13 March 2015
Kamal, Gill and I have decided to splurge on a flight over the Great Blue Hole, which is a sinkhole in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll which is part of the Belize Barrier Reef system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top dive sites in the world. We meet Hugo downstairs at 8.00am so that he can arrange our flight. While he arranges things for us we head along the road to have breakfast. He is soon back to tell us that the only flight available is at 9.00am. Perfect timing! We finish breakfast and head back to the hotel where our golf cart taxi awaits. It is a short 5 minute ride to the airstrip that runs across the 400m width of the island. We are flying Maya Air. Our plane is flying in from Belize City and takes us for an hour’s flight. Hugo has arranged local prices for us: US$725 for the 3 of us compared with over US$900. Expensive but something we really want to do.
And it is worth it! The flight is absolutely spectacular. We fly out over the reef and coral atolls, seeing the beautiful blues of the water around the various islands. We head out to Lighthouse Reef Atoll and finally out over the Great Blue Hole. It is seemingly out in the middle of nowhere and is a perfectly round deep blue hole. At first it looks quite small but then we realise that the tiny white dots are quite large boats. After a couple of circuits for photos we fly down low over the middle of it and realise how big it actually is: over 300m in diameter and over 100m deep. We see snorkelers and are happy that we didn’t need to leave at 6.00am for the 2.5 hour boat ride to get there. Our pilot also points out a variety of shipwrecks on the reef on the way back. We end up with a 1.5 hour flight and are buzzing when we get back.
Max, our golf cart taxi driver, comes to meet us and return us to the hotel. We meet up with John and go back to our breakfast place Amor y Café for an Iced Coffee. Power is off on the island so there is not much happening. We while away an hour or so chatting and swapping travel stories, and then head off in our separate directions to explore further.
Gill and I amble along the main street looking in a few shops and generally soaking up the atmosphere. I buy some little paintings by Debbie Cooper – who’s pictures I had admired on the wall of Let’s Go Eat in San Ignacio. This was Cooper’s Art Gallery but she wasn’t there. The man in the shop was also an artist and had spent 9 months a year for 10 years living here (he may have been her husband).
Then we continue our stroll along the island – it takes about 20 minutes end to end. We visit The Split – where the island split in two following a hurricane and is now a popular tourist place. We prefer somewhere quieter and find a shady café looking out to sea through the palm trees and enjoy a beer and lime juice, and some French fries as we weren’t particularly hungry).
Gill is ready for a lie down and I head out to see if I can find a massage. This was somewhat difficult as there seem to be rolling power outages around the island. I find a young woman, Marleni, who operates her business from home – upstairs near the hotel. Her front room is nicely shuttered so there is a breeze and natural light. She asks if I minded if she had a quick bite to eat first, and I was entertained by her daughter and nieces and nephew Adan who was cute as a button and wanted to sit on my lap (and later brought me his bottle because he thought I might like a drink). There was a torrential downpour while I was safely having my massage which cooled the air considerably.
Marleni told me all about life on the island: there are about 2000 inhabitants; she is 27 and her daughter 7. She dates the daughter’s father but doesn’t want to live with him. It is hard with so few people if there isn’t anyone you fancy. She tells me that I should find a nice young man – but not too young as they generally aren’t mature enough. There is a high school on the island now with about 50 students, but Marleni had to go to board with family friends in Belize City when she went to school. She also went to Massage College there.
Nicely relaxed and with skin very soft from her own blend of coconut and almond oils with some cocoa butter, I head back to the hotel to discover that the power had been out for an hour. Gill and I head to the roof to find chairs that weren’t wet to sit and read where there was a cool breeze. Our room doesn’t have windows, so without light and aircon it isn’t very habitable.
We meet for our evening briefing and then head around the corner to Fantasy restaurant for a meal together (although some are still not eating after last night’s efforts).
We do our best to make sure we have B$2 each for the ‘bag taxi’ tomorrow morning and B$37.50 departure tax (and a possibility that at the Mexican border we may be charged our departure tax when we enter!). All the high finances are exhausting, particularly as people are also repaying debts in different currencies. So we head to bed for an early night in preparation for a 5.30am start to a long day of travel to Mexico.
For these and other similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures Travel Destinations (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures Deals for South & Central America (for 18 to 30s)
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