Sunday, February 23, 2014

Our Caye Caulker Adventure - Part 1

Last week we made our first trip to Caye Caulker with our friends Colleen and Bruce. It turned out to be a memorable journey for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to experience the island with Wanda.

For those of you not familiar with her, Wanda met up with Colleen and Bruce when they made their epic train journey last year. For six weeks she rode the rails for over 10,000 miles and made quite the name for herself. You can (and should) read about her adventures on the blog, aptly named, Lizards on a Train.

Considering how exhausting that trip was, none of us were sure if she could be convinced to come out of her self-imposed travel retirement. But the lure of the Caribbean Sea and waffles (I'll get to that in a bit) was enough for her to pack her bags and bling and hitch a ride with us.

So last Tuesday morning, the five of us arrived at the Corozal airstrip for the first leg of our journey. David and I had booked our flight through Tropic Air, while Colleen, Bruce, and Wanda opted for Maya Island Air. 

Now while it's been almost two years since we have done any air travel, the memories of all the rules, regulations, bag weight limits, security checkpoints, and the like that one needed to adhere to in the States were fresh in our minds. As a result, we weighed our bag, made sure it didn't exceed the size limits, brought our passports for ID purposes, and were at the Tropic Air terminal in more than sufficient time before our departure.

And this is when we got the first of many reminders that travel is way more laid back here. When we entered the Tropic Air building, we presented our receipt for our tickets. The gentleman manning the desk glanced at it and, with no request for our passports or any other means to ID us, handed us our boarding passes.

Large, plastic passes I might add. In the meantime, another Tropic Air employee snagged our bag and put it on the loading cart. No weight check, no zillion questions about what was inside, had we left it unattended at any point, were any liquids in containers bigger than three ounces, or if there was any contraband items like knives, lighters, chainsaws, machetes, etc. 

Shortly thereafter, Colleen and Bruce came by. Seems the Maya terminal was out of coffee and they were instructed to walk across the tarmac to our terminal to get their caffeine fix. After having a good chuckle about our boarding passes, they showed us their tickets.

Apparently the coffee maker wasn't the only thing not working over at Maya Air. Instead of a paper receipt or ticket, the agent hand wrote the confirmation info on the inside of the ticket jacket and that's all Colleen and Bruce needed to board their flight. As I said, a bit more laid back here in Belize.

Our plane arrived right on time...

 ...and we were the first to board.

Sitting right behind the pilot and co-pilot gave us a great view of the cockpit, including this decal:

"This airplane is prohibited from flight in known or forecast icing."

Now I don't know about any of you, but if there ever ends up being a time where there is "known or forecast icing" in Belize, the inability to fly would be the least of my problems.

And you know while surrounded by palm trees, bush, and sugar cane fields is amazing at ground level, I was struck by just how beautiful our area of the country is from the air.

About twenty minutes after takeoff, we landed in San Pedro, which is located on the island of Ambergis Caye.  As we waited to collect our luggage from the outdoor baggage claim area, I was dumbstruck by, what seemed like, hundreds of golf carts whipping by, the hordes of school children, the gaggles of tourists, and the noise. Granted, San Pedro is a top tourist destination, but when you come from a sleepy town like Corozal, it's a bit of culture shock.

Colleen and Bruce's flight landed shortly after ours, so with bags in hand we made our way to the water taxi. You can get a connecting flight with either of the airlines to get to Caulker, but we thought the water taxi might be fun and it gave everyone a chance to catch some breakfast before the taxi pushed off from the dock.

Our dining destination was a place called Licks, located right across from the entrance of the water taxi. The owner, Mario, couldn't have been nicer, and the food was awesome (check them out on Facebook or TripAdvisor).

Wanda was watching her weight and was a tad concerned about getting seasick on the water taxi, so settled for a sip or two of coffee. Colleen and Bruce, on the other hand, tucked into stuffed fry jacks, while David noshed on a fruit plate and I nibbled some toast.

Fry Jacks stuffed with eggs, bacon, cheese, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Across from Licks was a wood building with this advertisement:

"No working during drinking hours"
The perfect motto for enjoying our holiday.
After everyone was sated with food, we boarded the water taxi for the 20 minute trip to Caulker. 

I think Wanda was feeling a little green around the gills, so to speak, but managed to hold it together.

