CA 9: Flores to San Pedro, Belize

Buses, buses, buses.

This morning was a freaking transportation zoo!  We get up early to catch a 7:30 shuttle to Belize City and we wait.  This is not entirely uncommon for Guatemala, as things leave relatively on time but you might have to wait a minute or two.  We waited for about half an hour.  When our shuttle showed up, we found out why.

The first thing we have to deal with is Daina getting stuck behind a woman who is arguing about… something.  My Spanish is okay, but not “Fast Spanish Argument” okay.  We soon figure out that something has happened on the bus, seemingly related to the driver.  Best I can make out, somebody was pushed and insulted by the driver.  There’s a lot of yibber-yabber as we cross the causeway to Santa Elena and then we stop at the tour office for San Juan Tours.

(By the way, in case you don’t figure it out by the end of this post, I can’t really recommend San Juan Tours in Flores)

About six people get off of the bus and march straight into the office for some kind of protest.  The driver saunters in a minute later.  A few more minutes go by and then the driver returns, grabs his backpack out of the bus, slams the door and leaves.

Okay then.

The six other passengers start to filter back to the bus and the lady who was blocking Daina’s way originally explains the situation to us.  Apparently, the driver was very rude when he answered questions, didn’t let people sit before the bus started, pushed one woman and called another a pig.  Of course, just one side of the story, but enough to explain why the bus was a half hour late.  We’re told by the lady that another driver will be taking over. 

Then, we see Alex.

Now, when I last posted an entry, it was midday before our ride back to Flores.  We hadn’t yet met Alex.  He was our driver on the way back to Flores from Tikal, a journey that usually takes an hour and fifteen minutes, which Alex covered in about fifty minutes by completely disregarding speed limits, passing vehicles on hills, giving people about two seconds to get settled before he pressed the gas and letting those same people get on or off at various points.

We had two locals riding on the roof.

Guess he was in a hurry.

Daina guesses he was drunk.

So Alex walks up to the bus and takes over.  Everybody on the bus is excited to have a new driver and we’re… maybe no so much.  However, we figure it will be okay because, if yesterday was any indication, we’d probably make up the late departure due to Alex’s speed.

Well, I guess he didn’t have time to get good and liquored before 8 am because the ride was actually relatively smooth and slow.  We got to the border in about two hours, where we had to wait for two Japanese tourists to go through customs and figure out their visa documentation (note to everybody – PLEASE try to get visas done before you go traveling, for your own sake and those you’re traveling with).  Then, two hours more and we’re off to Belize City.

We get to the downtown and the bus drops us off at one of the water taxi companies and I immediately feel like I’m back in the Caribbean.  For the record, of all the Caribbean ports I visited when I worked for Royal Caribbean, this is the first I have intentionally returned to.  That was about eight years ago.  Immediately, we’re hit with “Want a water taxi?”  We actually got a discount voucher from one of the water taxi companies at the border, which was about a three minute walk away, and as we walk away we get “Somebody has sold you lies to a substandard companies.”

Yup, back in the Caribbean.

The Spanish lady from the bus (we later found out she was from Spain and was living and working in Guatemala) has appointed herself as the “leader” of our water taxi group and get us all moving towards the water taxis, much to the chagrin of an American couple, one guy with a ukulele and his pissy pants girlfriend who ends up complaining “I don’t want to follow people, I want our own vacation”, which isn’t that bad of a complaint before you consider that she looked like she had eaten a turd somepoint that morning and just couldn’t let it go.  We get to the water taxis, buy the ticket, remember we’re in a country where people speak English (no more bad Spanish from me) and, after a chicken burger and a quesadilla, we board the water taxi to San Pedro.

It’s a LONG boat ride to the island, about an hour and a half from Belize City to San Pedro.  We get off the boat, grab the luggage, grab a taxi for a VERY short ride to our current residence, Changes in Latitudes.

Changes is a nice little B & B close to the beach run by a pair of lesbians (which means we don’t have to be all “We’re just two buddies traveling” for this leg of the trip) with an awesome little courtyard and just a few feet from the beach.  Room has legit air conditioning (yeah!) and is a ten minute walk from town.  Within about twenty minutes of getting here, we’re jumping in and out of the water (because why shower before jumping in the ocean?). 

Everything in San Pedro seems to run off of piers, as there’s a bunch of grass right near most of the shorelines.  Kind of neat jumping off one of these things into the ocean water, which is warm and deep around here.  After getting cleaned up, we end up going to this simple place called Waragusa which had a MASSIVE lobster burrito with actual lobster inside (and copious amounts), plus a full on lobster tail on top.  D and me split it, it was so big.  Then, back to the B & B for some R & R.

Almost forgot this part.  On our way there, some old lady with bright white hair and skin like a suitcase approaches us and says “I have fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, four for five dollars”.  I’m immediately thinking “Stranger Danger” but Daina dives right in and wants them, so I hand her five bucks and we end up eating random beach cookies, where were still warm and phenomenal and didn’t have roofies in them.  I knew this because I waited a few minutes for Daina to finish his. 

So, win-win.

The big ticket items for us here are some snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley and around the Blue Hole, so hopefully you’ll be seeing some underwater pics soon.  This is the relax and sun part of the vacay, much needed after being on the mainland for so long. 

Four days left!  Already wishing we were here longer.

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