Posted by: glenswatman | February 2, 2009

200901-2- #MEXICO Yucatan BELIZE GUATEMALA

FRIDAY 16 JANUARY – Well the gods must be
looking after us as the rain has finally stopped.  Kathe give us a lift to Immigration offices where we manage to
jump the queue by asking a question. 
They give us some forms that we must take to the bank to pay for the
tourist visa.  Catch a bus to town
centre, P5 (25p) then queue for ½ hour to make the P282 (14.50) payment per
person.  Next we have to get 3 copies of
each of the receipts and the bank obliges us. Taxi back to immigration, P20
(1.00) and again the girl sees us ahead of the huge seated crowd.  She stamps the copies, gives us one back and
says we are good to go.  Take a taxi to
bus station, P14 (70p) and then on to the 11am chicken bus to Corozal P15
(75p).  It is one of the old American
school buses and looks well past its best before date but at least the driver
tops up the engine oil before we set off. 
We could have caught a luxury Ado bus but for a short journey this is
more fun.  At the Mexican border we all
get off the bus and proceed to customs to show passports or ID.  The guy asks for our tourist visa, stamps it
double entry before asking of our plan. 
We explain we are returning and he asks for P100 (5.00) each.  We tell him we have already paid and asked
for a double entry visa at the original border and should not have to pay
more.  He says no he wants P100 so we
call his bluff and say we will not bother going to Belize and stay in
Mexico.  He then says OK we can go in for
free, just this once.  Over the bridge
the next stop is entry into BELIZE.  All
very simple and strange to hear perfect English being spoken – due to Belize
being British Honduras in the past. 
It’s a short ride to Corozal but quite a transition from Mexico.  Signs are all in English and it looks like a
Caribbean town with all the coloured people. 
Everyone seems very friendly and many say Hello as we pass.  There’s an ATM in square, approx B2.80 =
GBP1 so we are soon fixed up.  Bank
notes have a picture of very young version of The Queen on them.  The island ferry doesn’t leave until 3pm and
it’s only just after 12 so we have time to explore.   Chinese runs most of the shops but all the food seems to be
tinned and very expensive, accommodation is not great so we will press on.   Thunderbolt ferry costs B$45 (GBP16) pp and
takes 2-hours of very bumpy noisy riding to get us to Ambergris Caye, the
island also known as “La Isla Bonita” in the Madonna song.  It’s starting to rain when we arrive and we
are disheartened to find our first few choices of accommodation are full.  There seems to be no middle ground just
budget rooms and posh rooms at $200 and up. 
We drop “lucky’ at Thomas Hotel where he has a grotty cubicle room for
B$50 (GBP17).  Well its one of those “no
room at the inn” situations and better than nothing.  Dump the bags and set out to explore the small town where golf
carts are the main mode of transport. 
It’s happy hour in many bars so 2 x rum and cokes for B$5 (GBP 1.80)
makes us feel much better.  We’re
obviously in for a noisy night as drumming begins at 8pm in a bar nearby.

AMBERGRIS CAY, SAN PEDRO, THOMAS HOTEL – B$50 (GBP 17)

 

SATURDAY 17
JANUARY –
We have no problem getting up early to leave and are pleased
that it is a dry day.  Sit eating our
grapefruit on the beachfront then enjoy a coffee at Estell’s whilst waiting for
the ferry.  B$25 (GBP9) buys us a ticket
to Caye Caulker with an onward one to Belize City for later.  This is another white-knuckle ride but only
takes ½ hour.  Caye Caulker is a more
laid-back backpackers type island with sandy streets and again golf cart
transportation.  Amble along the shore
checking out rooms but once again there are either cheapish grotty rooms or
very expensive ones with nothing in between. 
By comparison to Asia the cheap rooms are not great value but Ignacio
Beach Bungalows seem the best of the batch with en suite cabins on stilts at
B$30 (GBP12) if you stay for 2 nights. 
Sounds cheap but you have to see them to realise they are little more
than garden huts with damp sagging roofs, holes in the walls and smelly
bathrooms but we do have a nice view and it’s well away from the noisy part of
town.  Set out to explore the island,
which can easily be done, on foot, in fact many people wander around permanently
barefoot.  In the evening we return to
Jolly Roger shack as his evening meal package of meal, dessert and 3 drinks at
B$25 (GBP8) seems good value.  The mash
and rice are sent from home in a polystyrene tray but the fish or lobster he
cooks to go with it is really tasty. 
Dessert is a small slice of chocolate cake and the drinks are weak rum
and oranges however we do have good company.

