south america

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So I have to say that although I loved the sailing I was pretty happy to be on dry land again after a fairly rough couple of days in the open water – some of the bigger waves going right over the top of the boat… not really my cup of tea, kind of dashed my romantic notions of sailing round the world.

Old City Cartagena

We spent some time hanging out in Cartagena waiting for the car to arrive. Founded in 1533 Cartagena became the main Spanish port on the Caribbean coast, treasure plundered from the indigenous peoples was held there until the galleons could ship it back to Spain. In response to numerous pirate attacks the Spanish constructed a massive wall that encircled the town and helped the port withstand many sieges.

Best Juice Ever

I think the old part of town has to be the most beautiful city we’ve seen so far, apparently it is one of the finest surviving examples of 16th and 17th century Spanish architecture and it remains relatively untouched since it’s construction. Narrow cobbled streets and stone arches with funny wooden balconies perched above. Rambling bougainvillea and palms and hidden courtyards and spontaneous dancing in the streets. The people are very friendly and Kelsey is in fruit heaven – her latest infatuation is the maracuya (passion fruit) juice… she had three in one day!

Dancing in the Streets from Kels M on Vimeo.

Belize was a quick stop as it can get pretty expensive but we knew that we wanted to get some diving in. We found a place that would do a refresher course plus 2 more days diving for a reasonable price. The water was warm and the diving was sweet, we saw a turtle 100 feet down off the Ranguana Caye canyons.

Dwayne from Joy Tours was our guide – really cool guy and an awesome guide.
All the people we met in Belize were super friendly, the kids are unafraid and extremely well-mannered. Placencia had a very unspoiled vibe to it – real smiles and genuine greetings.

When we were not in the water we could be found:

  • Learning the basics of dominoes with some guys sitting by the dock
  • Listening to the lilting Creole spoken in the streets
  • Tom breaking out some dance moves with a lady in the grocery store, which had her erupt into gales and whoops of laughter.
  • Drinking Belizean Long Island Ice teas made with 9 kinds of rum while watching the blue Caribbean waters.
  • Drumming empty paint cans with some of the local kids.
  • Eating delicious home made treats by dive masters/chefs Simone and Herb of Danube restaurant

Next stop Guatemala for a couple weeks intensive language immersion… Yikes!

After a meal of tortillas and chicken as well as a delicious dessert of churros, we headed to bed early and got up on Nov.8 ready to cross the border into Belize. Both of us were expecting it to be a mission so we were up and out the door by 7:30am to try and beat the crowd. protein shakes

We arrived to relative calm, a shocking sight all on its own and managed to be some of the first to cancel our tourist permits. We paid the $20.00 departure fee and, after waiting for half and hour the temporary car permit office opened and we were able to cancel the permit without any hassle. If you don’t cancel you car permit at the border the Mexican government assumes that you have left or sold your vehicle within the country – both of which are illegal.

I have to admit that arriving in a country where English is the national language was a relief. No trying to explain in Spanish why we’re driving and that yes we really did want to bring our car in. In fact, it was pretty straightforward, though we did have a self-appointed assistant who moved us through the process. All we had to do was get our passports stamped, visit customs to import our car and purchase insurance for the time we were here. The officials were pretty friendly and our “helper” even assisted in getting us a good exchange rate for our pesos to the Belizean dollar though he made sure we only had bigger bills and ended up getting a fair-sized tip.

We were on the road at about 10am in Belize and managed to make our way to Placencia, the Caye you can drive to, without many roads signs in about six hours. At one point when we must have looked terribly confused an entire bus-stop of people pointed the direction we needed to go.

We drove the beautiful Hummingbird highway, passing tonnes of people on bikes, just about every person waved and gave us a huge smile. But, the drive wasn’t without a few hiccups as the country was still recovering from some pretty heavy rain fall and tropical storms couple of weeks earlier.


Driving in Belize from Kels M on Vimeo.

San Cristobal to Palenque

There’s a bit of talk around the drive from San Cristobal to Palenque being a little sketchy and we had heard reports of ‘compulsory contributions’ but we are both into some of the Zapatista theories anyway so decided to carry ten bucks each—so we could donate if we were stopped. The drive was uneventful apart from the 127 topes to Ocosingo in the first hour and a half and he awesome colour of the water in Agua Azul. If you plan to drive highway 199 leave early, give yourself at least five hours and take it easy.

We stayed in the cheapest place we could find in El Panchan, good food, real hippies and about fifteen minutes walk to the ruins of Palenque. The ruins are pretty cool and very well maintained with easy walking trails and an impressive site museum. Drove from Palenque to Chetumal the next day to sleep over before our border cross into Belize. immediate constipation relief

Boho Revolution

Sigh. I know that hippies will be around for always and that diversity is the spice of life. But how come whenever you go certain places there are those people who never leave and they adapt a weird type of uniform. It is just kind of cliché to me. For those of you who have been to Thailand you will have seen people with newly created dreadlocks, no shoes, fisherman pants and one too many Chinese character tattoos. I get it, you are young and want to be “free” and smell like patchouli for a few months. But my question is, would you dress like this at home?

Anyhow without further ado I give you the look of San Cristobal: The Boho Revolution. Marina Sirtis Boobs

Yep the Zapatistas meet bellydancer meet hippie/boho. Leg warmers, sandals, skirts over pants, shaved heads and a plethora of mullet mutations are part of the criteria.

Behold:

Revolution in the streets

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