Belize. First impression is very good. As we were crossing the border, there was a fun looking little “welcome” palapa hut at immigration where 2 smiley men informed us about the border crossing process (what needs to be done, where and what docs we need etc) then gave us a Belize map and told us about the main activities you can do in the country. How nice is that! We were and still are endlessly getting the “Welcome to Belize!” greetings. Johnny is especially thrilled, as they speak English here.
We knew where we want to head to for our first day/night after the crossing, which didn’t seem far at all even though that the only official road would take us on a long loop and Samantha (our satnav) found a shortcut, which we thought “Oh great, even better. Shouldn’t take long”. Ahm, it took us 5 hours on a really really bad, deep, slimy muddy and super over flooded road (some hairy moments there) taking two river ferries to get to the town. (we found out that one of the ferries was down the day before so we were actually lucky that both were working, otherwise I didn’t think we could’ve made it back)
It was dark when we arrived to Sarteneja, a tiny fishing village. We knew there’s a backpackers place where we parked up for the first night. It turned out to be a bit pricey for us, also super humid and airless in the juggle so the next day we left and just parked up on the beach at a small, family-run restaurant. It was absolutely lovely with the view and the breeze (sooooo hot and humid) and all for free. We found out there’s much to see in and around the village.
First we visited a manatee and primate sanctuary where we were introduced to the three recovering mammals and a chance to look around and chat with some of the volunteers.
Same evening we just finished our fish dinner at our local, made by Richard the owner, when 15 hungry volunteers from the sanctuary turned up. Suddenly the tiny place was filled up and we were lost in conversations with some of these guys, visiting and volunteering from all around the world. Later a couple of them joined us to sit on our roof top with some beers, chat more and watch the starry night sky. It was excellent and we repeated the “midnight picnic” with Louie the following night too. He was really an brilliant value young man to spend our evenings with.
We met a local guide, Rabey who offered to show us around in the village so we stayed for the next day. The following day Rabey took us to the tortilla factory, introduced us to a fisherman -who we can buy fresh fish from, the next morning.
Visited a boat maker which was fascinating. Then as an over and beyond extra he led us (Rabey lent us his kids’ bikes) to the jungle to see a Mayan cave (thousand of bats!) and a Mayan plaza -slightly overgrown by the jungle. Both were really cool! After these we rode back to Rabey’s house where we picked fresh coconuts and drank its water for refreshment then we just caught the sunset from a pier on the water watching crabs and colourful fish through the clear water and pick sea grapes on the way back.
Rabby is such a sweetie. His enthusiasm made us stay and we thoroughly enjoyed his stories and company. The following morning he met us at Burt (at 6.45 – not our time really) and walked us to the fisherman to get fish he just brought back from his net. Then we headed to Rabey’s house again and on his yard, under the coco tree he filleted the fish we got. Rabey used to be a fisherman himself and knows everything about the job from setting up a trap or net, dive, catch, filet the prey and of course, how to cook it with hundreds of receipts. It was a real treat to sit there with him in the morning shade, listening to more stories and watch his skilful hands filleting the fish, making sure we get all the boneless meat. This was my favourite moment.