CAYE CAULKER, IGNACIO BEACH BUNGALOWS – B$30 (GBP12)

 

SUNDAY 18 JANUARY
Begin our walk heading to the south of the island with an intriguing
cemetery, signs give birth and death dates as sunrise and sunset.  The airport is just behind it and a plane is
due to land so we step to one side whilst it drops in over our heads.  From there we walk to the north end of the island
where the old bridge that connected it to another part was washed out in a
storm many years ago.  There’s a nice
bar where we buy drinks in order to sit on their loungers.  The channel between the islands is deep and
full of tropical fish that we can easily see. 
Most of the beaches around the island are marred by sea grass and people
really come here to take a boat trip to the offshore reef for snorkelling.  The snorkelling here is not as good as it
used to be and it is blamed on the tourists stepping on the reef however having
seen that there is no drainage as such on the island we suspect other factors
are at play.  Locals here think nothing
of swearing even with young children around and often the F word mixed in with
a bit of  “Creole”.  In the evening we go to Lloyds Canadian
sports bar for the trivia quiz.  We
arrive early and treat ourselves to a nice meal only to find that the quiz is
off as there is a big American football game on TV. 

CAYE CAULKER 2

 

MONDAY 19 JANUARY
Catch the 7.30am express ferry to Belize arriving in the city 30
minutes later.  We have used to boats to
create a circular tour for ourselves but we certainly would not call them
pleasure boat trips.  Belize City looks
pretty grim if our walk up Orange Street to the bus station is anything to go
by.  The 9.15am bus will take us further
south but not to Placencia as the road there is too bad for the bus.  We can get off at Independence and get a boat
across but opt to make an earlier stop and re plan.  The old American school bus soon fills up and people are left
standing.  B$10 (GBP4) will get us to
Dangrina in just under 3 hours via the capital city of Belmopan.  This is another white-knuckle bumpy ride
with lots of sliding on the seats as we swerve around the bends.  The scenery changes from low lying flooded
areas to lots of big hills in the jungle. 
In Dangrina we have a problem getting a room, as there is a medical
conference in town.  Just about to give
up and take a bus further when we find Riverside Hotel has basic rooms at B$25
pp but with no guests she will take B$40 (GBP14) for the two of us.  It’s less grim than the other places we have
stayed but we have to share bathrooms. 
We are now in a “garifuna” town with lots of Rasta’s who we think
originated in Nigeria.  They have a
different language but seem friendly people and call out to us as we stroll
around.  Many fall in to one of 2
categories, piss heads that have just rolled out of the bar or piss pants that
have just crawled out of the gutter. 
The beach area is poor but we enjoy just wandering around a getting a
feel for the place and have time to check out buses for tomorrow.

DANGRIGA, RIVERSIDE HOTEL – B$40 (GBP14)

 

TUESDAY 20 JANUARY – We catch the 7.45am James
Bus to Punta Gorda, B$13 (£4.30). 
Although we are on the “express” bus it still takes 3 hours and we drop
of and pick up many people on route. 
The express bus does have the advantage of having more comfortable seats
but by this I mean an inch of foam on each seat and back rest!  Punta Gorda is pretty much the most southern
coastal town in Belize and so laid back the locals can’t even be bothered to
give it the full name and just say PG. 
The driver asks where we want to be dropped of and we ask for the St
Charles Inn as recommended in the Rough Guide. 
This turns out to be the best accommodation we have seen so far in
Belize with small but modern rooms and tiled bathrooms with hot water in the
showers.  For B$40 (£14) we take a
single room having finally realised that many single rooms mean just one bed but
this is often a double bed.  He relays
all the satellite TV to the town so his garden is full of huge dishes and he
has TV in all the rooms.  We wander
around town and everyone shouts a greeting to us.  The main ferry only goes further south twice a week but a local
boatman says he has many people wanting to go tomorrow so we will go with
him.  Obama is being inaugurated today
and the locals are all glued to the TV watching the ceremony.  Most of the people here are the Garifuna,
many of whom originated as slaves from Africa so they are very happy to see him
as president.  We are happy to have an
evening at home channel hopping with the TV.

