If you ever thought of palm trees waving at the turquoise blue waters and wanted to be located near one of the richest reefs in the world—try Cay Corker (pronounced Key Corker) in the country of Belize in Central America. Belize used to be under British rule and they now have there independence, but with watchful eyes from the Queen. The language spoken in Belize— especially around Belize City is mostly English. (the only English speaking country in Central America) with the exception of some of the Indigenous Indians and Caribs living along the Eastern coasts.
When arriving in Belize City most travelers head for San Pedro or Cay Corker islands or keys. Cay Corker is about 45 minutes from Belize City by water taxi, which you can pick up across the swinging bridge. Have your eye teeth cemented down as you fly across the water and cut through the mangroves at break-neck speed. I always say my prayers on a safe landing and was quite glad to be a landlubber for a few days.
Cay Corker has a lobster co-op where all of the fisherman share in the yield. The town is so quaint you can walk it in a few minutes and be pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the shop owners and fellow travelers. They have a variety of dive shops that are very cost effective to get your Padi Divers Rating, excellent restaurants, fishing trips, lodging, snorkeling trips, sunbathing, swimming, and just a great place to hang out for a while.
From Cay Corker you can take a Catamaran boat to the San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve, which is guarded by the Belize Marine Patrol so you do not damage the living corals. While on the boat trip the captain ran a couple of trolling lines and caught several yellowfin-tuna that ended up as our lunch– it was included in our snorkeling day-trip package. I teased one of the deck hands that they must be very good fisherman, lucky or had divine help. “We have more fish aboard just in case.” the deck hand offered —with a big smile.
You need to purchase a park pass from the tour operator at minimum expense with the money helping to preserve this natural treasure. At the Underwater Archaeological Preserve you snorkel through an underwater labyrinth of sea adventure, experiencing a variety of colorful fishes and beautiful coral. It’s another world down there and the price was certainly worth the experience. The country of Belize is way ahead of the curve by understanding excellent conservation practices and preservation of their natural resources and will certainly bode well as an example for developing tourism for Belize and other emerging countries.
Everyone in Cay Corker is related to everyone else— so if you are heading to the south of Belize simply ask Russell if any of his relatives have a place to eat or stay and you are hooked up for your next leg of travel. You can also arrange to go by sailboat for several weeks or go along the coast. The cost is very reasonable if you agree to provide food and beverages and don’t have a tight schedule. Like they say in Australia: ” No worries mate!”
Every-time I get on a bus for me the adventure really begins to take on its own character. Miles and miles of palm trees and small villages fly buy as you lose yourself in thought and are continually entertained by the local folklore and occurrences en route. I made my way via bus to the small town of Punta Gorda in the southern part of Belize. Approximately 210 miles by road from Belize City, it is the last sizable settlement in Southern Belize. The town has one hospital, a police station, one bank, a post office, a gas station, a civic center, a number of churches and schools, and various grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and bars. Punta Gorda is a gateway to and from Guatemala with immigration and customs office near the town dock.
Punta Gorda is a good base to explore the rest of Southern Belize. Many tour guides work from the town and can help you choose from a wide range of full or half day activities including fishing, kayaking, river touring, and snorkeling. After checking out the shops and picking up a few local CD’s I transferred to a new bus line and headed to Placentia.
As the tropical rains began to pour buckets of water, I finally arrived in Placentia the last town on the Southern border. A native lady from Placentia told me this was the last bus in or out, all the water taxis were in repair, and the small airport was closed. She sent me to an old man that might have been St. Nick himself– as he handed me a key to his almost hidden cabina and just seemed to shake with joy while the rains kept pouring and the winds increased in intensity. As he walked away he said: “you got the last room in the town.”
I felt more than glad to be sheltered from a tropical storm and gave an extra prayer for my good luck. Placentia is a picture postcard tropical village, with sand beaches, first class fishing and the jumping off point for jungle adventure. You can walk everywhere and would be the perfect place to write a novel. If the rains continue I might also write my epitaph. As it was Christmas eve I dodged the rain and went to the local church for the evening service.
At midnight mass someone’s dog came in and became a part of the manager scene. The Priest took him out the side door only to see him crawl back into the manger scene for the third time. The Priest laughed out loud and said: “I guess he stays- everyone is welcome and maybe that should be my message: “There is room for everyone at this inn. Amen!” It was quite exceptional to spend a quiet time on The Caribbean Coast and to appreciate the beautiful mass with it’s singing, rhythm guitar playing, and friendly people. It was almost angelic!
A local Garifuna approached me and aked me if I would like to join him and his mother for dinner—the cost would be five dollars. Off he went to purchase some ingredients and told me to join him as we headed thru the palm trees to his cottage on the edge of the jungle. He picked some breadfruit from a huge tree right next to his house. While we hung out on the front porch his mother had pots of good smelling items in various stages of cooking. The dinner included fresh fish, rice, sweetened fried plantains, breadfruit and some-kind of yummy coconut dish for desert. They used to say that’s to die for! I think I will add that is to live for!
Due to the tropical storm, I was marooned in Placentia for seven days and was beginning to wonder if I would or could get out of here. By a stroke of luck I was offered a ride from a X- British Officer who was heading to Guatemala. En route we traveled up the Monkey River and witnessed, huge red colored Iguanas, hanging on the edge of branches over the water. Our boat captain pointed out this was there mating season and they turn bright red to attract other iguanas for mating. I thought this feature would be good to add to the human race. That way we could leave out quite a bit of the guess work.
You couldn’t visit Southern Belize without feeling the rhythm and seeing the Punta Dance commonly called “Punta Rock”. Punta Rock is a “Garifuna” dance which was created in Belize. In the 1970s, Pen Cayetano, a Garifuna artist, began to compose songs in the Garifuna language. He added the rhythm of the electric guitar to the traditional punta rhythm and created what is now known as “Punta Rock”. The dancing is so sexual and electric some have deemed the dance illegal. So if you want to participate in a fun-loving country and shake your hips until the cows come home— how about purchasing some of the Punta Rock CD’s from the local artists and start shaking. The closer you dance the better. Unless you are an olympic athlete you better have your heart checked before revving up your motor.
So if you like adventure, pristine clear waters, and like to sample native dishes cooked by the fun-loving caribs, dance like a weight-loss belt at high speed, and learn some things about other cultures—– Belize might just be what the doctor ordered.
QUOTE: “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”—— Mark Twain
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: “Yowies”! Like the North American big foot, the Yowie emits a vile odor and screams offensively. Numerous sightings of Yowies have turned out to be escaped mental patients or hermits in jungle attire.” ——convictcreations.com
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Your hard-drive!
ZENTRAVELER SAYS: I am going to leave you alone— something the Devil won’t do!