Go the extra mile

​My seat started shaking. That was a unambiguous sign we touched the airstrip of Managuas Airport. The capital of Nicaragua welcomed me with the exact opposite of what I slowly got used to on the Corn Islands: traffic, noise and smog. I guess, this is pretty standard in most of the capitals around the planet. But everything is fine, as long as you come up with an escape plan! In my case this ment traveling to the northern part of Nicaragua. These regions are well known for their coffee plantations and great hikes. Combined with pretty much no tourism industry at all – exactly what I was looking for.

So I took a chicken bus to Matagalpa, which took around four hours. As I had no music to listen to, there was enough time to reflect on the past days adventures. And some planning ahead of course. It was super hot in the bus and more people came in to join the ride – almost 60 people squeezed into the discarded US school bus. I took my chance to buy some fruits and yucca chips from these cute vendor ladies which are selling their stuff in between the stops. As our bus arrived in Matagalpa, I got another proof of how hospitable and kind Nicaraguans are: two ladies asked me where I want to go and called a taxi. And not just that, they also ensured I got the best rate 🙂 super exhausted, but happy I fell asleep in my very own tree house which was located somewhere in the outskirts of the city. The next day started early: 7am sharp I was ready for some hiking and exploring around Matagalpa. Apparently there’s a waterfall and a big cross on top of the Mountain. Unfortunately I didn’t get to the waterfall, but the cross was hard to miss 😉

As you know, hiking (and a lot of other things) makes me hungry – so I went to this super secret Italian Restaurant called La Vita e Bella. “Grande” was an appropiate size to quench my craving for food. Well, at least for a couple of hours 😉 Did I mention my friend Joost, which is living in Nicaragua at the moment? If not, now you know the reason why I went to Ocotal – a tiny city near the  border to Honduras. He’s working at a coffee plantation and invited me for a weekend at his place. Ocotal is not a place where tourists go, so it was a great break from the so called “Gringo Trail”. My friends boss, which owns the majority of coffee plantations in this area, showed us the town and how things go there. It’s interesting to see Nicaragua from a residents perspective and try more local delicacies! As always, time flies so fast – only a few days left on my visa. That means: off to Granada!

Granada is well known for its beautiful architecture, great food and of course the Islets of Granada. Wow, where should I even start? You might know I am into volcanoes and lava. Therefore the nearby Volcano Masaya was a must see for me. Check this out:

Incredible! For the first time in my life I saw swirling lava. Something I will never forget (although it was only 15min). The people I’ve been with thought ticking it off my bucket list is worth going for some drinks. This is where the unbelievable happened: I met my friend Jonno from Australia – just when I left the hostel! That was unexpected. As our plans matched we decided to travel Island Ometepe together – and it was a blast. Unfortunately the island doesn’t have that many paved roads, so an ATV is pretty much necessary to go and see the best places. What I didn’t like is that people really try to rip you off. What I did like was a waterfall and the night sky 🙂

Jonno told me his friend Josh, also from Australia, moved to Nicaragua and joined some sort of Hippie Community. I decided to stay with them for two nights. Far away from everything, just nature and a couple of lovely people (oh, and BBQ over a huge bonfire). It was the first time since months sleeping in a hammock under millions of stars. An experience I will never forget.

As you might know I am in Costa Rica now, looking for my spirit animal – can you guess what it might be?
Feliz dias mis amigos!

Carribean Dreams 

​”Bienvenido a Nicaragua, Senõr!” That was the first sentence I heard as we arrived at the border of this beautiful country. We, seven fellow travelers and I, crossed the borders of El Salvador and Honduras by land. Those long and dusty roads in the middle of nowhere were inhabited by more lizards and stray dogs than people. In the distance there were huge mountains, grey rocks overgrown by wild vegetation. The sun burnt down merciless, besides the sound of some crickets it was completely silent as we stopped for a break somewhere in this no-mans-land.