After collecting our bags, we ambled over to the main drag of Caye Caulker. Unlike the craziness of San Pedro, Caulker is unbelievably laid back and quiet. Yes there are some golf carts and knots of tourists, but dialed back in volume. The streets are covered in sand and you can't help finding yourself walking slower to the relaxed vibe of the place. 

We eventually made our way to our lodgings at Lorraine's Guest House, located at the south end of the island.

After dumping our bags, we were all feeling a bit parched and in need of some cool, refreshing beverages before strolling through town.

We stopped at a hotel that we passed on the way to Lorraine's, just a short walk away (actually, nothing is far away on Caulker).

One of the hotel's drink specials is a bucket of beer. Wanda wasted no time, whatsoever, trying to get dibs on all the bottles.

Little did we know that this behavior was a harbinger for things to come involving this little missy.

Feeling revived, we made our way down the main thoroughfare. There are dozens of shops and boutiques selling everything from clothes, art, and your typical souvenirs. 

There is also the constant view of the sea and all the piers along the way.

As tempting as it was to curl up in one of those hammocks, the wind -- as you can see from the flags blowing -- was quite fierce. We decided to soldier on until arriving at the north end of the island where we came across this place:

The Lazy Lizard - A Sunny Place for Shady People
Wanda was ecstatic! Not only was there a chance to make more friends, but being close to dehydration from the walk, there was an opportunity for her to have another beer or two. And I don't know if you've ever seen a lizard in an excited state, but it's a sight to behold. We couldn't bear to disappoint her, so all of us joined her for a cold one.

The pier and sea wall that runs around this bar is a gathering place for locals and tourists alike. Plenty of room for groups...

...or if a couple just needs some quiet time.

(By the way, I have no clue who these people are, but liked the shot of these two.)

Feeling refreshed from our time at The Lazy Lizard, we made our way back through town, stopping into various shops, making mental notes of ones we wanted to revisit, and feeling peckish, decided it was time for lunch.

On the second floor of this shop, you'll find beautiful crafts, art, jewelry, and...


It's been ages since we've had sushi, which we love. It's just not something you can readily find in Belize and certainly not in Corozal, unless you make it yourself. I can't honestly say it was hands-down the best I've ever had, but it did hit the spot, along with a glass of white wine.

One of the other cool things about this place is that if you sit on the veranda, you can people watch and see things like this...

Yup, that is a hat made from woven palm leaves. Gives a whole new meaning to "fascinator", does it not?

With lunch done, we continued our amble back to Lorraine's for a lovely nap and to give Wanda time to recover from her first day of travel.

That evening we walked down to Syd's Restaurant, located on Back Street, for dinner. A quick aside -- there are only about four streets on Caulker: Front Street, Middle Street, Back Street, and Back Back Street. Maybe not the most inventive naming convention, but when you're talking about an island that's only about five miles long and a mile wide, well, there probably isn't much need to get into fancy naming.

Anyway, back to Syd's. I wish we could say we were amazed by the food, but... All of it was okay at best. I will say there was only one waitress, the place was packed when we got there, and she did have her hands full. However, we left with relatively full tummies and were ready to call it a night. 

Little did we know that Wanda had other plans.

Coming up - Our Adventure to Caye Caulker - Part 2


  1. Funny post! You may want to rethink your relationship with Wanda....she may be a very bad influence.

    1. Oh Wanda clearly has some issues, as you will learn in the second installment of the adventure. Let's just say an inebriated lizard is not a good thing.

  2. Tropical paradise has the best mango pina colada I've ever had
    Liz hull

    1. Thanks for the tip Liz. I had every intention of getting a Pina Colada (or two, or three) while we were on Caulker, 'cause what says "vacation" better? Somehow I just didn't. But good to know the Tropical Paradise has great ones. Will keep in mind for future trips.

  3. Wanda sounds like a handful! We travel a lot with flat Stanley and while he has never disappeared he has occasionally over indulged in Belikin stout. One time at Jambel when they were still on Front street be got a little frisky and wandered off to look at the large sea fresco on the wall. The next thing we knew he was stuck like Velcro in the middle of it. We rescued him and explained that it wasn't really polite to add your self to others art. He seemed repentant or maybe just buzzed, because the next thing we knew he was facedown on his second stout... Your trip brought back some great memories!