Sarteneja, Belize

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We only meant to stay in Caye Caulker for three days, but our visit quickly grew longer and before we knew it, a week had passed. We got our first pings of island fever after 10 days there, and decided it was time to move on. Our destination was Sarteneja in Northern Belize.

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One important lesson we learned from this experience is to not make any travel arrangements on Sundays, as many businesses are closed and the bus schedules (which are impossible to find as is,) decrease by about half. Once we caught the water taxi back to Belize City, we were lucky to get on a Blue Bird bus headed in the right direction. And I do mean lucky– there is absolutely no method to the madness here and in order to get a seat you have to wriggle your way through the crowds and box out children without hesitation.

We weren’t even sure where the bus was headed but we were thankful to all have boarded the same vehicle. They pack the bus so full that people are not only shoved back, standing in the aisles, but the door was open and someone was standing on the steps half in, half out. After talking to the people sitting near me, I realized that the bus was heading to Orange Walk (because on Sunday there is no direct bus to Sarteneja.) Most people seemed to think we would have to stay the night there and head to Sarteneja in the morning, but a man sitting a seat ahead called his cousin who works at a bus station and found out that the last bus left from another depot about 10 minutes from where we were arriving at 5:30 (we were due to arrive at 5); another woman offered to walk us over there. I was grateful for and somewhat surprised by how kind and helpful everyone was. One woman leaned over and said “don’t worry, we all know what it’s like to be a foreigner.”

sartEverything was right on schedule, if not a couple minutes behind, and we hopped on the 5:30 bus to our final destination. Theroad– if you can call it that– ran through a field of plants 10 f

eet high and was so riddled with potholes that the driver was basically swerving through, zigzagging from one side to the other to avoid crater catastrophe. Hilarious Christmas music was blaring through the speakers and we were so exhausted and powerless in the situation, all we could do was sit back and laugh.

We arrived at the Backpackers Paradise after sundown and couldn’t see much on the dimly lit pathway. After a delicious meal from Nathalie, one of the owners of the property, we headed to our cabins which were pretty much tiny little shacks, just big enough for a bed, and a tin roof.

In the daylight, we were able to see much more of the Backpackers Paradise– a quaint property meant, obviously, for travelers. You could camp out in a tent or sleep in the cabins, which is what we chose to do. It proved to be a perfect opportunity for us to decompress as well as concentrate on making future plans, away from all the hustle and bustle.

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They’ve got three dogs and a few horses (and lizards and spiders!) and the property is mostly shaded by large trees, which was hugely important because it was scorching outside. As soon as we stepped foot on the main road to walk into town I was drenched in sweat.

We walked into the quiet fishing village– followed closely by the property’s three dogs, which we realized later was not allowed– and found a breathtaking view of the Caribbean. It was ridiculously hot, with no marked beaches or swimming areas that we could see along the shoreline in our efforts. The town was almost eerily vacant, with only a handful of shops and restaurants.

Before we knew it, days had passed and at 5:45AM on Tuesday, the three of us stood out by the welcome sign, ready to board another Blue Bird bus for the journey to Playa del Carmen…

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Posted on by Erica Duncan in Belize

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