DAY419 CHETUMEL – BONAVISTA
START 9:00 FINISH 17:00 (26/04/16)
DISTANCE 58KM RIDE TIME 3H50
This morning we all cycled 13km up to the Belize border. Managed to cross ok. But the border guards were are bit unfriendly. I got drilled and never managed to get a smile. Must have softened the border office up as Anja came after me and she managed to get a smile. Haven’t seen too many other New Zealander on this trip. A couple from Nelson were just in front of me.
We have herd Belize is an expensive country and we will try and knock off the 360km to Guatemala relatively quickly.
Very soon after crossing and leaving the border. We started to get a really good feeling for Belize. People were very friendly with lots of hellos and waves and if you ever said hello first. You are always given smile and a warm reply. There are a few big differences here. English is the official language. Belize used to be a British colony. It means a lot the road signs are in English. Distances are now in Miles. 15Km from the border we got to Corozal, the first big town. It was so hot and we were keen to stop. We went and found some shade down by the sea. It was a while before we moved again. Noticed all the businesses in town were run by Chinese and had Chinese writing on or above the door.
The road to Belize city is sealed. But there is no line marking and no shoulder. Its not to bad because it is not actually that busy. Belize is just as flat as the Yuctan was. Which is good. There is lots of jungle, there is also lots of sugarcane and grassing land for cattle. You get the impression the land here is a bit more developed. Late in the afternoon Radko got another puncher and that was a good enough reason to call it a day. While Radko was fixing the puncher I went off and asked at the local school in the village if we could camp. A teacher there said we couldn’t. But that were welcome to follow him back to his place to camp in his big front yard. So I went and got the other and we did. It was perfect. The property was fully fenced, long drop toilet out the back and running water for a wash.
We started cooking dinner and then the wife of the teacher brought us out a big plate of rice, pasta and chicken and some ice so we could have a very much needed cold drink. It was a nice camping spot. We were majorly attacked by the mosquitos and eaten alive. The replant I brought yesterday had little effect.
Radko discovered his puncher was a little bit more series with a cracked front rim. He has patch it up as best as possible and we will look for a new wheal tomorrow.
DAY 420 BONAVISTA – ORANGE WALK TOWN
START 7:15 FINISH 17:00 (27/04/16)
DISTANCE 35KM RIDE TIME 2H29
Before we left this morning we were shown how to cut and then eat raw sugarcane from the field.
It tasted very nice and was quite refreshing. It didn’t take us long to get to Orange walk town. First stop was the bike shops. We had a local kindly offer to how us round. Wasn’t able to find a 36 holed rim. So next place to look will be Belize city in a few days. One of the bike shops was owned by Chinese. Seams like a deal was done where some aid was given in return a whole lot of new migrants could come. All the business in town were Chinese except for blocks that were cloths and shoes and owned by Hindu. Soon discovered when we walked to the town square that there was a Mennonite community here. They looked a little out of place with there hats and identical cloths. Apparently they came in the 50’s from Mexico after fleeing religious persacution.
After lunch we went to the local museum and after that we decided we weren’t going to much further. We herd from the tourist office that there were some ruins close by on the grounds of a Rum factory ‘and that it was possible to apply at the office in town for permission to visit them and they often throw in the tour of the factory as well. It wasn’t hard to gain permission and we were soon cycling the 5km out of town to Belize’s only Rum factory. It was out in the bush. Not even a sign from the road. No security the gate was open. In Mexico Armed guards with machineguns would have been outside.
We started the tour with in the bottling plant and finished out back with our heads leaning over the vats to smell the fermenting Molasses. Which is a by product from the sugarcane. They can’t have many tourists come out. Because afterwards we were all given a 1 litter bottle of Rum.
We went out back to visit the small Mayan ruin. It wasn’t much and it was then 5pm when we cycled back into town. First stop was the Fire station. Instantly welcoming and we set up camp on the front lawn of the main street. Turned out to be a bit noisy with the late night Burger joint open to 3am.