Someone told me it will take eight hours from El Tunco to Leon. Well, it wasn’t a big surprise as we reached our destination after 12 hours 😉 Leon was as hot and humid as El Salvador and Honduras, also during the nighttime. To escape the humidity I planned to climb Cerro Negro, the (probably) most popular Volcano in Nicaragua. But why is it so popular? Watch the Story behind it! Yep. Insane, right? Since I am not that stupid adventurous, the bike was replaced by some sort of snowboard. After roughly one hour of climbing we reached the top and enjoyed the view. And then…

It was fun, still nothing I would do twice (yeah it’s one of those white people tours). Leon as the first stop in Nicaragua was certainly a good decision, even though the city isn’t that of a beauty if you ask me.
Well, that means it’s clearly beach time again – off to the Carribean Coast! There is a group of islands called Corn Islands which are separated in Big and Little Corn. Getting there could be rough and tough, or a bit expensive and (more) comfortable. I chose the second option – flying to Big Corn Island (~$200) whereas the first option is only around $20 and involves two boat rides plus bus transportation. This adds up to >20h. It seems super obvious to go for the cheaper option, but let me explain later on why it was wiser to take the flight. My journey to the Corns started in Leon with a three hour ride to Nicaraguas capital – Managua. Locals told me to avoid this city and from what I saw it doesn’t seem like a traveler would miss out on something there. My driver was speeding a little bit – just to make sure we catch our flight. Of course.

The flight itself was alright, even though the wind was shaking our plane like a salt shaker we were able to enjoy the marvellous view onto the pristine blue carribean sea. And this is where the adventure starts… Our boat was already waiting for us at the harbour. The captain managed to seat 35 people into the vessel which was not more than a nutshell. The engine started and covered us with a cloud of burnt gasoline. I still didn’t have my swim west, this also concerned two other people on the boat which were waiting for their flamboyant lifesaver. El Capitano turned the boat and we started heading towards our destination. The sea was super rough, waves bigger than three meters hit our boat and people started to scream. The captain – a guy not older than me – had a hard time to steer the boat in the right direction, so that we won’t crash straight into the waves. As I sat at the very front of the boat, it was a huge effort to hold onto the bench to not get catapulted into the roaring ocean. We had to stop for a couple of times, the waves were simply too big for our tiny boat. At some stage the captains wife checked on us if everybody’s OK and mentioned we can’t turn around now. More waves were hitting the boat and everyone swallowed a good amount of saltwater.  In case we would capsize there was zero chances for me to survive as we – the two other guys and I -didn’t have life vests. Unfortunately there was also a thunderstorm coming closer and closer, so the wind picked up and made it even harder for the captain to get us closer to our destination. While all this happened, one girl just kept on drinking beer and having the time or her life.

After 45 minutes we managed to reach the safe harbour of Little Corn Island. I felt like kissing the ground, not just because I knew the laid back time on Little Corn will start right now. It’s been a while since I’ve been on an island, so I got even more excited about exploring it and see what it has to offer. My first stop was (of course) the Divecenter! Scubadiving in the caribbean ocean is as awesome as it sounds: crystal clear blue water, lots of sharks and colorful corals. Not even two hours later I found myself 21m below sea level and surrounded by a couple of curious nurse sharks. What a great introduction to the underwater world of Nicaragua! The divemaster also gave me a recommendation for the best local food on the island. It is called “Ron Don” – it’s made of Fish, Lobster, Prawns and lots of delicious vegetables which are cooked in a milk broth for around three hours. Yum!

The next few days I spent with diving and reading books on the beach. Did I mention there is barely any WiFi on this island? As Little Corn wants to be explored, I took camera and sunscreen with me for an extensive walk around the island. There are no cars, so it’s actual walking 😉 It didn’t take too long until my first surprise…
This abandoned beach was once exclusively reserved for the customers of Casa Iguana, an Eco Resort. They had to close it down as lots of plastic and other stuff was washed onto the their beach. Have a look – flip flops, cans, plastic bags, straws and many more colorful plastic items (we use day by day) are now polluting the place where once crabs and turtles used to live. We all know what and who causes the problem.

No place to live…

Not even two miles up west the beach gets prettier. Lush and green vegetation everywhere, close-to white sand and azure blue water. Some kids passed by and sold me young, fresh coconuts. I couldn’t ask for more!

