Monday, December 03, 2012

Belize in Transit

We are not beach people, so although many if not most travelers visit Belize for the tropical beaches, islands, and reefs, we were merely passing through on our way from Mexico to Guatemala.

We spent 3 nights in Belize, one in the northern coastal town of Corozal, the other two in the western border town of St Ignacio, referred to locally as Cayo.

The majority of our first full day was spent on the bus, riding 230 kms from Corozal on the northern border to St Ignacio (Cayo) on the western border, changing buses in Belize City, checking out the scenery, and observing the locals.

The majority of our second day was spent relaxing around St Ignacio, hitting the Saturday Market, excurting to the small riverside village of Cristo Rey, and then back to Cayo to watch people cross the swinging bridge at the confluence where the Macal and Mopan form the Belize River. We are easily entertained. ;-)

During our entire short transit, we have had pleasant interactions with the nice, gentle Belizean people.

Random observations:

1) We were surprised at the number of Chinese business in St Ignacio and Corozal. Seems that every corner store is owned by Chinese, not to mention the Chinese restaurants.

2) Belikin the national beer is pretty tasty.

Corozal, Belize - Our hotel was near that far lone palm tree.
Corozal, Belize

On the bus - a former American school bus like most buses in Belize.

The very pleasant outdoor market in St Ignacio.

The Macal River in Cristo Rey.

The swinging bridge over the Mopan River, just before joining the Macal to form the Belize River.

Typical Street in St Ignacio, Belize.

For travelers only:

Travelers considering taking a local bus from St Ingacio (Cayo) to Cristo Rey or San Antonio will want to know that there are now - as of 01 Dec 2012 - 2 bus companies servicing the route: MESH and TZIB Brother's. On Dec 01, the buses left from the market near the taxi stand.

We paid 1.50 BZ$ to ride from St Ignacio to Cristo Rey. I believe it's 3 BZ$ to go all the way to San Antonio. It's about 30 minutes or less to Cristo Rey, and another 30 minutes to San Antonio depending on how many stops the bus makes.

On our ride to Cristo Rey on the 9:30 MESH bus, the conductor took our (3 BZ$ total) fare paid partly in BZ$ and part in US$, and was helpful pointing out where to get off as Cristo Rey is small village with a single covered bus stand.

Here are the schedules as copied from a poster inside the MESH bus and from a small flyer handed to us by a helpful TZIB driver.

Please leave a comment for any corrections, comments, additions and I'll add them to this post.

Depart from San Ignacio (Cayo)

9:30 AM - MESH
10:30 AM - TZIB
11:30 AM - TZIB

1:00 PM - MESH
3:00 PM - MESH
4:30 PM - TZIB
5:30 PM - TZIB
6:00 PM - MESH

Depart from San Antonio

5:00 AM - MESH
6:00 AM - TZIB
7:00 AM - MESH
8:30 AM - TZIB

12:30 PM - TZIB
1:00 PM  - TZIB
1:30 PM  - MESH
4:00 PM  - MESH


Crash Eddy said...

So you passed by Altun Ha? Seems like your sort of attraction.

NB: the link to Belikin is fxed, loops to this blog, not to wiki.

Anonymous said...


jaydro said...

When I was there in 2005, before I noticed Chinese restaurants, shops, and people, I noticed all the construction sites with Taiwanese flags on them. Taiwan and Belize have very good relations, it seems.

The other interesting thing to me about Belize was that it has much more of a Caribbean flavor than the other countries in the area, because it was a British colony and had more West Indian ties.

john said...

Ed, We passed on Altun-Ha to move on towards Tikal in Guatemala which is "ranked" higher. ;-)

WQ and Jaydro, Thanks much for comments/info on Chinese in Belize. We saw just one ROC construction project - near St Ignacio.

jaydro said...

I just have to chime in with Eddy that not only did you pass by Altun Ha but you also spent some time right at Xunantunich (which is also ranked higher than Altun Ha, but not to compare to Tikal), which has the added entertainment of access via a hand-cranked cable ferry.

I also note you're planning to go right by Chichen Itza before returning. If Sun-Ling wasn't that impressed by Tikal, then I'm not sure it would be worth stopping. ;-)

Sun-Ling said...

During our transfer from San Ignacio to Tikal, John pointedly asked the Belizian guide how the Chinese are regarded by local people. The guide replied that the Chinese are like the Mennonites in that they keep to themselves. This is certainly very astute of the guide which is consistent with my observations in the US and through our travels around the world. But to be compared to with the Mennonites?! That certainly was a first!

jaydro said...

Oh, yes, I forgot about the Mennonites in Belize (I forgot exactly what Amish-like sect they were). There was a time when it seemed like everywhere we were vacationing we were being followed by men in hats with beards and women in plain dresses with bonnets.