Acatenango and Fuego

This story is a bit bitter sweet. The Acatenango is one of the highest mountains in Central America and a demanding hike. Reason enough for me to want to do it. It is also a great view point for the Fuego volcano, which can be seen erupting every couple of minutes. Reason enough for my sister to absolutely need to hike it too. That being said, I’ve been training in Bolivia for the last six months and was fairly sure the hike wouldn’t be an issue, while my sister came from the flattest and lowest part of Germany with no preparation. So she was a bit worried about how intense the hike would be. Queue about two weeks of “I’m going, I’m not going. Wait I’m going”.. When the time finally came close we started collecting feedback from people who had just been on the volcano. It was less than stellar..,

Some didn’t see Fuego at all, others had caught a glimpse during the hike up. The weather wasn’t on our side, but in the end we found a night with minimal rain and cloud coverage according to my favourite weather forecast and decided on a date. However, the morning before we wanted to leave my sister woke up super sick. She could barely get out of bed, but insisted that she’d totally definitely be fine the next morning. With every passing hour she postponed the decision to not go by a day until finally, she had to admit defeat. Or I did for her, since she hadn’t been awake for more than three hours that day and the day was slowly drawing to a close. It was the right decision, she later told me that she also slept the entire next day and had barely recovered by the time I came back.


So, I ended up going alone. A bit conflicted and sad… On the one hand i wanted to see the volcano and be amazed, on the other hand I also wanted to be able to tell my sister that she didn’t really miss much. The day set out promising.. We were in the deepest fog, nothing to be seen. It was cold, wet and the hike was seriously hard. Not the hardest I’ve ever done, but boy.. I did wish for the hike to be over long before we reached the top. I did notice the very nice and luscious forest and the amazing trees. But mostly I noticed the steep path. After four hours of a steep uphill climb (and almost a 1000m in altitude) we started walking along the mountain side towards the camp.

It was still foggy and especially the direction of the volcano was just fog. We did however hear the volcano already. The explosions were quite impressive. Everything was going to plan, I’d be able to tell my sister she didn’t miss much. We arrived at the camp and the views were mediocre, but we were amazed.. The dark cloud forming on top of the white cloud, must’ve surely been an eruption! The white clouds forming on top of the black cloud on top of the white cloud, were forming from the heat of the volcano! Everything was amazing.. but then something unexpected happened: It cleared up! Suddenly we could see the volcano and the smoke erupting from it. We stood around checking the eruptions and THERE IT WAS!

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Tiny little red spot of lava in this pic!

We definitely saw some lava, or at least stones flying out of the crater. The guides seemed moderately impressed and spent time setting up a fire, telling us to be patient and wait for it to get dark. And they were right, once it got dark we could see that every eruption came with lava.. and the eruptions just kept coming. We had a nice dinner and then, surprise, surprise, marshmallows and hot chocolate from the fire and since we were being lightly smoked, there were absolutely no mosquitos around.

However all the food could not quite compete with the volcano, which now also sported some people walking along its slope with headlights, dangerously close to the lava.
And then, because the lava wasn’t quite enough, we got extra thunderstorms!

We went to bed early, since we were supposed to get up at 3:30am if the weather was good.

But were woken up a number of times by the more impressive explosions, one of which actually shook the ground beneath our tents.

The next morning, or rather in the middle of the night, we had to face the final ascent. The sky was now completely clear, we could see the stars, but also the towns below. Something that hadn’t been visible in the evening. From the top we got treated, not only to more eruptions, but also to an absolutely amazing sunrise.


Sorry sis, I tried, but I can’t call it anything other than amazing.

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Lago di Atitlan and Chichicastenango

We really wanted to conquer one of the highest volcanoes in Guatemala: The Acatenango. But the current weather in Antigua just said: NOPE! So we decided to flee the rain and thunderstorms, just to return next week… hopefully for sunshine, rainbows and fluffy unicorns. At least one came true.

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Somewhere I read of a little German hostel in a little Guatemalan village on the very big lake Atitlan. And my sister’s eyes began to sparkle! Sauerkraut? Käsespätzle? Apfelmus? That sounded to good to be true. And after six long months, she would finally feel home again, stuffing her face with Sauerkraut, Käsespätzle and Apfelmus. I just waited for the tears to run down her face, but somehow she restrained herself.

 

That is how we ended up in Jabailito. The proud owner of two tuk-tuks and three streets, this village doesn’t have any further street access and can only be reached by boat or by foot from the neighbouring villages. As you might have guessed, there is not much to do here, except for going for a swim in the lake.

