Caye Caulker

After a relatively unscathed comfortable coach ride from Tulum to the non-descript coastal town of Chetamul, we were sat drinking a couple of brewskies, our legs overhanging the white mottled jetty, the sun shining on our backs and our heaving backpacks within viewing distance ready to be loaded onto a boat. We were chatting with Monty and Lindsay, two new travelling friends we had jumped into a taxi with to the port, and life seemed good. We were waiting, along with a host of other backpackers, to jump on-board the jet powered water taxi that would be our means of transport to either San Pedro or Caye Caulker, both islands based in Belize just a mere 90 or so minutes away. We had paid our departure tax and as the army arrived along with their semi-automatic guns, over zealous jeep hoisting a massive artillery piece along with metal shielding, and sniffer dogs to go through all the bags, we made our final toilet stops and jumped on-board. Caye Caulker, a small coral island off the coast of Belize, measures a mere 5 miles long by 1 mile wide; although the length is halved due to Hurricane Hattie that came through the area in 1961 and split the island into two. The Northern end is now for all intent and purposes the hub of the island, with the South rarely being visited except by some high end hoteliers and Caribbean island getaways. As we went through customs in a typical Caribbean fashion; slow, relaxed, humorous and colourful, we embarked at our slice of Caribbean paradise and lumbered our backpacks to Yuma’s House, the hostel we had reserved days earlier. We threw our packs on our beds, showered, changed, got a beer in a hammock listening to the evening waves splashing by and breathed a proverbial sigh of relaxation with some quiet time before meeting up with our new found travelling duo for some seafood affair. The island is made up of a few main sand paved ‘roads’ that run the length, with a multitude of smaller open air palm tree lined ‘alleys’ that lead off the main drags. Chain shops, restaurants, or common retail names or non-existent and no cars are allowed on the island (only golf buggys and bicycles are allowed). Hand painted signs in colourful Jamaican-esque colours are thrown at you, and indeed the slurred Creol-English of Jamaica is prevalent on the tongues of all the locals – our meagre Spanish would not be tested in this predominantly English speaking country. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery As we wandered down the road, obeying the island mantra of ‘Go Slow’, we found Monty and Lindsay, had some warming, welcoming, this-is-normal-for-a-backpacker shots of Mezcal and jumped at the chance to have fresh lobster, red snapper and crab. To wash it all down with we had free homemade rum punch, and sat chatting at the cute wooden bench, sand underneath your feet restaurant overlooking the ocean. As the food was washed down again with happy hour Caipirinha’s, we made our way to a local bar where we soon bumped into other backpackers who were on the original boat over, and the 10 of us stumbled into the islands ‘sports bar’, emptied our wallets into the bar and drank the night away. Opening up conversations with the standard ‘Where are you from? How long are you travelling for? Where have you been?’ before putting the world to rights and delving deeper into irrelevant prevalent topics, the night flowed by with the warming air allowing sandals and shorts to be worn until bed. With monsoon season still at its tail end, and local knowledge that the next day was to be warm and sunny with only a small chance of showers before an arc of high pressure was to hit the island with its intermittent weather patterns, we decided to...