Cool stuff…by EXPERIENCED captains…read their “About Us” page…
Cool stuff…by EXPERIENCED captains…read their “About Us” page…
Whenever you immerse yourself in a community, whether it be my hometown of Orange County, or where I’ve called “home” for 18 years, Las Vegas or any beautiful place you get to vacation to, you will find the more you put IN to the community WITHOUT expecting anything, the more you will receive. It’s the universal law of nature.
Having said that, when I vacation on Isla, I sometimes pay too much for accommodations. It’s because I used to visit like a tourista.
When natives get to know you, they will turn you on to great opportunities and treat you as if you were their long-time friend and neighbor. And let me tell you something you probably already know; THAT ROX!
Ok…at least on Isla, I’ve become at least someone known for not being an idiot, and who does what he can for the island, and been turned on to a number of really awesome FB groups. These groups are how I now will probably never pay like a tourist for accommodations again. Now, I could still pay a lot and stay on an oceanfront property, but, since it’s already so close and I really like being in tight with the islanders, (see what they do, eat where they eat, help them if I can, and enjoy them marvel at my slaughter of their language), there are so many places that are cool and reasonable, it makes no sense any longer to over pay.
So, if you’d like access to these groups, just hit me up and ask.
If you agree, then you should take the time to learn about another small, environmentally protected island which is nothing more than a “virgin” to the gigantic political “Richards” of the world…sign this petition and be counted.
Quoted from a site supporter…
“Ok you gang of warriors. Here is a petition to help the people of Isla Holbox who (allegedly) got snookered by the band of thieves led by a Coca Cola bottling company executive who wants to basically steal and destroy the environmentally sensitive land of this pristine island and build hundreds of condos and hotel rooms. This petition already has like 23,400 signatures and it only takes a minute to sign it. We can help. Share with your friends and ask them to share with theirs.
For those who know nothing about Isla Holbox, it is a an island off the Gulf of Mexico coast on the north side of the Yucatan Peninsula. They have some tourism but it is mostly occupied by fishermen and farmers. It is Ejido land for the most part. I have been there many times and it is obviously environmentally sensitive land. This is a real dirty tricks campaign to take away the rights of the Ejido so that they can develop Isla Holbox into condos, hotels and retail space. It is just plain not right what these people are doing.”
It’s a bittersweet whine though…not like Miss Penny’s favorite “Apothic Red”.
See, my baby graduates high school this June. After 14 years of soccer and 17 years of school (she began preschool at age 1), she has selected her college of choice to continue both.
She begins in the Fall.
She asked if I would consider passing on my lengthy annual vacation and spend as much of her last months as a “live at home” student, with her.
Isla and all places I visit will still be beautiful, sandy, sexy, warm, and will still be there later this year.
As will I.
After soccer season concludes.
MY VACATION! (Well…our…Jilly, Brother John and perhaps even Little man.)
After spending the Christmas holiday with brother John, his little man, and ”Mom and Pop” in the beautiful holiday spirit which is NYC where they live, the new year is upon us.
All booked for the month of July…this year we’ll be staying at Casa Azul. It’s very close to where we stayed last year, however a little deeper into the island; La Gloria. Each year I try to stay somewhere different. To meet new people. Go new places. This year will be no different.
Brother John and I will be making a side-trip to a clandestine location which, sadly, cannot be divulged here or anywhere. Ever. But trust me… I learned from last year how to “get in” without being detained.
We’ll also take another trip into Valladolid again to see more cenotes, then press on to Merida for a few days. Between “here” and “there”, who knows what will happen. But again, who cares?
So, until then, posts will be sparse…but come July 1…
There are a lot of stories “out there” about how to do it. How it’s been done, etc. I’m here to tell you with a few pics, how we did it. All information and facts are accurate as of August 2013.
If you’ve read my posts here on this blog, you’ll see one about how to “get to Belize from Cancun on the ADO”. Well, coming back is the reverse, however, even thought there are less stops, it TAKES 2 hours longer! Go figure.
You’ll start by a visit to the main bus station in Belize City, where you’ll also remember our dear friend “Amin”, the convenience store owner/ADO ticket agent. (It’s cut off, but in this photo, you can actually SEE his name above the telephone number top right…
But you CANNOT buy your ticket BEFORE he opens the ticket booth until 5:00pm daily!
Just walk up to his convenience store prior to, say “hello” so he knows you’re there for a BUS TICKET, not Pringles and a coke.
Once he leaves the convenience store, usually he dons a Red baseball cap signifying his new role. Step up and begin conversing with him as he is SUPER friendly.