The shower was interesting. It was in a room with no light and no windows. So you needed a torch to shower. I was nice to see a toilet seat again. In Mexico just about no government building have toilet seats on there toilets.
DAY 421 ORANGE WALK TOWN – BISCAYNE
START 7:00 FINISH 14:20 (28/04/16)
DISTANCE 61KM RIDE TIME 4H01
We had versioned only cycling 40km to a big lake at Crocked tree. Where we were going camp and spend the rest of the day swimming and relaxing. When we got there it was different story. It was inside a national park. We weren’t allowed to camp for free and was told if we tried to negotiate to hard with the locals who live there. Our stuff might disappear and It might cost us more. Even tho we had had to cycle 5km off the main road on a dirt track. After having lunch on the lake watching the birds. We decided to move on. Hour later we found a restaurant on the side of the road. We asked if we could camp and it was only 10 Belize dollars. So we called it a day.
DAY 422 BISCAYNE – BELIZE CITY
START 6:30 FINISH 11:00 (29/04/16)
DISTANCE 44KM RIDE TIME 2H46
After entering Belize, we had a time change with the clocks going back 1 hour. It means to try to still beat the heat. We have to get up at 5am to start cycling at 6:30am. Tho it normally takes us two hours in the morning to get ready. So its more often 7am when we are ready to leave. We have been warned by both locals and tourists about going into Belize city. Walking around at night is a big no,no. But even the day is a bit scahie. Most people have said it is not a very nice city. We need to go as we need to find a bike shop to get Radkos bike fixed. The last 10km into the city were mostly beside the Belize river. Which was very nice. When we arrived in the city it was a different story. First impressions it was a very poor looking place. Our day was made easier when a cyclist stopped to offer us help. Kash was from Ghana and took us straight to the bike shop. A solution was found for a new front wheel. We asked for a good place to camp and was told about the Hour bar down by the water. Apparently the Harley Davidson club camped there when they were in town. Again Kash took us down there, making things much easier for us. After a call to the owner was made. We were given permission to camp for free beside the restaurant. It was perfect because there was loads of space, the restaurant was completely fenced and there was 24 hour security. So we felt pretty safe. Anja & Radko went back to the bike shop and I went off to explore on my own for a few hours. Wasn’t sure was the safest way to get into the city. I stopped and ask a guy, who turned out to be from the US Embassy. What he said wasn’t very encouraging. He said he never goes into the city and that a few of his collages had been mugged. Kent recommended to stick to the waterfront as it is a ok part of town There are a lot of the embassy’s in this area and the streets are pretty clean. I continued walking along the waterfront and went as far as the lighthouse that marked the entrance to a small marina in front of the city and the multi colour Belize sign. I had arranged to meet Anja & Radko outside the Belize National bank. So I had to go into the main part of the city. I walked up through a empty park that then ran into a busy street. The sechie part was when I walked over the oldest swing bridge in Central America which took me directly to the Bank and behind that a small square. Lots of people were hanging around. When I sat in the square and talked to locals. They all said watch out. There was a couple of nice old building, like the Courthouse and Town hall and the old jail. That was it.
It was an extremely windy night next to the ocean. The fly on my tent was flapping so much I had to take it off. Thank fully it didn’t rain.
DAY 423BELIZE CITY – BELMOPAN
START 7:00 FINISH 14:30 (30/04/16)
DISTANCE 82KM RIDE TIME 4H12
It is still crazy hot, at 7am it is 28 degrees and then a few hours later its 38 degrees hot and sticky.
Just as we were leaving the restaurant, they were putting two pigs on the spit to be rosted. I had to give the guy a hand. Today we are heading West towards the Guatemalan border.
When we reached Balmopan it was a real shock how small the capital city was. There was hardly any decent shops. Belize is lacking a lot of infrastructure still 30 years on from its independence from the UK.
