On the road again. Greg takes us into Dangriga after heart-felt goodbyes to Rita. We get the express from Dangriga to Belize City with a quick stop at Belmopan. The bus has seen better days but at least it is not a rickety old Blue Bird. Lots of luggage room in compartments under the seats so we don’t have the hassle of trying to get our backpacks in the racks above us. Only downside is that the large windows are tinted so you don’t get the full colour of the trip up the Hummingbird Highway. On the upside, however, the trip only cost 16 bze each or 8 usd and it takes 1 1/2 hours instead of the normal 3 hours on the milk run.
Cutting through the city to the Novello Bus Station on Canal Street we notice a lot of construction on the infrastructure of the city, canals being widened and sanitized, sidewalks and roads being dug up to lay new water lines and plastic piping stretched with cables, but all the buildings look dirt poor and the store fronts are covered with red dust.
Now if all the bad boys would stop killing themselves and co-incidentally stop killing innocent bystanders maybe something likeable would happen to Belize City.
At the bus station, we are last off the bus on purpose, last to fetch our luggage, last to exit the station and by that time the frenzy for taxi fares has just about ended and we easily grab a cab for the water-taxi terminal. This time we choose the San Pedro Water Taxi over the Caye Caulker Water Taxi because of its schedule. It will get us to Caye Caulker faster.
We get return tickets at 32 bze or 16 usd each and after a 25 minute wait we are sitting at the open back of a water-taxi powered by 3 200hp engines, skimming over the waves of the multi-shaded blues of the Caribbean Sea, sea-froth sprinkling us as we shift and turn under the Captain’s control.
45 minutes later we see the shoreline of Caye Caulker come into view, and as we get closer and closer we can identify the hotels and restaurants that lay claim to the beach front.
Nick of Nick’s Taxi Service, proud owner of a brand new battery-driven golf cart, is there to greet us when we disembark and ten bumpy minutes later he drops us off at the Oasi, a veritable oasis on Mangle Avenue, one block away from the Caribbean.
It is great to be back on Caye Caulker after being away for nearly a year. CC is a mid-sized island, south west of its big sister Ambergris Caye and its capital San Pedro, 1/2 an hour away by water-taxi. Over the 10+ years we have been visiting CC, it has changed dramatically, not always for the better, in our opinion, but you can’t stop change. You don’t have to embrace it but you have to accept it. Or not visit it. As we bump along on our golf-cart taxi, I feel elated. The colours and textures remain the same and the vibe is up-beat.
Luciana, the Italian owner/manager of the Oasis Apartments has been waiting for us and we are welcomed home. Her Belizean partner, Michael, owns and operates a landscaping business and also manages properties and residences when the owners have returned to their country of origin. Together they make a formable couple, a dynamic duo.
We settle into the cabana or apartment above the cabana below. It is spacious and beautifully appointed, an open- concept room with a queen- size bed, a large orange futon with sturdy wicker ends, a coffee table reminiscent of the tables Judd in Waterford used to make, a tv, a large armoire, a kitchen table and a full kitchen, and, of course, a full bathroom, which is not open-concept.
It is very hot on the island when we arrive. The Oasi is a block from the sea so we don’t get the constant sea-breeze to refresh us. But upstairs in our cabana we get a steady breeze when we sit on our rap-around verandah.
We are hungry and walk up Mangle Ave to the nearest local restaurant where Evelyn orders quesidillas and I order a red-snapper burger which arrives with a mountain of salad on top of the fish. It is delicious. Evelyn says her cheese quesidilla is good too.
On the way back from lunch, I admit to Evelyn that my right foot is hurting. Before we left Hopkins my foot was cut in an incident that I will describe in a later blog. Because it was still hurting quite a bit, we didn’t wander far from home and didn’t even take our bikes out (provided courtesy of the Oaisi) for several days.
But not to worry. We were able to shop for groceries. Michael picked up a case of Belikin beer for us prior to our arrival and I bought a 60 oz bottle of One Barrel Rum from the Chineses Super Store for $30bze which translates into $15cdn. Not bad for an old man with a sore foot, eh?