Remember, Amin is going to walk literally like 15 feet from his store, through a door opening, then will be standing at the ticket booth…please refer to the below photo that illustrates this little factoid…
Once you pass through immigration and customs, (The SAME exact offices as when you came in – I’ve posted the same photos here to remind you), there is NO money paid at the Mexican border at all. You’ll be given the FM3 to complete, get stamped, then back on the bus.
The bus will drive about a mile, then stop again in Belize. You AND your luggage get to disembark again. Answer a few questions, then pay a Belizean exit/conservation fee of $37.50/$18.75 U.S./person.
You and your luggage back on the bus. There’s ONE more fee to pay folks…it was disclosed by Amin to you back in Belize, however, with everything going on, you, like me, may have completely forgotten about it as you look at all the Belizean money left in your pocket that you can’t exchange; DAMN THAT AMIN!
But, you think…”WHY would HE do such a thing as leave me with SO much Belizean money?”, then settle in to your seat for the long drive back to Cancun.
Just when the rhythmic whirr of the bus tires lulls you into a slumber, you hear the pressure release of the air brakes signaling of the stopping of the bus.
As you AGAIN see the disembarking of people stream past you, you think, “WTF now?”
The driver mumbles something about “…boletas”. Your mind races to think of what the hell is a boleta? I mean, seriously, it’s like 1:00 in the morning and you’ve been at this since 7:30…lastnight.
You then see the other passengers lining up outside a small, unmarked strip mall building. “Where are we?” you ask.
“Why does that sound familiar?” you ask yourself.
Weary mind recollection kicks in. “Oh yeah.”
Amin told me I would be stopping in “Bacalar”. However, since we didn’t stop here on the way TO Belize, I don’t know WHY.
Answer: THIS is where you pay ($83.00 Belize/$41.50 US) for your return ticket BACK to Cancun.
After paying this fare, the match adds up. “I apologize Amin.” you say to yourself.
So, doing the math, your return ticket cost is, in U.S., $9.50, $8.75, $41.50, total of: $59.75/person.
You buy your ticket, get back on the bus and as the sun begins to rise, and you feel like you’ve been partying like a broke rock star all night, you finally arrive in Cancun…fondly remembering why you did it all in the first place…
Get yourself a shower, a little nourishment and A LOT of sleep in a comfy bed, and you’ve got one HELLUVA story to tell that I guarantee WILL amuse, amaze and impress listeners. Go ahead. Try it.
Before we begin, let’s introduce Louie’s Island travel tip No. 27.
You need to do ONE of two things to make your stay more enjoyable. Either one is fine, although one of them is less traumatic than the other.
1. Grow long fingernails. You’ll need them to deal with the mosquitos.
2. Be smart like Jilly and take a spray can of “Off” mosquito repellant. If you don’t, you’ll be like me doing my best impression of a strung out meth addict.
Ok…now, let’s talk about today.
Another excellent breakfast at the Lazy Iguana. Fannie fixed us made-to-order banana pancakes with fresh picked and sliced mangos, pineapple, bananas and cantaloupe, fresh brewed coffee, juice and cinnamon raisin toast with apricot jelly.
Not much to do after that except find a market and replenish our stock of Coconut rum and coke and let ‘er rip!
We didn’t feel like hiring a boat to take us to the outer areas of the Caye to do any snorkeling, we decided to take a mid-morning bike ride and sit on some docks while practicing our best at “feet-dangling”.
Today was going to be more of the same of the last few days…pretty much…nothing.
We DID decide to return to the Lazy Lizard down at “the split” for more rum, sun and floating in the warm and clear water off the dock. The split is near the North end of the island where literally the island is split in two.
I’m also going to use this post just to share some of the amazing, funny and “odd” sites we’ve been encountering. Enjoy.
Ah, one of our favorites. So, we see this guy cutting rebar for a new house being constructed. I also see him wearing a helmet. You can see it too obviously. I look up in the air to see why he would possibly wearing it for. All I can see are coconuts in the tree above him. This guy would make his union rep proud indeed.
Our choice of transportation.
FOUR of these bad boys power this island. One runs 24/7…the noise is DEAF ENING. When I think about what these beasts mean to this island, and it’s especially evident at night when you got to the top deck and look out over what you can see of the city, every street light, business, and every little thing plugged into an outlet in a home…it absolutely boggles my mind.
Jilly noticed this one…zoom in on the small white sign above the little red wagon. Then take notice of what’s IN the little red wagon.
Spear gun. Baby. Bicycle. In the states, this one needs ALOT of explanation.
This guy USED to be the tug boat captain…you’ll see WHY a few pics below…
Tag mon! You’re it!
“I TOLD you not to go FULL POWER!”
I did something today I rarely, if EVER, do.
My mind won’t allow it. I doubt it ever will.
