"Tropical the island Breeze, all of nature wild and free, this is where I long to be, la isla Bonita…"
Madonna already sang it over 20 years ago: ‘I used to dream of San Pedro…’. San Pedro is the town on Ambergris Caye, better known as La Isla Bonita from Madonna’s hit-single.
But that was in the 80-s when San Pedro probably still was the paradise she sang about. Since then it has been invaded by US tourists, many of which have bought a piece of land and/or built a house. The palms are still there and though there are no real beaches, the water is clear and the fish abundant in the corals reef just off the coast.
All of this new money has made the prices too high for the locals and at the same time has attracted a lot of shady people as we had already met in Belize City, who offer to ‘help’ you at every street corner.
Many of these call themselves ‘Rastafari’, but as they do everything that a true Rastafari would not (eat anything that basically was alive and walking or swimming at some point for example), it seems more an excuse for being lazy, which is just on the other side of the thin line separating it from ‘relaxed’.
They also supply al possible drugs possible, which in return has attracted a less joyful crowd of young US teens visiting the island.
It is difficult to find a decent place for a decent price, but Pedro’s Inn offered both including a swimming pool which of course is the best place to be during some of the short but torrential rains! Still, a tiny 2 person-room without bathroom costs B$ 20 (USD10) and eating out was expensive as well, so our budget went through the roof…
Here are some impressions:
Go Slow on Caye Caulker: this is where we want to be…
We quickly had enough of the busy San Pedro, and hopped on another boat which dropped us off on the next Island: Cay Caulker. It is much smaller, only a few km long and between 100m & 400m wide. At many places on the island you can stand in the middle and see the sea on both sides
Everybody is either walking or cycling and the Island’s motto is “Go Slow”.
This is truly the paradise that Madonna was singing about, likely resembling San Pedro from the 80-s.
But for B$25 per room (USD 12,50 for 4 persons together, not counting the in-house gecko which served as a ecological mosquito–trap), we were not complaining.
Besides, we had a front-row seat to the football matches and the sea was less than 100m away on both sides…
Here are some more pix of our ‘area’ and of some other, more expensive hotels on Cay Caulker:
Chilling at The Spit
There is a small channel, separating the inhabited Southern Part from the uninhabited Northern part, called ‘The Spit” and there is the only real beach. Accompanied by the beats of the nearby Lazy Lizard pub you can snorkel or relax.
The people living here seemed more friendly and truly relaxed, not the pushy fake ‘relax, man, we just want your money’-attitude from San Pedro.
Playing with Stingrays
Then of course: back to the hammock office and deciding which catch of the day we would eat…
Goodbye to my sister and niece, together alone again
To avoid the hassle and unfriendly crowds in Belize City, we decided it would be better if Margriet & Dawn used one of the small planes to get to the International airport. Besides, it would give them one more evening and night with us!
We stayed another few days on the Island as we had to await for Jorge to come back from vacation, as our bikes were still stored at his place in Belize City.
But that was no hard thing to do, it was nice to have some extra time on the ‘Go Slow’ island, catching up with some work, swimming more and preparing mentally for the next part on the bike: down South through Belize towards Guatemala!
A final look at Caye Caulker: as always:
click to enlarge automagically, see the photos section for more pix of Belize and the islands!
Rico is one of the few inhabitants of Caye Caulker, that was born and raised there.
After a hurricane destroyed most of his fishing gear, he changed to fixing boat engines and renting out some houses on their land. Now, in his 70’s, he still loves his small island…
Where other restaurant owners would be busy around lunch-time, Mr Marin took his time to read his newspaper in his restaurant on ‘Go Slow’ Caye Caulker, Belize.