When we arrived, we were quite disappointed, since the docks and the little black pebble beach didn’t really invite anyone for a swim. Since the shore of the lake cannot be privatized, we just snuck into Casa Mundo, apparently one of the best hotels at the lake. It is an Italian-style villa , built over 20 years ago right at the shore of the lake. Once upon a time, lots of terraces gave visitors a great view of the lake, while their feet stayed dry. But then the water levels rose significantly, turning those lovely terraces to an absolutely unique swimming place. Now, they easily continue for 6-7 meters underwater, making it an interesting diving spot and just in general a lot of fun. Since Lake Atitlan doesn’t have a water outlet, too much rain can easily lead to semi-constant flooding. Locals knew of that phenomenon, gladly selling shore properties to foreigners and staying put in their houses a little higher up on the shore.

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Depending on when you are going swimming, you will have two very different experiences. In the morning until the early afternoon, the water is relatively undisturbed and you can actually swim. And then, Xocomil arrives and makes sure, any further swimming attempts will end in total failures as the waves splash you against the rocks.

Story time: There are two legends affiliated with this wind. Hundreds of years ago, two ancient Mayan kingdoms were in a bitter feud, when the royal offspring… of course… fell in love. Knowing, their love was forbidden, they always secretly met on the lake. When the parents found out about this, they sent the military out to get the respective child back on shore. Somehow, somewhere something went horribly wrong and both of the lovers drowned. In this scenario, the wind represents the young lovers having ‘an afternoon delight’. The more tragic approach (at least in my opinion) is that only the princess died and every afternoon, the prince (Xocomil) is looking for her, in sorrow.

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Well, you can only drink so much lake water, until you had enough. So we decided to go to the great weekly market of Chichicastenango on Sunday morning. We love to stroll through food markets, looking for unknown fruits, vegetables or street food, trying them and immediately regretting it. At least that’s the case for the popular unripe jocotes, a very sour fruit served with salt, pepper, lime juice and/or vinegar. A little disappointed by all the touristy souvenir stands, we dove deeper and deeper into the market and got lost in all the little textile and food stands, sometimes selling raw chicken, textiles and fruit all at once. Inside the market is another one full of comedores, where tired sellers, buyers and tourists can get a warm meal, before the bargaining continues.

It being Sunday led to a very interesting mixture of church-goers and market-goers. Especially, since the greatest church in Chichicastenango, Santo Tomas was built upon a Mayan temple over 400 years ago. By integrating its steps into the church’s entry, it still is an active Mayan religious site. It is a weirdly harmonic sight with Mayan priests burning incense and other offerings on the steps, while babies are being christened within the church.

After the rain set in, we hid in a café, simply watching the hustle and bustle of the market.

Antigua

 

Antigua is a city completely committed to catering to the traveling hipster. There’s plenty of (expat-owned) coffee shops, falafel-stands and sushi places set along cobble-stone roads and a surprisingly large amount of churches in ruins. This lead to a lot of confusion, since I was using the “church ruin” as a reference point for orientation the first view days and always ended up getting lost. Luckily Antigua is set up in a straight grid of roads, East to west are calles numbered 1 to 7, north to south are avenida’s numbered 1 to 7. After realising this, counting and orientation actually becomes quite easy.


We spent our days lurking around, wasting our days drinking coffee, wine and scouting the skies for the “Fuego”, the volcano nearby that constantly spouts lava. However, the rainy season finally caught up to us and we were sitting in the clouds every day. It was so bad that we didn’t even really know in which direction the mountain was supposed to be in the first place.


We did end up doing a walking tour of Antigua, however the tour ended up being heavily focussed on all the nice food-stops one could do there. While it is true that there are a lot of nice food spots, a bit more history wouldn’t have hurt either. The tour did more than just advertise restaurants though. We did visit the monastery, now hotel, with its caved in roof and holes in the walls.

The entire old city of Antigua is under protection and nothing may be changed. Therefore all collapsed buildings are left in said state until further notice or worked around, by turning it in a park or open area. This is also what gives the city its charm and especially the central plaza with its many trees and arcades is a pretty sight.
It is also a great basis for many different trips, including lake Atitlàn and the famous Acatenango, the second highest volcano in Guatemala. Which will come next.

