We leave Guatemala and enter Belize a country which is completely different from the rest of Central America. The language in the former British Crown Colony is English and instead of kilometers or meters they have miles, yards and inches. Also the good old German pound is no longer what it seems to be and weighs only 454 Gramm. But lucky enough we must not drive on the other (wrong) side of the road.
It`s very funny at the border because we constantly mix Spanish and English and the customs officer is a bit irritated. Also it takes another few days until we don`t start a conversation in Spanish. Directly after the border we stop at the nice hostel Clarissa Falls direct on the riverside where we can also swim without crocodiles.
The next larger city is San Ignacio where we meet Ilka & Guenther who have a similar truck like ours and are on the road since 3 years from North to South. We spend a few days together and exchange our travel experiences.
Not far from San Ignacio is Spanish Lookout a large settlement of Mennonites. They are known for their excellent mechanical skills and we do some welding work and adjust the brakes. The Mennonites have German roots and speak an old German dialect (ploutdeutsch) so we can communicate also a bit in German. Old Fashion and modern is colorful mixed. You see horse-drawn carriages together with SUVs and cross road vehicles and fast food restaurants in the streets. Men have long beards, women wear old fashion costumes and the kids have blond hair. Farming of the country is determined by the Mennonites whereby supermarkets and trading is the domain of the Chinese community.
We move on to Dangriga where we park MOMO to spend three days at Reef`s End Resort on the Tobacco Cayes. The reef in front of Belize is the second largest after the Barrier reef in Australia and an ideal location for diving or in our case for snorkeling. The half hour boat ride in a mini boat packed with 12 people and luggage together with rainy and windy weather is an adventure on its own and we are wet all over at the end of the ride. The island is very small and we have a nice little bungalow. Unfortunately a cold front comes along on the first day and in the evening we sit at the Caribbean beach wearing a fleece jacket. But then the sky is again steel blue and we make some nice snorkel tours. In the evening the fresh catch from the day is prepared in the restaurant. A very nice location we can really recommend to others.
Back on the mainland we continue our journey to the South of Belize to Hopkins where we have a meeting for card playing with the German couple Chandra and Bennie. The South is the home of the Garifuna originating from native South Americans and Africans. Our campsite on the beach is outstanding. Next to it is the popular restaurant Drift wood with live music every Tuesday night. The location in obviously listed in all tourist guide books At 7pm a bunch of tourists come for a visit. The music is completely differnet from what we´ve heard so far in South and Central America. We feel like in Africa with drums and an excellent lead singer. After 10pm all tourists are gone and the remainder of the evening is for the locals who drink and dance and have a lot of rum punch till midnight.
After a few days we leave the nice location and visit the Blue Hole National Park with a cave to explore on your own. According to the tourist guide books the Belize Zoo is must see and so we don`t want to miss it. Well, we have seen a Tapir and were surprised about the size of the animal. Apart from this it’s a nice location but not something very special.
On our way North we want to visit the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected area of 13sqkm with a huge diversity of birds. But our trip literally fell through. Shortly after our arrival and arrangement at the lake shore it starts raining cats and dogs all night long. A weather where human and animals hide themselves and so do the birds. Also the next morning it did not get better and we move on to Orange Walk on the campground from the restaurant River Side. From there we make a tour to Lamanai. The two hour boat tour on the river is really worth it and we see a lot of crocodiles, birds and monkeys. In the middle of nowhere we also pass a settlement from the Mennonites who live there like we lived hundred years ago. They don`t use electricity and do farming with horses and oxen. Also they don`t use rubber and when they get a new tractor they replace the wheels with steel wheels.
The archeological site of Lamanai is the most impressive in Northern Belize and was populated already 1500 BC. Our tour also includes a guide and so we learn something about the Maya culture and their ceremonies. After a well prepared lunch and a lot of good rum punch we make our way back. On the way Karin has the opportunity to feed a monkey who is obviously waiting every day around 3pm for the boat. A nice trip and worth the money.
We would really like to stay on in Belize. The country and the friendliness of the people suit us and there is much more to explore. Also it`s really totally different from the rest of Central America and looks more like Jamaica or Africa. But we are in a hurry because our son Felix comes to visit us with his girlfriend next week in Cancun. They travel with us for two weeks and together we will explore the South of Mexico. But this is then part of our next blog. Until then enjoy reading and watching the pictures and like us on Facebook. Hasta Luego.
Kai Lorenz (Samstag, 09 April 2016)
Hello from the United States,
I hope all is well and the visit with family in Mexico is going well. Matt, Sarah, Sam, Emma and I really enjoyed meeting you. Reef's End was a beautiful place, but I have to agree with you that getting a chance to explore Belize with it's diversity in culture, wildlife and geography is not to be missed. Please keep posting as I will continue to read your blog. I really love what you are doing! Also, if you do end up near Port Townsend, WA in the states, during your meandering up to Alaska, we are all waiting to take you out. We are very close to Vancouver and Seattle and a huge national park (Olympic National Park). If you ever need contact information don't hesitant to ask. Enjoy the road my friends.