After an arduous commute from Merida Mexico to Belize I was finally strolling down the long ferry dock on the Island of Caye Caulker surrounded by turquoise perfect waters. I would be spending the next four days at Yuma’s Hostel (formerly Tina’s), the best budget accommodation on the island located directly across from the ferry service dock. As soon as I arrived I hopped in my bunk and indulged in a much needed one hour nap.
Once recharged I walked into the morning sun in search for breakfast. I stopped at the islands most famous breakfast spot Amor Y Cafe where I enjoyed a cappuccino and pineapple, ham and Swiss grilled cheese sandwich. I spent my first day on the island wandering the streets with my camera in an attempt to capture all of Caulker’s secrets. At the very southern end of the island sit the Ignacio’s Cabana’s. Beautiful brilliantly coloured little rustic cabins on stilts which you can rent for a few dollars a night. On the other side of the island by The Split sits The Lazy Lizard. The islands most famous beach bar located right on the water beside the islands best patch of white sand. The Lizard pumps out Reggae tunes all day and night while tourists tan on the beach and soak in the ocean with beer in hand.
I met a few friends on my stroll and ended up joining them on their rooftop patio and jacuzzi that night to enjoy the sunset and a few Belkin. In the evening I joined a friend at Rainbow Bar and Grill for fajitas and a plate of Cajun creole chicken with a pyramid of beans and rice. We stopped off at IO Reggae bar, popular with locals for a dance or two before heading to bed.
I met the famous Cake Lady (who claimed to have been making cakes and pies for the past 18 years on the island). She walks up and down the main strip by the beach on her bike each day with whatever she has baked in her kitchen that morning. I bought a slice of her chocolate coconut pie and called it breakfast.
Belize is famous for having some of the best coral and aquatic life in the world. A perfect spot for snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts. My second day in Caye Caulker I woke at 5am to get to Frenchies for a full day Scuba trip to The Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef. The next day I enjoyed a full day sailing and snorkel trip with Raggamuffin Tours to Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
My final night on Caulker was spent at Habaneros, considered the best restaurant on the island if not the country. I enjoyed the tangy taste of the Caribbean:
Frozen Mojito: fresh mint, lime, cane sugar and rum
Coconut Sugar-Caned Bombs: shrimp skewered on sugarcane sticks and fire-grilled with floral honey chili glaze. Served on bed of crispy coconut.
Y Caye Caye Grill: Pork chop, pork ribs, chicken flam grilled and smothered in pineapple cane-sugar BBQ sauce with vegetables, potato and rice.
The following morning I woke up at 6am to enjoy an hour of contemplative silence sitting in a hammock. I stared out across this perfect place and could not believe I would be in blizzard stricken Toronto that evening. I munched on Cake Lady banana bread for breakfast and chatted with Susanne (the owner of the hostel) while waiting for my water taxi to arrive at 9am. She told me her fascinating story: originally from Germany she lived in NYC as a photographer with her boyfriend and son. Two years ago he was given the opportunity to open a fine dining restaurant on Caye Caulker and opened Don Corleones. The family moved to Belize and on her first few visits she fell in love with Tina’s hostel. She offered to buy the place and soon found herself running a hostel on Belize’s most famous beach retreat. Under new ownership she renamed the place Yuma’s (after her son). I imagine her child’s life as the kind we only hear about in fairy tales. He lives on one of the most beautiful islands on earth. His dad runs the best restaurant in town (on par with Habeneros) and his mom runs the best hostel. He spends his days at a private school and his free time in his little boat fishing and snorkeling.
I could see my ferry arriving at the dock. I waved goodbye and as I jetted back to Belize City for my flight to Toronto via Houston I realized I was just a bit jealous of Yuma.