The day began with another glorious sunrise as we said goodbye to our Tropical Paradise Hotel
and headed for the water taxi taking us to Belize City.
The journey was a quick one in our speed boat taxi – skimming by mangroves and deserted islets with beaches dotted with the debris of past storms. Once in Belize City we quickly travelled to the bus station and boarded another chicken bus for the two hour trip to the Belize border. By now we have the routine down, working in pairs one person grabs seats on the bus, the second ensures that the luggage is loaded. Exit formalities were quickly accomplished. If you do this border here is what you need to know. You will need to pay $20 BLZ to exit the country and fill out a departure form. Once you exit the customs building there is still a 5 min drive through no mans land to reach the Mexican border and customs. Before you head off now is the perfect time to exchange your left over Belize dollars for pesos with one of the numerous money changers in the area. Our transactions were conducted through a fence. made for a good photo op in any case 😀
One you reach the Mexican border there are three steps. You will need to fill out a Mexican tourist card application again (as we handed our old one in when we exited to Guatemala) – this won’t cost you anything this time around. You then go through a passport check and get the tourist card back with a stamp. Next stop is a check for fruits and vegetables, the final stop is a baggage screening with scans. Officers with very large guns are present at this stop.
I will say that we have been treated with nothing but courtesy and friendliness during our time here. All the customs people were extremely helpful today. Some of us had a lengthy wait after the scan for the rest of our group – while we were waiting one of the armed guards brought over a couple of chairs for us – guess we were looking tired after our early start.
After boarding our private van the next stop was lunch. I think the restaurant has a name but to many in the know it is simply the Chicken Place. There are two things on the menu – barbecued chicken and a vegetarian plate. The barbecued chicken is served with barbecued onions, rice and a cabbage slaw with a citrus type dressing. The best chicken I have ever eaten!!!!!
The three hour drive following lunch to Playa deal Carmen passed quickly – spent snoozing, listening to music and chatting. Once at the hotel I upgraded to a pool side room again, the same miriachi band is giving it all she’s got across the road 😀 Dinner was a traditional Mexican meal served at a Planeterra foundation supported project here in the city. In a nutshell the project offers street kids a place to create music and art, as well as to learn to cook and serves them one good meal a day. The aim is to use prevention and intervention to prevent children from turning to drugs and crime. It is run by a passionate man who was truly inspiring and was especially insistent that we carry the message home about the gentleness and beauty of the real Mexico and its people – so unlike the Mexico portrayed so wrongly by the current US administration. I can only second his thoughts based on my experiences here over the past two weeks.
Tomorow we head to the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve for a very special day.