PUNTA GORDA – CHARLES INN B$40 (£14)

 

WEDNESDAY 21 JANUARY – We both have an
excellent nights sleep but linger in bed enjoying our surroundings.  Call in to the snack shack for breakfast and
as usual everyone wants to chat.  One of
the locals tells us we should visit “Johnny English” a Brit who bought a
motorhome in Florida, drove it here and is now building on a plot of land.  We hunt him down along with his Canadian
friend Pete just as their wives are going out shopping.  There’s so much to talk about in such a
short time as we have a boat to catch. 
He shows us his new home and tells us wages are incredibly low here and
his workers get $2 (£1.35) a day. 
Needless to say he has had lots of snags and work is behind schedule but
once finished his 3-storey home with be fantastic.  Meet for El Chato’s boat trip at 2pm.  He charges B$30 (£10) versus the big ferry fee of B$50.  We have to pay B$7.50 (£2.50) environmental
departure tax and do brief immigration facilities before boarding the 30-seater
boat.  1-hour later we dock in
Livingston GUATEMALA and amble up the main street to report to the customs
house.  The currency is Quetzal with
approx Q10 = £1.  This small town has no
land access so has an island feel with very friendly locals.  Tourists come down from Rio Dulce on the
river but few stay overnight.  The cliff
top hostel has a simple double room with en suite for Q80 (£8) and we are ready
to drop our bags off so take it. 
Walking around town we end up along the waterfront where we find Marina
Hotel with really nice rooms and a swimming pool so decide to upgrade tomorrow
for Q200 (£20).  A little further along
is the backpackers Casa Del Iguana run by a Cockney lad called Rusty.  He welcomes us and say he is just about to
watch “Fools and horses” on TV and why don’t we stay.  He has a dorm and some pleasant cabins with en-suite and although
I am fed up of cabins we love the atmosphere and book in for tomorrow night.

LIVINGSTON HOSTEL – Q80 double en-suite room

 

THURSDAY 22 JANUARY – Check out early then
walk to Iguana to drop our bags off.  We
want to do the beach walk to “Los Siete Altares”.  It is 5km along the back of the beach and takes us 1-½ hours, as
there is so much to see.  You are
walking along by all the village homes and we also see lots of fishermen.  There are many creek crossings with
different sorts of bridges ranging from solid concrete ones down to a single
pole.  We are the first visitors at the
falls, Q15 (£1.50) and initially disappointed to reach what looks like a
concrete barrier across the river with a trickle of water in the middle.  As the trail takes us across it we realise
it is a natural rock formation and then upstream we find seven more pools going
back into the jungle.  It is really
attractive and nice for bathing in but we realise we are not seeing it at its
best as there is so little water compared to the photos we have seen where you
cannot see the walls between the falls. 
Hiking back we hear drumming and chanting and pause to listen.  A fisherman sees us and tells us to follow
the path into the village.  Reach a
small wooden church and a man comes out to greet us.  He shakes our hands and says he is the man from the tourist
office where we went yesterday to ask about the walk.  He is also the village “priest” or equivalent as he invites us
into the building then proceeds to waft us with pungent smoke and sprinkle
water over us.  Many of the people are
white and hippy looking and joining in dancing with the locals.  The drumming gets more intense and barefoot
people stamp around on the floor in a kind of trance, we wonder whether he has
wacky backy in the incense burner! There seems to be no end to the ceremony so
we discreetly take our leave.  Spend the
afternoon watching more “Fools and Horses” and chatting to Rusty’s Mum and Dad
who are over visiting but have a Post Office in England.  Many people have signed up for Rusty’s
family evening meal, Q30 (£3) and it is a local dish of “tapado” a kind of stew
with coconut milk.  During the meal we
chat to other travellers and end up joining some for a few games of Texas Hold
Em, after winning the first one I head to bed and leaving Steve to lose some of
our winnings.

