First off, we are home! 18 countries, 92 cities, and 10 months later. A whirlwind that now seems like a dream.
Our final days of travel...
We crossed a small corner of the Caribbean leaving Livingston, Guatemala and arriving in Punta Gorda, Belize where we arranged our next leg of travel to Placencia.
The Punta Gorda, Belize border. A very laid back crossing...easy peasy, lemon squeezy.From there we did the taxi/bus/boat thing on to Placencia which we found surprisingly nice. We found a cheap, ocean front cabin on a white sandy beach and couldn't have been happier.
It was a stark contrast from the mangrove lodges along the Rio Dulce in Guatemala that didn't get much of the sun's attention so it was impossible to truly feel dry, clean and wash clothes. We landed in Placencia with almost all our clothes dirty and commenced to washing them immediately.
Placencia was loaded with American vacationers (not that there is anything wrong with that) so it didn't feel much like adventurous backpacking any more. This turned out to be the beginning of the end of experiencing new and different locations with the exception of Glover's Atoll.
From Placencia we bused it 2 hours north to the Sittee River junction where we sat by the side of the road waiting to hitch a ride to our jungle lodge on the river. It was from the lodge the following morning we caught a catamaran to Glover's Atoll Resort.
The Sittee River Lodge was nothing to write home about. Most of the travelers were eaten up by mosquitos and sand flies and we had thousands of black biting ants in our cottage but there was no other room available for us so we chased them out and sucked it up....to get to paradise the next day.Glover's Atoll Resort
Glover's Atoll. Where to start??? First, have you ever heard of this little slice of raw paradise? If so, mucho kudos to you, we hadn't. We only learned of this little island from a random guy on a bus just 3 weeks earlier and decided to check it out for ourselves.
This little natural island made from accumulated sea coral is a 2 1/2 hours boat ride, approximately 45 miles off the coast. It is a crazy little island that a "Frenchy" bought 40 years ago. Today the Frenchy's daughter owns it and runs a successful, remote and back to basics resort. We're talking; no electricity, no fresh water and compost outhouses. What do you get in return for roughing it? The most amazing caribbean island experience.The outhouseThe coconut stationMaking coffee out of our homemade filter, a water bottle top
It is beautiful!
The huts are basic with 2 beds, 2 hammocks, table/chairs and a cooktop burner fueled by a scuba tank filled with propane. It is kind of perfect. Did we mention they are over the water!A family of ospreys nested on top of our hut and greeted us with alarming cries everytime we approached. It was really cute...the first two days.
We stayed for 1 week along with 30 other travelers. We had great weather until the second to last night. That was when the northern winds picked up and the rain poured down. The waves smashed against our little hut on the water. Around 11pm we made a water-logged run for one of the island shacks to get some sleep!But before the rain arrived it was extremely peaceful!
We had to bring our own food and drinks for the week but we treated ourselves to the expensive dinners in the restaurant. If we did it all over again (which we hope to) we would cook our own dinners too. Paying $18 per person for packaged spaghetti, canned sauce with fresh fish thrown in was an insult to our frugal backpacking ways. We did however, pay an additional $4 more for fresh lobster one night and that was terrific.Although Stratton caught lots of fish, it was "catch and release" within a mile of the resort.Nice one!Fat bonefish
Leaving the island was quite brutal. Our scheduled boat departure was 7:30 AM but our boat was nowhere to be found. After waiting all day (packed and ready to go), the boat finally arrived at 3:00 PM which put us on the mainland too late to get to our booked and paid-for house in Caye Caulker to meet our close friends from Atlanta, Chris and Claire Carson.
When we finally arrived in Caye Caulker the next morning, we were greeted on Front Street by Chris and Claire shouting "It's about time, losers!"Well, we may be losers but at least we aren't stupid - haha!
We had a blast catching up while visiting numerous restaurants and bars over the next four days!Our cute houseCocktails on the roof!Watching the sun go downOn a short island hikeCaye Caulker has this Crazy Chicken Drop that you bet on which square the chicken will poop. The bad surprise when you win is that you have to clean it up before you receive the prize money.Chris and Stratton back from their rainy bike excursion to get more wine.
A local's funky rasta houseboat.
Caye Caulker has only one beach but it's such a small island that it seems to accomodate everyone.And the dogs make themselves at home on your beach towel.
Chris and Claire left us to continue their vacation in Guatemala and we journeyed north to Corozal.
Our stop in Corozal was more business oriented. We were there to pay property taxes on the beach-front property we bought 5 years ago. This is an ordeal that is impossible to accomplish electronically and extremely painful to arrange from the U.S. Our annual fee is only... 5 Belizean dollars ($2.50 US). But while we were there, we discovered the best food that we had on our entire trip, an authentic Indian restaurant of all things! If you ever go to Belize, make sure to stop at the little hole in the wall called Venke's and tell them we sent you. It was so good, Angie went through the extra steps on Trip Advisor to add them and gave them a glowing review!
In keeping with the "vacation" mode we slipped into, we hired a driver to take us over the border and deliver us to the Chetumal, Mexico bus station, skipping all the public transportation and saving time and inconvenience. We still have the contact information of our friendly driver if you ever need it, highly recommended!
From there on up to the airport in Cancun, MX (for our flight home) we stayed in several beach towns: Tulum, Puerto Morales and Playa del Carmen. They are all fun but a bit boring to us after months of traveling to new and exotic destinations. We have vacationed in the Yucatan Peninsula for years.
Yes, we have become travel snobs. I guess it had to happen.
With that said these towns served us well to meet a few more fun and adventurous friends, both new and old.New friends Kris, Morna and Ray, whom we had the pleasure of spending a couple evenings with in Puerto Morales.We enjoyed a Reggae beach party one evening......over a few beers (of course)Biking in TulumTulum's beautiful white sandy beachesAnyone up for a secure "inverstment" in Tulum?
We stayed in an old Mayan hut in Puerto Morales that Frodo would have felt at home in.
Arriving in Playa del Carmen, our last town on the trip.
Running into friends in Playa that we met at Glover's Atoll. A somewhat common occurance when backpacking.
Seriously good food in Playa at Xulam the Mayan Fisher.When it rains in Mexico, drink a margarita!
One of the "old" friends we met along the Mayan coast was Jan Kuttnauer. She is another great friend from Atlanta who happened to be in the area for business. We were able to hang together for a couple of nights in Playa del Carmen.
In typical "Jan" fashion, she stayed at the Banyon Tree. If only we would could have departed from our frugal backpacking ways.Our place wasn't bad though...(The Kinbe Hotel)
Our final day on the road was February 3rd. On Super Bowl Sunday we caught our flight home. A bitter-sweet moment for sure, it marked the end of a tremendous adventure. It was the end of continuous travel to incredible sights and meeting fascinating people. It was the end of lugging our "stuff" around in a backpack, planning each step of our travels along the way, seeing exotic animals, playing on beautiful beaches, hiking scenic mountain trails, learning new cultures, tasting incredible foods and generally having a blast.
But with an end comes a beginning; re-entry into the real world, visiting family and friends, sorting out our next chapter in life, getting back to work but dreaming of the next adventure. Oh, and the next adventure?... pulling an Airstream through North America!!!
Special thanks to all of you for following our blog and staying in touch. At the time of this writing we had over 13,000 hits from 24 countries to include China, Ukraine and Russia of all places. The #1 post was "Thank you Gentleman Spoofers".
With great internet connectivity, an iPad and Skype we were able to communicate almost everywhere around the world. An amazing feat that really seems to make the world a much smaller place.