Category Archives: Caye Caulker

Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 18 of 18

March 8th, 2016

Depart Playa Arena Villas on foot for Ferry Dock

Ferry to Cancun

Taxi or Bus to Airport

Airport Home to Ottawa.

*sigh*….we’re home…..it’s actually now March 10th…..

It was crazy windy our last night at Playa Arena in Isla Mujeres….as you know we sleep with the windows open and you could hear the palm leaves rustling all night and the waves a crashin’ 🙂  All rather romantic really – however what wasn’t so romantic was whatever was on the roof unattached and thudding 🙂  Oh well …. it was still paradise and still our last night….take what you need and leave the rest, huh? 🙂  OK!  Up…organize, pack, dispose…..head off for breakfast and of course immediately starts to rain!  We had breakfast down the street from the hotel and it started pouring once we got there.  By the time we were done breakie it had tapered (a little) and we headed back to the hotel for final room once over, brush our teeth and then head to the ferry.  As we were walking along the rain came down even harder and we huddled under an awning until it subsided a little then dashed off to the ferry terminal.  Quick ferry to Cancun, taxi’s waiting….and then the crazy crazy fast fast taxi driver (one of our scarier taxi trips) blasted us toward the airport.  After about 30 harrowing minutes we arrived, checked in effortlessly (no bag checks, just carry on)……went and had lunch at TGIF…..great sever named Antonio who was very helpful in assisting me with my Spanish (even bringing me slips of paper with translations for common phrases)……..munching away on a big ‘ole juicy burger, drinking this amazing gin cocktail with lemon & cucumber…..and in walks a colleague – Candy K from my office….bizarre…….she and her husband sat at next table and we chatted back & forth.  Johnny & I then headed off to wander a bit before the flight which was scheduled to leave early….wandering through the duty free and I run into an old colleague Heather A – I hadn’t seen her in a few years…so it was quite funny.  She had been in Tulum.  OK….plane boards early early, Johnny and I are in front row…. I had booked my seats eons ago but even then couldn’t get side by side…so we were across from each other on the aisle….coincidentally, Heather A actually had the seat beside me….sooo she kindly let Johnny & I use it and she sat in the other seat….strange but true….that the person seated beside me would be someone I knew.  So, here I am on a plane with 3 people I know….then, on walks another familiar face – Eve E from Kanata……oh boy…..and we took off and were told that not only was the flight leaving early, it was flying faster….original scheduled flight arrival in Ottawa 7:40 – our actual arrival time was 7:06 pm…..no checked luggage……first off plane being in row 1 – we were in fact home by 7:40……how is that for awesome!!!

OK…this is the debriefing of our 18 days.  We had a wonderful time and each of our destinations – Puerto, Morelos,. Mexico; Tulum, Mexico, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize; Caye Caulker, Belize and Isla Mujeres, Mexico had something different and special to offer.  One of the reasons we did this trip in this manner was to visit some places we were interested in to see if any of them might be a ‘fit’ for longer visits as we grow older.

Puerto Morelos, Mexico – Total population around 9,000 – most of whom live on the other side of the highway I think.  We stayed on the ocean side.  Great little spot, a few stores, some nice restaurants, a great beach (on one side, not the other)…..I could see myself spending time there because it is only 30 minutes from Cancun – easy access to groceries, malls & whatever you need.  Cancun is huge.  Also, lots of things to do should you have visitors.

Tulum, Mexico – Population around 18,000 – most are in the town which is not on the water.  About a 10 minute cab/car ride to the beach/hotel zone.  So, Tulum beach is beautiful, almost perfect.  Lots of wonderful hotels of all kinds.  Tulum town also has everything you want and need.  For us though….we want the town and the beach to be closer together.  Nearest big cities are Playa del Carmen or Chetumal where you can buy the big stuff are still a ways away.  So…Tulum, a great place to visit for an awesome vacation with lots of things to do, but for us, not a ‘spend more than a week’ type of place.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize –  San Pedro town’s population around 13,000 – long thinnish town.  Honestly, we enjoyed our time there and exploring different ends of the Island, however San Pedro is very busy.  It has amenities, but not as many as I would like.  You could probably go into Belize City for bigger/more diverse shopping needs.  Not quite as easy being an Island.  Swimming/beaches not good here.  Diving/snorkeling via boats to the roof and the Blue Hole great.  So, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize…a great place to visit, would recommend it, but for us and a longer term venture, not on the list.