Coconut Gang

The days passed by very fast, so it was time to take the boat back to Big Corn Island. As you can imagine, I was still a bit concerned (or traumatised?!) to get back on this tiny boat. Well, concerned/traumatised or not – there was no other way! Not even half an hour later I safely arrived at my new hostel without any problems or close to death encounters. Since Big Corn is bigger (that came unexpected) I felt less “trapped” and just free. Well, how couldn’t you feel free with these amazing views…

I walked around the island in around four hours with some stops here and there. So many lonely beaches and even more great spots for enjoying the beauty of a seemingly endless blue coloured ocean. After the sun set, a couple of people invited me for dinner and playing card games. Just before bed time I sat down on the roof and looked at the full moon which sent his light out into the clear nightsky. It’s all about the little things in life.

More to come.

About waves and a missing finger

​I am sure you heard of El Salvador. And I’m even more certain that what you heard was related to crime. There’s no point to cover up on this, because it’s true – a lot of bad things happen there. Most of these issues should not affect travelers as it’s gang related crime, the locals would call them “Maras”. Everywhere on this planet we can find crime, we have to be on the lookout doesn’t matter where we are. But when there’s shadow, there’s also light.

Welcome to El Tunco, a great place in this tiny country. You love to surf? You are attracted to the beach and the sun? You can’t get enough of the great Central American food? Well, look no further – this might be the right place for you! El Tunco is not a classic “hidden paradise” anymore, still it’s worth a visit. Local surfers and others from all over the world get attracted by this place at the Pacific Coast. With a good reason: black sand beaches, perfect waves and amazing sunsets. Also the surrounding of El Tunco offers heaps for a “not-so-much-into-the-beach-person” (I am actually wondering if that’s possible ;))

My new amigos gave me their recommendation, which I added to the following days To-Do List: Check out the Fish Market in La Libertad. If you love fresh seafood, this is the place where you want to be. At the weekend people from San Salvador, the capital, are coming down for some quality time with their friends & family. If you don’t feel like eating in one of the cozy  seaside restaurants you can easily buy some fish for cooking at your place. The bus ride from El Tunco is $0.25 and takes around 10-15min. Once you’re in the bus people will offer you different sorts of candy, soft drinks or other stuff you might need in the next few minutes during your trip 😉

El Salvador is famous for volcano hiking and also for some stunning waterfalls. Well, some local people told me to stay away from the waterfall near El Tunco since a few weeks ago some guys tried to mug a girl which was hiking around the area. She resisted the robbery and they cut off one of her fingers… That’s what they told me. Again, this could happen somewhere else as well.

One last thing: If you are currently traveling through Centro America – don’t skip El Salvador. It’s a beauty and even though it’s not on the travelers list, give it a try!

Have you been to El Salvador? Tell me about your experience!

Tu casa es mi casa

​Wow. One month ago you guys read about my volcano hiking experience in Guatemala, it’sf incredible how time flies so fast!

As you know a friend from Germany came over, we haven’t seen each other for almost two years. A reunion which has to be celebrated! After some good food we had a long chat over a couple of beers. My friend Tamara was very lucky as she saw the volcano Fuego errupting from the distance – on her first night! Although both of us were a bit hungover we managed to hike El Mirador, a viewpoint, the next day to see the city of Antigua from above.

As we really wanted to learn spanish and relax in a quiet place our plan was to go to Lake Atitlan. Located four hours away from Guatemalas old capital, this place is just stunning: Surrounded by sky high volcanoes, lush forest and a magical atmosphere. Sounds good, right? Well, as you can imagine things went slightly different – life challenged us again (ok, this sounds dramatic) and especially Tamaras patience was introduced to the guatemalan time. That means: our pre-booked shuttle forgot twice about picking us up, or let’s say we waited for four hours. I also could say we had a great lunch and coffee after the second delay was announced.

As we finally arrived at Lake Atitlan the boat was already waiting for us – and the other 25 passengers as well. I have to say, this ride made me a bit concerned about our safety as the vessel was over capaticity. Seriously. The boat ride was super bumpy, but the red glowing lava from the errupting volcano in the distance was a good distraction – Mt. Fuego is always up for a show! After this exciting day we fell asleep pretty fast and recharged our batteries for the next day.

Lake Atitlan, especially San Marcos is well known for it’s spiritual and alternative vibe. There’s a lot of workshops, nature and good (vegetarian) food. I managed to be a vegetarian for almost two weeks without doing it on purpose and it felt so good. Before that my mindset was more like being vegetarian is a huge missed steak (got it?) Anyway, we came here with an open mind and wanted to experience something new, something spiritual?! A friend told me about Cacao Ceremonies at the Lake and it made me super curious. What you basically do is drinking a huge cup of cacao (no, it’s not the Nestlé crap) and listen to the voice of a shaman while you focus on your breathing. After around twenty minutes things got a bit more intense (here’s why). The whole session was around four hours, it made me feel like after Vipassana.  It’s hard to describe, so I just leave it like that.

