Saturday, 2nd August
Today we left Caye Caulker and headed south to Placencia. After checking out of the ‘Barefoot Beach Hotel’ we managed to just make the 9am water taxi back to Belize City. We were the last two on board and took our seats sweaty from the walk. The water taxi took us to Belize City so that we arrived around 10am and caught a taxi to ‘Novelo’s Bus Terminal’ from where we would catch a bus south. It being Saturday there was a market on outside the bus terminal so a lot of hustle and bustle going on. From the bus terminal here you can catch a bus pretty much all over Belize so it can get quite busy although it’s a small space. We only had to wait about an hour for our bus south to Dangriga from where we would catch another bus on to Placencia, our destination for the next couple of nights. Placencia is another coastal village, this time with beaches to launch into the ocean from.
There are no real timetables to speak of here, only hand-written ones sellotaped to the walls, so we just asked around for which bus to catch. When our bus did arrive it was a jam to get on even though there were enough seats for everyone. Some things are the same the world over. We hopped on board with all our luggage, chucked our large bags down the bag on the parcel shelf and found a seat. As I said it wasn’t too busy, no overcrowding at least. We had been warned that the back door is often used for people getting off so would have to watch our luggage whenever the bus stopped.
We made our way towards Dangriga and on the way picked up more passengers. This meant some of us had to go three to a seat and we were one of those although our third person was a child so not too much of a squeeze. He seemed to like our Pringles we brought as our lunch. It was great to see some of inland Belize as we first drove to Belmopan before heading back towards to the coast and Dangriga. The first scenery reminded us of Mississippi a bit, the same colours and dense foliage, even the same wooden-paneled buildings. This changed to rolling hills and sharp green covered peaks. When we were almost at Dangriga (about 3 hours into the bus ride) the conductor told us to get off to catch the bus to Placencia so with around ten others we jumped off with our bags (quite a feat getting those off through the small aisles) and waited at a bus stop by the side of the road for our bus.
This bus was less busy than the fist so our fears of not being able to get on with our luggage was put to rest and we only waited around 20 minutes or so. The conductor was especially grumpy on this bus, muttering to himself how everyone was ‘wasting his time’, not sure how as everyone seemed to be pulling out their money when asked. Until two policeman got on, however, who point blank refused to pay even after the conductors protestations and mutterings. I guess one of the perks of being in the police here. The scenery was just as green on this leg as the first, this time passing through banana plantations, still the rolling hills and sharp peaks but as we got to the coast this changed to the bright blue of the Caribbean Sea. Placencia is joined to the mainland by a single road with the water on either side. After a journey of one and a half hours from the intersection we were picked up from we were in Placencia. Placenia is a small village (500 inhabitants) and a popular destination for those seeking an idyllic beach with accommodation and restaurants rights on the sand. It is on a peninsula with the Caribbean Sea and the beach on the eastern side and the sea also following the coast along the western side. A lot of people come here to scuba dive, we came here to sit on a beach.
We arrived around 4pm, having left Caye Caulker at 9am. Sounds like a long trip but it was actually fairly easy. I stayed with the bags whilst Kirsty set off to look at a few hotels, we hadn’t booked anywhere as we didn’t know that we’d get this far. We found a nice place right on the beach called ‘Sea Spray Hotel’ and thought we would stay for two nights, not keen to do another day bussing around so soon. It would also help to have some time to think of how to get to Guatemala from here. For the evening we had a couple of rum cocktails at the ‘Barefoot Bar’ down the beach, again right on the beach, then had a walk through the small village of Placencia before turning in for the night, after some reading on the beach under the stars. In the distance we could see the lightning of a large storm bearing down on Barbados.
Sunday, 3rd August
After being woken up due to the sunlight streaming into our room (we left the blinds open to get some air during the night) we got up and after our budget breakfast (I found a loaf of bread and jar of out of date peanut butter and jelly in the local store, Kirsty still had her cornflakes) we sauntered down to the beach for a morning of swimming, reading and general loafing around. It’s a nice beach here, the sand is the consistency of demarera sugar and the water is nice and cooling. There aren’t too many people around either being just after high season and not long until most of the hotels shut up for the season. After a relaxing morning we went in search of lunch in the village. Kirsty had got some tips off a Rastafarian on the beach and we ended up at ‘Omar’s’ for a Belizean lunch. I had the stew chicken with rice and beans (accompanies everything here) and Kirsty had the creole hog snapper fillet. To drink I opted for a ‘seaweed shake’, a drink of blended local seaweed, both condensed and evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, some ice and a slug of brandy for good measure. It was actually pretty tasty and not what I was expecting.
In the afternoon we did some swimming in the sea to cool off as the temperature rose. The sea is nice and refreshing here, and perfect for cooling off in the heat of the day. It was by now approaching happy hour at the beachfront bars so we went to ‘Typsy’s’ for a couple of cocktails before moving onto the ‘Barefoot Bar’ for dinner and some more rum cocktails. We turned in for the night having to pack and get up at 5:30am for the bus to San Ignacio, a one night stop on the way to the Guatemalan border and a new country.