Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Getting to Caye Caulker-Part 2

The trek through the Belize airport was uneventful. This included getting money from the ATM, once we found the ATM of course (it is exactly at the exit). We took a moment to catch our breath, and collect our thoughts for the next leg of our journey. We knew we had to…
1)  Get a taxi to the water taxi terminal
2)   Take the water taxi to Caye Caulker Island 

Task 1- We walked out of the doors of the airport to find an extremely polite, organized, and efficient taxi system. We were escorted to a car, and began zipping through Belize City.

We found out later in the week that solid yellow lines are brand new in Belize. They only arrived a few weeks before we did. Most Belize residents still didn't know exactly what the lines meant. 

 Our driver was very friendly and chatty. By the time the 25 minute ride was over we knew about one another’s families, travel preferences, and we learned some nice background information on Belize. He was great, and not a super crazy driver, though he did show off some moves that would make any avid player of Tetris proud.

When we stopped at the water taxi terminal, I was ready to put my figuring out logistical things cap on. Our taxi however was greeted by a nice man from the San Pedro Express Water Taxi. The man took our two larger bags and escorted us to the luggage drop off. He tagged our bags, explained how to retrieve them once we got to the island, then gave us directions to the ticket counter. He even let us know where the restrooms were located. I was once again amazed by the efficiency.

The water taxi terminal was nicer and more modern than I expected. It had places to eat or grab a drink, stores to buy snacks or other needed items, and clean restrooms. 

Task 2- We walked to the opposite end of the terminal and found the ticket counter. 

There are two windows. You purchase your tickets at the window to your right (the one marked cashier). 

I  read some things before the trip advising against getting the round trip tickets( if the boat is full they may not let you on in favor of one-way tickets), but we got the roundtrip ticket twice and had no issues. One-way is $15, and a round-trip is $25. If you are at the Caye Caulker dock early, you can even get a coupon for a dollar off.

Important Information- After purchasing your ticket at the right side window, you must get it punched at the left side window (marked ticket booth), otherwise they won’t let you on the boat. Since I’m a researcher, I knew this ahead of time, but others did not. We watched a group who thought they were all slick and cool being first in line to get on the boat, only to discover that they couldn’t get on because they never got their tickets punched. They then had to wait in the line for the punching, which had become quite long, and almost missed the boat. Get your tickets punched.

The inside waiting area isn't bad, but we got in line a lot earlier than we had to, because the people watching in line was better.

We rode the water taxi six times in total during our trip and never rode on the same boat twice. They have a lot of different boats. I’m not going to sugar coat it, the ride, no matter which boat you are on, can be pretty butt jostling. Usually not the whole time, a lot of it is fairly smooth, but be prepared to do a bit of bouncing. 

Our first ride  on the smallest boat, was the most bouncy, and also my favorite. We got a nice amount of air time on some of the waves. It was fun, and was made more fun by a group of college girls who squealed and giggled every time we flew up in the air. The breeze blowing through my hair, the occasional sea spray, and the constant visual of blue water, amped up the excitement that we were almost at an island.  

Also fun, was Sleepy Guy. You could tell the visitors from the locals on the boats. The locals used the boat ride as nap time, while the wide eyed visitors ogled the pretty blue water. Every time Sleepy Guy nodded off, he would start to fall over onto Shannon, jolting awake just seconds before he snuggled against Shannon’s shoulder. 

It started to become a source of entertainment for us as well as another passenger. The other passenger generously shared his pretzel M&Ms with us and would later become our stalker (or maybe we stalked him, we never quite decided).

We got off of the boat and set foot on the Caye Caulker dock with that initial, slight, disorientation of, wait, where are we? We are in a completely unfamiliar, new place. What do we do now? 

This quickly dissolved into becoming Randy on Christmas morning with exclamations of,
“Wow look at this. Wow look at that. Palm trees, blue water, that’s mine!” 

We were so excited. It did feel a lot like Christmas morning.

Being good direction followers, we handed in our bag tickets and received our duffle bags. We didn't know how far we were from our accommodations and if we needed a golf car taxi (we didn't, we could have walked), but we ended up deciding to hop in one with a man and his young son E.J., who was being shown the golf cart taxi ropes. Now we were off to our home for the next few days, Oasi.

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