Belize – Caribbean Cayes and Danger in Dangriga

Our time in Belize has been pretty mixed. I think it’s probably fair to say that we haven’t had the best of luck here, but with every down side there has usually been someone to pick us up afterwards.

Caye Caulker
We started off in the very touristy Caye Caulker (pronounced key), as this seems to be where everyone goes so we figured it was the place to be. We hadn’t really done much research and ended up staying for 2 nights at Bella’s Guest House, a bit of a hippy traveller scene but we got a bit of a bad vibe which we couldn’t quite put our finger on. However, we stayed because our room was pretty cool. It was semi-private which means it didn’t have a door, and we had to walk through 3 dorm areas to get to it (felt a bit like a place where I would imagine illegal immigrants living!) but it was right up the top of this tower thing and we had a view across the island on 3 sides. This provided a nice through breeze during the night which was welcome, so much so that I was actually cold! However, we decided to move after a couple of nights as we felt a bit uneasy there. Lots of noise and people hanging around who we felt we weren’t sure about. However most of the other travellers seemed nice so we couldn’t quite put our fingers on it.

We then moved to Yuma’s, the place where it seems a lot of people end up staying after they have got fed up with their original choice! What a nice relief to stay somewhere clean and quiet. It was also where some people we met on the bus from Mexico to Belize were staying, Jo from Australia, and Sophie and Beca from Wales, so we hung out with them quite a bit, which was nice!

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On the island itself there wasn’t loads to do. It is a bit of a party place but being off season not everything was open. One day I hung out at The Split with the girls, a channel between two Cayes caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1961, where we sunbathed and watched the world go by.

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Everyone tells you to “go slow” in Caye Caulker. There are also a few characters…!

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Another day, we went on a snorkel trip with a guy called Harry and we snorkelled around the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, went to a place called Shark-Ray Alley, and then fished in a couple of places. I caught one, Alex caught about 8! And we had them for dinner that night! I did get pretty sea sick and felt rough for a lot of it, but tried not to let it spoil mine or anyone else’s day. However, if we were going to do it again, we would have chosen Pop’s tour (I think it’s called). The others went on that and they went to his own island and had a fire. It was the same price as ours but sounded really good. We had felt a bit pressured into ours at the hostel, so didn’t have time to make a proper decision. But nevertheless, it was still a good day. No pics of this as it was a water day.

Danger in Dangriga
So as we had had a mixed time in Caye Caulker, we didn’t quite want to leave Belize yet and head to Guatemala with everyone else on the island (I’m not really exaggerating, everyone was going!) while we still had the uneasy hostel experience in our minds. So we came to a place called Dangriga to get a boat to Tobacco Caye, a much smaller, quieter and more ‘paradise-y’ island. However, in order to get to the island the boats go in the morning, so we thought we would stay a night and go the next morning. Without much to see or do in the town, we found a guy to take us in his boat the next day and then went back early and watched a cheesy film about a ski resort as it was so exciting to have a TV in our room for the first time since Cancun!

The next morning at about 8am we packed up and were walking into town with all of our stuff to get breakfast before the boat. As we were walking, in broad daylight and in view of a bunch of people by the river, two guys came up from behind us with a knife. “Give us your stuff”, they said. We could hardly believe it was even happening. We were literally carrying everything we have and didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t even get my bag off as I had kind of attached it to me. They separated us slightly and the one with the knife was with me. After what seemed like ages, he opened one section of my bag and grabbed my purse (with some US dollars, my credit and debit card) and camera. They also got our shared money from Alex, which we had got out extra for coming to Tobacco Caye. They ran off and fortunately we were not hurt, except our confidence.

We went over to the guys who had seen what happened, and they immediately went looking. The captain with the boat had been waiting for us was there too, and saw it all. We were pretty shocked so went to a nearby cafe and the lady helped us phone the police and gave us some coffee.

Our Belizian police experience was an interesting one. After meeting with two officers who came and asked some questions, they went out looking for the two muggers and told us to go to the police station to give statements. We were both feeling pretty shaken and were sure we didn’t want to continue walking the streets on our own! We did so anyway, and when we arrived, weren’t met with much sympathy. Apparently this sort of thing is uncommon here, but that didn’t really console us! Looking back though, it is probably good that we found them a but unsympathetic, as it made us level headed rather than emotional. Like when a child falls over and looks around to decide whether it should cry based on the grown ups’ reaction. Anyway, we spent aaaaaages making statements. There was no computer, it was similar to when we get pupils to write a statement at school when they have had an argument with a friend! Just hand written on a sheet of lined paper pretty much. We didn’t feel like we were getting very far when the first two policemen brought one of the muggers in! I couldn’t believe it but they had caught him, the one with the knife. They had found the purses (emptied of cash), my cards and camera buried in the sea shore. Apparently this mugger was from out of town, 23 years old and called Chris. Bloody Chris. He has freaked me out. We stared him down and he actually said “I’m sorry guys”. FREAKIN SORRY! Only cause he got caught. 2 hours ago he was waving a knife at us!

Anyway, they kept my stuff as evidence and we had to go back the following Tuesday to collect it. This actually took most of the day because we had to wait for the guy with the key to the office. Belizian time most definitely. We had to give a statement to a Justice of the Peace (the 81 year old neighbour to the police station) so it can be used in court when the trial comes because, even though they caught him and he admitted it, he could go free if we don’t make a second statement. Weird. If he is found guilty he will probably get about 8 years in prison apparently. Not sure if we believe that though.

Tobacco Caye
When we were allowed to go we managed to catch the last boat to Tobacco Caye where we have been staying in Paradise Lodge since. It really is paradise! The island is tiny, you can stroll around the whole thing in 5-10 minutes.

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We mostly spent our time lazing in hammocks, a bit of snorkelling, reading and chilling, and Alex did some fishing (rather unsuccessfully this time!). As well as trying to get over our mugging incident. There were some other nice couples staying there too so mealtimes were fun. We all were called to eat together with a bell like school dinners! But it was a good time to swap stories and have a laugh.

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This was our cabin…

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🙂 not bad eh!

So as you can see, our time in Belize really has been mixed. I think we have just been unlucky with the mugging, as so many people pass through here without incident. It is also really annoying though as my camera probably won’t work now having been in the sea, and I have cancelled my cards as a precaution (even though they were recovered). I will try not to hold it against Belize, but we are kind of looking forward to moving on nevertheless.

Today we travelled from Dangriga to Belize City to get the bus to Guatemala, but the 1pm one which we were aiming for was cancelled. So unfortunately we are having to stay in Belize City to get the bus tomorrow, which isn’t ideal. We found a hotel with a TV and wifi though so ordered pizza to be delivered and are hiding in our room…we also have an “en suite” which is a shower and toilet behind a curtain in the room haha

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Hopefully Guatemala and the rest of Central America will be kinder to us…

Ellie xxx

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