Saturday, June 7, 2014

Caye Caulker

Hola Amigos!

Admittedly I am pretty behind on my updates, but have been keeping notes and have quite a few updates to fire off! We're in New York City at the moment, or more accurately on a train up to New London - tomorrow we're off to watch the Harvard versus Yale Boat Race. 

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is in Belize, and from Chetumal Mexico only a 2.5hr water taxi ride away. We decided to head down there for 4 nights (9th - 14th May), after some rave reviews from people we knew.

Our Mexico Waterjets ‘crew’ gave us a hilariously scary safety briefing which involved him telling us that throughout the journey it was going to be very rough, and he would be asking passengers to move from one side or the other to balance the boat - and for us to enjoy the movie - TAKEN, great soothing movie option for people on a boat driving through gigantic waves. Customs and immigration was done on a tiny wharf in San Pedro, before heading off to Caye Caulker on a smaller speed boat driven by children that proceeded to break down at least 5 times making the usually 1/2hr journey over an hour.

Belize used to be a colony of Britain, and is still part of the commonwealth so everyone speaks English and has a Rastafarian vibe. The locals speak their own version of pigeon English called Creole - which we originally thought was some foreign language, as to the untrained ear it is very tricky to decipher. There was one Rasta cycling round one night who I thought was just yelling out “SA-WEEEEET” while he peddled through us - as if life was just sweet for him. Alex investigated further asking a local what he was up to, and turns out he was selling seaweed from a container on his bike, and had actually been yelling “SEA-WEEEEEED”. Hilarious.

After much discussion with the local guides as to which snorkelling trips had recently seen manatees in the area (Seacows), we decided to go with Carlos Tours. We spent a day on the boat at the marine parks in the area. The day was amazing, definitely the best snorkelling trip both of us had ever done (The photos speak for themselves!) even though we didn’t see a manatee. One of our stops was called “Shark & Rey Alley” - aptly named for its inhabitants. I was horrified to see that Carlos Jr was preparing food for the sharks to feed off the boat, and when we anchored and the feeding began I estimate there was about 30 - 40 sharks near the boat flopping all over each other, fighting for a place at the top for the food. Of course I refused to get out of the boat at first, but eventually Carlos Sr persuaded me and I jumped out far from the shark feeding frenzy only to be accosted by Carlos Sr and his Shark friend which he coerced me into patting. I have to say, shark skin is a lot rougher than I had been expecting. Alex noted that the stingray was slimy as expected though. I should note that these were apparently nurse sharks and the ‘friendly’ kind.

Carlos took a professional camera underwater so we bought the CD so we could remember the experience forever. A selection of photos for you below!

Swarm of Sharks

Eagle Ray

There are no beaches on Caye Caulker, so the majority of sunbathers / wannabe beach goers head to The Split - a split between the two islands of Caye Caulker caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. There is a bar and music playing so a great spot for a relaxing drink even if it has to be on wooden slats rather than a sandy beach. The 'island' which is in actuality a 'caye' was likely destroyed/split so easily due to being a Caye rather than an Island - more details on that here.

The Split

The bar at The Split

Alex making friends with the locals after we offered them our disgusting G & T's we purchased at the bar downstairs

Strangely there are about 5 or 6 supermarket/dairy type shops on the island all being run by Chinese people. They were not as friendly as the other people we met on the island and Alex was determined to investigate why on earth these grumpy shopkeepers would want to live in such a happy place if they were going to be so surly all the time. Word on the dusty streets was that the Chinese mafia are buying up a lot of land in Belize, and that they send mafia members to places like Caye Caulker to run these businesses if they’ve messed up or need to “do their time” so to speak. 

The food on Caye Caulker was amazing - if you’re heading there soon here are our top recommendations:
  • Terry’s Grill - tiny roadside stand with Terry on a small grill with coal. He took over a year to develop his jerk chicken marinade and oh my god it is good. The shrimp sticks also went down a treat.
  • Aladdin’s - Kebabs / Middle Eastern Food 
  • Enjoy - super long wait, but bloody tasty!

We left Caye Caulker on a 7am ferry bound to Mexico, and we were accompanied by quite a few local kids catching the ferry to neighbouring San Pedro to school. One super cool kid who’s dad was one of the Raggamuffin tour guides got dropped off at the ferry by speed boat with his little back pack on. What a sa-weeeet way to get to school each morning! 


No comments:

Post a Comment