Belize Day 4 – from the jungle to the islands
July 25th, 2016
Our stay in the jungle has come to an end. Our time on the small barrier reef island of Caye Caulker is about to begin. However, before we can kick back and enjoy our time in the sun with a frozen beverage in hand, we need to drive the 2 hours from the jungle to Belize City, and then hop on a ferry for another hour sprint out to the islands.
By the time we reached the ferry terminal, I had pretty much hit my threshold for time allowed in a car on a vacation. I basically burst out of the van and ran as fast as I could to the ferry ticket office. We had arrived with about 25 minutes to spare until the next ferry left. We ditched our bags with the checkin counter, got our tickets, and hopped on the boat.
Just one problem, right as the ferry had undocked and was pulling away, I saw the dude from the checkin counter lazily strolling down the gangway with our two bags in tow. I had a brief bout of panic, and then realized we were heading to island and such emotions would be fruitless. 45 minutes later we were pulling up to the ferry dock on the island and strolling to our new cabana with a lot less luggage in tow. (More on that later)
Our cabana for the next 4 days is a mere ten minute walk from the ferry station. Our instructions to find the place were simple, exit ferry, turn left, walk for ten minutes, stop. 10 minutes is a bold claim considering that walk is a white sand path that weaves in and out of coconut palm trees and runs feet from the waters edge. One would understand if the walk took you 4 hours. Anyhow, 10 minutes later and Jessica and I found ourselves speaking with Juan, the manager of our new cabana on the beach.
Jessica and I are now the proud residents of a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom (with a kitchen and a living room) and a front door that is 16 feet from the waters edge. Not too shabby.
Jessica and I were a little perturbed that we didn’t have our bags, less for the obvious issue, more for the fact that we didn’t have any bathing suits and thus had to weather the 80% humidity and 80° weather in cotton. So, we opted for a stroll to a bar nearby the ferry terminal where we could eagerly await a reunion with our bags, hopefully aboard the next boat. Our cabana also comes with two beach cruisers to navigate the island. There a no cars here, just golf carts and beach cruisers. So we hopped aboard our sweet new whips and pedaled back down our white sandy road to the nearest bar.
Life here runs a little (read: infinitely) slower than normal. The 90 minute wait took about 2 beers and 1 coconut rum mixed with coconut water beverage to pass by. Moments later, I triumphantly returned to Jessica, who was keeping our epic seats at the bar occupied, with our long lost bags.
We swapped our jungle threads for some proper beach attire, ditched our bags in our cabana, and headed down to the other end of the island, fondly referred to as “the split”. Home to a proper island party bar, tables and chairs built into the water, and decent snorkeling and deck space nearby to spread out and enjoy yourself.
We ordered some lobster tacos and piña coladas and began to find our rhythms with the island. To this point, we had been eating like kings, and paying a kings ransom for the pleasure. Now that we have our own kitchen, I wanted to try my hand at some fresh island cooking. Today also happens to be one of two days of the week where fresh produce is hauled into the docks. Jessica and I biked on over to a local market, picked up some peppers, onions, garlic, beer and rum. From there, I needed to find some fresh fish. Like a total rookie, I went into every store we passed looking for fish, the quizzical looks I kept getting clued me into an error in my thinking. Next I stopped at a couple of restaurants and asked them if they would sell me a fish. Seemingly offended, no one wanted to help me. Finally, I figured it out and started chatting up a younger guy working to grill behind a restaurant. I asked him what he was cooking, how he was going to pair it, what type of coal he was using, what kind of beer he liked, who his favorite reggae band was….and finally…where the hell he bought his freaking fish. He laughed, pointed me around the corner and said to just ask anyone next to a boat. It was almost 5pm, I figured the best fish would be long gone by now, but sure enough, as we were rolling on up to the fishermen and fisherwomen, several boats were doing the same thing and were unloading their catch from the afternoon. We were on the opposite side of the island, away from all the niceties and behind the island power plant (3 semis with generators) and evidently, our only reason to be there was to buy fish from the fisherpeoples. Before I was off my bike, a sweet man with his kids in tow was walking up to us with a bag of freshly cleaned red snapper and lobster tails. He wanted to sell his entire stash, I just wanted a couple fillets, and thus the great snapper bartering of 2016 was upon us. In the end, I bought all the fish and got some free lobsters for roughly $12.
If you know me at all, you must know how happy this makes me. Local fish, freshly caught, negotiating, and free lobster. My oh my! And now I was off to cook these puppies up.
Jessica and I spent the rest of the evening cooking, swimming, drinking, and sitting on the dock while watching lightning storms roll across the sky miles away from us.
This trip is coming together nicely.