When we got into town we went straight to the Fire Station and asked to camp. As usual it wasn’t a problem. It was a pretty basic Station. We camped out the back on some grass with two dogs.
Anja and I did a run to the supermarket. We were left wondering how the locals can afford to shop.
Everything is imported and so expensive. We left with very little. $6 Belize for a tin of Pineapple.
DAY 424 BELMOPAN – BLUE HOLE NP
START 7:00 FINISH 16:00 (01/05/16)
DISTANCE 38KM RIDE TIME 3H31
This morning we made a small D tour cycling 15km south, where we then took a dirt road 6km through the jungle to visit a tridional Meninite community. When we arrived it was very quite and there was no one around.
We soon found why. We came across 25 horse draw buggy’s parked up outside the church. I think they were surprised to see us and maybe also not that happy. We said hello to a couple in a buggy. With no reply. We cycled past the church. Waited a bit and then cycled back. Church was in full swing and it was nice to stop and listen to them singing. When they all came out of church we watched them from a distance before starting to head back to the main road.
We were passed by half a dozen Meninite familys in there buggys on the way. We said Hello and this time they all replyed smiling and happy. The kids were laughing and giggling at us. They have no electric……….we saw a concrete mixer that was rigged up to be driven by a horse. On the way back we treated ourselves to some goats chease and bread for lunch and then went and sat under some palm trees. This was followed by a costmary nap. We got the cheese from a English family who moved here 12 years ago.
We herd close by was the Blue Hole NP so we continued south for another 10km. It was $8 to get in and $5 Belize to camp behind the visitors centre. After walking down a bush path we reach the Beautiful Cenorte. Supper clear water coming out of a cave in to a semi torque’s pool and then running off into another cave. The water was nice and cold to swim, very refreshing. There were even a few fish swimming around.
DAY 425 BLUE HOLE NP – BELMOPAN
START 9:30 FINISH 15:00 (02/05/16)
DISTANCE 23KM RIDE TIME 1H29
Before heading back to Belmonpan this morning . We first did a short hike from the Visitors centre up to Herman Cave. You needed a flash light to go in. It was a large cave with a river running through it. Un guided you were allowed to walk 300 meters into the cave. It was pitch black with the torch off. It was defiantly one of the better caves I have ben in.
We continued walking through the jungle to Crystal cave. Unfortunately this cave you are only allowed to enter with a guide. Inside the cave are human remains from Mayan sacrafices. After our 90 minute hike we returned to the Blue Hole for a Swim. The water was beautiful. We were the only ones there.
It was 11:15am before we started cycling again. We had a big hill to cycle back up to Armenia. We were all over heating when we arrived. We stopped in the bus stop for some shade. For something different a Mennonite Horse and buggy came past. We watched it travel up the road the Mennonite un hitched the horse to let in graze in the shade and came down to the bus stop we were in. We started chatting.
He had two bundles of fresh cheese and cream he needed to deliver in the next village. It was to far to take the Horse and buggy. So he was going to take the bus. We chatted to Gluk for over an hour. We told him we had visited his community yesterday…………he said………ahh. That was you guys and said that we should have come in. We explained we felt a little uncomfortable.
It was a real informative time.
DAY 426 BELMOPAN – SAN IGNACIO
START 6:30 FINISH 12:40 (03/05/16)
DISTANCE 39KM RIDE TIME 2H45
Today we started heading west again towards the Guatemala border. Could have reached it today. Instead we stopped in with the Firemen at San Ignacio. Just 40km down the road. Short days are good because it is just getting stupidly hot in the middle of the day. 40 degrees is tough to cycle in.
Along the way we stopped at hot Mammas Hot sauce factory. The tour price was a bit steep for us at $15 Belize. We were able to have a quick look inside the factory and try half a dozen of the sauces for free. This morning before we left Belmopan, they were setting up for the market. We were passed by a couple of Mennonites bringing there goods to town. Along the rest of the road some Mennonites were selling there produce like Watermelons from there buggy’s on the side of the road.