We arose at 5 a.m. to get ourselves together
to catch the earliest bus available from Orange Walk to Belize City. We knew it
was going to be a long day on the bus to San Ignacio, our last Belizean town
before arriving in Guatemala. So we packed up our gear and grabbed some breakfast
of peanut butter and local honey from downstairs in our hotel. Then we said our goodbyes
and thank you's and walked to the bus station only 10 minutes away.
Even at 7:30 a.m. it was already hot and upon
arriving at the bus station we waited for the 8:00 bus to arrive.
Busy, busy, busy!
We moved our biggest backpacks to the rear of
the bus and put our digital gear on our laps.
It was $5BZD each for the trip from Orange
Walk to Belize City.
Sand is everywhere and lines the roads even on the western
side of Belize
About 2 hours later, we arrived in Belize
City and changed buses. Many seats were already taken so we placed our gear at
the emergency exit in the back and sat a row or two up from there.
It wasn't long before our bus was completely
filled, with many passengers boarding at Belmopan, the capital.
It's a simple life in Belize
We made it to San Ignacio without incident
and our bus dropped us off at the Market Square. Asking around to find out
where Hudson Street was, the taxi drivers were truthful enough to tell
us we could walk to there from where we were.
The honesty was refreshing!
Sometimes there are sidewalks in front of
buildings, but not every one of them
The city of San Ignacio serves as the capital
of Cayo District in western Belize. Mahogany and chicle production began during
British rule and these industries attracted diverse people from all the
Public transport to go long distances
Today, the population is still very diverse
with Mestizo, Kriol, Lebanese, Chinese and a sizable Mennonite community just
outside the city.
The area around San Ignacio is one of the
most popular parts of Belize for tourism. There are many Maya ruins nearby
including Caracol, El Pilar and
Tikal in Guatemala.
Hudson Street, one of the main streets in San
Our hotel was simple, but they served
continental breakfast and fresh coffee included in the price of the room.
Service was incredible here and surprisingly, we had a great wifi connection.
There was a refrigerator at the back of the hall, and if we wanted to keep
anything in it, we just needed to put our names on the bag.
Rosa, the owner, had trained her children
well, and each one introduced themselves to us and let us know that if we wanted
anything, anything at all, just let them know.
There was also free, purified drinking water
available, and Rosa made sure ours was cold! In the tropics, this is a priceless
British influence is noticeable in the
We got along with Rosa and her family so well
that they invited us to visit their finca, the family's small ranch. It's another
early rise at 5 a.m. the next morning, and after eating chunks of fresh sweet coconut, we jump into the
family Toyota and head to the ranch.
Miscellaneous stops are made along the way
dropping off siblings, neighbors and cousins at the school bus stop. Finally we
reach Rancho Verde.
Lester, who has been riding in the back of
the truck bed, jumps out and opens up the gate to the Ranch. A horse is grazing
The local Chinese restaurant
After a short, bumpy ride on a dirt road, we
are met by a male and female turkey who were both strutting and gobbling about.
There are dogs, cats, baby calves, chickens, a pheasant, a gaggle of geese and
pigs all wandering around, poking and pecking for food.
After we get the low-down on all the animal
personalities and grab a couple of fresh coconuts for later on today, we head on
back to the hotel.
After few more miscellaneous stops here and
there, I finally found out what we were stopping for.
A high-end corner with well kept road and
Unbeknownst to me, some "trading" has been
going on at the same time as our visit to and from the Rancho. A neighbor who
owns a bakery gives Rosa some bread for the guests in her hotel to use at
breakfast. A man who owns a window shop has given Rosa a window for one of the
hotel rooms which she is upgrading. Meanwhile, huge bags of corn on the cob have
been placed in the back of the pickup truck which we dropped off at the baker's
home because he owns chickens and Rosa provides the corn in exchange for the
freshly baked bread she receives.
The baker's son provides some plumbing for
the hotel. All of these transactions are done in trade.
Rosa and I get into a discussion about
bartering and how much it is a part of Belizean society and culture. No one has
a lot of money, but everyone produces something so trade is integral into the
fabric of getting things done.
Back to the hotel we go to have breakfast
and some of that same fresh bread for toast with peanut butter, strawberry jam,
bananas and freshly brewed coffee.
Downtown businesses with
their sandwich board advertising
After our exciting morning
out at the finca, we walk around town to get some local flavor.
Local ice cream shop
One of our favorite things is to find a
neighborhood ice cream shop which offers fresh, hand made ice cream. This shop was a
popular place in town especially after school or in the early evenings. Rum
raisin is a preferred flavor, I imagine using the local rum!
Typical Belizean pastel colored building
We knew we would be leaving to go to
and had to do a border crossing out of Belize. Asking at the hotel, Billy finds
the best price for a combi to take us the 9 miles to the border.
Billy arranges for the van to pick us up the
next morning and we pay $5BZD each person to get to Benque, the Belizean city at
Many Belizean houses are on stilts
Lots of times when we go walking around
neighborhoods, we will see older folk looking through doors, windows or from
balconies to the outside world. We always try to catch their eye and say hello.
Usually they return our wave with a broad smile.
San Ignacio Pharmacy
We don't always stay long in these tiny towns
on our way to the next location. But our short stay in San Ignacio brought us
some memorable interactions with local culture.
Joy offers pigtail and plantain
Local entrepreneurs provide a service and
keep the economy moving.
Crossing the border would cost us $30BZD each
for the exit stamp and $7.50BZD each for the exit fee, totaling $75BZD for the
two of us. Be sure you bring enough BZD for this so you don't lose on the money
When we arrived at the Guatemalan border
there are several ways to get on into the interior of the country. Bypass the
pushy van drivers who tried to charge us $60USD to take us to Flores. They sound
reasonable and their vans look clean. It is very tempting to just pay that amount and be
done with it.
However, we walked a little bit onward, found
a taxi who took us to the bus station and with both the taxi fee and bus fee, we paid
less than $10USD for the both of us to get to Flores, saving $50USD.