Caye Caulker, Belize: Day 1

At 4:00 a.m., I took the bus for 150 quetzales from Flores to Belize City and for another 150 the Belize ferry to Caye Caulker (pronounced Key Caulker I learned at the border) where the carribean waters of cerulean blue and turquoise are Unbelizeable! There are 3 roads on the island – Front Road, Back Road and you guessed it Middle Road. Golf carts and bicycles and feet are your forms of transportation. And where do you want to go in this heat? Straight to the ocean. Here in the center of the island there is infrastructure but few trees unlike Little Corn, Nicaragua so be prepared to roast.  In fact, my last sunburn abroad was my first one. What I mean is when I started my journey 15 months ago in Sri Lanka, my skin burned something awful as it was my first time out there in coastal towns and on beaches in a very long time but in Belize my already dark skin after 15 months of traveling burned yet again! That’s how hot the sun is in Belize.

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After settling in at Juan in a Million Hostel, I went to Auntie’s Restaurant for pollo y arroz that will knock your socks off assuming you were wearing them which, of course, you would never do in this sweltering heat. (Nothing like Huay, Vietnam though. In Huay, I was sopping wet within 5 mins of leaving my hotel room and I asked the girl at the hotel – What is the temperature? She said in perfect English “It is unseasonably hot today. It’s 48 degrees Celsius.” I asked her what is it normally this time of year and she said 46! After I picked myself up off the floor, I eventually stopped laughing at her nonchalance about 46-48 degree weather! (Celsius that is!)

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After a quick (and free) short boat ride to Cocoa Beach – the best beach in Caye Caulker – and a refreshing swim in the ocean, I returned to my hostel (only 25 quetzales a night by the way) and there I met one of my favorite couples of all time – Ebba and Johannes from Sweden. Interestingly my other 3 favorite couples in my travels are from the same area! One from Sweden, one from Finland and one from the Netherlands. Not to take away from my other new friends in Belize – Morton from Denmark and Laura and Miles from the U.K.

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We all went out to Auntie’s again for dinner as it was THAT great and then went to the sports bar on Front Street  to hear the drummers play live and to learn how to punta. Punta you ask? Oh yeah. It is very popular both on mainland Central America and the Creoles love it on the islands. As foolish as I looked doing it, it was a blast. The whole night was but largely because of the non-stop laughter and story telling. Ebba and Johannesburg (that’s what I call him) gave me the perfect itinerary for my trip to Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. I gave Johannesburg the trick to winning Ebba over if she ever got mad at him 😉 I told him to whisper the name of the capital city in Honduras – Tegucigalpa – in her ear. If you don’t believe me, just try it on your significant other! It is a very sexy word and it totally worked on me 😉

That’s all for now from Unbelizeable!

 

Flores, Guatemala: Day 6

On the road again…I just can’t wait to get on the road again.  Yes I have another 10 or more hours to Flores Guatemala time by bus. I wanted to travel straight to Belize City but the border closes before we get there. Good news is that my friend Carla is traveling that direction too. Today we found out that another slow down in Central America is forest fires. We had our share to pass through but Guatemala has nothing on the Honduran forest fires. (Photo by Shaun Heil belongs in National Geographic!).

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Photography by: Shaun Heil

Don’t shy away from travel days. They tend to be relaxing and in Guatemala it seems like the longer the road trip the cheaper. On road trips you can meet interesting people, eat interesting food (stopped at a Mickey D’s today!) and see the locals doing their thing not to mention the lovely scenery. I also get a chance to write for you. Plus, as I said yesterday, Semuc Champey is well worth the extra travel days.

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We arrived around 6:00 p.m. in Flores, stayed at Hostel Del Mirador overlooking the lake for about $10 USD per person in the dorms and learned the real meaning of sweltering! We had this incredible thunderstorm and lost electricity until about 2:00 a.m. While this is fantastic news given the wildfires, our dorm was an internal dorm room with only one small window. It was the first time in a dorm I stripped down to my skivvies with no qualms whatsoever and my mind got stuck on Nelly’s song…It’s getting hot in here so take off all your clothes. I am getting so hot I’m going to take my clothes off!

