If you want to follow these stories in chronological order, skip ahead to Guatemala. This leg of the journey was completed after we flew out of Panama, at the very end of the trip.
Our itchy feet led us to go ahead and fly to el Salvador for the night. Why? No particular good reason, far as I was concerned, but Kyle felt like doing something, no matter how ridiculous, was better than "sitting around all day" in Panama . Finally I agreed. Probably because it was 5:50am and I was still bleary eyed.
We went back to our hotel, that we'd already checked out of, and got our room back. Damn it's hard to talk to some of these people - trying to explain a nuanced concept like, "we left, but now we're back" is easier said in English than communicated to someone that thinks you're an idiot.
Finally got the room, and crashed until 11 or so. Got up, screwed around a bit, ate at our favorite restaurant again, which offered me the chance to try the special of the day, snook. Snook is great. Like bass, but even better. It's a shame there aren't more snook in America .
Hit the airport, another $20 cab ride, and hopped the plane. Arrived in Salvy, and paid for our tourist card ($10), though we'd only be there 12 hours. Great thinking, Kyle. Cab for five minutes down the road, $5. Found an "ok" place, $20 after some hard core haggling. Walked down the road and found some booze, saw the local Texaco, and came back to the motel. Talked with a fellow that was from the city, but has lived in New York for 25 years. I forget if he was moving back, or moving more of his family out, but he said that he wouldn't consider staying in his old neighborhood, where he still owned a house. Too dangerous. Maybe he was involved in the wars, who knows. Nice guy, practiced some more Spanish with him, before we left for Belize where I'll forget it all post-haste.
In the morning we got a cab over at the Texaco. We'd heard there were buses, who knows how the heck you flag one down, I suppose you just wave, but there was a cabbie guy there and we just hopped in. Another 5 spot and we were back at the airport.
Plane landed in Belize a couple of hours later. The Belizean airport is 20 minutes outside of the city. There's five gates, and I think they only use 2 or three of them. Really. You debark on the runway from your 737 or whatever the heck it is. Airbus, I think.
Immigration, thanks for coming to Belize , isn't too big of a deal. Here's the kicker:
Belizean government robbed the coffers blind a few years back. The president is either in jail, or should be, I forget, but if you can confirm let me know.
Point is, they used up all the money and now they need some more. Easy answer - tax everything at crazy rates! Gas is $5/gallon, beer is $2.5 for a 255 ml bottle, etc. It's crazy.
The airfare to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker has almost doubled as well. It was around $70 for a 20 minute turbo prop plane to the island. The water taxi was $20. Cabs from the airport to town, where the taxis are, run $25. They all cost that much, it's run by the Taxi Union Mafia.. Don't pay it.
No one would come down on price, so we told them to take a hike. And then we took a hike, and started walking out of the airport toward the main road.
We hadn't even cleared the front gate when a cabbie passed and started haggling. He offered $15, we countered $10, we agreed on $12.50.
So, if you'd like to do the same thing, I suggest standing around a bit, asking for prices, and making yourself seen, then taking off walking. Someone will bite, and if not the road is pretty close. You'll find a cab.
Cabbie was great, had some fun conversations. "They don't own my cab. I own my cab! They can't tell me I can't pick you guys up! What do they know!???" This guy loved Americans. And capitalism, for sure. He drove his car down from LA a few years back, and really likes being his own boss. He was a security guard at a fancy pants hotel many years ago - really liked telling his story of working security around George W Bush when he came down with some others to fish back when he was governor.
Got down to the docks, and took Triple J's taxi to the island. It's the cheapest. We got a one way. We got a return ticket later from the Water Taxi Association in San Pedro to go to Caulker and then on back to Belize City , which saved $5.
The taxi was diesel, and slower than the taxi we later took from San Pedro to Caulker. Perhaps paying a little more at the other dock will save some time, but perhaps it was just the heavy seas. Ask the cabbie, they'll know.
Got over to Ambergris Caye. Seemed like most of the people on our boat stopped at Caulker, including the cute girls. This didn't bode well for us.
Pulled in and started walking around trying to find a place.
The island is the "touristy" island, where things are more expensive than Caulker, the "backpackery" island. We heard right.
Finally found a place at Ruby's. We looked at Martha's, behind the Jaguar club, but Ruby's was cleaner, on the beach more of less, and not next to a club. $30 us/night - two fans, cold water - ouch!
The town itself centers around "front" street which runs north to south, and there's maybe two other north south ones, crossed by a lot of east/west ones.
There's a lot of boat docks with fair boats. No big Bertrams, some sail boats. A lot of people advertise fishing charters. All brokers. We had a couple of brokers try to track down a captain, and both were unavailable by phone. They're not taking care of business down there as far as being serious about getting people on boats. If you do fish in San Pedro, please let us know the company used, tackle, boat, level of professionalism, fish caught, etc. We're very interested!
So, giving up on the fishing, we scoped the island, which is under quite a bit of new development. Over 50% of all of Belize 's tourists come to this island. That said, the U.S. State of Rhode Island, gets more tourists yearly than does Belize . Amazing that anyone actually goes to Rhode Island , really.
Nothing about this place sticks out in my mind. It's been two weeks since I was there, and honestly it meshes with Caye Caulker. There's Fido's the tourist joint on the water where there's live music. There's the Cannibal's bar/restaurant which is OK for both food and scene. Aside from that. it's a lounge at your resort kind of place. Oh, and there's no one under the age of 40.
So the next morning we packed up and made tracks for Caye Caulker, hoping to see more people, nightlife, fishing, anything.