For visa purposes, we took a four night ‘mini-break’ to Belize, the only Central American country to once have been a British colony and where English is the official language. Travel options ranged from camping at Mayan ruins to enjoying turquoise Caribbean waters and white sandy beaches. We plumped for the latter!
The journey began with a short speedboat across the border from Livingston to Punta Gorda (nicknamed ‘PG’ by the relaxed locals) on the southern coast of Belize.
At first it was a little strange to see signs written primarily in English and money with the Queen’s head on it. As with Guatemala’s Caribbean coast, Garifuna is the dominant culture in the southern part of the country and overall Belize feels more Caribbean than Central American.
En route to our final destination we stopped for a night in Dangriga, the largest town in southern Belize. We found it most welcoming with locals who were always willing to help.
Although the town is not exactly on the traveller trail, accommodation wasn’t hard to find – even in a prime spot right by the beach.
Food, on the other hand, was slightly more difficult. We’ve come to realise in this part of the world that the less tourism a place has, the less vegetarian food there is! After some searching, however, we usually find something suitable – regularly from individuals plying homemade food and drink on buses and on the street.
The countryside in the south (seen from a chicken bus, of course) is mainly lush lowland, with the occasional cluster of peaks grouped together. The environment and conservation are seemingly of greater concern here than in other nearby countries given the number of billboards advertising related initiatives and that 37% of Belize’s land territory falls under some form of official protection.
Belize City is home to the odd band who appear to put social issues high on the agenda.
Our eventual destination was Caye Caulker, a much visited island to the north-east of Belize City around 45 minutes away by boat.
There were some aspects this Caribbean paradise shared with previous places we’d visited on the same coastline, but here the sand is whiter and the sea more turquoise!
There are no paved roads or cars on the island, so it is bicycles and (perhaps strangely) golf carts that share the sandy streets with pedestrians.
Docks for swimming and boats are commonplace, as are incredible views of endless, alluring ocean.
Some days we swam, some days we watched others swim (or perch).
Overall there can’t be many better ways to carry out a bureaucratic task such as visa renewal!
Next we set off back to Guatemala where, upon getting a new stamp at the border, we’ll be spending the next three months.