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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Punta Gorda, Belize

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Currency Conversion Site 

Traveling through the tropics can be tricky and most certainly is treacherous on your digital equipment. The humidity alone creeps into any crevice of your computer, camera, or GPS system. Add beach sand to this combination and you are downright having fun!

After donating our trusty-but-now-defunct-camera to a local repairman in Livingston, Guatemala, we make our way to Belize. Punta Gorda is our first stop.

 

After giving our camera away, we returned to our room and prepared for going to lunch. Leaving for Belize tomorrow, we first had to stop at the boat dock and check on the prices for transport.

 

Leaving intriguing Livingston, with its cultural blend of Garifuna, Maya, Caribbean, and water-focused lifestyle.

This map shows the route we took from Livingstson, Guatemala to Punta Gorda, Belize. Livingston is water-locked. The only way in or out is by water taxi, and transport to Belize takes about an hour. Prepare to board early as, in the afternoons, the winds come up making the sea choppy.

 

Billy and a Buga Mama from Livingston

Before signing on to the manifest, you must go to the Migracion Office in Livingston and pay to receive your exit stamp.

 Our immigration officer did not like the Guatemala entrance stamp we received in Huehuetenango and shook his head sadly side to side for a very long two minutes.

Ready to give us heck over our lousy, no good stamp, he instead decides to let it slide and tells us we owe him 80Q's per person for the privilege of receiving his exit stamp. This took us a bit unawares (but not completely, as we always bring money along when dealing with government officials) because our guide books had not mentioned this particular fee. Now, it wasn't our stamp that was crummy, but our guide books instead.

A half-hearted argument later, we concede to pay the man 160Quetzales or $10USD per person and receive a "legal receipt" which he neither stamps or signs.

Instantly he is happy, and we are free to be on on our way.

 

Packed like sardines we head to Belize!

Price for boarding the water taxi is 200 Quetzales per person one way, about $25USD. Fifteen minutes into our passage, the boat's motor cut out and we sat adrift wondering what fate would bring next. However, once unfettered from the gods of the sea, we sped on to our destination.

 

The Immigration Office in Belize awaits the arrival of our boat

Some words of advice.

When entering Belize and answering the immigration officer's questions, be specific. At this time Belize allows a free 30 day entry visa upon arrival. However, if you say you'd like to stay "a couple of weeks" or "a few weeks" instead of precisely saying you want 30 days, you will receive 14 or 21 days. Go for the full 30 as allowed by law and not burden yourself with having to obtain a renewal which will cost you both time and money.

 

You can get anything that you want at Grace's Restaurant... except a room.

After being fully bounced on the boat and stamped at the Immigration Office, we search for a room for the night. Our plan is to leave in the morning for a town called Independence, but first, after scraping salt off our faces, we must change cash from Guatemalan Quetzales to Belizean Dollars.

Grace's is a restaurant, hotel, tourist directory and money changing house.

Right there at the cash register along with the waitress checks for bacon and eggs and club sandwiches, you can change your dinero, your dollars or your Quetzales for BZD (Belizean Dollars).

However, when we asked about a room for the night, they told us they were full up.

 

St. Charles Inn

St. Charles was the next hotel up King Street and we stopped by to ask about a room. As luck had it, there were a few rooms available and at the reasonable price of $20 - $25USD. They were clean, had hot water and were close to our leaving point to catch the bus the next morning.

The owners were polite and the place was well kept. The selling point for obtaining this room was they sold ice cream in the freezer of their hardware store. Having ice cream available in the tropics is a bonus and a popular feature for the locals. After bobbing in the ocean for an hour and being covered in sea spray, this delicious cold treat surely fit the bill.

We unpacked, enjoyed our respective French Vanilla  and Cookies n' Cream cones, then went out to see the town.

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Don't you love it? Dean Martin Cafe!

Punta Gorda is the southernmost town in Belize and has a population of about 4,000. Rain and humidity are at their fullest here and that fact creates a very laid-back atmosphere.

 

One stop shopping. Get your travel tickets and laundry done at the same time.

Punta Gorda or P.G. as it is known by the locals, was founded in 1832 for the Garinagu who emigrated from Honduras. After the US Civil War, some Confederate veterans received land grants from the crown in 1866, but the community never endured. Though mostly Garifuna, P.G. is also home to Creoles, Maya, and expats from America, Canada, England, China, and East India.

Another unique blend of peoples and cultures.

 

Belize's James Bus Line provides a regular schedule for getting from town to town.

We checked out the bus schedule for our departure the next morning. Our plan is to take the 7:50 a.m. bus to Independence.

 

Small pier in P.G.

Fishing has been the town's major industry and its livelihood for two centuries. However these days, farming makes an important economic presence as well.

P.G. also serves as a tourist hub now because of its proximity to Maya archeological sites and villages.

 

Today's menu written in Garifuna English

Walking around town we found several small appealing restaurants. Asking the locals where the best fare would be, we decided on a BBQ place for dinner. It was righteous!

 

The town clock and tower

Minding our own business walking through town, it was here that Billy was called numerous names of questionable character. This doesn't happen everywhere, but once in a while it still surprises us that young males assert themselves verbally to strangers in this manner. Belizeans speak English, so there was nothing lost in translation, if you know what I mean.

The best thing to do is to keep one's cool and simply walk away. We don't engage in anything of this sort anywhere, ever. We don't care who they think our mothers and fathers were.

 

Map from TravelBelize.org

Here you see Punta Gorda on this map of Belize as well as other well known locations. We continue our 105 Day Adventure by moving on to Placencia, one of Belize's most famous beach towns!

And you don't want to miss that!

For more information, stories and photos of  Belize by clicking here

 

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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