After so many years of daydreaming about Central America, it is finally happening! What to say about Central America? Well, for a start, Mexico is not part of it. Not trying to be a smart ass but Mexico belongs to NAFTA for a reason… Just saying… It is composed of the following countries: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama and those countries are going to be ‘home’ for the next 10 to 12 weeks. Since back in Europe the authorities have declared Central America (from not so safe to very) unsafe, it wasn’t an easy decision to go through with our project but I’m happy we did. We felt so scared yet extremely excited. You can therefore imagine our state of mind while crossing the border to Belize. We almost expected to be robbed and / or murdered for a quarter as soon as we arrived in Belize.
After arguing with the Mexican authorities in broken Spanish for the 25 dollars departure fee to exit Mexico, we entered Belize where we were welcomed 1) in English (say whaaat?) 2) by nice and helpful customs officers 3) a friendly taxi driver and 4) we saw a lady walking around with a Michael Kors purse. MICHAEL KORS. Are you serious? She. Broke. My. Heart. We obviously hadn’t realized that Belize’s official national language was English but it definitely made our first step in Central America easier! Adios Mexico, good morning Belize! We were immediately hit by the Caribbean atmosphere that surrounded us. From the music playing loudly on the bus to the unexpected language spoken on the streets (I discovered later was Creole), everything gave us a Caribbean vibe and it felt great.
For our first night in Belize, M & I had decided to go to Placencia, in the Stann Creek Distric. We had done some research and our itinerary was quite clear. After many hours on the bus, we had enough. My butt (bless him) couldn’t handle 3 more hours and we (read: my delicate butt) needed a break (the awkward moment when you realize hat you aren’t that young anymore) and our little oasis was called Hopkins. Our lonely planet told us that it was cheaper, smaller AND less touristy than Placencia. Say no more! To Hopkins! The only (which can be called major) problem was that we had to get off at ‘the Hopkins junction’ and some passengers started to comment on that decision ‘ya ain’t geddin’ off ther, it wood be too dangerous! People get murdered’. Alright… Point taken… Trying to stay alive (together with eating shit loads of street food. What? It is all about priorities, right?) being our main priority, we did question our spontaneous decision. To junction or not to junction, this is the question. Luckily, some passengers confirmed that we would not get murdered, merely raped or mugged. Just kidding, mom! They couldn’t understand the non-sense of the junction being dangerous. Junction, it was then!
And this was a great decision. We found a lovely hostel Funky Dodo with comfortable bunks (no plank incident to report this time. After Chetumal, and a fallen plank from the upper bunk that nearly broke my knee, it was a relief), clean showers and cool guests. We didn’t know how long we would stay so we only paid for one night. We met an awesome American dude, Cory (hoping I got his name right after calling him Court a whole evening) who told us about a waterfall hike. At first, it was too expensive and we unfortunately couldn’t afford it, the hostel wanted 20 US$ (per person!) to drop and pick us up at / from the park. Arghhhh! Luckily, Cory did his homework and found a local bus, departing at 7 am the next day from Hopkins for US$ 1.5. Yes please! But there was one tiny problem: the bus would drop us off 4 miles from the beginning of the trail. Ah… For US$ 1.5, we can’t have it all, right?
This morning, we jumped on the bus and headed to the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. From the bus stop, we got a lift from locals (ride at the back of a pick up truck? Check!) to the entrance. We hiked the Bocawina (flat and easy) and the Antelope trails that took us through the jungle. The latter was steep and fun to hike up, the reward being a dip in a nice cool natural pool at the top of the waterfall. Bliss!
After another night in Hopkins, tomorrow it is time to move on. Next stop: Caye Caulker.
Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!