Cueva Candelaria

Another day trip we did from Coban was the Cueva Candelaria. Part of the largest cave-system in Guatemala it is just one of many entries to a 22km-long system of lava-tunnels. We arrived there in the early afternoon and immediately got a ‘private guide’ assigned to us. A teenage girl from the neighbouring village that was at the same time embarrassed and proud to be guiding us. From the very universal language of the middle finger and the giggling girls it was aimed at, we grasped that the girls we crossed on the way to the cave are probably her friends even if she didn’t like them very much at that moment.


However she did take the tour seriously and walked us through the gigantic cave with its openings pointing out lots of interesting rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites.

The tour lasted a good two hours and every time I was sure we were headed back towards the entrance she found another detour and another little cave with interesting tidbits to show. We saw stalagmites in shape of broccoli, mushrooms and curtains. We visited musical stalactites, gigantic stalactites and one over-dimensional elephant stalagmite.


We saw the river flowing below us and the huge windows opening up, almost glowing green. When we finally headed back out, another adventure awaited us. We were going to float through the caves on tubes. We quickly changed into swimming gear, wrapped our things in plastic bags and off we were, with our tough little tour guide paddling at the front.. She did seem eager for the tour to be over. The floating was pretty cool though and I would’ve liked to go a bit slower, but since the river was running quite slowly we still had time to have a good look around. We did hit the walls a number of times because we couldn’t quite see where we were headed and then, suddenly it was all over and time to get back out of the water.

Biotopo de Quetzal

Our final excursion from Coban was going to the Biotopo de Quetzal.. or almost. We’d told the receptionist at our hostel in Cobàn of our plans and she immediately advised out to do something else. I had already researched the Biotopo and knew that an excursion to the Biotopo would almost certainly not lead to any sighting of the famous Quetzal. I wasn’t expecting it. However our receptionist told us that there was a way to almost certainly see a Quetzal, if only we didn’t go to the Biotopo. Intrigued, we asked for information. As it turns out there are Quetzal in the biotopo, however the place is so huge and the birds could be anywhere.. making it difficult to spot them.

But right next to the vast Biotopo de Quetzal is a little hotel. This hotel planted the birds favorite trees around the house some thirty years ago. Guatemala’s development then did the rest, by cutting off the migration routes the Quetzal usually take. This means that there’s Quetzal present all year round and they know exactly where their favorite berries grow, so they drop by the Ranchito every morning for a copious breakfast. Our receptionist didn’t know about the ‘breakfast’ part, she just told us we’d have a much better chance of seeing Quetzal there than in the biotopo.

So we set off on an early afternoon in a bit off a rush and arrived there shortly after lunch time. At which point the local staff told us that we were very welcome to pay the entry fee and have a look around, but the birds were g– They didn’t quite get to utter the last word, because one of the gardeners came running “Quetzal, quetzal” and motioned us to follow him. Of course the bird had decided to sit on the highest branch of the most dense tree, but we did get to see them after searching for a bit. Unfortunately, this is where we realised we’d forgotten the battery of the camera in the charger back in Cobàn. This meant we just had to sit there and watch the birds. In the end we enjoyed it so much, that we decided to come back the next day on our way to Antigua to get a chance of snapping a couple of pictures of the famous animal.

Laguna Lachua

From Semuc Champey we continued on to Cobàn. The city itself is nothing to write home about, although we must say that it sports a surprising density of absolutely delicious restaurants. The entire area is known for food and drinks, Guatemalas best coffee, cardamon and (only) tea is grown there. From Coban a lot of 1-2 day trips can be planned. One of them leads to Laguna Lachua, a small circular lake particularly popular as a week-end outing for the locals. We met a couple of tourists that were appalled to see that we’d somehow heard of this hidden gem as well.. They were even more disappointed to hear that it was actually listed in our guide book and not as secret a location as they’d thought it to be. However their fears were unfounded. The place was far from overrun. Actually it was just the four of us and the local guard in a very authentic setting. There was no electricity, no hot water and a wood-stove to cook on. We’d read up on the basicness of the place before hand and had planned to only make sandwiches. However the resident guard was already firing up the oven, so we decided to toast our bread and get some warm drinks. It was absolutely perfect.

He saw himself more as a host than a guard, I think. Because he definitely tried very hard to make our stay there as comfortable as possible lighting the fire and providing candle light for our dinner. Unfortuntaly he had run out of candles, so he wasn’t able to give us one for our room. He also trying very hard to stay up as long as we did…  (We were in bed by 9pm) But he did fall asleep at the table after a while. Possibly also because he’d happily accepted the glass of (forbidden) wine, we’d offered him earlier. A tip we’d found on the internet, saying that the guards would appreciate a little gift of some chocolate or sweets.. Which he definitely did!


