Sunday, May 4, 2008

Belize trip: day 8

Today I leave San Ignacio to go to Caye Caulker to meet Sam. I have an early breakfast of coffee and toast at Cafe Cayo and then go to the bus depot to catch a bus to Belize City. The bus travels back to Belmopan where more people are picked up and then on to Belize City. At Belize City I catch a taxi to the water taxi wharf and get a ticket to Caye Caulker. The water taxi holds some twenty odd people going to Caye Caulker and San Pedro. After just over half an hour we arrive at Caye Caulker. Sam is staying at Popeye's which is right by the wharf, in fact I see it from the water taxi before we pull into the wharf so I know exactly where I am going.

Sam was watching TV when I arrived. He had a very nice room with air conditioning and TV, and he had all the blinds drawn. He arranged for me to get the room next door, for free. It's large and airy, with a nice view and a big shower, but no TV. Not that I want to watch TV.

We walked around a bit looking for a place to have breakfast (for Sam) or lunch (for me), the place Sam liked was closed so we ended up going to the Bamboo Grill. This restaurant is facing the ocean on the leeward side of the Caye, it has no floor except the sand of the beach, and in part of the restaurant the seats are actually swings suspended from the roof. Service was really really slow. To entertain ourselves we watched the dogs wandering around and hanging out under some of the tables.

Before lunch we had gone to a bank for Sam to withdraw some money from a bank machine. There was a dog sleeping on the steps of the bank. A man pulled up in a golf cart and started petting and talking to the dog. It was not his dog but he knew the dog. He said that all the dogs around have owners but people let their dogs run free and they certainly do. The dogs that were in the restaurant were hanging out there in hopes of being fed scraps, but they did not beg and weren't particularly obnoxious.

It was amazing to see dogs everywhere, uncontrolled and unobtrusive. I don't remember seeing dog poop either.

In San Ignacio I had seen a lot of dogs as well, but they were in bad shape. Many were mangy and many of the females were obviously nursing puppies somewhere. But they also were not obnoxious. They seemed gentle and polite, just not very healthy. Most of those dogs had no owners, hence the mange and the many nursing mothers. But on Caye Caulker the dogs appeared healthy and I saw no nursing mothers.

Sam returned to his room after lunch and I wandered the streets of the Caye for a bit. They are all sandy, and the main mode of transportation was either a golf cart or a bike. Lots of taxi golf carts. May is past the main tourist season which is a good part of the reason why my room at Popeye's was free.

On the windward side of the Caye is where most of the residents live, also where the fishing boats are moored. They supply all the restaurants with fresh fish and conch. There are piles of fish traps which look like crab or lobster traps in the Maritimes of Canada.

I returned to Popeye's and dragged Sam out for another walk, this time through the mangrove swamp at the north end of the Caye. There is a trail, and we pass by several large homes, some occupied, some for sale, most likely to North Americans. Sam was not in a particularly good mood and we ended up talking about what was bugging him. Eventually we reached a point where the trail became mostly mud and water which we waded through to get back to "civilization". By that time we had pretty much hashed out Sam's irritations and life goals. Hopefully a productive talk in a rather appropriate environment, a swamp.

The houses we saw on our walk in the swamp were large, with the main floor on the second storey. The lower level was usually concrete and overhung by the main floor. So the owners or residents could see the ocean over the mangroves, and catch the breezes on hot days. Technically they all had ocean frontage, but most of it covered by mangroves.

Sam booked us a flight from Caye Caulker to Belize Airport first thing next morning. For dinner we went back to the Bamboo Grill and once again the service was painfully slow. We almost left without eating.

And that was our day in a tourist paradise! I have to say it was somewhat boring, I am not particularly a tropical beach and bar kind of person, give me a kayak or a cave any day!

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Back to day 7
On to day 9...

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