LIVINGSTON, CASA DE IGUANA – Q120 (£12)

 

FRIDAY 23 JANUARY – Neither of us get much
sleep.  Not only did we hear roosters
all night but also dogs were barking and fighting underneath our cabin and
people were up chatting until late.  No
more cabins for me.  One of Rusty’s
cooked breakfasts soon make us feel better especially the extras of brown sauce
and marmite on toast.  He really does go
out of his way to make you feel at home. 
He has booked us on the boat to Rio Dulce, Q125 (£12.50) and this means
they pick us up at his place.  At 9.30am
our boatman arrives and we head off up the river.  The river soon becomes a deep jungle sided gorge with small homes
at the edges.  Turn off up the Rio Tatin
to a Mayan school where we are shown the goods that they make.  Further up the main river we stop to bathe
in some hot springs.  Hot water emerges
into the main river and they have created a pool to hold it back and so you can
mix it with the cool river to get a bath at whatever temperature you want.  The river has now widened and along the
banks we are interested to see the locals out doing washing and going about
their business.  The last part of the
2-hour trip is a bumpy fast ride along the lake to Rio Dulce town.  It seems to be a very busy one street
town.  We book on the Fuente del Norte
bus to Poptun leaving at 1.30pm, Q35 (£3.50) then walk down to the pier to
enjoy our picnic.  The bus is already
full when we get on so we have to stand in the aisle.  Steve tries sitting on his bag but when I try it I find you can
see nothing but get to smell everyone’s feet. 
There are many young people sat down but no one shows any courtesy in
offering up seats.  We reach a Police
stop and all have to get off the bus whilst they walk through it.  Getting back on we must show
identification.  I get back to the area
where we were stood and take a seat temporarily, when the youth returns he says
I can stay there.   Further on there is
a fruit inspection so again we must all get off whilst they do a check.  By 3.30pm we have covered around 100km at
get dropped off at the junction to Finca Ixobel.  As we haul our bags 1km up the bumpy drive it begins to
rain.  This is a working farm where they
grow produce, offer horse rides etc and let out rooms.  They seem to have everything from dorm beds
up to private bungalows.  We settle on a
double room linked to an unused dorm but with shared bathroom for Q90
(£9).  They are really welcoming and
seem to have thought of everything you may need or want to know.  Evening meals are taken in the main house
and you can have a single serve for Q45 (£4.50) or all you can eat buffet for
Q60 (£6).  The price includes salad,
garlic bread and home made bread, soft drinks and coffee and the food is
excellent.  It also gives us a chance to
meet and chat to other guests from around the world.  The music bar opens at 9pm and is down a track in the
forest.  Under our umbrellas we head off
down the muddy track for what seems like a mile to reach the welcoming bar with
a roaring log fire.  Unfortunately the
music is too loud for Steve to talk and even the fire isn’t enough to keep me
warm so we just stop for 1 quick drink.

POPTUN, FINCA IXOBEL – Q90 (£9) double room

 

SATURDAY 24 JANUARY – We have had a quiet
night even if the rain was a little noisy on the tin roof.  Unfortunately it is still raining when we
get up and at breakfast we learn that the Pyramid Mountain is too muddy to
climb and the other walking track is very muddy.  We could use a days rest so will still stay here.  They have Internet Q20 (£2) hour, and we
find out Judy & Stan will not be visiting us.  Due to fly to Mexico City tomorrow and meet us on the west coast
a family illness has caused them to cancel. 
Shame we had not known a few days earlier as we would then have had time
to go on to Honduras, hey ho.  We visit
Nate and Jena in their camper.  They are
a young couple that are heading down to Costa Rica in the hope of finding work
but using the camper to make a holiday of the journey.  They give us tips about the west coast of
Mexico and we can reciprocate with motorhome help.  It clears to a drizzle in the afternoon so we walk to the pond
where you could normally enjoy a swim and the water slide but today struggle to
stay upright on the muddy banks.  Late
afternoon we are amazed to see a French motorhome arriving followed by another
with Adrian and Danielle (who we have bumped into 5 times before).  Their trip is going very well but they are
chancing it without motorhome insurance. 
Again we have an excellent evening meal in the main house.  Our room is attached to a dorm and last
night it was empty but tonight holds a group of 8 Israeli’s.  At 11pm we ask them to kindly lower the
noise so they turn the music off and talk a little quieter but nothing blocks
out the sound of snoring through the night. 