“Treat yourself” was our motto for the next few days, and what can be more relaxing that a good massage. It’s a timeout for body and mind, the ultimative method to get rid of all tensions after some traveling by boat or chicken busses. Tamara suggested to attend a little music festival on the beach near San Marco. It was a great way to end the day. As we took the boat back to our place the nightsky was illuminated by thousand stars and the bright glowing moon, which added a bit of a mysterious something to this incredible place.

As mentioned above I really wanted to learn spanish for a week and this felt like a great place to do it. San Marcos Spanish School and also my lovely teacher Véronica tried their best to get that new lingo in my head. Well, it was hard to be “back 2 to skool” and focus on one single thing for four hours straight. Still I had a couple of good laughs with my teacher – Tu casa es mi casa, right ;)? If you want to learn spanish, this is the surrounding you want to have – highly recommend it.

Besides cooking up some delicious pasta dishes and attending the mezmerizing World Music Event at Hostal de Lago just enjoyed ourselves and the company of many lovely people (and our favourite Doggo “Poncho”) at Lake Atitlan. I also found some time to evaluate business ideas, thinking about interpersonal relationships and of course planning my further travels. As both Tamara and I felt like going to the beach-beach (is that a reference?) we packed up our stuff and made our way to the magnificent coast of El Paredon. Again, the way we got there was a story of it’s own to be honest. The combination delayed boat – van – selfmade-car-ferry – van was interesting and took its time.

Somehow I felt a bit trapped in the “tourist bubble” and wanted to know how the locals live in Guatemala. The best way to experience this is definitely a homestay. I will write more about the amazing organisation “La Choza Chula” very soon here on this Blog. Our host Aura was very lovely and provided us with a basic but very clean room, breakfast and all her knowledge of El Paredon. She is very proud of her household and also of her husband which build the house and roof with his own hands. I really liked how the family works together and once more it showed me how spoilt we are with hot showers, A/C and all the things we actually don’t need.

One thing I really need to say is, there’s definitely a lack of education on the impact of plastic to the environment. Too much plastic is used and it’s so easy to reduce the use of it! Besides that, El Paredon is a nearly untouched paradise (not just for surfers) which spoilt me with it’s beautiful black sand beach and incredible sunsets. Oh, and did I mention the delicious Ceviche?

What really surprised me is how stupid one single person can be: We saw a guy with Swastika and other nazi-related tattoos tanning in the sun. WTF? How can you go abroad and not be ashamed of yourself? Boy you’re the foreigner now and remember you don’t like foreigners, right? Fuck all Nazis! Unfortunately we had to take the shuttle back to Antigua and this guy was also there. I felt it smelled really bad during our ride…

Anyway, I hope you had a good time as well – now I am in El Salvador and endulging on the blazing sun and some pupusas ;)!

Feliz dias chicos,

Martin

Play with Fire

​Buenos dias my friends! Isn’t it crazy? The first month of 2018 is almost over. Time flies so fast, not sure if it’s just me? What do you think – did January pass by fast or slow? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Almost two weeks ago I left beautiful Belize the cute little country located on the caribbean coast of Centro Americano. Leaving Belize was very convenient, the collectivo (old American School Bus) dropped me straight in front of the border to Guatemala. New country, new habits: right after I passed the border nobody spoke english anymore. Damn, so I made best use of my spanish skills and asked around for possibilities to go to Flores – my first stop in Guatemala. Talking to all those taxi drivers, other locals and travelers made me forget about one very important thing: getting my passport stamped to immigrate in Guatemala. You might not Belize believe it, but chances are that you just walk past the immigration without even showing your passport! It looks like a tourist information 😀 (and I always avoid them)

I met two older canadian ladies at the border and it turned out we’re going the same direction. Those two mid-aged chicas got really excited about the offer from this taxi driver: only $30 Dollars for 1 1/2h drive to Flores. Haha, that’s funny. I told them it’s not even $5 by collectivo, which departs around 50m from the immigration office. As I turned down the taxi drivers offer he knew that I know about the cheaper option and got a bit mad at me. Lo siento mucho, amigo!

