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Canoe races: San Ignacio, Belize

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

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It was time to leave the island and Belize, but instead of making one long day of travel I decided to stop at the town of San Ignacio. San Ignacio is another pretty basic town except that it is a hub for adventure tours. There are a lot of rivers, caves, ruins, and villages in the surrounding hillsides so it becomes a very popular base for foreigners. There are also a fairly large contingent of expats living there as well as communities of Mennonites.

I would have liked to stay a few days, but I had it budgetted perfectly so that I would leave with just enough money after one night to pay the $40B departure fee and have $5B left over to pay for a minibus to my next Guatemalan town. Belizean money is not quite useful outside the country and locals prefer to keep the American dollars for when they travel or buy things from other countries.

I found a nice guest house with a sweet little balcony, met up with Mara, and the following morning checked out the very popular canoe races which start in San Ignacio and end in Belize City. It is made up of almost a hundred boats varying from guys who have practiced all year and are out to win it along with guys who just want a reason to get drunk and party. There are four stages and lasts for four days. The shotgun start was at 7am so I had to get up early. Luckily I was still on island time so got up in plenty of time. After the race started, which was pretty chaotic as there was a bottle neck to get past the low bridge as well as a few groups who had no reason to be in a boat. It was all over in a couple of minutes but it was an exciting start. I went back and got Mara who over slept, grabbed some breakfast at the famous Pops and headed off on the bus to the border. I unfortunately didn´t factor in on the cost to take a shared taxi to the border which was three miles from the bus station, but it was an okay stroll. Paid my money to “leave?”, and I was back in Guatemala. Officially now, I am one country away from being home, but I only visited the Caribbean coast side of Guatemala so I still have to cut back through it visiting some of the sites before heading straight up the Pacific coast back to the US.

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Photos: Caye Caulker, Belize.

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

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Fresh off the boat.

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Kayaking out to the reef. Nice pristine waters are a major plus in my book. These are the places where I don´t mind the ocean. Second longest barrier reef in the world. Although it was nice, still not as good as the Red Sea or the Caribbean Islands when it comes to color and number of colorful species.

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The back or Ignacios Cabanas.

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My evening spot to hangout.

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You can fly to Caye Caulker but it is cheaper and just as fast to take the water taxis. It is more convenient though if you have a connecting flight out of or into Belize City.

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Birders paradise.

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This guy was a professional model. Every time the sun came out he and his wife hung out on this stump right along the path between the Cabanas. Every tourist who came by had to take a photo of the row of Cabanas and of this guy. I should have charged for photos.

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This was the cool post office. First you had to be sniffed by the bomb detecting dog either that or he was just checking for chicken. The papers posted on the wall are the names of people who have mail to be picked up. Quaint.

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Pot holed sand roads with no cars. Too many golf carts though. Lazy ass people.

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My tortilla chip shop. Excellent. $2B. You can´t eat just one.

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Ignacios from the dock.

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The Dutch guy who was Tarpon crazy. I caught them in the Keys like bluegills.

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Backpacker stove.

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This slot limit snook lived under the dock. It let me walk right up to him and I even grabbed his tail (didn´t like that). He left after I told Armando about him and he tried to gaff it.

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Pretty, pretty sunsets.

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Belizean staple food, stewed chicken and rice and beans. $7B.

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Proof I wake up earllllllyyyyy. Sunrise baby. Gotta be nice for me to get up that early.

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The cut or split. Basically, during one of the hurricanes, the water broke through the island forming this channel. Now the island is cut into. The good part of it is that a beach has formed here with nice white sand and deep water in the channel. Bad thing is the boats run through here so you have to be careful.

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The cut.

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The Lazy Lizard rasta boat that you can go out on the reef in.

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I ended up kayaking around the island once during some high winds. It was extremely brutal but I got swarmed by some juvenile dolphins which were neat.

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More of the cuts sea wall that failed.

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Introducing Ruby my island playmate. She got great pleasure from stealing my juice, whimpering until she got half my peanut butter, jam, and banana sandwiches, and totally ruining my peaceful hammock time. I think her mom was happy at first in that she didn´t have to watch Ruby when I was there but then a little miffed when Ruby only wanted to hang out with me. Plus, usually when I returned her she was covered in sand, peanut butter and jam, juice, mud from the beach, and she said “Fuck” a lot. Ruben and others got her started on the “Fucks”, I just sort of reinforced her by telling her “no”. Later on, it became a way of getting my attention so when she came in the morning and saw me she would start yelling “fuck” and running towards me. Other times when I wasn´t paying attention the “fuck”s would fly.

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Armando. He didn´t really have any other kids to play with around there so when I came along it was like a gold mine to him. He was deftly afraid of the water, but after a couple of days I got him to go for a swim with me, although wrapped around my neck. Everybody was pretty surprised.

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Pretty much my daily activity was playing. Mara a Canadian girl I met there and in my next stop was surprised when I told her I was 43. She thought I was 9. I told her that all asians look young for their age. She didn´t buy it.

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More sunrises. Feel lucky I don´t show you 14 of them plus sunsets.

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Good old Ignacios. Highly recommended for the get away from it all set. Basic though so if you are coming from the States and this is your first stop, you might consider the nicer resorts first. For me it was three stars.

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Belize city port. There was three cruise ships waiting when we got back. I guess they don´t have a deep water port as they were parked way out. Lots and lots of tourists. Luckily though I think they go to San Pedro.

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The water taxis that take you out to the outlying cayes. $15B one way or $25B round trip.

Screw the orphans Caye time for Steve: Caye Caulker, Belize

Sunday, March 7th, 2010
caye-caulker-71.JPG So this is where I got stuck. Caye Caulker is about a 45 minute water taxi ride north of Belize city. Now, I was actually really looking forward to this part ... [Continue reading this entry]

Photos: Placencia, Belize

Sunday, March 7th, 2010
placencia-1.JPG The main access path running through town. placencia-2.JPG My buddy Coco placencia-4.JPG Art shot. placencia-8.JPG Sorry, another damn ... [Continue reading this entry]

Beach time: Placencia, Belize

Sunday, March 7th, 2010
placencia.JPG Remember the town of Boquete in Panama? It was that top five retirement towns in the AARP magazine. Well, Placencia is the beach side version of the same thing. After ... [Continue reading this entry]

Looking forward to it: Welcome to Belize, Punto Gorda

Sunday, March 7th, 2010
punta-gorda-2.JPG punta-gorda-3.JPG The run to Belize was a bit longer at two hours plus it wasn´t exactly the mirror calm seas that is conducive to the Caribbean. One of ... [Continue reading this entry]