But, as there exists a place high above the tree line where I’m staying on Caye, and I’ve got a full belly of freshly bbq’d chicken, baked beans, fresh mashed potatoes and homemade flour tortillas from my newest Belizean friend on the beach named “Charles”, like peas, I decide to at least try it.
From where I lie, it’s like being in an apartment in New York City high above the tree line at central park; almost “privileged” feeling.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that I’ve got like a 5 beer Belizean stout beer buzz going either.
I grab a good book and navigate up the flight of exterior stairs to the palapa covered hammock garden. When I arrive, I find I’m the gardens’ sole customer for the day. Well, me and two more of my closest friends for the time being, Mr. and Mrs. Bilikin Stout.
I begin by the delicate ballet of balancing one too many items in my possession while attempting to carefully lay myself into one of the awaiting hammocks, cold beers close by taunting me with every twist.
It looks easier than it is; well, for novices like me anyway. I won’t describe the dance that occurred, one only needs to imagine the most ridiculous display of physical ineptness possible, put my face on it and there you have it.
Once I feel sufficiently “balanced”, I am free to read a few chapters of my book, between gulps of ale that rivals a good hearty “Foster’s” or “Guiness” leaving me with a mind numbing sensation of nappy time for Louie.
Hey. Who am I to argue with a call of a siesta.
I listen to the sounds of Caye. I put down my book and close my weary eyes. Each sound and smell becomes amplified with each breezy sway of the hammock.
There are a number of fires burning today. Why, I don’t know. I can see them in the distance in front of me. Cooking? Fresh fish smoking? Maybe a comical bike ride shortly will reveal the answer.
At my 11:00, a running backhoe and other assorted construction sounds, the 2:00 position I hear hammering; 1:00 an outboard engine whining through the surf, 3:00, a gaggle of birds hollering in bird-talk at each other about who-knows-what ; my guess? A wife bird nagging at her husband bird about, well, who-knows-what. At 6:00, an electric saw cutting wood. 10:00, more hammering, construction sounds and conversations. Ocasionally, I’ll see a private prop plane taking off over head from the airstrip about 1000 yards North of us. All around me in every “time zone” you can hear the welcome sounds of children playing and dogs barking with glee.
Off in the distance, ,maybe 12:00 again, is a lone sailboat weaving it’s way through the mangroves past the airport, while the sound of a golf cart passes below me. All the while, palapa palm fronds rustle with each welcome gust of perfectly timed breezes cooling me and rocking me gently, making it hard to think.
Soon, both will be over; my quiet nap time and my beer buzz. When it is, I’ll have many choices available. Somehow, I feel I’ll be seeking more that offer the same end result however this time, under the canopy of darkness. About the darkness…top deck, or on a dock, when you look up, you see…every star ever created, just as brilliant as they ever were when you last saw them, just where they’ve always been.
I wanted to see where the planes on such a tiny island, did their thing. I grabbed my camera and a bike and struck out to explore. Finding it was easy. Just follow the roar of an engine and props and stay off the runway.
I noticed a golf cart of people crossing the airstrip near the take off spot, so, like all good tourists, until someone yelled at me, I decided to do the same.
As I do, about every ten feet, I hear the rustling of leaves on either side of me, however every time I stop to see what it might be, it’s gone. Iguanas? Lizards? No clue. Keep pedaling. Everytime I think I’ve hit the end of the island, another turn, another gigantic property. As I approach yet another bend in the trail, I hear faint sounds of…music…getting louder and louder with each turn of the sprocket, until I arrive at a ginormous, gated, but plain-wrap house. From somewhere on the property Johnny Cash was singing songs about redemption. I was thinking some crazy old American who partook in one too many mind-altering drugs, and probably sold a few as well, bought himself a nice, cozy, obscure spot even the DEA doesn’t know about. Just he and Mr. Cash.
For the return trek back, I discovered a trail leading along the beach known to everyone as “the locals” trail. It’s from here that you can see all the beach front properties available for rent that you can’t see form one of only THREE streets on all of Caye Caulker.
It’s pronounced “Key” Caulker…say it like it’s spelled and you’re immediately identified as a tourist. Or by wearing ridiculous beach attire and a camera or two hanging around your neck…I opted for a leather fannie pack.
The romance of dreaming of such a far away and awesome piece of earth like Caye Caulker is just that to most people; a romantic notion of, “one day” I’d like to go there…
People, YOLO. Do whatever it takes to live YOUR dream on YOUR terms.
Just some quick shots of our arrival, our place and some of the interesting and amusing sites so far on “Caye Caulker”.
One last thing…we had to remember to ditch our Spanish tongues and learn how to say, “Hey Mon.” Go ahead. Say it. Kind cool how it makes you feel, right? Stay tuned…more to come Mon…