The lake itself is absolutely beautiful, turquoise water, surrounded by jungle. A little pier to jump from and thousands of fish (with very sharp teeth which they’ll use to turn your leg into dinner, if you stand still for too long) swimming just next to it.

The main activity, of course, was swimming.. Or well.. maybe it was picture taking. We ended up taking tons of pictures both at the lake and on the way there as we ran into plenty of wildlife, including snakes.. But also butterflies, insects, frogs and iguanas. When we arrived at the lake, we showed off our pictures to the local guard, especially the bright green snake, which he happily confirmed to be “very poisonous” with a big smile on his face. We were just happy that the snake ended up being more scared of us than we were of it.

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey is advertised as “The Waterfall” of Guatemala. There are many pictures of it to be found online. They are not exaggerated, the colors are not overemphasized and still.. somehow, it didn’t blow me away. From the pictures I had a good idea what we’d be seeing, and honestly, Plitvice in Croatia is much prettier. However, do not miss Semuc Champey because the sinter terraces are not all it has to offer. But lets start at the beginning,

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My sister had done the hostel selection, because I was too lazy and someone had told her about an amazing hostel somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We were picked up in the evening, reached the place in the dark and where a bit put off. The private room we’d booked was just a small hut, a single small bed and a door that didn’t quite close. There was zero atmosphere or charm. We decided to switch to the dorms instead. Best decision ever. The dorms are in an open space above the common area. Large, comfy beds (one per person) and good mattresses, but the true revelation came the next morning when we got up.We walked down to the bar/restaurant/common area and were greeted with an amazing view. There was also free coffee until midday, so we just sat down and enjoyed the view, drank coffee and were happy.. At about 11am we decided we should probably get going and do something. As luck would have it The Waterfall is also in the middle of nowhere. One of the nice features of the hostel was that one could walk to the waterfalls in about an hour. So we set off first walking along the river, before rejoining the street and making our way to Semuc Champey.

Once there we decided to do the ‘hard thing’ first and climb all the way up to the viewpoint. Some very slippery thirty minutes later we arrived at the top. The view gave way onto the green mountains and the gorge in which the river could be seen. We had been worried about the state of the waterfall. For one we’d heard a number of times already that the blue waterfalls turn awfully brown during the rainy season and it’s definitely rainy season right now. For two, we’d seen the water color of the river and it was definitely more brown than blue. But all our fears were for nothing, looking down we saw this wonderfully blue water accumulating in several terraces, with a few people swimming here and there. I was happy. Although, it did seem odd. We could see the river upstream being all grey and muddy, we could see the river downstream, it was all grey and muddy. Yet, in the middle everything was nice and blue. What was going on?
I could’ve known what was going on then and there, because a tour guide came by with a group of tourists and started explaining that the place is called ‘where the stones eat the river’, but things didn’t click and I decided I must’ve misunderstood something. I would find out later that I’d understood perfectly well.


From the viewpoint we made our way down to the waterfall and that’s where I understood why the stones eat the river and why the water could be both grey and blue. We weren’t looking at one river, but two. The giant, grey river disappears under the sinter terraces in this place in an impressive roar, it goes underground and what remains is a small river coming in from the side, creating the sinter terraces on top. Absolutely amazing. I stood and watched the water disappear for a good fifteen minutes.

From there we went on to the nice, turquoise basins and had some fun in the water, before heading over the bridge to explore the ‘candle cave’. So called because the entire cave is lit by candles and your only light is a candle. Quite a challenge when the water is too deep to walk on several occasions. We also had the additional challenge of rainy season, so the water masses coming down through the cave seemed greatly increased. Especially the waterfalls were very powerful. Powerful enough to create a draft that blew out all our candles. But our guide came prepared with a lighter, so we didn’t have to do the rest of the tour in the dark! Even if you’re not going into the cave, it is worth a visit.

The small waterfall (well small compared to the river right next to it) coming out of the cave is absolutely pretty and a small path leads from the cave entrance to the place where the river reappears as a big waterfall under the sinter terraces.

Because it was hot and we’re lazy we didn’t want to walk back to our hostel. However we’d been riding enough cars on bumpy roads as well. No fun in doing that either. Luckily, there was a third option: The river! We had signed up for the tubing in the morning, so when the time came to go home we could just collect a big tube and float down the river to our hostel.

