We flew to Belize in early January 2015. This is a bit different than the last few trips - this time there is no set itinerary of walking a long way or visiting a lot of places. Instead, we're trying to settle in to one place, and see what happens.
We settled in Caye Caulker ('Key Corker'). It's a tourist town on a small thin island off the coast, but still retains a lot of it's original fishing village sensibilities. The first few days were a bit unnerving, trying to slow down from North American mode into Central American mode. The town's (or maybe the whole country's) motto is, "Go Slow"...! There are no cars in town - only a few dozen heavy-duty golf-carts and quite a few fat-tired bicycles and bicycle carts. None of the roads are paved - just hardened clay roads with pot holes and puddles when it rains, and lots of people walking around mostly on Front Street, with a few on Middle Street and fewer on Back Street. That covers the width of the island.
We're staying at a guest house called Tropical Paradise, and it really is...
This is our lizard buddy who hangs around on the porch. She's pretty tame, or maybe she's big enough to not have to worry about pesky tourists...!
Garifuna drumming - Friday night on the beach...
Belize is a small country: 180 miles long and 68 miles wide at its widest. It’s only been an independent country since 1981 – before then it was British Honduras, a colony of Great Britain. The population is only 333,0000, and it receives well over a million tourists a year. The big question is, “can the booming travel industry preserve the country’s precious natural resources and generate the income to alleviate its social ills?” (Lonely Planet). A working strategy seems to be the rise of ecotourism and the revival of Mayan culture. Over 40% of Belize is under some form of protective status, including 80% of its rainforests. There are over 600 Mayan sites scattered throughout the country and lots of archeological work underway. However, waterfront is being bought up by foreigners and hotels and villas are being built at a tremendous rate. A few entrepreneurs have made big money, but 43% of the population live below the poverty line.
Roxanne decided to “Go a Bit Faster” and volunteers at the local Little Stars Preschool. Here Roxanne and Cookie wait for the kids to arrive. Cookie is cranky, and growls if you get too close.
White stork. There always seems to be a stork, egret, pelican or some other sea bird fishing along the coast.
Retrieving the cell phone after it inconveniently fell between a couple of boards on the dock. It's in a bag of rice right now drying out - we'll know in a couple of days if it still works...! UPDATE: Nope, it's dead.
Michael and Margaret (M & M) and us, and the Improbably Pink House... sounds a bit like a children's story! We spent a few delightful days with these Ohio folks, going gypsy in their own way.
Dinner at Maggie's Sunset Grill. Breakfast in the morning facing east, and in the evening stroll two blocks over and have dinner facing west! We've started to fall into a comfy pattern. Get up early for yoga and meditation, have breakfast outside at the little gazebo, then Roxanne goes off to preschool and John meditates some more. Roxanne gets back from preschool around noon, so we go wandering around the little town to pick up anything we need or just get a coffee. In the afternoon we sit on the beach and read or go snorkelling off the docks, then wander into town again to find muffins or cinnamon buns, oranges and bananas for next day's breakfast. Go find some little restaurant for dinner, then read a bit and head to bed. Repeat.
We took our snorkel gear with us when we came to Belize and have been snorkelling off the shore, around the docks. Today we decided to hire a boat and go out to the coral reefs, a mile offshore.
The sea floor was about 5 meters down.
Coral1: We went out to an area called the Coral Garden. We didn't see too many big fish, but we did see lots of coral and bright-coloured little fish, and lots of rays...
Our guide came in the water to take pictures and show us things. Here's Roxanne with a white sea urchin (the kind you can pick up without upsetting it too much or getting stung).
We saw a big leopard ray and followed it around for a while. It finally got annoyed with us and disappeared with just one or two quick flaps.
Bigger yellow guy!
Another little ray.
Coral4, with two snails.
Heading back to the dock through the Split.
Running out of space on this page. Please go to Belize: Feb.