| The border crossing into Belize was one of the easiest I have done, mainly due to the fact that we caught a ferry rather than a bus. The original plan was to catch a bus, however when we arrived at the terminal we discovered that the company that ran the service between Chetamul in Mexico and Belize City had had their license revoked. This turned out to be a much quicker journey (~ 2 hours), with a short stop over in San Pedro to do all the boring customs stuff.
This involved getting all our belongings off the boat onto a small pier, across the way from a restaurant / bar on the adjacent pier, and a dive shop next to the customs entry on the same pier. Once all the passengers had passed through the customs person, we then jumped back onto the same boat and headed to Cay Caulker, an island off the coast of Belize.
Cay Caulker, as with the rest of Belize, has English as it's first language.
However, that appears to be just for the tourists, with the locals speaking a very Rastafarian sounding Creole. The locals on Caye Caulker are mostly of African American decent, and many sport deadlocked hair. The island itself had a very relaxed and safe, Caribbean feeling.
The island looks like a developed fishing village, with wooden buildings, compacted sand streets, and only a few cars.
All the taxis and most of the local transport is golf carts. Almost all the restaurants were open air and barbecued their fair using contraptions that looked like 40 gallon drums lying on their side, on wast high stands, and a little chimney at the back – always positioned at the entrance to the restaurant.
On our day off we went on a snorkel trip that involved visiting three snorkeling spots.
The first was just a few bombies of coral and some common fish; nothing inspiring. The second was a sea grass area teaming with Grey Nurse Sharks, Southern Sting Rays and Horse Eyed Jacks. The reason all this life was around is that all the boats that visit this area feed them, something that is against all my diving training. I managed to avoid the patting of the shark and ray sessions by swimming off a little way and finding the only Eagle Ray that was hanging around.
The Third sight however, was absolutely brilliant and natural. It was a dive sight on the actual reef that allowed some quite deep free diving, which I really enjoyed. I saw many large groupers, a Hogfish that I had never seen before, and some turtles.
There were also some Tarpons and other big fish, as well as a Green Moray Eel.
The journey home saw some nice munchies and local rum bought out, resulting in all of us returning home quite chatty and very smiley :-)
Our second and and final stop in Belize was a small inland town about half an hour from the Guatemalan border called San Ignacio.
It was a good midway point to stop on our way to Flores, but it wasn't very attractive. The main attraction here is the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) caves.
After a short walk through the jungle we did an Indiana Jones style exploration, walking through chest high water and scrambling over rocks to find a glorious inner cavern. The limestone formations were great with every wall covered with stalactites, stalagmites, and magnificent columns of limestone.
This cavern also contained some ancient Mayan pots, several lime encrusted skulls and a full limestone encrusted skeleton. As we exited the cave system we also got to see a cool lime green tree snake :-)