alike. The place was a little quiet but you can get a bucket of 5 beers for BLZ20.
A few Belikins and some rum punch’s later we were convinced to hit up the only other bar that was open at that hour and headed with some new friends to Voodoo nightclub. Walking in the place was slightly kicking, until somebody started shouting ‘Cops’ and everybody seemed to panic. Five minutes later the place was empty…we’re still not sure why everybody left a totally legal bar when rumour of cops went around, this ain’t no frat party full of underage drinkers right? We could only assume everybody in there was in one of the ‘wanna buy drugs’ gang we’d met earlier in the streets, so we took our cue to leave just as a downpour started and got soaked the entire way home.