Borders are funny. They’re really only imaginary lines drawn in the earth but it’s amazing how widely cultures can vary on each side of these lines. It amazes me that each time I cross a border a whole new world opens itself up to me. I feel like a 4 year old child who is fascinated by things others take for granted; cardboard boxes, string, sticks. The simplest things of no consequence to others hold my attention and won’t let go.
Moving from Guatemala to Belize was as drastic as moving from Mexico to Guatemala. One minute I’m talking to everyone in Spanish. I cross over some line drawn on a map and I’m now talking to people in English with a Caribbean accent. Reggae music is playing in the background and all prices just increased exponentially. My first thought of Belize was that it was a strange mix of everything I had gotten used to in Guatemala except with a distinct Caribbean feel. Everything here is mixed; the people, the language, building architecture, and the overall atmosphere. The culture is defined heavily by the Caribbean vibe, however, the rest of Central America can’t help but have some influence on the culture.
I’m only here on a 72 hour hiatus from the rest of Central America so I can reset my visa for the CA-4 (see this posting for more info) but, as strange as it sounds, I can’t help but feel like I’m on a vacation from travel. Moving from one place to the next or talking with locals is infinitely easier when everyone speaks to me in English. I feel like I was given a weekend pass to a Caribbean island. The view I’m greeted with each morning when I step outside also helps this feeling.
The downside is that lodging and everything else is infinitely more expensive than what I’m accustomed to. Most rooms go for at least $25 US a night and are usually more. I’ve searched all over Placencia and found the cheapest room possible. The good news is that it is cheap in comparison to other places and it’s a private room. The downside is that I just saw a mouse drop out of the ceiling and scurry into some hole in the bottom of the wall (Seriously).
Full day of Travel: Flores, Guatemala to Placencia, Belize
For those who care. Getting to Placencia, Belize from Flores, Guatemala involves a full day of travel. I was up and leaving for the Santa Elena bus station at 5:30 am. The station was 3 km away and it was still dark so my gut told me it would be best to take a Taxi. From Santa Elena it’s a 2 hour bus ride to the border town of Melchor de Mencos. I crossed the border with no issues and then took another Taxi to the bus station 2 miles away in Benque de Viejo to catch an 8:30 am bus to the capital, Belmopan. I arrived in Belmopan just in time to catch the 10:30 bus to Dangriga. At 12:15 I was waiting another 2 hours for the 2 hour bus ride to Placencia. At 4:30 I pulled into Placencia. The usual routine of walking around town trying to find a place to stay ensued. After 11 hours of travel I found a bar on the beach to have dinner and a beer; well, maybe more than one.