My travel buddies turned out to be as smart as bait: they showed off with their iPads, Smartphones and cash. In the middle of the bus terminal. I am sure there’s a village in Canada missing its idiots. Well, after a two hours ride through Guatemalas hinterland we finally arrived in Flores. This small island is the perfect gateway to Tikal – a famous mayan temple complex. As I arrived at my hostel people asked me if I’d like to join a trip to see the sunrise on the top of a temple. Sí, claro – I’m in! But first of all some food. The lovely lady at the reception shared her secret of good food in Flores. Not even five minutes  later I found myself at a hidden food stall located next to the sea and ordered a bunch of delicious burritos. Muy rico. Just can’t get over the local cuisine here!

Before I went to bed I had to go and get a ticket for the temple. The only place where you could buy an official one is a bank. Cashed up with Q250 I made my way to the bank. There was a long queue. And security guys with shotguns. Before you can enter the branch you get bodysearched (for guns etc.) – the guy right before me was refused to enter and the security threw him out after he patted him down. Glad I didn’t bring my gun!

Next day 3am – departure for sunrise at Tikal! Super early, but also super excited. As we arrived our guide told us to be aware of the wildlife here, especially snakes. According to him, the most venomous snakes are around here in the jungle. Not even five minutes later we found one of them right in front of us on the ground. “It’s very dangerous, the venom could kill you straight away” said the guide and poked the snake with a wooden stick. I stepped back, everybody else pointed their GoPros towards the snake. Of course it got a bit aggressive and everybody got afraid, a few people were about to cry (?!). That’s wildlife guys, just leave it alone.

As we climbed the temple it was completely dark. We waited for the sunrise and for the jungle to wake up. It was incredible. It got brighter and brighter, we heard Howler Monkeys screaming in the distance and saw bats flying around. The smell of the temples limestone mixed with the jungles scent added up to a unique mysterious experience. Unfortunately the sky was overcasted, so there was no proper sunrise. After this deep and relaxing moment we strolled through the once populated mayan residence. Tucans, Monkeys and Tarantuals were just a few sights besides the ancient temples.

My next place of interest was Semuc Champey. It’s a waterfall in the middle of the Jungle, which is eight hours away from Flores. The ride was super uncomfortable as the so-called streets are more dirt roads. It took us more than two hours for the last 50km. Safety is also not a high priority in the wild no-mans-land in Guatemala…

My stay at a Economy Hotel right next to the National Park was a great experience. The owner, an Israeli guy, cooked the best food for us and provided us with a lot of informations. “As we are in the middle of the jungle, there’s no electricity after midnight and hot water is also restricted since we have to boil it over fire. The WiFi signal is also not that good – so talk to each other!” Comprende, Sir! I really liked the hotels concept of and also the surrounding, check this out:

What really astonished me is the fact that people which have to deal with money (ticket warden at the waterfalls,  food vendor in the mountains) are accompanied by armed securities with shotguns. It’s a bit frightening… On the other hand people are so friendly and open, as we hiked around the cocoa plantages people talked to us and offered chocolate to eat (and also tendered to buy their land :D)

After a couple of laidback days I recharged my batteries  (not only for the camera) and was ready for the vibrant old capital of Guatemala – Antigua. It’s well known for good food, coffee and of course: Volcano hiking! My choice was Acatenango. This old volcano provides the best view onto Fuego, a very active volcano just next to it. Here some facts about the tour: 7h hiking, 4000m altitude, one over night stop, you have to carry food and water  (>6L) by yourself. Trust me, this trip was super demanding. At the same time so rewarding, the feeling you get when you reach the summit can not be described with words. One more thing to add – it was cold. Super cold.

that feeling when your reach 4000m

Full of dirt, sweat and adrealine we completed our hike and returned to Antigua. I rewarded myself with some delicious food (try El Rincon Tipico and Toko Baru), a hot shower and around ten hours of sleep. Now I’m sitting here on my sore bum writing this article. Tomorrow’s gonna be a big day – my friend Tamara is coming over to Guatemala and we will travel for a while. I am excited!