POPTUN 2, FINCA IXOBEL

 

SUNDAY 25 JANUARY – We chat to Danielle and
Adrian and realise there is every chance we will bump into them again on the
west coast of Mexico.  Nate and Jena
have offered us a ride in the back of their camper so we clamber aboard for our
trip to El Remate.  They seem to have
the perfect vehicle for this part of the world; a 4wd pick up truck with a
small but functional camper on the back. 
We can’t see much from the back but it is considerably more comfortable
than our last bus journey when Steve was sat on the floor.  A couple of hours later they drop us in the
wood carving village of El Remate on the edge of Lago Peten Itza (Lake Peten).  It’s a lovely spot and we begin our walk
along the street hunting for a room.  A
couple of local lads latch on to us offering advice.  We compare a few things along the way and are tempted by a posh
hotel with swimming pool for Q200 (£20) but when I see a double room with en
suite at Hermano Pedro for Q90 (£9) I begin to wonder, as we will be out all
day tomorrow.  The lad thinks I am
hesitating over the price and offers a reduction to Q70 (£7).  I go through all the checks as to if it
includes tax, whether that is the price for the room for two people etc, if it
is quiet at night and then agree to take it. 
We can see it is not going to be all that quiet as the accommodation is
on the top floor of a house in a wooden room with rooms all the way along so
our bed head backs onto the ones in the next room.  Having settled in we explore the village, which seems really
friendly.  A road spurs off around the
lake and there are lots more rooms available, some a little cheaper with no en
suite, but nothing any better.  Pick up
a pizza for lunch then return for siesta. 
Take our evening meal at Casa Don David where we get a nice view of
sunset over the lake.  Our hotel book us
a shuttle bus to Tikal for tomorrow morning Q50 (£5) each return.  As usual we have a disturbed night with dogs
barking and roosters crowing most of the time.

EL REMATE, HERMANO PEDRO –

Q70 DOUBLE EN SUITE (LATER FOUND TO BE PP) 

 

MONDAY 26 JANUARY – We get up at 5am ready for
our 5.30am pick up.  Check out time at
our hotel is 2pm so when we get back we will move to the nice hotel.  The mini bus arrives at 5.45am but doesn’t
finish picking up others until after 6am so we have no chance of being at the
site for sunrise.  Arrive at 6.30am and
pay the hefty Q150 (£15) pp admission then stride off purposefully towards the
main ruins.  Tikal was a huge city begun
around 700BC when the Mayans settled here. 
Much is still unexcavated but it is still at least 10km walk to visit
most of the major buildings that have been unearthed.  We reach the Great Plaza with two pyramids facing each
other.  You can climb one of them
although access is by a wooden staircase at the side of it.  It’s very quiet so we press on to Temple
V.  This one is much taller and access
to the top is by a series of ladders. 
Steve pulls out after the first few steps up but I go ahead and enjoy a
great view from the top.  You can see
Peten Lake and a few other temples poking up out of the jungle.  I am at the top alone on a narrow ledge and
about to walk to the ladder when a couple of big vultures land in front of
me.  They are now blocking my access to
the ladder and don’t fly away as I inch closer.  I creep closer getting great photos and then realise that I am
really near to them and they are not going to fly away.  I try shooing them off but only one
goes.  I move closer but realise there
is no room to squeeze past and am frightened that if I scare the bird it will
either attack me or take off in my direction and me with no place to step
aside.  Luckily something scares it and
it takes off so I make a quick escape.  
Meanwhile Steve has been spotting Spider monkeys in the trees.  We amble through the Plaza of the seven
temples and the Lost World to get to the back of the park.  We’ve been hearing strange noises like wind
rushing through the trees but now realise it is the howler monkeys.  The sound is incredible, like a cross
between a roar and a bark and extremely loud and frightening.  We track them down near temple IV only to
find they are very small black things.  
Temple IV is the tallest at 64m and easy to climb up a staircase so we
both head to the top and sit there enjoying the views.  We have really seen all we want to but it is
only 8.30am.  Decide to detour out to
the temple of inscriptions but the inscription is very basic and too high up to
see. Overall we are somewhat disappointed with the site compared to other
things we have seen in the past but I guess is this was your first Mayan site
it would be really good.  Stop for
breakfast at the Jaguar Inn then catch the 12.00 mini bus back.  Back at the posh hotel they have put their
price up to Q350 (£35) as yesterday they were empty and had reduced it.  Decide to stay put and it is interesting to
see that today we are the only guests at Hermano Pedro.  In the evening we go across the road to
watch sunset from Restaurant Cahui and to enjoy one of their delicious pasta
meals.  Opposite is a small church and
we hear the same singing we heard last night. 
Passing the entrance we are invited in and enjoy seeing some very young
children sing individually accompanied by a young lad on the drums and the
congregation who all clap.

