Tikal done and over with meant one thing – bye bye Guatemala, hello Belize! Our guide warned us to watch out for big mamas who jump the queues at the border crossing and that we had to make sure that didn’t happen to us – or we would be there all day. Thankfully we didn’t have to worry about this – we literally sauntered across both borders within 15 minutes. I love walking across borders – and this was no exception. It was very laid back, and from the Belize customs point onwards, everyone I met was lovely and genuinely helpful. The plan was to stay in the small town of San Ignacio for one night – and move onto Caye Caulker for 3 nights. The weather is getting warmer!! Looking forward to some blue skies and proper heat!
Where am I staying?
We checked into Midas Hotel, a splendid hotel decked in about 6 shades of green (including staff uniforms!). I loved this place. The grounds, the staff and my room, which was essentially a bungalow.
- Grubbiness factor = low. Very very clean
- Bed = 8/10. I had a good night’s sleep
- Shower = 4/10. Clean, but what is the use if there is no warm water
What did I eat?
After checking in we went into town to check it out – it is a dinky little place, we had figured out what was where in 10 minutes – small and colourful.
Interestingly enough, the town is full of Indian and Chinese shops, selling virtually everything imaginable. For dinner, we went to Erwa’s Restaurant, specialising in local Belizean food. To drink? I tried the local drink of Belize – a rum punch which felt like a tropical party in my mouth. I ordered what was the best meal of my trip so far.
Coconut rice – so well cooked; kidney beans – super tasty and well seasoned; and the veggies. Oh my oh my oh my. Chaya – the local maya spinach, peppers and onions. So so so so so tasty, simply cooked but so moreish and full of flavour. Some of the group had fish – they loved it.
And being in Belize, I realised that there isn’t just one kind of Habanero Sauce – hot. Marie Sharps is the brand, and flavours are everything from mild, hot, medium, hot, fiery hot, and my favourite, beware hot. (Souvenir for the brother and brother in law sorted!!) Breakfast the next morning was at Pops, at 6.30 as we were getting ready for exploring the ATM cave. A cup of black coffee (AMAZING coffee everywhere!!!!) and fry jacks (for those in the know, essentially triangular bhaturas!) doused with maple syrup they were quite yummy, giving me the energy for the caves.
Lunch after the caves was rice and veggie (that coleslaw was untouched – bear in mind these lunch boxes were out in the sun all morning), and more of my favourite hot sauce. Oh, and some more of that rum punch 🙂
What did I do?
The main reason why people come to San Ignacio is for the ATM cave. ATM stands for Actun Tunichil Muknal, an impressive Maya site with a lot interesting artefacts – ceramics, stoneware, skeletons (whole human skeletons) and bones (monkey, jaguar). Not a cheap trip – USD 95 (or USD120 including transfers to Belize City), I will tell you now – DO IT!!! NO BRAINER. We were warned before hand that we will be wet (fully, completely wet) for most of the 4 hour tour, and that we must must wear closed shoes. We also wore a helmet, and once inside the cave, headlamps were essential. These are all provided.
The tour company we went with were called Maya Walk (however there are many to choose from) and there was a 45 minute drive along a bumpy road to get to the cave. We drove past corn and orange plantations, and very descriptive road signs. Haha.
Once we got to the entrance, we had to leave everything behind other than a bottle of water – no bags, no cameras – a clumsy tourist dropped his on a skull in the cave and cracked it (both the camera and the skull). Since then there has been a very very strict no camera rule.
It was brilliant. 45 minute walk to the entrance of the cave, crossing 3 rivers of varying heights (chest, knees, ankles – no current and the water is very clean). About 20 minutes walking, wading, swimming. Going up and down over boulders, squeezing through gaps – and then the main cave. We had a good guide who explained it all – mind blown. It is a visually stunning cave and the way to get there utterly gorgeous – you forget all about being wet – and the history amazing. The tour company sent a few photos through, but there are some videos on you tube if you want to check it out further.
Amazing activity, loved loved loved it and so recommend it. One thing though – closed shoes are ESSENTIAL. You can’t get away with sandals, and definitely no flip flops! Too many sharp and jagged rocks. Now bring on some relaxing island life on!!! Caye (pronounced KEY, tourists, listen!!) Caulker!