Alrighty guys, the plan for the next weeks is attending spanish lessons and continue exploring this beauty of a country! I’ll keep you posted. Do not forget to tell me your opinion about 2018 in the comment section below 🙂

Adios,

Martin

U betta Belize it!

​What a ride! It’s been almost two weeks in this amazing country, a truly stunning place in the caribbean. But wait, getting there wasn’t as easy as you might expect!

I was so excited. Or maybe I had too much of that delicious doubleshot Latte at KiBoh Coffeeshop in Tulum. Anyway, after my (last) extensive Breakfast in Mexico I made my way to the ADO Bus Station where the bus to the bordertown Chetumal was already waiting. People were about to purchase their tickets, get breakfast for the bus ride or take the opportunity to go to the restroom. There was a strong, tomatoey smell in the air which was caused by this cute little taco preparing grandmam. I regretfully rejected her offer as I was very close to burst because of that massive breakfast. As the bus finally arrived I got in and waited slept for four hours.

Next step: Buying tickets for the Speedboat to Caye Caulker – an island in Belize City. Sounds easier as it actually was. There was the biggest cue for the tickets and they were sold out in a few minutes. My attempt to get people together for chartering an airplane (which is a bit cheaper than by boat) failed as everybody was scared to get onto a small plane. LOL. Anyway, I didn’t want to wait another day so I crossed the border by land. Three german girls joined in and we took the Chicken Bus to Belize City. Chicken Bus? Yep! Cheapest and most time consuming option to travel around. At the same time THE choice for an adventure 😉 I saw a lot of the countryside, met some local people and got introduced to the Mennonites which reminded me of the Kelly Family.

We arrived in Belize City as darkness began to fall. Everything was so alien, everybody suddenly speaks english with an caribbean accent “Yaah Maaan!” As we rocked up at the bus station we realised we didn’t had a place to stay. The taxi driver was a bit concerned about our safety and brought us to a good place to stay. He advised us to stay at our place and to avoid to wander around. He didn’t answer my question “why?”, but the security fence which covered the whole hotel up to the third level was some sort of explanation. This is what a newspaper looks like…

After a surprisingly good rest at our hotel we took a cab to the ferry port and had breakfast. As I ordered a coffee the barista asked me if I would like some sugar in my coffee. Yes, please – just a bit. “A bit” was a whole spoonfull of sugar, with the excuse “it’s still more coffee than sugar”. Haha, not a lie! After drinking half of the sugar water and sitting on the boat for one hour we finally reached destination paradise: Caye Caulker! It was exactly how I pictured in my mind. Palms everywhere, the smell of delicious BBQ, Rastafaris walking around and of course the nice look of ocean blue and white sand.

I had a problem though – no reservation during high season. Some people were really friendly and shared their secret of a good place to stay. Best price and value for money. Not even one hour later I signed up for this full-day snorkeling/fishing/sunset watching trip on a boat. Yes please, that’s exactly what I want! Next day, 10am: The captain asked us to get ready and also proudly presented his pre-mixed 20L bottle of rum punch which was already waiting for the eleven of us. Before we started everyone had to do a shot of coconut rum – Captain said. After some fishing and snorkeling we had lunch and more of the rum punch (Spoiler: we finished it.) What we haven’t had was shade. Good mix! Rastaman, the captains friend, was our snorkel guide and showed us the best places to see stingrays and nursesharks.

Since we did so well during the snorkel trip he rewarded (?!) us with some joints which he already pre-rolled and lighted – ready for the half drunk crowd on board. I got a little upset by the fact the captain was also smoking and drinking. At some stage he told this girl to drive the boat since she was the only sober person!!! The cops also checked on us but they didn’t mind about our little boat party. I could tell you more details about this trip, but let’s not talk about how El Capitano offered us to try his catch of the day, the “White Lobster”… Anyway, we became to see an amazing sunset and also they served up some really delicious seafood dinner after the boat trip. We all felt a bit wobbly, a proper feed is what we needed!

As you can imagine the rum punch was consumed in large quantities, so I had a bit of a headache the next day. How could someone possibly treat an hangover? Exactly! At a beach club, with lots of good food and coconuts. My pick was Koko King next to Caye Caulker – you have to take the free ferry and they will drop you there. The sunset was amazing, and the woodoven seafood pizza we had for dinner was the perfect way to end the day. Let’s not forget about the swings at the beach shack!