EL REMATE 2 – HERMANO PEDRO

 

TUESDAY 27 JANUARY – We come to pay the bill
but they ask double the price quoted. 
The girl says the price is per person not for the room but we repeat the
conversation we had when we negotiated with her brother.  She then tells us her brother doesn’t work
there!  We explain that their rooms are
nicer than others but would not have stayed there for Q70 pp as there are many
places at Q60 per room and we did not need the bathroom.  End up having to speak to the boss on the
telephone and he is not happy but agrees to the lower price.  Next she won’t accept our US$20 note even
through their tariff board shows both currencies. Seems a little strange as I
go to the restaurant nearby and get Q146 then give here the Q140 as
agreed.   It is less than 2km walk out
to the main road at Puente Ixlu (El Cruce) where within minutes we are picked
up by a collectivo.  Q25 (£2.50) gets us
a ride to the border.  Over 1-hour to
make the short journey as the bulk of the road is in terrible shape.  We have been told the Guatemalans won’t
maintain it, as it is disputed territory and also if the Belizeans invade it
will slow them down!  In the border town
of Melchor de Mencos we spend our last few quetzals only to find they want a
departure tax (having enquired before and told there was none).  They ask for Q20 (£2) then say they will
take B$10 but settle for $5 (£3.30) but won’t give us a receipt!  Entry to BELIZE is really easy and we are
through in minutes.  We are now in the
middle of nowhere and must take a taxi 3km to the town of Benque Viejo del
Carmen.  The driver asks US$10 (£7) but
settles for US$5.  Chatting en route he
says how quiet it is and offers to take us all the way to San Ignacio for a
total of US$10 – deal.  He drops us by
an information centre and they allow us to use their phone to call our
host.  Marcus tells us how to get out to
their place at Bullet Tree Falls so we head off to find a collectivo.  B$6 (£3) gets us both a ride to Parrots Nest
where Marcus is waiting to meet us. 
He’s a really lively guy and tells us that Theo, his girlfriend, runs
the lodge whilst he teaches at night school. 
Very knowledgeable on the area he tells us about lots of possible trips
but they all seem very expensive and I am feeling a bit sickly and not too
lively.  He says Theo has also been
feeling sickly today as there is a bug doing the rounds.  I think mine is a mixture of aching from
climbing the ruins, a chill from cold nights and not enough blankets for the
beds, tiredness and bit of sickness. 
Theo returns with her children Chloe and Katya and we have a bit of a
chat.  They had a terrible flood through
here in October and she shows us just how high.  It is amazing how much they have done since then with the help of
lot of friends but it explains why our cabin is a bit wonky!  In the evening she takes us into town along
with their other guests Rueben and Catherine so we can get a take away from
“Hannas”.  By the time we get back both
Catherine and I feel too sick to eat any of it.  I retire for an early night but get little sleep due to noisy
dogs, roosters and things dropping onto the tin roof.

SAN IGNACIO, BULLET TREE FALLS, PARROTS NEST

 

WEDNESDAY 28 JANUARY – It has been another
noisy night with dogs barking, roosters crowing and at one stage one of the
dogs on our doorstep scratching then banging its tail on the door.  I’m still not feeling well and although
Marcus mentioned tubing on the river I just want to rest.  Katya is also feeling sickly and stays off
school.  There are some huge iguanas
here and Steve takes great delight in tracking them down, watching them climb
the trees and occasionally fall off.  By
mid afternoon I’m a little better but Steve is making lots of trips to the
toilet with a griping stomach.  I manage
a dip in the river in the afternoon. 
It’s a gorgeous spot here as the river has a pebbly beach, is clear and
warm and deep enough for a nice dip but too strong a current to swim.  Theo is late back as Chloe’s team got
further than expected in a basketball tournament in Belmopan.  She sees that I am reading one of their
books “P.O. Belize” and tells me the author Kathy Stephens is her mother.

