In the end I traveled through Belize in just five days. The weather was dreadful, with rain and flooding, and I wasn’t in the mood to hang around.
Belize is an oddity; a small country (it’s about the size of Wales) in central America where English is the official language (although comparatively few people would speak English at home as their first language).
At first glance it seems to have more in common with Caribbean Islands such as Jamaica and Barbados than with its mainland neighbours. This is not surprising, since the country was under British control for years (when it was known as British Honduras) and only gained its independence in 1981.
I traveled from Bacalar, Mexico to Belize City by comfortable ADO bus for the bargain price of £10/US$13. It took four hours.
First you stop at the Mexican border, where you have to pay 500 pesos (or US$25) to get out. (I know a lot of people are saying this fee is illegal, but I did feel that challenging it was more trouble than it was worth).
Then you get back on the bus and drive through a few kilometres of no-man’s land to the Belize immigration building, where you troop out again (this time with your luggage) and get stamped into Belize. The whole process was relatively quick and painless.
Then it’s back on the bus and straight into Belize city.
The more common way to enter Belize seems to be to get the boat from Chetumel (a short ride from Bacalar by collectivo) straight onto the islands and beaches of Caye Caulker. However I had already decided that the islands were not for me; they looked too much like a Belizean version of Playa del Carmen.
The beaches in the south appealed to me more. They seemed more culturally interesting; less wall to wall drunk travellers and more Garifuna culture, local music, drumming classes and ‘Punta rock’.
In the end however I didn’t get to either; the rain was relentless and showed no signs of stopping and so I decided to just push on through to Guatemala. Belize is relatively expensive compared to its neighbours and I didn’t want to spend a pile of money whilst I waited for the rain to stop.
It had been raining when we left Mexico and the rain did not stop and just got heavier and heavier and heavier. By the time we pulled into the little bus station in Belize City you couldn’t see in front of your face for rain and the roads were becoming waterlogged.
Here’s a tip: don’t arrive in Belize City on a Sunday night; just about everything was closed. Certainly don’t arrive in Belize City on a Sunday night in the middle of a torrential downpour.
The manager of my little guest house had pointed me in the direction of a restaurant but by then many roads had become knee deep in water and you couldn’t see in front of you. I somehow missed the restaurant (or maybe it was closed) and eventually I found a small shop open and got cola and potato chips; that became my dinner.
People will tell you that Belize city is dangerous, and they’re probably right. It is a Central American City (and anyone who knows anything about central America will know what that means). The South of the city (defined as anywhere south of the river) is deemed a no-go area for visitors, however most of the city, including the bus station, is south of the river.
The next morning I wandered out for a few hours, although it was still raining and still flooded in parts. There’s nothing specific to see in Belize City. Trip Advisor struggled to find anything actually inside the city to list on their things to do.
I’d only planned on staying a day anyway, just to say I’d done it, and to pick up connections to my next place. After a quick walk around, becoming soaked though in the process, a few photos (more precisely: 10 photos) and a somewhat indifferent breakfast burrito, I headed back to the bus station to make my way to San Ignacio on the road to Guatemala.