What else was on my list for Belize? Diving of course! The Blue Hole is one of the main drawpoints for vacation in Belize. So I thought about going diving there. The dive center advised me to think about it, but I also should consider to go to Turneffe Atoll which is home to healthy corals and a large number of different species of fish. Sounds good, so let’s go for that. Unfortunately we couldn’t spot that many fishes as in Asia for example, but on the second dive we saw a whaleshark. Not too bad! There’s a lot of crappy diveshops around, so if you go there make sure you pay a little extra for good equipment and safety – it’s worth it!

As I mentioned above, you have to experience the Blue Hole somehow if you’re in Belize. The easiest and also most unrealistic way to do so is chartering an airplane! I have to admit, it wasn’t that easy: As I went for breakfast (somehow this blogpost is all about breakfast?!) there were those two ladies which were talking about how awesome a scenic flight over the Blue Hole must be… And then we came to an arrangement 😉 not even two hours and a phone call later I found myself at the airstrip waiting for the pilot and the plane. From here i’ll let the pictures do the talk.

Time flies fast, unfortunately also on Caye Caulker – although there are signs everywhere saying “Go Slow”! The last evening I had there will be an everlasting memory. A few hours after sunset we heard sirens in the distance. Alarm! Suddenly people started to run, bags in their hands and children in their arms. Panic in their eyes. The soft sea breeze I was used to suddenly got a bit harsher. Something seemed to be wrong, there were negative and stressful vibes. This was reason enough to have a chat with the owner of the hostel. As I approached him to ask whats happening, he said there’s a Tsunami warning for Belize. There was an earthquake only 300 miles away. You could tell by his voice he was really concerned.

Damn. A Tsunami. Not cool. “This is serious” was my first thought. I checked the news and goverment issued warnings while sitting on the staircase of our hostel which faced the common area. Suddenly the police rocked up at our place and spoke to the owner and his girldfriend. And they brought life jackets. Oh damn. You’re on an island, a Tsunami is coming and you can’t escape. One more hour passed by, the sirens got louder and louder – more people started to run through the streets and shouted stuff in Creole, a local language. Only a few minutes after, Rastaman (Remember? The weed guy…) showed up with his massive soundsystem and asked us to help him to set it up on the rooftop. “Nuh panic maaaan!”, he said. “Nuh Tsunami in Caye Caulker! Git it tugetha and let’s partey!” So we listened to Reggae (louder than the sirens), had coconut rum and made the best out of it. In fact, we had a party on the 3rd floor means we’re pretty safe.

Next day: Nothing happened! I woke up in my bed and everything was ok. The Tsunami did not affect Caye Caulker. Puh, lucky me! Rastaman gave all of us a high-five and told us he is proud of us we survived the night 😉 Very grateful for that. I felt this was a good end of the laidback island life here in Belize. What was missing on my list was clearly hiking around the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Park near Hopkins, a little village eight hours from Caye Caulker (ferry – bus – bus – bus – taxi) You can find the worlds highest concentration of jaguars there. At night, not during daytime. Yep, I’ve been on the lookout and I couldn’t spot a single one.

It was 9am in the morning as I got on the bus with my two friends from America, which were my hiking buddies for the day.  The question was: How do we get into the Park without walking the first 10km on a dirt road?! Yep, hitchhiking. We found a friendly family which took us straight into the park. Unfortunately we didn’t see any of those rare cats, but we saw an abandoned airplane wreck and had a great view onto the second highest mountain of Belize, the Victoria Peak.

Belize is a gorgeous country and I will come back as there’s still places to discover. But now I am in Guatemala! I’m going to bed early today, as my bus for the sunrise at Tikal departs at 3am tomorrow.
Have a great day and always remember to go slow!

Martin

Wildlife in my bed 

Hey there, first of all: Happy New Year! Hope you had some days off to enjoy the festivities with your friends and family. Now it’s 2018 – any New Year resolutions? Tell me about it in the comment section below!

Where should I start? Ok – after some laidback days at the Pacific Coast in Mexico I made my way to San Christobal de las Casas. This is one of the most beautiful historical cities in Mexico, so that sounds pretty cool right? But take a look behind the scenes: This involved a 11h nightbus (I thought it’s 17h) and a temperature difference of around 20°C! Not what I expected 😀 on top of that some travelers told me to be careful, as in the past buses got hijacked at night.

