Belize was a country of contrasts. After spending a few days in the near the center of the country in San Ignacio, I arrived in Belize City. Belize City was a dump, and I would recommend the least amount of time spent there the better. At this point in my travels I was with a few friends, and as fast as possible we procured a ferry to the island of Caye Caulker (Caye is pronounced ‘key’).
I had heard getting money on the island was hard so we first had to obtain some Belizean Dollars. They had the Queen of England on them just like Canadian Dollars. That was the closest thing to Canada about Belize, besides the English language.
Soon after leaving the dirty shores of Belize City, the water started to turn a lighter azul shade of blue indicating that we were indeed still the Caribbean.
Arriving at the shores of Caye Caulker we were greeted by an island paradise. Apparently it was high season and the only place we were able to find lodging was the colourful party hostel ‘Dirty Mcnastys’. They advertised free drinks from 9 pm to 10 pm, but in reality, the cheap bastards only gave us free drinks for all about 15 minutes.
After a day of lounging about, we spotted the blue-haired woman. The blue-haired woman was an obnoxious 40-year old rum guzzler from England with whom we had a memorable encounter in San Ignacio. She had already acquired an island boyfriend, a man with a bush of dreadlocks by the name of Cici.
With furious excitement, the blue-haired woman described to us the snorkeling tour that Cici ran, which took us to the reef, then a place called Shark Ray Alley, some secluded island for lunch, and finally to view some underwater cave. Cici was asking about half what other tour companies were for the same tour and combined with the blue-haired woman’s hyperbolic descriptions, we decided to take the plunge. The next day we showed up to Cici’s dock with a few extra people from our hostel that would be joining us on the tour.
Apparently Cici’s ‘real’ boat, Sexy Chicken, was in disrepair, so after getting fitted with snorkeling gear at a nearby shop we all crammed into a much smaller long boat without any shade. The blue-haired woman had found a few other middle-aged single woman travelers to join the party which made about 10 of us in total.
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There were three Canadians, one Swede, two Norwegians, one Dane, two English including the blue-haired woman, the man himself Cici, his trusted boat driver and his friend who didn’t really do anything. Shortly after embarking to our first stop Cici pulled out a few indulgently large bottles of rum for everybody to drink and we all quickly forgot about the lack of shade and the close quarters.
The first stop was the edge of the reef near the island of Caye Caulker. The shallow water was amazingly clear and we floated around staring at the reef and schools of fish whilst hoping our backs wouldn’t get too sunburnt.
The next stop was the highlight of the snorkeling, Shark Ray Alley. I jumped off the boat and immediately was within meters of a huge group of sharks and stingrays. Needless to say, I was a little surprised. I understood pretty quickly why the place was called Shark Ray Alley. We spent about half an hour swimming around watching the creatures before we headed to the private island for lunch.
On the way, we trolled and caught some large barracuda. Eventually, we reached the ‘private island,’ which just appeared to be a large sandbar with a hotel still half under construction.
We watched the captain use a wooden mallet and knife to cut steaks out of the barracuda.
We ended up having a tasty lunch of fresh barracuda steaks, some rice and of course, a little bit of rum.
After the island, we made our way back to Caye Caulker and quickly stopped to see the underground tunnel. Nobody could really see anything and we just asked to speed it up and get dropped off on the island. After a full day of drinking and being in the sun, we were beaten. Cici dropped us off at the Lazy Lizard, the most popular day bar on the island, and we sipped some ‘Lazy Lizard Juice’ while watching the sunset. Everybody on the boat agreed to meet up later for some drinks. Despite some odd shortcomings on the tour, it was a pretty damn fun day.