The next morning was a little tough to drag ourselves out of bed, but not wanting to let down the other couple booked on Blackhawk, we made our way to the other end of town and let them know we were still keen. Unfortunately for us the other couple didn’t have the same thoughts and the jerks had stood us up (I’m sure their hangover wasn’t as bad as ours!!). With a minimum of four people needed, looks like there was no Blackhawk sailing that day. Ordering a big fry up across the street of eggs, bacon and fried jacks (triangular parcels of doughy hangover goodness) we debated our options. Deciding not to try our luck with another rainless day tomorrow, we wandered back to Raggamuffin tours and jumped on board with them. Managing to talk the price down a little, we joined a cool crew of around 20 others, mostly international couples, and set sail for the Belize Barrier reef.
Our first stop we all donned our snorkels eager to get in the shallow water and join the two large loggerhead turtles that were circling below a small fishing boat. The fisherman obviously frequent this spot, as do the turtles, judging by the cemetery of conch shells that covered the entire seabed. Joining the turtles was a huge swarm of stingrays and a random nurse shark. Matt and I, being the only Aussies on board, seemed to be the only people a little wary of having these huge beats swim directly below you in the shallows, with visions of a Steve Irwin style demise constantly crossing your mind. The water was super clear water and the group had GoPros galore.
The turtles had no qualms about swimming right up in front of you, and as we’d been told not to touch them, occasionally you had to back up to stop them touching you. It was only once we were back on the boat we were told that the smallest Turtle Ish is mostly blind, and regularly bites people who get to close, and if you’ve ever seen a loggerhead turtles mouth up close you’ll understand why we were all relieved we didn’t get too close, that thing would bloody hurt!
The second stop saw us heading a short way across the waves to Shark Alley. Sounds sinister but it’s not really, it’s basically a large group of harmless nurse sharks who once again know if they hand around this particular area they’ll eventually get fed by one of the tour boats. So nothing to fear…unless like Matt you spot a huge shark swim under your boat which the captain jumps up nervously and finally admits to Matt and I, the only others who’d seen it, that it was in fact a bullshark, one of the most aggressive ones out there…swimming right in the direction we were headed. Lets just say we weren’t as keen to get in the water as we had been the first time around! Eventually sucking it up, we swam over to watch the nurse shark feeding frenzy, but were out of the water before most of the others, as looking over your shoulder expecting this unfriendly local to arrive any minute wasn’t exactly relaxing.
Back on the boat it was a filling feed of rice and veggies with either chicken or seafood, then our final stop at the Belize Barrier Reef. Belize has a stunning 300km section of the 900km Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system, stretching from Mexico to Honduras, and second only in size to our own Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Our guide was one of the young crew from the Raggamuffin boat, who jumped in and enthusiastically free dove down to numerous sea life before surfacing to explain what each one was. He was knowledgable and passionate, which made it all the more enjoyable for us. We spotted some cute green turtles eating on the bottom before surfacing for air, then Matt dove a meters down to follow a giant green moray eel on the GoPro, before it turned around and aggressively chased him off.
Back on the boat it was celebratory rum punches all round to wash down the freshly made ceviche. Reflecting on the day, we’d met some great people and it was a great group on the boat from Switzerland, Germany, America and all over the world, some of whom we’re still in contact with now. As we pulled up to dock our captain Roy moored up whilst we were treated to a great little Raggamuffin Rap by our host and guide Jay, which had us all laughing and filling the tip jar. Whilst the trip wasn’t exactly cheap (USD$70 p/p) the amount of rays, fish, eels, sharks and if you’re lucky turtles that you see does make it worthwhile. After last nights adventures we took it down a notch, loading up on carbs with a couple of huge plates of pasta alfredo and carbonara from Fantasy restaurant.
Breakfast downstairs the next morning we had some great iced coffees complete with coffee ice cubes so it didn’t water it down when they melted. We spent a cruisy day hanging out on The Split, snorkelling off the jetty and sunbathing with a load of others. This used to be the place to hangout and booze but the Lazy Lizard bar at the end no longer sells alcohol. You can buy your own beers and sit out here and drink them, but scout around as some shops are cheaper than others.
As we were heading back the Germans, Silke and Oliver), from the boat trip yesterday called out from their balcony. Heading up to join them for a beer, we soon saw the Swiss, Nicole and Vicktor, on the street and invited them up too. A few beers later we headed for dinner at La Cubana and sat down to huge plates of BBQ pork, crackling, a choice of three sides and three rum punch’s, can’t complain about that! They also do a pretty solid breakfast and dinner buffet, and were close to opening their new venture, the ice cream buffet, a stoners dream. Solidifying new found friendships, the girls gradually left for home with the boys carrying on with some beers down by the waterfront. Caye Caulker has no beaches and the closest you get it sitting by the jetties where the water laps the shore under a moonlit sky. It was this night when hanging out with the Germans and some older local guys that from the water emerged a figure from the darkness. A petite female presents herself to the table.
‘Where did just come from?’ she was asked.
Hysterical laughter reigns from the group as she’s not clocked on to the context of the question.
‘That’s one hell of a swim?!’
Jokes over, Susu joined us and we were another member richer at the table.
Another early start saw us grabbing a cheap breakfast back at La Cubana (you can’t beat how filling the meals are for the price here) before we sauntered up the jetty and onto our ferry, glad to note there were more lifejackets on this boat than the last one. Back on the mainland we shunned the many offers of a taxi and took the 15 min walk to the bus station, stopping for some cheap local street food of stewed chicken, rice and beans along the way. Passing by green painted buildings and houses on stilts, you can’t take your eyes off the pavement for fear of falling down one of the grates that seem to cover the city. Belize City appears to be a city of contrasts where clean cute dogs hang out with scruffy mongrels and newly erected buildings seem to prop up their decaying neighbour.
Back in Orange Walk we ran into a man on the street picking his son up from school, who asked if we needed a taxi. Giving us the rate straight off that we knew we should pay, we took him for an honest bloke and said yes, it’s always good when you don’t have to bargain. If you’re ever in Orange Walk in need of a tax, give Joe a call on 663 7809, he’s a good guy!
Back to Porkchop at Victors Inn, Sarah played some frisbee with the owners two grandsons before leaving it for them to keep. We then had an entertaining conversation with the owner Sonia where she told us some stories about these two cheeky kids, the best one being when she caught them comparing their dicks, and she threatened to tie them together if they kept it up. She also told Matt that there was quite a lot of gang activity still going on in the region, with some gangs dumping dead bodies just up the road, (all whilst watching the evil rooster being pelted with rocks by the grandsons). But it’s all good, they never bother her or the family on the farm. Sonia makes great fruitcakes every Christmas with her own fruit from the farm, and people come from as far away as Mexico to buy these rum soaked bad boys. With Christmas fast approaching we couldn’t resist buying one, trust us, these things are worth the money for the amount of rum their soaked in!