In Belize in January 2009

13-Jan-2009: Summary for Belize
Belize, is the one country in Central America that is very different from all the others. Reason one is the language, people speak English, at least some kind of it. When talking to each other, it is more a mixture of Creole and English and I didn't understand anything. When talking with foreigners it is English with a strong Caribbean or Jamaican touch. A photo Reason two are the people, the majority is Creole, descendents of African slaves and British pirates, so you see a lot of black people which are pretty much absent in the rest of central America. Walking around in the streets of the biggest town Belize City was fun, the vibe was very different from Mexico. This is definitely third world. It was very refreshing after 12 weeks in Mexico to be able to talk to the locals again. It was actually more the locals on the street talking to me. The town has a reputation for being dangerous, but during the day I felt fine walking around anywhere. I hadn´t planned to go out at night but did go out for dinner and drinks with two young Americans I had met at the guest house. The gritty bar we went to turned out to be a bad choice. When buying drinks for the girls we talked to, they were more expensive for them than they were for us! Even a cop in there acted like a pimp asking us which of the girls we liked best. After realizing what was going on, we left and had trouble to get rid of a local guy who followed us around for a while. In the end we made it safely back to our guest house. Advise: stay at home after dark.
The next day I left for Caye Caulker, an island a few hours north east of the city. The speed boat was fun. The northern cayes are the main tourist beach attraction of Belize, people come here for snorkeling, diving and fishing. I did some snorkeling with my own gear that I had bought in Cancun and also took a trip out to the reef where there are some good corals and plenty of fish. Most impressive was to swim inside a group of a dozen of big stingrays. The little town of Caye Caulker is pretty touristy with many hotels, guest houses and restaurants. I mostly ate Chinese take away which was the only relatively cheap option on the island. In general the prices in Belize were too high for a third world country and the services offered for them. "Bella's" the hostel I stayed in was fun and a dorm bed for 22 Belize dollars or 11 US$ (the fixed rate or 2 to 1 means you can pay anything in US dollars) was much cheaper than the US$23 I paid for my room in the city. There was also nightly excitement. One night a literally bloody fight occurred between Mission, a local who worked at the hostel and some guys who tried to follow a Canadian girl into the hostel. The next night a young American was attacked by three wild dogs and lost some flesh. I somehow missed all this with my ear plugs working fine, the only trouble I had was with the plentiful mosquitoes. After 4 days on the Caye I want back to Belize City for a few hours having delicious meat pies for breakfast before boarding one of the old American school buses for the capital Belmopan. It's a small town in the center of the country with a few big concrete government buildings and a small market. They had founded this new capital here in 1961 after Hurricane Hattie destroyed much of Belize City. Two hours was enough there and I moved on to San Ignacio close to the Guatemalan border. This day I had the first proper rain since Portland in September and even though the town seemed nice enough and the surrounding countryside offered some interested hikes, the continuing rain made me decide to move on the next day to country No. 4 Guatemala.
Full Itinerary:

7-Jan-2009: Chetumal to Belize City (Belize City, Belize)

8-Jan-2009: Belize City to Caye Caulker (Caye Caulker, Belize)

9-Jan-2009: Snorkeling off Caye Caulker (Caye Caulker, Belize)

10-Jan-2009: With Pauline in a boat on the split in Caye Caulker (Caye Caulker, Belize)

11-Jan-2009: Reading about Guatemala in the hammock (Caye Caulker, Belize)

12-Jan-2009: Belize City, Belmopan and San Ingnacio (San Ingnacio, Belize)

13-Jan-2009: Summary for Belize (Summary for Belize, Belize)