An iguana in San Ignacio
San Ignacio - a city with lots of timber houses, an iguana reserve and a hostel full of stoners. And a summary of my stay in Belize.
On the boat trip from Caye Caulker to Belize City I met a Danish woman. After about 1 hour at sea we arrived on the main land and shared a taxi to the bus station. I had never seen a taxi so dusty and run down before.
The guides rightly advise against visiting Belize City. Already during the short taxi ride the former capital did not seem very inviting.
a fast ride in the chicken bus
At the bus station it got hectic. I quickly said goodbye to the Dane, as she wanted to continue her journey to southern Belize - whereas I headed west to San Ignacio. My bus had already started the engine and was about to leave. Just in time!
And there I was in a so-called Chicken Bus, an outdated yellow American school bus. Classified as scrap in the United States, they are used here in Latin America as public transport, even for longer distances. So now it started, the adventurous journey, in this bus full of Belizeans with an African background.
The bus driver depressed the accelerator like a madman and passed one small car after another. This provided a nice fresh airflow into the non air-conditioned bus. After a short stop in the small capital Belmopan I arrived after 2,5 hours of travelling time in San Ignacio.
A paradise for potheads
I already had a reservation at The Old House Hostel. A beautiful old wooden house in the direct proximity of the centre. However, almost everything in this city is close to the city centre. Only 17,000 inhabitants live in this city and yet it is already the second largest city in Belize after Belize City.
My reservation was actually for a day later, but I was able to check in one day earlier. The hostel was under reconstruction, so some rooms were blocked.
What I liked about the hostel were the large common room in the middle and the beautiful terrace on the first floor, where the dog and the cat of the house always rested.
Unlike that peaceful cat, I couldn't sleep well in my bed. I had an 8-bed room and again the upper bunk bed, with an very small distance to the ceiling and the neighbouring beds. The fan didn't help much either. The air was just enough to get some sleep.
The vibe of the hostel is very bohemian. Those who stay here like to smoke pot or don't know it as well as me - and simply tolerate it. In the evening bands sometimes perform here.
Visiting an iguana reserve
After my arrival I enjoyed a burrito and a smoothie in a small restaurant. Afterwards I walked a little through the center and had seen everything within a few hours. I visited the local market and strolled past the many wooden houses that characterize the cityscape of San Ignacio. I asked for tours with the local providers. The most popular options are an adventurous cave excursion or a trip to a nearby archaeological site. I found both options too expensive.
I was delighted to hear my name shortly afterwards. By chance I met the American and Canadian from the previous hostel here again. They were just going to an iguana reservoir and I simply joined them. The tour takes place at San Ignacio Resort Hotel. The program of the hotel collects iguana eggs and takes care of the newly hatched animals until they are viable alone and then exposes them to the wild.
On the tour you learn a lot about the lovely little animals. Unlike the other attractions in Belize, this tour is not very expensive. You can take them in your arms, stroke them and give them a few leaves to eat. The animals literally devour the leaves.
For dinner I found Mexican street food at a good price and afterwards returned to the hostel. I rested a little bit on the terrace and watched as an older Afro Belizean from the outside charmingly flattered a group of young Australian women of my hostel. When he then begged them to let him in and they refused to do so, his temper completely turned and the man insulted them furiously. The girls immediately ran away to the inside of the hostel. So the normally casual Belizeans can also get nasty. However this guy had certainly taken some drugs.
The next day I met Liz and Simon again from the USA and Canada. We walked to the river together to have a swim. Afterwards we organized the transport to Guatemala for the next day. This time we preferred the tourist option incl. shuttle. You can also reach the border to Guatemala by public transport, but you would have to change buses several times and everything would become much more complicated.
Searching for a hairdresser
As my hair was too long again, I went to a hairdresser in the evening. I really wanted to go to the hairdresser in Belize because English is spoken here, so I could at least communicate with the hairdresser and tell him what I wanted. There are only a few hairdressers in this small town. I found mine in a tiny wooden shed with a barred door outside. The Belizean was very likeable, not only because his heart also beats for FC Barcelona.
Not only my hair dresser but all Belizeans drank water in a completely new way for me. There are no small plastic bottles with water in the supermarkets, only small plastic bags. These are bitten open with the teeth and through the small hole you drink the water.
Paradisiacal country, but damn expensive
My buddy from Mexico had previously described the country as "dirty". That didn't bother me as much, I didn't consider it overly dirty. This little country is quite paradisiacal and invites you to be lazy.
What I liked about Belize:
the sunset and the gorgeous shimmering water in Caye Caulker
my encounters with the sharks there...
... and the iguanas in San Ignacio
the funny English of the Belizeans
three great fellow travellers Liz, Simon and Stan, whom I met here and travelled with later
In my opinion, all this does not justify the high prices. It was just too expensive. Of all the Latin American countries I have visited, it was the most expensive. Only Uruguay was similarly expensive. In many places, tourists often have to pay considerably more than the locals. Fellow travellers told me that they had learned here how to prepare cheap bad food to save money.
So I shortened my stay here from the planned 7 days to 5 days. Which is why I wouldn't want to return to Belize so soon.
The next stop of my trip wasFlores in Guatemala. According to some Guatemalan maps I was already in their country because Guatemala claims a large part of Belizean territory for itself and partly negates the existence of Belize in its maps.
Either way, the next morning we three waited long for our bus to Guatemala. With a little delay he finally arrived. Also on this trip to Guatemala there were many things going wrong...