Friday 3 March 2023

Lets go to Central America . Belize

Our last blog post saw us leaving Cloud 9 in storage in Cancun Mexico and returning home to the UK. 

Our 6 months back in Europe were filled with events and activities. We attended two great weddings, Including our daughter Rachael and her husband Tony and our best friends Andy and Lorraine.

Our trusted camper van was pulled out of storage and the rest of the time was spent traveling around Europe visiting friends in Germany, Belgium and Portugal. We also spent some time in Spain. We find it's always good to have a holiday from your holiday.

Being Pat's 60th year we tried to tick a few special boxes including going to several concerts to see Queen and Harry Styles both in the UK and Berlin. Unfortunately, the day after the Berlin concert, we both went down with Covid, which put a bit of a Dampener on it. 

The time came to return to Cloud 9 and in the middle of January, we started the long journey back to Mexico.

As all Overlanders will tell you, you go home with two bags and return with four. The additional two are crammed with vehicle parts. This journey was no exception. One additional bag was filled with dozens of small parts such as wiring, plumbing and engine parts. 

The other bag, however, had an entire refrigerator in it in parts. Yes, a Compressor, Evaporator, Thermostat and all the other parts you need to make a fridge. The bag weighed about 22kg and really caused me concern as to whether they would even allow it on the plane. The dilemma as to whether we tell the Airline or simply check it in and hope for the best was an issue. 

The decision was made at the last minute and we checked it in. Knowing that the bag would go through a scanner and also knowing that nothing under Xray would look more like a bomb than a fridge compressor, I doubted I would ever see that bag again. 

Arrival in Cancun confirmed our fears. Standing by the carousel , the first three bags appeared without issue. The fourth bag was nowhere to be seen. I stood watching an empty conveyer belt go around for an additional 20 minutes after every passenger on our flight had vacated the airport.  Armed with my luggage receipt, I started to head for the Baggage Reclaim help desk when I heard the loud thud of a bag landing on the belt. My bag had arrived. 

We loaded up the trolleys, Two bags on each, and headed for the exit. Within 20 meters of escape, a loud voice from a woman in a military style uniform said     " Can you just come this way we need to look in your bags"    We were so close.

It soon became apparent that she was to be only addressing me and Pat had the trolly with the fridge on it. I instructed Pat to leg it and I was taken to a searching area. 

They tipped out both my bags, One was clothing and the other were vehicle parts. They looked at the pile of bits on the table and said " How much is this worth " I cheekily said " About 100 dollars." 

Having then confirmed that I wasn't smuggling alcohol or Cigarettes, they became totally disinterested and told me to pack my bags and leave. I think we dodged a few bullets that day.

When you leave a vehicle, such as a camper, locked up for 6 months you need to ensure that it is water tight and hopefully insect proof. Cancun is a high humidty tropical zone so large bags of moisture absorbing crystals had been left in the vehicle. On first inspection from the outside, it all looked good. Inside was also a pleasant surprise. The humity hadn't effected its interior.

We had arranged to stay in the B&B at the storage facility for a couple of days before setting off on our travels.

Unfortunately, we discovered a couple of issues with the vehicle that delayed our departure. 

Firstly, One of the windows had decided to leak slightly and had let some of the relentless tropical rain into the vehicle and onto our bed. This was soon fixed by removing the window and re sealing it. We had to do this between the daily downpours that occur at this time of year. 

Secondly, Our 10-year-old Inverter had decided to develop an unfixable fault.

We use the Inverter to supply good clean 220v electricity to the sockets within the vehicle, even if we are without an outside mains source or only have a supply of 110v , which is common in the Americas. Basically, we live by this device and couldn't set of without one.

Sourcing a replacement in the whole of North America proved impossible as everything here is 110v.

Thankfully, Nomadic Leisure in the UK agreed to ship one out for us. We also had an intermittent fault with our 12 volt system ( 24v to 12v converter ) This was fixed, but having spent a night in the vehicle with no power, we realised that a spare converter would be a sensible spare to carry and this was added to the order. Ten days later the parcel arrived and having paid the huge amount of Import Duty, we fixed all the faults, fitted the new fridge and dozens of other jobs  and eventually set of for Belize.

We only got about 2km down the road when the engine developed an unusual noise. Pat was ready to go home by now, but after a quick and easy roadside repair we got going again.

