C – Today was the day! We were both excited to cross into Belize, but sad about leaving Mexico. Mexico is such a beautiful country and of course, we had become comfortable there. Knowing how things work and where to find what you want!
We packed up and headed to the Chetamul border crossing. The gentleman on the Mexican side was lovely and told us where to find the Banjercito. After following his instructions, we were soon stamped out of Mexico and riding across no-mans land towards Belize.
T- It was with a heavy heart that I handed over my tourist visa card and told the import lady that I wanted to take my bike out of Mexico for ever. I really liked it there. It was ecerything that you could hope for in a country as you travel through. Warm friendly people, beautiful climate and such diversity in the landscape. Goodbye Mexico, I’ll be back!
We knew this was going to be an easy crossing. Especially as on the Belizian side English was the national language. But still we had researched it as much as we could before we attempted it. In the end we exited smoothly and quickly from Mexico and we were soon riding down the concrete and razor wire lined road to the Belize gate.
Straight away the Belize people were friendly and I enjoyed a joke with the guys who sprayed our bikes with pesticides. From there we were processed through Belize immigration and customs and shortly had our bikes temporarily imported into the country.
Then we got stung. We think. Neither of us was on our game at the moment. Maybe we were tired, maybe we were just preoccupied with the crossing, maybe maybe maybe. A guy in the car park wearing a Belize Border Control or some such thing hi vis vest approached us and pointing at a sign on the fence said we had to pay $15Belize each bike as a transit fee to the government. He told us we could either pay here or at the exit of the country. We should have said pay later, just in case it was a scam. We both felt a bit unsure and that should have been our first warning, always trust your gut. But we didn’t and we paid him and got an official looking government receipt in exchange. Now in hindsight we should have said pay later, but we didn’t. Our exit from Belize will soon tell us if we have been ‘had’. Being scammed occasionally is all part of travel and I am yet to meet anyone who hasn’t in some way been scammed before on an overseas trip!
We cruised across and got our compulsory insurance, don’t be an idiot and try to get away with not getting it, its a legal requirement here and there are several police checkpoints along the way to make sure you have it. We have heard of huge huge fines and/or jail time for those caught without it.
Then we were free to wander Belize! We had a camp picked out at a baboon sanctuary about 150km down the road so off we went.
C – I was immediately surprised by the landscape. When I think of Belize, I think jungle and beaches. But as we rode along, all we saw were sugar cane farms. I had no clue that the sugar industry was so big here!!!
It was not long before we reached a police check point – we were told to expect at least one after the border. We were immediately told to pull off the road and to wait for another police officer. Eventually, another guy came over and inspected our insurance papers. And I mean inspected. I think he read every line at least twice, held the sticker up the sun and waved it about a bit, and then inspected the plastic sleeve it was given to us in. He then obviously decided it was legitimate and let us go, but not before we both caught a very quick look of disappointment flash across his face.
T – There was pretty well one road south but we managed to find a funny little back track made of slippery white clay and spent the next hour laughing and slopping around in it. A truck driver carting a huge load of sugar cane stopped by and told us we had missed our turn off and should go back because this road was bad for the next 30km. But once we explained to him that we like this type of road he laughed and gave us directions so we wouldn’t get lost and waved us goodbye.
We ended up back on the main road and carried on towards our camp.
We finally pulled into the sanctuary and immediately headed down the road for some of the local beers. It was a good day today and it feels great to be making some progress again! I would have liked to have Mabels new piston and bore to put in but I will try to come up with a new plan for a way to get one flown by UPS or DHL or some such thing to Guatemala. Im sure I will work it out.
We setup camp and settled down with our beers while listening to the strange sound of the howler monkeys in the trees.
C – We had a little friend come and join us.. a very sweet ginger tom cat. He was affectionate and loving and spent the evening just chilling out with us. We called him Mr Beans.
T – As it grew darker some locals pulled up in the carpark and cranked their music up and drank a few beers. This didn’t look good. We ignored them and just continued on with our cooking. Another guy came over and told us that there was going to be an end of school party at the sanctuary tonight and we were welcome to move into another area of the park, but that we would have to leave the bikes out the front over night. No deal! We said no thanks and that we would put up with the noise.
And what noise! With the loud reggae music from the car park and the doof doof music from the party we were guaranteed to not get much sleep. But just after midnight it all died down and we slumbered through til 7am. We also had a visitor that slept in the tent with us. Mr Beans. He was such a little sook and spent the night curled up between us on a sleeping bag and purred and drooled all night.
Tomorrow we head further south. We are thinking we will go as far as a town called Hopkins and on Monday will head back to Belize City where we have a new Sena headset replacement waiting for us!