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That’s all for now from Flores Guatemala.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Day 1

As always, day 1 in a new country is errand day. I got off Busquebus Ferry from Montevideo at the port in Buenos Aires. The cost for the ferry ride while cheaper than a flight by about $100USD, was expensive because I wanted a direct ferry i.e. I didn’t want to have to do a portion of the trip by bus and a portion by ferry. The price was affected by this decision i.e. My ferry ride was a whopping $120 USD. There are much cheaper ways to do it if you have the time and are trying to conserve money. Busquebus is the only that is direct though so keep that in mind.

First order of business, per usual, is to locate a decent hotel in a popular area. img_7267This is a much more expensive way to visit a city of course as you can stay outside the tourists areas or get an Airbnb which is significantly cheaper; however, for me when I first touch down in a new country and particularly in a big city, I like to get my bearings, see how things are done, practice the language, and get any outstanding work out of the way. In this case, I stayed at Own Grande Palermo which cost $150USD/night…YIKES! That may not be a lot for a hotel in the United States but that is high for me and here – even for BA which is a very expensive city especially in Palermo but it is likely where outsiders are best situated.

BA does have an excellent subte (underground metro) and bus system to get you anywhere you need in the city and, as always, I highly encourage your use of public transportation. And, of course, you should practice the language. For me, I spent one whole day without speaking English! I am so proud.

img_7219So back to the errands – Argentina SIM card was first and it was not very easy but it is close by. Avenida Santa Fe is a few blocks from Own Grand Plaza Hotel down cobblestone and tree lined streets. When you get to Avenida Santa Fe you will find all the shopping possibilities, the metro, more buses than I’ve seen before, grocery stores, restaurants – whatever you want you can get. The SIM card was a process though because, for the first time in my travels, I was unable to buy one from the internet/phone service provider itself which is very strange. I went to Movistar and they sent me to 3 different places to buy the chip. I found it at a bookstore. Then had to find another store to cut the SIM card into a nano for my iPhone. Movistar didn’t even have that capability. Then to another few stores in order to buy credit but no luck there. Finally, I was instructed to use a kiosk or machina. It was a strange but a very efficient way to add credit for data to your phone. 200 pesos later I was armed with Internet and ready to go. Can’t believe I did all that without using English once…may have played a little charades once or twice but whose counting.

Second job was to replace my Gopro Hero 5 also known as mí novio if for no other reason than because he traveled everywhere with me, let me talk to him for hours and remembered everything I told him and followed all of my commands…what more can a girl ask for! This was yet another daunting task but a good opportunity to see BA, interact with the locals, and, again, practice my Spanish. Unfortunately, after 6 stores with no luck as they all only had the 4, I found one. I was so excited until I found out that the camera by itself is over a thousand dollars in Buenos Aires and the prices of all electronics everywhere in Argentina are ghastly. Don’t shop in Argentina is the lesson here. Get to Paraguay or, in my case, head towards Santiago de Chile. The clerk said I can get a new 5 for $500USD in Santiago. We shall see.

Next was food…not any food but Argentina carne asado alleged to be the best cut of beef I’ll ever have. Unfortunately, like in lots of other countries, dinner doesn’t start until 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. so nothing was open. Sometimes you can get lucky though as I did. The restaurant across the street from Own Grande Plaza Hotel had the best gnocchi ever (even better than Italy). I had no idea how popular pasta is here given their love of carne but they love it and they make it well.

After some work I climbed into my comfy bed for some shut eye but as luck would have it, I caught a cold or flu bug somewhere along the way so not much sleep…probably from that public transportation I’m always encouraging ya’ll to take 😉

That’s all for now. With love from Buenos Aires.