Ok, so maybe Belize wasn’t so bad after all. One of the few times in Belize that we saw that inimitable Caribbean turquoise water was when we were on the ferry heading toward Caye Caulker from the rather ugly Belize City. It was thrilling to see the true blue Caribbean waters after only seeing wild dark waters banging against cement walls on the coast.
We deliberately chose quiet Caye Caulker over the expensive and over-developed Ambergris Caye. It seems that most of the beautiful blue water is found on the islands off the mainland. Who knew this? Why hadn’t my extensive research rendered up this information? In fact, I saw many photos online of Belize showing beautiful sand beaches with turquoise waters. What a dirty trick. Who knows where they were, but they were not on the mainland beaches we were on, and we were on a large number of them.
We’re not divers, but we did know that the islands are known for fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving. Doesn’t that usually mean lovely clear turquoise water lapping onto sandy beaches? Nope, it does not.
Had we known how beautiful the water was offshore, maybe we would have spent more than a week on the outer islands, though missing the Lamanai River Boat tour would have been a shame. Belize’s mainland beaches were, as we’ve said half a dozen times, less than awesome, and the mainland is perhaps at the same stage of development as Mexico was 30 years ago. Still, experiencing any country first hand is always an adventure that is worthwhile. We have yet to regret any trip, any where.
When we got to Caye Caulker, several golf carts were hailing us offering a taxi service. They weren’t exactly aggressive, but they were certainly tenacious. First, before going anywhere, we decided to sit down for a cool refreshing drink on the beach at the little beach bar in front of us as we disembarked from the ferry. Looking around, we noticed and smelled a pig cooking on a spit just a few feet away. Island life can be delightfully warm and charming.
For the life of us, we cannot remember the name of the hotel we stayed at, but we were in the absolute perfect location on the main street (Front Street/Asuncion Street), and right across from the restaurant, Sobre Las Olas. It was modest, and cheap but clean, with a sweet little balcony where we could relax and people watch. Loved it!
You could never get lost on Caye Caulker. It’s a long skinny island, split into two by a hurricane. You can see where the road stops on the North split, and most of the people live on the South split. It’s amazing to see an island split into two pieces like that; horrifying at the same time.
There are no cars on Caye Caulker – just feet, bicycles, and golf carts. Off we went to rent a golf cart, and it was perfect for exploring the island. T wanted to buy the golf cart business that was for sale on the island. Hmmm… maybe we should have.
The atmosphere on Caye Caulker is very laid back. Some might call it a backpacker’s or stoner’s island; others might call it paradise. In any case, it was extremely relaxing and everyone was easy-going.
One day we found this little trail and just had to find out what was at the end of the road. We soon ran into a pot-holed sand trail and flooding, but no worries, we forged right through.
At the end of the South split of the island, we came across an old-timer and a young boy fishing at the end of a long dock.
We ended up at the tiniest airport, and it was quite a rush to watch a plane land as it came diving straight towards us on the narrow runway. Will it stop, will it? It was mesmerizing watching it come down from the sky and pitch toward us, squealing to a stop right in front of us, yet we did not move.
We were like kids riding a 4-wheel bicycle splashing through puddles as we charged back through more flooding roads on our way back to the main part of the island.
The only disappointing part of Caye Caulker was that there was only one tiny sand beach; everywhere else around the island, the beaches were framed with those same bloody cement walls. Presuming this is to help prevent flooding during hurricane season, it makes sense. Still, it was a bummer to us beach lovers.
We ran into some real “characters” on Caye Caulker. This little boy befriended us and we fell right into his beguiling ways. Soon he was offering to do all kinds of things for us for the “right price”! He was relentless as anything too, offering to wash our golf cart or take us on tours, and looking as pitiful or cute as he possibly could. We felt guilty trying to avoid him, and repeatedly saying no thanks, but he was costing us a small fortune.
This island man had the best head apparel on the island. He had that laid-back “island attitude” and explained how he made the hat himself. Marching to his own eccentric beat, he was an entertaining fellow and a true thespian, playing his role to the hilt.
Two other little “characters” that you couldn’t help but like.
Now to get to the point of the story, we experimented with various restaurants – all of which were good, and then something odd happened. Locals started calling T a nickname. He became “Mr. Big Moneyyy”. Why? We don’t reek of big money, and it certainly wasn’t because we are rich, that’s a given. It was because he was the only tourist that tipped. T is a generous man, so you can’t fault him for that, but since we are also a long long ways from being wealthy (not that we are destitute either), it became ludicrously hilarious when people would say,
“Here comes Mr. Bigggg Monayyyy!”
They were doing it in a jocular inoffensive way, with hearty smiles, so we had no problem with it, and T just smiled in return.
Best thing about Caye Caulker? Well, this sign says it all.