On the 10th March (Susan’s birthday) we woke up as bright and early as we know how (i.e. about 9am) and realised that we had no idea where the office of the snorkelling place we’d decided on was. Somewhere in between the ATM and the restaurant the previous night, we’d spoken to a woman in a little window selling snorkelling trips and agreed to turn up the next day but alas we’d forgotten where it was, and for all it was a tiny island which pretty much only had one main road and a few back streets, it might as well have been a sprawling labyrinthine metropolis for all our drunken recollection amounted to. So instead, we went to the little hut on the beach near our hostel, “Raggamuffin Tours“, which was pretty much the same deal for the day’s snorkelling. We were handed our masks. snorkels and flippers and headed out to the jetty in search of our boat – “The Ragga Man”.
“The Ragga Man” himself, was Captain Caveman – a jovial Caribbean bloke, who welcomed us aboard along with the other 10 or so passengers, and introduced us to his first mate Chilo (a young latino bloke, with an excellent line in belly dancing). It was a lovely warm, but slightly overcast day and as soon as the sails went up, we were cruising across the sea enjoying the beers we’d had the foresight to buy from the shop earlier (to the envy of the other passengers who hadn’t thought on). Susan mentioned it was her birthday, and another girl on the boat piped up saying that it was her birthday too, so we gave her one of our beers and Captain Caveman lead the whole boat singing them a joyful happy birthday.
Put the rest of this in your face
We woke up in our lovely eco-cabana in the park next to Lake Bacalar (Scott Bakula) and found a couple of bottles of Sol in our bags to drink for breakfast as we sat out on our little patio and admired our beautiful surroundings in the daylight. Having arrived late the previous night we hadn’t appreciated all the lovely flowers and trees in the park!
Rejuvenated by the first beer of the day, we wandered down to the lake to take advantage of the free kayaks and spent a hilarious couple of hours paddling about ineffectively on the lake, trying to find somewhere along the shore that looked like a bar where we could get some beers and brunch. Unfortunately we were in quite a remote location so our quest was futile and everywhere that looked like it might be a bar turned out to be someone’s house once we got close up. There was a hilarious incident when investigating one of said potential pubby looking chains we attempted to moor our kayaks and disembark, Susan first, who promptly slipped on the algae covered landing ramp and ended up soaked to her waist much to Jill’s amusement. This amusement was short-lived though, as cocky in her knowledge that the ramp was slippy and she was going to watch her footing and not go the same way, she managed to slip regardless, fall to her knees and then slide backwards down the ramp scraping all the skin off her knees and ending up neck deep in the lake.
We got back to the eco-park and wandered back to the terrace, soaking wet, to have a few post-boat adventure beers and touch the resident dog before ordering our taxi to Chetumal. Jill went to have a cigarette, only to find that despite her thinking she was clever and sealing them in a zip-loc bag in her dress pocket for the lake, all she had was a pouch of wet tobacco and mushed up paper and had to buy some more from the man on reception.
We got to the water taxi terminal and paid our (quite preposterous) “exit fee” to get out of Mexico (after lots of running around in search of an ATM in which to take out said funds), and ended up sitting having a few beers, chatting with a lovely Belizian couple at a little kiosk by the landing point that was playing some quality 80s pop classics. We had to line up our bags on the jetty, where the customs men with their sniffer dogs wandered up and down inspecting them. The dogs were quite interested in one of the bags, and us and the Belizian couple were whispering “ooooh someone’s got something they shouldn’t!” and watched intently as it was revealed that the bag in question actually belonged to the driver of the boat and the substance that had interested the dogs was actually his packed lunch.
We went straight for the vacant back seat of the boat, and realised our error as soon as we started moving as we were getting the brunt of bouncing off the waves and neither of us had the foresight to wear a sports bra. We had a quick stop to change boats at Ambergris Caye (the largest and most popular of the Belize islands) just as the sun was going down, and grabbed a quick beer and a sandwich at the kiosk on the jetty before resuming our voyage to Caye Caullker in a tiny little dark boat.
Our chosen hostel (Yuma’s House) was fully occupied, so we had a quick margarita at a bar on the beach (where we didn’t linger as it was full of pretentious America Spring Breakers) before heading off up the one road on the island to try and find somewhere else to stay. Every hostel we tried was also fully booked and we spent a good while trudging up and down the island. Every time we passed the one policeman on the island (who was hanging around his little police hut next to the beach, with his kids playing around next to him) he kept asking if we’d found anywhere yet and telling us that we could stay at his house if we were stuck! Several other locals we repeatedly passed made similar kind offers and we were completely taken aback at how lovely and generous they all were!
We randomly bumped into a slightly tipsy cockney bloke stumbling along, who on being informed of our plight made it his mission to find us somewhere to stay. He had been wandering about the street in a quandry, having allegedly lost $20 from his wallet and was terrified of going home and breaking this news to his weightlifting Belizian wife (although from the state of him, we deduced that he must have just spent it all in the pub). He came up with the goods though, and found us a lovely little ramshackle place off the main road, run by a lovely big dreadlocked rasta bloke and his cute Swedish girlfriend. We repaid the favour by offering to take him out for something to eat, which he declined but said he’d come and have a drink with us and recommended a good restaurant that did the best “conch” on the island. The restaurant/bar he took us to was amazing – they had SWINGS instead of seats to sit at the table on, massive dirt cheap margaritas and the food was gorgeous. Jill had the endorsed conch which was lovely (kind of rubbery texture like calamari and very tasty). We sat and chatted over several rounds of drinks, the cockney bloke (sorry we can’t remember his name!) had us in kinks regaling us with tales of his adventures in South America, the highlight being when him and his mate told someone in a bar in Columbia that they wanted to buy some coke. in response to which the barman made a phone call and shortly afterwards a blacked out limo came to pick them up and took them to a mansion in the mountains, where the resident drug baron was eager to sell them several kilos. The lads, having only originally meant that they wanted to buy a couple of grams for themselves, were absolutely shitting themselves and managed bluff their way through it by saying they wanted a few grams to try to make sure that it was good stuff before they committed to buying the lot. So they were dispatched in the limo with several grams of free cocaine and returned to the bar. And promptly took the lot and left the country the next day. “And that ladies, is why I can never go back to Columbia.”
We bid him farewell and retired to our tumbledown hostel for a nice nice t nice sleep, as we wanted to be fresh the next day for our planned snorkelling adventure.