Caye Caulker, Belize – Population around 1,300.  Small – friendly – easily walkable.  Not great beaches but a couple of nice swimming spots (one of which is The Split).  Would we visit again – yes…could we imagine wintering there – no, I don’t think so…again, it’s all down to amenities, fresh fruit/vegetables, having to get to mainland Belize or Mexico to do real shopping.  Would we stay for one, two, three or four weeks – yes, I think so…has a really nice vibe.  Would be an awesome place to relax.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico – Population around 12,500.  Very safe & walkable Island 15 minutes by ferry from Cancun.  Nice Beaches.  A great store that sells everything you need (kind of Walmart style) yet close to Cancun for anything you can’t get.  Awesome beaches.  The downtown is definitely touristy which is great when you have visitors.   We liked Isla Mujeres, Mexico and could certainly imagine spending longer periods of time there.  Great off season rates and good airport access to Cancun.

So….we found a couple of places we would enjoy going back to – Caye Caulker & Isla Mujeres.  As always, we start to plan our next trip while still on vacation.  We’re thinking next year it will be Fly to Belize City, going on the south coast of Belize – Dangriga, Hopkins Village, Placencia, then a side trip to Livingston, Guetemala and if possible Lake Atitlan area – ending in the Bay Islands of Honduras.  Only time will tell……..If you are reading this – thanks for sticking with me throughout our 18 days.  It’s now time for us to work off those holidays pounds and start our hiking blogging as the weather here in Ottawa grows warmer!  Adios for now Amigas!! – Johnny & Melva

PS…..Johnny is going to Iceland in April with his Mom for one week and I am going to spend a weekend with my girls in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada while he’s away!

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Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 13 of 18

March 3, 2016

Accommodation: Colindas Cabanas, Caye Caulker

Our last full day on lovely quiet laid back no muss no fuss Caye Caulker.  It was more overcast with a bit of humidity in the air.  We had arranged to be taken out in a panga style boat for a tour around the island.  In fact Caye Caulker is two islands which were split in a hurricane as previously mentioned 🙂  Our captain was a young Guatemalen man who had been raised mostly in mainland Belize.  Great guy with lots of knowledge.  OH…did I mention that our 10 am tour started around 11? 🙂  We sat (comfortably) on the beach for over an hour waiting for the boat to come back from it’s previous trip.  We elected to use a small tour operator who does tours made to suit your needs!  Johnny and I love to understand what makes up an area and the boat tour around the island(s) really helped us to put everything together.  The other part of Caye Caulker is much larger than the more populated side.  It has no businesses or stores and is largely made up for what the guide locals refer to as American houses.  There are a few families of locals as well who wanted to own their own home and the only way to do so was to live on the north side of the split.  The kids have to take boats to school daily.

We learned that there are big caves under a section of the island, we saw an area that was a Tarpon preservation area, we learned (but didn’t see) that there were crocodiles in t he  mangroves.  There is a conservation area at the north end of the north island called The Estuary, where you can go on walked through the mangroves and jungle like area. The private tour was well worth the time and $.  After our tour we had a leisurely lunch where I mothered a young girl who had too much to drink and was almost passed out in the wash room.  When she felt a bit better I lead her back to the table when her boyfriend was on the ground trying to fish his hotel keys out from between cracks in the floor boards….good times 🙂

After lunch and coming completely by surprise…..the dreaded ‘Traveler’s D…..’ commenced and I spent the rest of the day popping metamucil tabs (among other things) and watching the ridiculous day of CNN coverage of Mitt Romney’s big press conference denouncing con man Donald Trump.  Johnny swam, read his book and generally relaxed 🙂  In the evening I felt well enough to pack my and get ready for our early morning trip.  Luckily, and I believe thanks to the metamucil tabs my discomfort was short lived.  Set the alarm for 5:15 am and headed off the sleep!

This is my favourite house on Caye Caulker

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Colinda Cabanas where we stayed – we are the blue/yellow on top left.20160303_11055020160303_110756

Fishermen use these platforms to clean the fish and dump the heads 🙂

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A bunch of tarpons under that water somewhere and the entrance to the cave.20160303_11261620160303_113003

The Split where everyone goes to swim and eat and drink20160303_113019

 

 

 

Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 12 of 18

March 2, 2016

Accommodation: Colindas Cabanas, Caye Caulker

Wow, 3rd day in Caye Caulker.  We had no plans for the day.  I actually was feeling tired, probably too much sun on the boat yesterday.  As always, up early, read, compute, make breakfast.  Then we walked south from Colinda Cabanas along the beach.  You actually walk across the easterly end of the airport.  There is a path or roadway all along this part of the island that is supposed to take you back to town (the long way).  It was hot hot hot again.  The bushes and path were alive with lizards, iguanas & birds.  A constant rustle as we walked along!  The area is populated but less so.  The path goes along mangroves and it’s not manicured so a ton of things ‘washedup’ in the  mangroves from past storms.  There are quite a few big beach/jungle homes out there.  Very secluded (well as secluded as you can be on a small island).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t do the whole loop as there was an extreme mud section that we just didn’t want to trudge through.  So, back we went!  Again, read for a while…then we decided to go into the village for lunch.  We ate over the water at Rainbow.  Johnny had Fajitas and I had a Conch Burrito.  Very good!  Lots of activity at the dock out front with a catamaran coming in, some snorkel tours, people paddle boarding…..after lunch we wandered through town and then back to the Cabana..by this time it was even crazier hot and we jumped into the water at the end of the dock for a while..then yes…back to read.  Late afternoon the breeze came in and it cooled down…we went for a twilight walk on some different streets.   We made chicken, rice & tomatoes for dinner, went out to the dock to star gaze…Orion’s belt was quite prominent, Sirius was shining brightly and Jupiter looked down at us.  We saw a number of cruise ships go by – probably en route to Cozumel, MX.

I’m not sure whether I mentioned it or not, but we don’t use AC when we travel, nor do we use it at home.  About the only time I use AC would be in my car if I have clients with me.  First of all, I believe AC makes you sick….and that you become so accustomed to AC that you don’t want to go outside on warm days.  So, life is more natural and dealing with hot weather is actually more bearable without AC.  We also like to stay in more basic,ordinary accommodation.  It just feels wrong to live in the lap of luxury when the people around you are living so simply.  I never quite understand how someone can go to an island or beach location and never leave there resort.  It confounds me 🙂

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Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 11 of 18

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March 1, 2016

Accommodation: Colindas Cabanas, Caye Caulker

Woke up really groggy on Day 11….it was hot and sunny!  We had decided the night before to go on a half day snorkel tour in the afternoon.  We have been within 2 miles of the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world for more than one week…love to snorkel and still haven’t gone out..we did the 1 pm with Carlos Tours.  There were only 4 of us and we went on a rather comfy speed boat (all of 5 minutes to the reef)….we went to 3 spots….to reefs and one area where the sting rays and nurse sharks gather….sooo many rays…sooo many sharks…amazing!  I have to admit that pulling my body in and out of a boat is a challenge, but somehow with a little assistance I manage to get the job done 🙂  If we had done nothing more than relax on the boat as it bobbed around in the water I would have been a happy camper!  The other two passengers on the boat were two architectural grads from Montreal off on a 7 week trip through Mexico, Guatemala & Belize.  Really nice young men who seemed to be having a great time!

Once back we were starving and showed off the sea salt and headed to a restaurant recommended by our snorkel guy Romeo.  Some dark clouds had rolled in and we walked in a tropical shower – refreshing!  We arrived at Reina’s for dinner….it was a bit early by Belizean standards so we sipped our drinks, munched on some chips and salsa and waited for the catch to come in and the barbecue to heat up.  They grill in drum like bbq’s on coals that are heated to perfection, no clue what the coals are made of but the smell of the fire alone is amazing!  I had coconut seafood (shrimp and conch) curry and Johnny had Jerk Chicken.  The owner of the restaurant – Elvis was a great guy and amazing chef!   We went for a long walk after dinner and as always read for a little while before having an early night.  No plans for Wednesday yet…only time will tell!

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Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 10 of 18

February 29, 2016

Departed Banana Beach Resort, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Walk or Taxi to water taxi dock

San Pedro – Jet Express water taxi to Caye Caulker, Belize

Accommodation: Colindas Cabanas, Caye Caulker

At Colindas Cabanas February 29th to March 4th, 2016.

29 days in February – Leap Year!

Island time has set in.  Here it is Wednesday March 2nd and I’m finally writing about February 29th *sigh*….love my mornings….sitting on the terrace with a cup of great Belizean coffee (I’ve been spelling Belizean wrong in all previous posts)…….sun is rising…..waves are lapping…..gentle wind…..birds chatting and singing……pelicans sweeping down and plunging into the water to steal away their breakfast from the ocean blue (green).  Uhh huhhhhh……this IS the life.  I’m so glad we gave up one week all inclusives.  You don’t really get to unwind and relax in a mere 7 days.  A longer vacation allows you to do what you want to do when you are ready…..no cramming things in to get it done.

