Saturday, February 11, 2017

Passing Through Belize

After a week in the Yucatan, we took a bus southward toward the border town of Chetumal on the Belize frontier. We took a water taxi to Caye Caulker, an island I visited on my 1977-78 trip.

I was thrilled to learn that we could enter Belize via water taxi and bypass a trip through Belize City. It was more expensive at $60 per person for the three hour ride but made life much simpler. Here is our little craft before departure. We were delayed 45 minutes when the drug-sniffing dogs from the Mexican Army were late to the dock.

Our pilots were on their way home and hit the throttle full bore between cans of Tecate (no kidding).
But it was not a problem and they were not reckless in the least. We cleared customs on the island of San Pedro and consequently did not arrive on Caye Caulker until well after dark. We found our little cottage and were ready to explore the next day.

Helen had never before been snorkeling and so we signed up for that. The reef off of Belize is about 180 miles long and is the second longest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef.

I had my underwater camera and got some good shots.

Brain coral. The water was really warm.

Fan corals. It is interesting to think that this is a great limestone factory and that many of the limestone rocks we see in the rock record started out this way.

We went to a place where we could swim with rays...

...and sharks! Nurse sharks.

A bunch of them came around near our feet.

It is so hard to shoot colorful fish but I got lucky on this one.

Our snorkeling guides found a sea star on the way back in and brought it up for us to see.

A quiet street on Caye Caulker.

An older house on Caye Caulker.

We ate a lot of shrimp ceviche while on Caye Caulker and this platter is from Meldy's restaurant. Meldy's had a breakfast burrito for $10 Belizean ($5 US) that was as long as my forearm!

After three nights on Caye Caulker, it was time to be on the move again and we took the 45 minute ferry to Belize City.

The old Post Office in Belize. I had been here on my 1977 trip and wondered how the city would look. Back then it was bit rough, though not necessarily dangerous.

We walked about 15 blocks from the ferry terminal to the bus station. It gave us a chance to see and feel the town.

Some old houses.

I distinctly remember these open sewers in Belize City and they have not gone away. Smaller ones on the streets are now covered over in concrete slabs.

The bus station on the west side of the city. Everything in Belize seems like it is an illusion of reality. All of the public sites are small and easy to negotiate. It is time turned back about 100 years.

We took what could only be considered a second class bus to the small city of San Ignacio in the western part of the country. It was about a two and half hour ride.

I snapped this candid shot while rounding a corner in the city.

We had not seen any hills or mountains of any kind for over 2 weeks and so I just had to shoot the very first limestone hills we saw outside the city.

The highways are not busy in Belize.

A lot of people got off the bus before we arrived in Belmopan, the capital of the country.

The Macal River in San Ignacio flows into the Belize River not too far from here.

After checking in to our hotel, we walked around the town and heard that there was a Mayan ruin nearby. So we walked, and walked, and walked and finally found Cahel Pech on top of a hill.

The great courtyard at Cahel Pech. This is not a famous Mayan ruin and for that reason it was quite interesting to visit. Not too many folks around and the rock word was stunning.

There was even some original plaster on one of the walls. All of the Mayan ruins were likely covered in this white plaster during the habitation period. This ended our Belizean adventure and the following day we headed to Guatemala and the Mayan site of Tikal.

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