When I enter a new country I always have a nervous feeling in my stomach. Entering Belize was no different. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the excitement of something new or maybe it’s the feeling of being interrogated by an overly officious border guard. After about 70 odd border crossings that I’ve done in my life I should be used to it. Yes, I’ve done a lot of traveling in my life. In fact, I’ve visited Belize before, many years ago.
I filled out the immigration paperwork and waited in line. I was rejected on my first attempt. Apparently, when asked for my address in Belize it is not appropriate to write, ‘various campsites’. I was told I needed a street address and town that I would be staying in tonight. That was hard as I had no wifi to look for an address of a hotel so I did the next best thing. I made up a fake address. It’s not the first time I have resorted to doing such a thing. You would think an experienced traveler like myself would know better. ‘4 Victoria St, San Ignacio‘, I wrote on my immigration paperwork. I was granted my entry stamp. [It turns out that there is a 4 Victoria St, San Ignacio….but it’s not a hotel]
I cycled for about an hour from the Guatemalan border to the Belize town of San Ignacio. Belize is an old English colony and they speak the most amazing English. I love the strong Caribbean accent. The people are a mix of ancient Mayans, people of African descent and Europeans. They are incredibly friendly. It’s hard to walk anywhere but the busiest street without saying hello to everybody. An they all have the time for a chat.
I settled into a room for a couple of days in San Ignacio. In comparison to Guatemala and Mexico, I must say that Belize is rather expensive. Not as much as USA but noticeably more than it’s neighbours. I resigned my budget to not staying here too long. But first thing was first, food. I found an Indian Restaurant/Bar in the main tourist street. I love Indian food and haven’t eaten it in several years. The staff stand out in the street and try their best to induce people to enter. I needed no inducement. The guy introduced himself as ‘The Mixologist‘. It didn’t help when they had ‘happy hour’ which seemed to last all day. The rum and fresh pineapple juice went down very well with the Indian food. I returned again the following afternoon for more, it was that good.
Within walking distance of town is the ancient Mayan ruins of Cahal Pech. It is a small site which didn’t seem to be popular with the tourist crowds that flock to San Ignacio. It took me less than an hour to wander around the site. There were only about 6 others at the site when I was there. What surprised me most about Belize was the amount of things to do. Tourism seems to have really taken off in this country, much more so than when I was here last. I’m already planning to return here next year after my hike on the Appalachian Trail.
With a couple days of rest I planned a super exciting route through the north western parts of Belize, unfortunately, things did not go to plan. Stay tuned.