BULLET TREE FALLS 2 

 

THURSDAY 29 JANUARY – The bad night continues as I feel something jumping around
in the bed.  By torch light I try to
waft it out thinking it must be some kind of bug.  When I wake up in the morning to see a tree frog sat at the side
of the bed I am not amused.  I hate
frogs and would have really freaked if I had known what it was.  Theo offers to take us to town on the school
run so we leave around 8am.  Across the
river in San Pedro she drops us off at the bus stop where we buy tickets for
the 9am Amigos Belize luxury express bus to Chetumal, $25 (£18).  There are cheaper local buses but that would
mean 2 changes and lots of hanging around and as we are both not well we splash
out.  The bus arrives on time having
left Flores at 5.30am.  It’s a Toyota
Coaster and reasonably comfortable but by no means luxurious.  Our luggage is added to the pile already on
the roof.  Just over 2-hours later we
arrive at the docks in Belize where lots of people get off to go to the islands
and others get on.  So many board that we
have to put the aisle seats down and even then one person is left
standing.  Make it to the Belize border
around 2pm and alight to do immigration. 
Each person has to pay B30 (£10) departure processing fee plus B7.50
(£2.50) parks and conservation toll if you have been in the country for more
than 24 hours.  This is a very slow process
with only one clerk.  Back on the bus
for a couple of minutes then all off, including luggage, for the Mexican
entrance formalities.  This is a breeze
and we are through in minutes and still have the remainder of our 180-day
tourist visa.  It’s good to be back in
MEXICO, almost feels like coming home. By 3pm we are at the main ADO bus
station and from nearby take a taxi, P40 (£2) to Kathe’s.  Harry is waiting for us but the gardener
tells us Kathe is out on a day trip with a visiting friend.  It’s still hot enough to make it worthwhile
us washing out our holiday clothes in the pool.  We are both whacked and I am in bed before 8pm and Steve shortly
after. 

CALDERITAS 

 

FRIDAY 30 JANUARY – We have both enjoyed a
peaceful night and slept so well we did not hear Kathe return at 9.30pm.  It’s a beautiful hot day with a nice breeze
so we take the rest of the washing down to the pool and do everything including
the sheets; feel like the women we saw on the banks of the Rio Dulce.  We are both still a bit tired, not 100% well
and feeling grumpy but manage to get a few odd jobs done throughout the
day.  I check over our banking and find
we spent almost £500 on our 13 nights backpacking trip, almost double what we
spend in the motorhome and with much less comfort but worth it get a feel of
the other countries.  Still feel it was
the right decision for us, as we would not like to have taken Harry in without
full insurance cover.

CALDERITAS 2

 

SATURDAY 31 JANUARY – We get up late again and
Kathe has already left to take her friend to Cancun airport so we leave here a
“Thank You” card.  In Chetumal we fill
up the gas, get LPG and then do a grocery shop at Bodega, a.k.a Wal-Mart.  Around 10.30am we are ready to head west
towards Palenque.  In fact we are now
heading back towards USA, as the backpacking trip was our furthest point
south.  Our first stop is to buy 3 good
sized pineapples for P25 (£1.25), I cut one up straight away and we munch it as
we drive along.  Going from the state of
Quintana Roo into Campeche there is an inspection point, supposedly to
confiscate eggs, pork and poultry.  A
solider looks in our fridge then his mate on the doorstep asks if we have beer
or coke – I say no even though beer is evident in the fridge.  A few yards further we are stopped for
paperwork and they check the vehicle permit and our passports.  The road has been good so far but now
becomes a mixture of good old road, bad old road, good new road, badly made new
road and road works all complicated by topes either signed or un signed.  Driving here sure is interesting.  Kevin & Ruth came through a few days ago
and told us about a Maya Campestre near km52 where they let you park overnight.  It is a lovely spot on the lake and we take
a mid afternoon meal in their restaurant. 
We still don’t have our appetites back so share a P70 (£3.50) Mexican
special fish dinner of a whole fish cooked in tomato, garlic, onion and
cilantro and served with tortillas.  3
motorcyclists arrive at the restaurant. 
A Frenchman who lives in New York and his friend are cycling to Buenos
Aires to set up a business and another American has recently joined them but is
on his way to Argentina.  There are
peacocks, chickens and roosters here but unlike Belize and Guatemala they seem
to have their act together and all crow at the same time!

Hwy 186, Km 52, Restaurant Maya Campestre

148 miles

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