Barefoot in Belize – Caye Caulker

I was ready for some beach time, relaxation away from it all without the tourist masses and the pretense you find in so many tourist getaways. While I did not need a phone or TV, I wasn’t willing to give up on all comfort and human contact. In preparing for the trip to Belize, I got enough “Where is that?” questions to be sure that it is not going to be flooded with people – yet.

The trip to Caye Caulker is likely to take you to Belize City. I arrived at the ferry terminal, a small wooden building in the harbor, not quite sure what to expect. It was in the morning and a group of visitors eager to get to Caye Caulker and Ambergis Caye were waiting for the next boat. The ferry turned out to be an open speedboat. The luggage was piled up in the middle of the boat and the passengers took seats on benches along the outside of the boat. The two big outboard engines promised a quick ride to the island. We had just managed to apply our sunscreen, when the downside of this fun ride showed its face: Water was spraying over the boat when we made our way out off the harbor. Soon enough, Caye Caulker came in sight with all the expected Caribbean beauty of white sand, palm trees and clear water. Colorful, wooden houses and huts are scattered along the beachfront, none of them reaching above the palm trees, none of them screaming big tourist resort at you.
We grabbed our bags and got off the boat onto the wooden pier. We haven’t quite made it to the beach, when the local “taxi” driver welcomes us to the island. There are no cars on the island, so his vehicle is a tricycle that (barely) can handle our luggage, no room for us. So, we walk next to our driver/island guide while he wheels slowly to our hotel. We have opted for the high-end accommodation, which in this case means a bathroom and even air conditioning, but no TV or phone to disturb our relaxation.
We are quickly settled in and ready to explore the island. Our request for a map is met with laughter, there are only Front Street, Main Street and Back Street, all of them connected with a number of alleys. All of them are covered with white sand, justifying the marketing claims of the “barefeet island”. After a short tour, we head back for the main activity of our first day: Watching the sunset from our hotel. The sun does – as promised – set and brings with it all the colors you could ask for. Somehow, that seems to ease our mood into vacation mode before the first day is over.
We have a beautiful meal on the terrace of a small house on Main Street. It feels more like being invited onto the patio of a family for dinner than entering a restaurant, yet any resort would be proud to serve a meal like this. Sufficiently strengthened, we are ready to crown the night with a drink at the local bar. We sitt in little swings, with ropes suspended from the ceiling and gently rock back and forth with our beer in hand and reggae music in the background.
The end of the vacation comes sooner than expected. We opt for the “limousine” to the airport and are picked up in a golf cart for the short trip. We are the only passengers today and the lady operating the airfield (no terminal, not much of a runway here) calls the pilot to make sure they stop over to pick us up. A little propeller plane comes in and takes us back to the “big world”, too bad….

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