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Belize Cayes – A World Away From Reality
We did a quick inventory check as the engine roar died down and our boat headed toward the bay of Caye Caulker. Dancing palms, tick. Sun bleached beach, tick. The island’s motto, “Go Slow,” is lazily painted on a sign stuck in the sand. I gave my partner in crime a special smile. This was the place. We ran away…for now.
The ups and downs against a small Belizean island in the Caribbean were not in the original script. The plan was to fly to Belize for a quick taste of eco-adventure before heading over the border to Guatemala. But we got greedy, and four days later, we were still there, holding our hands in the pit of action. Jungle trekking, eco-touring, Jaguar trekking, cave tubing, Mayan ruins and mountain biking. Where will it end? The temperature of the equator has increased. We needed a place to lay low for a few days. Somewhere a man could find a secluded beach and lie back and think of England, or some other place that is no better. After making some serious inquiries, we knew there was only one place to hide, and only one man strong enough to help us get there. The man known only as, “The Marine Terminal Ticket Boy.”
So we paid for our ship’s passage with small bills and no tokens, boarded the first ferry bound for the islands, and left behind the spoils of the land adventure. Not that the warm blue waters of the beach fool us. Home to over one hundred and seventy islands, or cayes, and the second largest barrier reef in the world, it’s not easy to get our hands on the aquatic fun that has been tempting travelers since Blackbeard and the Buccaneer posse roamed these waters. back in the 1600s. And yet, as we stood on this unruly ship and watched our escape craft leave the ship, the captain turned to us with some reassuring advice, “Relax. You’re on Caye Caulker now.” .
If Gilligan ever embarked on real estate development, the town of Caye Caulker would be his Big Apple. Peacefully drown on this island, a cluster of colorfully illuminated beach hideaways, deserted beach areas, scattered fishing boats, palm trees, restaurants on the sandy beach, shacks, and old salty boats that sail in the early hours of the morning. At 11:00, it starts raining. for the perfect getaway.
The jewels in Caye Caulker’s crown are those minimalist delights. There are no international attractions, fancy nightclubs, or rush hour traffic. Remember the motto? Go slowly. Our mission, and yes, we chose to accept it, was to find a bungalow on the powdery white sand for about forty dollars a night, treat our palates to a variety of seafood delights, and then onto a drink. make it short watching a beach bar as the sun sinks beneath a sheet of blue Caribbean sea. This message will clear itself in five seconds.
Before long, we entered the dress code of “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” and “sarong, swimsuit, smile” and jumped into the welcoming group of eclectic people. It soon became clear that the local hordes of Creoles, Central Americans, and Europeans posed little threat to our plans of relaxation. However, we don’t have to worry about North American retirees roaming the streets in rickety old golf carts, sending dogs, children and petulant tourists running for cover.
For three perfect days we hid behind sunglasses, cocktail umbrellas and lobster rolls, wondering if maybe, just maybe, there would be no more calls to action, and life really was the beach. Then one night, while minding business over a couple of tall Panty Rippers at Popeye’s Bar and Restaurant, the bartender told us that a man had been asking questions. “Did he know anyone who might want to explore the reef?” “Has he seen any tourists dancing so badly to a reggae band they can’t show their faces around the island?” In the morning, we went to see a man on a snorkeling tour.
While experienced divers prefer the more spectacular spots in Caye Ambergris’ waters, the beautiful calm reefs of Caye Caulker are much more comfortable in a set of skis than a pair of flippers for first-time divers like my nervous friend, a Canadian mountain girl. .
After the initial disappointment of learning that this was not my chance to wear a tight rubber bodysuit in public, the reef snorkeling trip turned out to be a fantastic experience. We watched and watched an amazing array of fish, shields, and beautiful coral formations. The highlight of the three-hour tour was Shark Ray Alley, where nurse sharks circled our watchful group from afar before taking a closer look, and Southern Rays swept their broad wings over our bodies. Both proved to be fairly harmless, if perhaps a little new for a first date.
During the rest of the day, hardly a word was said. The mountain girl and I stood in our secluded spot of waterfront paradise, soaking up the afternoon sun, and flipping through the back issues of the popular Mexican gossip magazines dumped in our room – something to take our minds off the fact that our days of Don’t let the numbers become impotence. . Back at the bungalow we hatched our plan. We don’t give up our empty lives so easily. We will go to the party. Caye Ambergris waited and wished me a happy birthday.
As the largest, most developed and most expensive of the Belizean islands, Caye Ambergris caters well for the first-class vacation seeker, with a variety of villas, luxury homes and resorts to choose from. To prepare for our next stand, we checked into the mysteriously named Sun Breeze Beach Hotel, near the main town of San Pedro, for some creature comforts. The spacious rooms, resort-style swimming pool, Jacuzzi, massage studio, chic outdoor bar, and international-flavored restaurant were a world away from Gilliganism’s of Caye Caulker, but for just $125 a night, my inner Thurston Howell was calling the third. .
Satisfied with fun, entertainment and food in ways that only money can buy, we climbed to the hotel bar overlook. Floating in the sand, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets the Caribbean has to offer. Rolling back and forth with a birthday cocktail in hand, I could literally imagine how happily we were away from anything resembling an office dump. Thinking, I made my last load for the night. At Crazy Canucks, a crazy Canadian bar, we drank, laughed and danced shamelessly to reggae music until the sun came up.
The next few days we explored as many water sports as Caye Ambergris could eat. Among some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, cruises around the island, deep-sea shark and barracuda fishing, jet skiing and paragliding along the sun-drenched beaches. Oh, how we celebrated!
Finally satiated with our hunger for aqua adventure, we wandered the town, hopped on the nearest bikes for rent, and headed to the far reaches of the island. Crossing a small river on a man-pulled ferry to the sparsely populated northern island, we rode remote dirt roads lined with luscious palm trees. Stepping out of the desert onto the beach at the edge of the sparkling blue Caribbean, it was a leisurely stroll along the stretch of pristine white sand to the “money” end of town.
The north coast hosts resort bungalows and private beach villas. I thought wistfully of the For Sale sign standing outside a particularly hedonistic place. Apparently, the previous owner wasn’t happy motoring his 80ft boat around all that coral nonsense outside his beach mansion. Being the enterprising type, he used a few sticks of dynamite to blow a nice little path straight through the reef. Unfortunately, the government didn’t see it that way and sent him a fine large enough to wipe out Belize’s national debt. He was last seen on a canoe bound for Cuba.
A little further we stumbled upon Captain Morgan’s Retreat, which houses the original Temptation Island show. When we stopped outside the mecca of TV theater, so many good memories came flooding back. Amber and Troy whisper under a palm tree, possibly discussing the effects of global warming. Shawana dumps Gary and confesses to Chad, “You had me saying, ‘Are those things true?’ At that time, I could not appreciate the really important things in life. I turned to the ski bum and told her she had a smile so beautiful it could almost be cosmetically enhanced.
Walking across the coast to the town for the last time before returning to the mainland, we said goodbye to all the things we loved in the past. Lazy palm trees, ivory white sands, aqua blue waters, hammocks swaying in the breeze, friendly faces, a plastic whale and a fountain of dolphins splashing water over Jesus outside the pink Jehovah’s Witness palace…what? Nevertheless, for a few repeat adventure travel criminals, it certainly made for a nice stopover for a day or two.
Some have said that I spend too much time in a fantasy world, that I need to look for reality. Sometimes I think they are right. And yet, they have probably never been to Belizean islands.
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