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Going Slow on Caye Caulker


View 2022 on mrb430's travel map.

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REFLECTIONS ON THE WINTER
We're almost at the end of our winter in the Caribbean of Mexico and Belize - can't believe we've been down here six months now - and it's been a time of reflection and continued learning. Each new thing we try in our routine and each new place we visit gets us closer to thinking we understand the perfect way for us to travel. Ha! We crossed the "four years on the road" mark while here and have added to our list of things we know for sure.

  • We still love travel and don't miss having a "home"
  • We like routine...but not any one routine for too long
  • Three months is the very outer limit to stay in any one place
  • Slow travel is great but there is such a thing as "too slow"
  • You meet more people in small places but there's more to do in big places - a definite dilemma
  • We can travel anywhere comfortably - places that seemed out of reach before (too different, too scary) are on the table now
  • And selfishly, world events like Covid and the Russian invasion are extremely inconvenient. SE Asia and Europe plans we're looking at you!

We don't have any plans to stop anytime soon - there's still a lot of the world to see and we haven't found that special place yet. We're looking forward to the coming year and more adventures.

CAYE CAULKER

Getting to Caye Caulker from Cancun, we traveled on Tropic Air first to Belize City and then hopped on again for the 10 minute flight to Caye Caulker. There is a ferry but it requires taxis and buses as well and...well...we felt lazy. Literally the only plane we've been on where the back three seats are on a couch!
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The views out the window were amazing since we were flying at such a low altitude. It was an awesome flight.

GO SLOW

Caye Caulker famously has a sign that reads, "Go Slow - We have no hospitals but two cemeteries", and the island takes that sentiment to an extreme we've never experienced before. Luckily, the island is beautiful so whiling away your days doing nothing isn't a hardship. We've spent entire days on our second story porch reading and planning and looking out at the activity that constitutes daily life here.
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FUN FACTS

The weather was pleasant when we arrived at the beginning of the month, 80's with cool nights, but it's gotten hotter as the month has progressed. Nights are still pleasant and we are managing without A/C just using fans. There's a breeze off the water most days so being at the edges of the island is much cooler, which conveniently is where the best bars are!
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The predominant sounds of the island are reggae, although it's hard to find live, and the completely incomprehensible creole language spoken by the locals. It's a mix of Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, English, and probably a few others thrown in that is spoken very fast! There is a large Mennonite population in Belize and you see some of the young men here on the island in the building trades and at the hardware stores. They're easy to recognize by their long-sleeved check shirts and their overalls or suspenders. It does rain but it usually comes and goes in 10 minutes and there are long stretches without any at all. The food is basic with the predominant meal being a protein, salad, and some form of rice and beans. That being said, there is also good pizza and a "fine-dining" Italian restaurant. It's going to be funny to see what we gravitate to in Italy when we want to eat something different. All through Mexico and Latin America it's been pizza and pasta so...tacos? Anyway, I digress.

One thing you definitely feel here is that it's a close knit community. The FaceBook pages are full of information and news and people seem to help each other out. Everyone seems to know everyone and in a few more months we would, too. We were lucky enough to be here during their Lionfish Festival, which is not a celebration of the dastardly fish but of killing it! Four teams of free-divers and two of divers went out and killed almost 400 in one day. It was a big party and fun to be a part of it.
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All of the fish were cleaned to be eaten and the spines collected to make jewelry sold by a collective of Belizean women. There's a small craft store area with one shop that specializes in the jewelry.
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SANDY ROADS AND GOLF CARTS

There are two trucks on the island, the garbage truck and some person with a new pickup.
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Other than that, the modes of transport are golf carts, bicycles, and walking. Most accommodations provide bicycles as ours did. Taxis are golf carts, delivery "trucks" are bigger golf carts, it's been a lot of fun jumping on our beach cruisers to go to the store, the beach, the bar - everywhere.
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The roads are all sand and houses but up to the street with lush gardens. It can get pretty dusty when it's dry but that comes with the territory.
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Caye Caulker is the kind of place most people travel through for a few days or at most a week. There just isn't that much to do once you've been on a snorkel tour and done some diving or fishing. There's the Lazy Lizard at the Split, a beach club bar where "the split" in between the north and south islands comes though that has a swimming area and is a great place for sunsets and to watch the boat traffic, including the little Split to Split "ferry".
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There's the Sip N Dip, with their tables and hammocks in the water.
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Yes I made Scott pose by all the signs! It's really funny - most places have these signs now that give the name of the location but here every bar has it's own!

There's the Northside Beach Club on the north island that provides a free "ferry" from the South Island and is nice to visit for a swim and some cocktails.
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And there are a few places with live music, a few good restaurants, and a few great sunset bars, including our favorite The Pelican where we saw our first ever purple sunset!
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Watching sunset is THE activity of the day. Everyday people collect along the backside of the island at bars and docks and at the Split to watch it go down. It's a great time to connect with people and have conversations over a cold rum punch.large_IMG_6139.jpeglarge_IMG_6117.jpeg

But mostly the island is about the water, the palm trees, having a $10 takeout lunch from the many BBQ stands that serve fresh fish or chicken with coleslaw and coconut rice with beans, and exploring the backroads on your bicycle for cool and interesting sites like an old water tank faded from the sun or a wall made out of conch shells.
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So, having planned almost a month here, we've settled in to doing almost nothing - except reading, planning, swimming at the Split - most days followed by going out for the sunset or some music, rinse and repeat. Fortuitously, this has given us time to plan our next adventure in Europe this summer so it's been time well spent. We're super excited to be planning for Italy, Malta, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria (hopefully given Russia's invasion and the ramifications), Romania, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France! We're going back to a more stepped-up pace of travel for awhile with a few nice rests planned in along the way. After the last two years, we are ready to really be back on the road. Fingers crossed that it all goes to plan!
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But back to Caye Caulker...

HOL CHAN MARINE RESERVE

The highlight has been Scott's diving trips and our day trip out to Hol Chan. We sailed on a Catamaran called Wanderlust and it was an amazing day.
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We started out with a snorkel at the local reef, which unfortunately they still fish heavily so neither healthy coral or the fish are very plentiful but the water is such a gorgeous blue and we got fresh fruit after the snorkel while we were on our way to "Shark and Ray Alley", where they feed the nurse sharks from the back of the boat to attract them and tons of other fish and rays, so the next stop made up for it. I know, I know, they shouldn't feed them but it is what it is at this point so we're not dwelling on it.
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After that was lunch - the normal fare of chicken, salad, beans and rice, and then it was time for Hol Chan, the absolute highlight. The oldest protected area in Belize, the fish are plentiful and large and there is an abundance of healthy coral to enjoy. It was an awesome snorkel capped off by seeing more turtles than we've ever seen in one spot before.
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The sail back was wonderfully relaxing as we watched the speedboats rushing by while we enjoyed rum punch, the wind, and the salt air and sun. It's a must-do when you visit.

We would definitely recommend Caye Caulker but unless you're ready to totally GO SLOW, maybe a week would be plenty. Next up is back to the US for two weeks or so to see the folks and change our residency so stay tuned and don't forget to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 14:30 Archived in Belize

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