We met up with our dear friends Sigi and Peter in Tulum and together headed for the Belize Border. 

The crossing was relatively uneventful and we pitched in for our first night in a wild camp next to the sea near Corozal.

Orange Walk

Orange Walk

Up until 1981 Belize was a British Sovereign State and was known as British Honduras until 1973. Despite now being independent for over 40 years, it has remained in the British Commonwealth and many British customs and features still remain. Their laws are based on British Law and their currency has the Queen on it, but best of all they Speak English.  

We really didn't know what to expect in Belize, the first of our Central American Countries. To say we have been completely blown away would be an understatement. We absolutely love it. It's clean and beautiful. the people are very nice.  There is very little garbage along the road side, the Sea is Turquoise blue and the scenery is a lush healthy green with palms, trees and banana plantations. The kids all wave as you drive by. 


In addition to the Indigenous Belizian Maya, Belize is a melting pot of immigrants such as the Garifuna community who originate in Africa and the Caribbean. The Mennonites who arrived from Mexico in the late 50s and immigrants from neighbouring states such as Guatemala and Honduras. 

More recently however,  there has been an increase of arrivals from the USA, Canada, and Europe, who have made Belize their new home.

Belize has some of the thickest, densest tropical jungles on the planet. The British Army still send their guys here for training.

Deep within one of these tropical jungle regions is Belize Zoo. It is actually a rescue centre for native animals and birds that have either been injured or discarded pets.  


White Tailed Deer

Howler Monkey



Placencia is the town at the Southern tip of a Peninsular that sits between the Carribean Coast and a large Brackish water lagoon. This area was slightly different from other regions we had seen in that there were large gated expensive developments, Individual Designed Houses and Hotels adjacent to poorer areas occupied Mayan and the Garifuna people. 

The town itself was very pleasant although somewhat more expensive than other areas. Nearly all the Supermarkets and Grocery stores are owned by the Chinese community, who very cleverly don't put prices on any of their produce and watch you go pale when they tell you the total cost. It had a strong Caribbean feel about it

We managed to celebrate Peter's birthday 3 times.

A good place to leave our bag when we went swimming.

The small coastal village of Riversdale was a perfect stop, right on the beach. A lovely community feel. We waited for the small fishing boats to come in to buy our fresh Lobsters.

From this

To this in 15 Minutes

Hopkins is a very popular coastal town. It attracts both international travellers and locals. Again we got a prime spot on the beach 

Over 60% of Belize is forest and jungle, mostly within the 17 National Parks.  Mayflower Bocawina is a great example of this.

Hermans Cave was fun to explore and float on inflatable tubes through the underground river.

We mentioned the different Communities that exist in Belize and the Mennonites are present right across the country, but mainly in the two areas called Spanish Lookout and Shipyard.
Originating in Europe the Mennonites have migrated to many countries. The Belizian ones travelled down from Chihuahua, Mexico in 1958.  If you are not familiar with them, the Mennonites are a deeply religious, insular community that do not ordinarily embrace modern technologies such as Electricity, Phones or Machinery etc. However, some of the groups within Belize have modernised and integrated with other Belizians. 

They dominate the Construction, Engineering and Agriculture industries.
The more orthodox members in Shipyard can often be seen working the fields by hand and using Horses and Carts as their primary means of transport. They have their own languages called Plautdietsch or Mennonite Low German . 

These three images are courtesy of Google 

We found ourselves slowly edging towards the border with Guatemala near San Ignacio, but couldn't resist a relaxing couple of days at The Big Rock Waterfall. 

San Ignacio was our last stop before crossing into Guatemala. A very friendly town on the Macal River. Behind a very nice hotel was the Green Iguana Conservation Project

By Sheer luck, we arrived in San Ignacio at the same time as their annual Canoe Race called the Ruta Maya. About 70 teams, including the British Army, set off at 7am from the town's Wooden Bridge on a 4 day race finishing  170 miles away in Belize City. The prize money for winning is quite substantial so most teams took the event very seriously.  

Belize is Beautiful. 
The landscape is amazing and the people are lovely.
We didnt manage to go to the islands and Experience the Marine Life. 
I can't help thinking that we haven't finished in Belize.

Next stop Guatemala