Punta Gorda – Rio Dulce

From Caye Caulker we drove down the coast to Punta Gorda, arriving at about 5pm in Punta Gorda. A small town from where you can cross into Guatemala by boat. We set out to get some food, but this turned out to be a larger challenge than expected. For one there seemed to be no restaurants. For two the market only opened in the morning hours and most of the town was deserted. Finally, some people pointed us towards a vegetable shop that should still be open. We arrived as the owner was putting away the last salads. We asked if they had some avocados for us and they told us that while they did have avocados they wouldn’t be ripe for the next few days and there fore couldn’t be sold. We asked about tomatoes, but there had been no nice tomatoes on the market that morning and therefore they didn’t buy any.
We asked about salad and they did have salad. First win. Slowly we also got talking, the owner tried to figure out what we wanted to do in order to offer us some vegetables that he did have. We explained our conundrum: We wanted to make sandwiches, but couldn’t find anything to put on our bread. You could almost hear the alarm bells going off in his head. These poor girls are going to starve if I don’t help! Suddenly he was selling not just vegetables, but everything else as well: Would we like the rest of there fried beans for the sandwich? They had bought a cheese for themselves that morning, did we want half? Maybe a lemon for flavor? Some bell pepper?
They were incredibly helpful and we ended up with a nice selection of ingredients for our sandwiches. Even though we had a bit of a bad conscience for taking half of their dinner-cheese from them. We tried to show our appreciation not just in words but also by paying a little extra. That didn’t quite work though, since we ended up getting an extra melon (already sliced and ready to eat) from them. We didn’t see anything from Punta Gorda. But the people are absolutely lovely!


The next morning we took a boat over the border and then another boat up the river Rio Dulce. We’d had a hard time deciding if we should go there or not. In the end all there is to do is riding a boat up that river and while we did find blogs claiming that the boat ride was a life-altering experience that softened up even the most stoic Swede, it didn’t quite work for us. We kept waiting for the emotional epiphany, the revelation behind life, love and …, the meaning of 42. We waited right until we reached the, admittedly, rather ugly town of Rio Dulce. The town seems to be a tax-stop for huge trucks that cross Central Americas largest bridge here. It seems to be the only reason that town even exists. Rio Dulce was the first town that reminded us that Guatemala does indeed have a reputation for high crime rates and robberies. Not because we felt threatened, but because every hostel, every restaurant and shop had their security personel with semi automatic guns, kevlar vests and in some cases even helmets. Most shops also displayed a “Gun free zone – you are safe” sign, which we didn’t find reassuring. Ironically enough, I did end up seeing very similar signs just a week later in Chicago. I guess it’s all a question of where you grew up.

The boat ride itself is nice. Nothing more. I doubt it is much different from any other boat ride anywhere and I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to do it. However the total trajectory from Caye Caulker to Semuc Champey through Rio Dulce is certainly nice, even if a bit time consuming. The car ride from the town of Rio Dulce to Lanquin takes six hours for just 160km. I guess this should’ve told us something about the conditions of the road. Instead we were rejoicing at having ‘private transportation’ in a shuttle. The roads were bad. Really bad. But we didn’t mind because the scenery was amazing. Very amazing. Green mountains everywhere, hills, all shades of green, a blue sky and the sun. We were trying to snap pictures as much as possible, but most of the times trees and bushes were blocking our view, easily blacked out by our eyes, acribically documented by our cameras. But the views remain in our memory!

Caye Caulker

So, we spent seven days in Belize and managed to take about 10 photos… in total. That might be a record. I personally think that we just absorbed the motto of Caye Caulker, a smallish island situated near the barrier reef which aligns with the Belizean coastline. Caye Caulker greets its visitors with its „GO SLOW“ mentality. Strangers on the street will remind you to take your time if you look like you’re in a hurry to go somewhere. So, we just went with it. Don’t get me wrong, people are laid-back here, but still very productive, especially in the morning. This might be the reason, why we didn’t really understand, how people stay in business around here. We just overslept the busy hours.

Initially, our plan was to go snorkeling and diving and more, but Belize is rather expensive with usual daytrip prices ranging around 100 US Dollars per person. We decided to skip the diving and just do a snorkeling trip instead. We even missed out on flying over the Blue Hole (200 US Dollars).

The second evening in Caye Caulker, some people at the hostel organized a giant cook-out with lobsters and red snapper, potatoes, self-made garlic bread, lobster ceviche and and and… the list goes on forever. Everyone was pitching in and helping. It lead to a great meal and a great way to get to know newcomers or people, we hadn’t spoken to yet. Oh and roasted coconut is pretty amazing.

