Adventures on Waves and in Caves
26.05.2009 - 29.05.2009
The next day it was off to Caye Caulker in Belize for what is supposed to be a rather special lazy island with excellent snorkelling and diving (the world famous blue hole is most easily accessed from here). The island itself is quite remarkable being only about 500m wide and at most 4km long with a mantra of "Go Slow" which the locals handle with a plomb. In fact there are no cars allowed on the island with the exception of golf buggies available for hire. Being an island you would expect the fish to be good and we certainly couldn't complain as we found a local chef walking along with a giant barracuda in his hand and decided that his place was worth eating at.
The next day we headed out to go snorkelling on the reef, which is the second biggest reef in the world that has sadly suffered the effects of diving and over fishing. Impressively (for me atleast) I was fine and stomached the entire ride even at it's choppiest - some members of the group weren't quite so lucky. The marine life around the reef was very good with a plethora of vibrantly coloured fish, however the hightlights were definitely the manta and sting rays, nurse sharks and giant turtles we were able to swim along with. Well worth the visit though it spelt a death knell for my beard which was just too annoying! The other thing of note was the Pom-bashing which would become a tradition for the tour, on this occassion it wasn't the bashing persay as when our local skipper chimed in with this subtle jab:
Skipper: Where you from?
Skipper: Wonker (in the greatest carribean accent ever!)
The bar scene in Caye Caulker is pretty slow (along with everything else) it did however have a sports bar which despite not being all that flash had sport on TV and a quiz while we were there. A respectable third in the quiz helped take 20% off the bill but the aussie's amongst us were left dumbfounded after failing to get the "aussie slang" question right, anyone actually used the term "10 oz sandwhich"? The other night time option there was a place called the raggae bar which offered a rooftop full of swings for bar seats a very cool idea if not a little dangerous late in the night. The place was pretty good for a couple of beers but that seemed surplus to the requirements of the locals in there.
Sans my beard which felt a little strange we then headed off to San Ignacio which to me seemed little more than a half way place to spend the night on the way accross the border to Guatemala. Boy was I wrong with the place boasting many Mayan sites with the best seeming to be the adventure to the A.T.M. cave, a site of mayan sacrifice.
The site itself promised so much but the journey there was the major selling point. The cave itself is an hours bus ride from the town, then a further 45 minute hike through the jungle and across three rivers jut to get to the entrance. Once inside the cave it is a further hour long combination of walking, swimming and rock climbing to get to the actual sacrifice site. This was absolutely awesome and I would love to be able to do this every day of the trip with the added bonus of the difficulty in getting there also helping to preserve the integrity of the site. The tour guide we had for it was quite strange with him being over protective of stepping near things or taking a different path but being more than happy to walk over some of the broken pots and lead us through the final water section of the cave with no light whatsoever. The sacrifice site is nicely cleaned and excavated with only one real sacrificed body there, a couple of other skeletons are around but they are not as convincing in their placement. The tour guide was also very fond of giving us his story as how other relics in the cave came about but it was very much heresay. The whole day journey however was a really great experience and something I would recommend to anyone travelling through Belize with a bit of energy and a sense of adventure.
Whilst in San Ignacio I also met some american engineers that are doing some volunteer work through their university near there helping to develop a cheap and easily replacable water filtration system for the local people. This sounds like a really cool project and something I wish we had the opportunity to do through university, whilst there one of the girls had her 21st birthday that was obviously a big deal and helped to ensure a good night for me and my group leader. It is starting to become a running joke that I am really only on the tour (or atleast with the rest) part time.