Day 10 was the day we had to depart San Pedro, Ambergris Caye for Caye Caulker.  There are fairly frequent water taxis and the check in wasn’t until 2 pm…..the trip only 30 minutes…..so we weren’t in a hurry.  Awoke, puttered around gathering and putting things away…..went for breakfast….finished packing……sat on the beach and read then grabbed a cab to  down town and the San Pedro Belize Express water taxi.  Our original thought had been to have lunch and take the 1 pm water taxi, but we were on time for the 11:30 so headed over early.  30 minutes later we were on the dock in Caye Caulke and I had already fallen in love 🙂  Caye Caulker is small – 8 km north to south and 1.6 km at it’s widest point east to west.  When you stand on the dock on the east side you can see the water on the west side…..my best case scenario – surrounded by water 🙂 !!  Honestly, if I could live on a boat I probably would.  They are downright expensive though *sigh*….so….here we are in Caye Caulker, wandered down the street…found a great little restaurant and had a nice lunch.  Then we hit the beach for the 10 minute walk to our new home for 4 days – Colinda Cabanas!  Awesome little place…..we had Cabana #2 beach front upper unit….only 4 on the water the rest are behind.  Quintessential island bright blue and yellow, big deck, palm trees…..I am HOME!  Clean, spacious, modern facilities a beautiful dock out front with a palapa and hammocks.   The manager Juan was amazing, recommending things to do, places to eat.  Our room comes with bicycles so it didn’t take long for us to hop on the bikes and explore town.  There are 3 main north south streets in the village and a number of east west streets.  We immediately rode down to the split….the is a gap which legend says was caused by a hurricane and it divides the island into two.  The split is the gathering spot with great swimming and a couple of beach bars, rental places.  Very much the hanging out spot.  Although there is a very young crowd in Caye Caulker you can still find oldies like us wandering the streets with huge smiles on their faces 🙂

We stopped for some groceries on the way home, had a rest, read a little then walked back into the village to find a place for dinner.  We ended up choosing a place called Belizean Flava – up stairs restaurant….but the food is actually cooked on a BBQ out front on the street.  We both ended up having grilled conch, with great sides.  Two rum punches and a dessert come with each meal.  Total cost was $56 BZD – 28 US.  We then happily wandered home, read a bit more and went to sleep.  My only issue with Colinda Cabanas is that the bed is double and the pillows not quite as nice.  I’m a gal who appreciates a soft feathery pillow 🙂  Banana Beach in San Pedro had an awesome King comfie bed with near perfect pillows for me 🙂

 

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Packing….

I sat down this moment to write a post in hopes it will help me to off load some of the anxiety I’m feeling  as it relates to packing for Saturdays trip.  Writing helps to put things into perspective.  Honestly, even as I type I feel the need to hyperventilate fading away.  Here’s hoping 🙂

I’m a bit OCD/anal and for weeks leading up to a vacation I start to pile things I need for vacation into a tote as I think of them.  I make lists, I download books to my e-reader, etc etc.

OK…..so this year we decided to use a carry on back pack style (for each of us).  We are doing this because once we arrive in Mexico we are spending some time moving from place to place  via bus and water taxi.   After spending a lot of time researching on the net we decided to purchase two Tortuga Travel Backpacks.   They are only available online but once received we were fairly happy with what we got.  Lots of little pockets and security features.  The ability to carry it like a suitcase with back pack straps tucked in.  Not flashy bags so you don’t look like a rich tourist.  Just what we were looking for.

This morning I pulled everything out and started trying to squeeze them all in to my pack. However does one decide what they what to wear before you get there????  We will be on small islands most of the time so I imagine it will be breezy (they are narrow..you can see from one shore to the other).  Looking at the temps, it’s not looking crazy hot and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of humidity.  So…walk clothing, beach clothing, after beach clothing, dinner clothing, tees, tanks, nicer tops, sweater, sundresses, shorts, capris, skort,  sandals, hat, belt….yadda yadda 🙂 undies, socks (we hike a lot)…..

Did I mention, CPAP machine (I have obstructive sleep apnea and it doesn’t count toward carry on, but I don’t want to bring it’s big case, so I’m packing it in my bag….my little laptop (can’t live without a keyboard), e-reader, extra glasses, contac lenses, sunglasses….does the list ever stop?  Nope, it does not – day pack, toiletries, earrings, passports, cash.

OK…this is all this stuff on the table – doesn’t fit in the pack *yet*…….that’s my travel purse on the left….kind of um…tree huggerish…but it’s VERY functional!

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Sure, it looks closed – but the stuff beside it needs to go into it – plus the CPAP and a bathing suit and another tshirt and it needs to be max 22 lbs with a ‘size’ of

Baggage weight allowed according to the class. 
Economy Class Option Plus Club Class
Weight 10 kg (22 lb) 10 kg (22 lb)
Dimensions 23 x 40 x 51 cm (9 x 16 x 20 in) (including wheels and handles)

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It has some nice features…great little zippered things that I don’t have the room to fit anything into 🙂  OH JOY.

 

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Stay tuned for Saturday’s post that tells you whether once fully packed I was actually able to carry this onto the plane or not!

 

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