 

The next morning was the day of the snorkeling trip. This time, we prepared ourselves (or almost). The tour operator actually had prescription swim glasses and we organized a GoPro from some very nice Germans at our hostel. Sadly, having a GoPro does not automatically mean that one knows how to operate or even how to charge it. This led to a very disappointing 10 seconds trial video on board of the boat before the battery died.

At that point, we just boldly asked everyone on the boat, if we could have their footage afterwards. That led to quite a chase after the trip, meeting up at different hostels and hotels all over the island. We got a lot of photos and little movies to remember our snorkeling adventure.

 

Since it was slow season, it was quite hard to organize trips to the atolls which is why we opted for a whole day trip closer by. Four and a half hours in the water at five different locations. First we went to the National Park to get a first impression of the under(water)world. Loads of different corals, little bright fish, morray eels and a first giant sting ray were rather unimpressed by our presence. Everyone would get the chance to see some sting rays and sharks at Sting Ray and Shark Alley, our second stop. We were warned by a few fellow travellers that this stop might be overrun by tourists, but it being the slow season, we only saw a few boats in the distance.

 

 

Sting rays were floating only a few meters below us and harmless nurse sharks were forming a big bulk at the other side of the boat, where the tour guides were throwing in chum.

 

 

And then, the chase after a sea turtle started. Contrary to their land counterparts they are quite fast. After the guides spotted one, everyone went as quietly into the water as possible. Three of our group started following it quite fast which is why I only saw it in the distance, when I finally made it into the water. The sea turtle might have felt my disappointment and made a full circle, swimming directly at me. Looking down, when it dove right under me, I realised that I was swimming through a gigantic mass grave of conches. It was eerily beautiful and is still haunting me. At the hostel, a few fellow travellers told us that this mass grave was man made, disgarding of all the shells after eating the animals within. That knowledge somehow diminishes this experience, so I chose not to believe it.

 

After making sure, everyone saw the turtle, we went on to seek out a manatee. After seeing two quite unhappy manatees in a Berlin Zoo in very small quarters with dirty water, my sister was not really looking forward to meet them in the open water, reminding her of the unhappy ones in Berlin. It turns out, manatees like muddy water and just look unhappy, regardless of their environment. Also, they just don’t move much in general, so maybe those quarters were big enough after all.

This manatee was also very unimpressed by us, floating in the same spot for half an hour, just surfacing to get some air. We must have looked the very same way to the manatee, just floating there, not even going up for air.

 

Back on the boat, two fellow snorkellers and I were trying to find a way to describe the weird fish we saw to the tour guide, who then hopefully could tell us, what it was. The others were sure, it was a shoe sole fish, sporting a weird shoe-sole-like platform on its head. I opted for a fish with ears. And the guide knew right away, what I was talking about, a sucker shark. It swims on its back which makes its lower fins look like weird elf-like ears.

 

Our last stop in the water was at a giant shipwreck from the 50ies or 80ies or an old pirate ship full of treasure.. everybody heard something else, the metal lining does however exclude the pirate ship theory, much to the dismay of the young kid on our tour. The wreck was full of corals and fish hiding and swimming through it.

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Our day ended at a sea horse kindergarden, were you could (not) see little sea horses hidden away in a ‘sanctuary’ full of ropes and nets.

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Apart from that snorkeling trip, the rest of the time on Caye Caulker was spent drinking coffee, enjoying the view.

Belize City

We didn’t see much from Belize City, but it has made a lasting impression. As can be expected we arrived at the bus terminal from San Ignacio, because we were taking a bus. As can be expected we were supposed to leave by boat, because Caye Caulker (our next stop) is an island and can’t be reached by bus.

The bus terminal and the boat terminal were separated by just 600m. It was straight down the road and then right once. We decided to walk, even though it was very hot and the sun was blazing hot.

So down the road we walked until a police car pulled up behind us and asked us what we were doing. Upon learning that we were, indeed, walking, they informed us that this was a very unsafe area and that we’d be much better driving through it. With them, for example.

After looking around and realizing that there were a lot of people curiously watching us, we decided to get into the car and drive the remaining 300m.

We didn’t feel particularly unsafe and I’m fairly certain that we would’ve made it to the boat terminal unharmed, but it certainly made us realize that we should probably look up the neighborhoods we’re walking through before the walk. We’ve been taking way more taxis since then.