A hot shower, amazing coffee and some delicious pastry followed by a private tour through the city with the hostel owner made me forget about the uncomfortable ride through the night. We saw a lot of indigenous people – Mayans – walking around and it felt like discovering a different country. Great to see they are very inclusive towards their natives, not like in other countries… Just one thing made me being a bit concerned: As mexicans are really into their fireworks they sell it everywhere, also directly next to the Taco stalls on the street – which are all operating with open fire. And for some reason heaps of people smoked around this area. As long nothing happens, right…

San Christobal was definitely too cold for me, so I decided to make a move towards the Carribean Coast of Mexico. That’s 24h on a nightbus (yaaay!) or a 70min flight. As flight and bus were almost the same price I chose transport per aviation 🙂 Next stop: Cancun. Mexicos hotspot for their favorite kind of tourists – Americans. The first (and last) day in Cancun made me laugh, seriously! Prices around Zona Hoteleria are displayed in Dollars and around 10x higher than the usual prices. The beach was too crowded in my opinion, still I have to admit the water was muy bonita (very nice). You will feel very safe here, there’s police everywhere and also they always make sure to bring the biggest gun available. What’s the common opinion about guys with ridiciously big cars 😉

Months ago I heard about an island called Isla Holbox (the X is pronounced as ‘sch’) which is the perfect place to celebrate Christmas at. They’ve also got some nice streetart, beaches and of course delicious food. Holbox is well known for their whale sharks, so you can jump on a boat and the fishermen will take you out to see them. I’m not a big fan as they feed the animals and that’s why I won’t promote to participate on that sort of tour – the ocean is not a zoo, guys!

Christmas Day itself was pleasant, a bunch of people gathered at the beach and I prepared some Margaritas for them. For dinner we had some local catch – the Holbox Lobster! Guess what happened on Christmas Day, just before I went to bed 😀 This french hippie girl occupied the bed which was supposed to be mine (also she took my christmas presents with her?!) but as she was sleeping I didn’t want to wake her up, so I also went to bed (I took hers). Not even 20min later she woke up, switched on her flashlight – and started to scream like a freakin’ lunatic! Turns out there’s a huge black scorpion in her bed 😀 She asked us to catch and kill the scorpion for her. Nice one, Hippie-Girl! Thanks for taking my bed and have fun with my your presents 😉 (the hat won’t suit you anyway!) You might not believe it, but I’m glad she noticed the scorpion before something bad happened – nobody wants to go to a Mexican Hospital on Christmas. Oh wait, they don’t even have a hospital there…

Anyway – after the busy Christmas Days I wanted to go diving again. Have you ever been to an Underwater Museum? Well, if not you definitely should try MUSA next to Isla Mujeres. Unfortunately it was similar-ish to Cancun, so just packed with people. Still a nice place to stay, if you pick the right area.

My last destination in Mexico was Tulum. Does that ring a bell? It’s well known for the Cenotes, beaches and Ruins. Guess what, I managed to see all of these places. The trip to the ruins Cobá was a bit disappointing, but it was an adventure: I rocked up without any money (not on purpose), nearly fainted (also not on purpose) and managed to climb the 60 steps to the ruins top (yep, on purpose!). My first problem was: I forgot my cash at the hostel. Followed by a 20min walk to an out-of-service ATM in the blazing sun. This is why I nearly fainted – some really lovely people from a restaurant helped me to recover myself and also they were really helpful with my ATM problem. If you read this – you’re the best!!!

As the days passed by, we approached the end of the year. How can you make sure to end 2017 in a proper way? Go diving! Well, I’m not a big fan of confined spaces but still I wanted to try Cave Diving. This is so special! Not that much daylight, next to no marine life and even less space to move. I was slightly nervous, but after some time I got used to it. So I can tick that off my Bucket List!

The day ended with a fingerlickin’ good dinner (not at KFC tho) fireworks and Margaritas. And a party at the beach. And another one at a nightclub. I’m ready for 2018, although my mind is still in ’17. It was a great year for so many reasons, lots of things happened. Still there’s room for more – especially personal developement. Is this related to the famous New Years Resolutions? Well, to change something you don’t have to wait until a new year begins. You can start straight away.

Guys, all the best for the New Year! Thanks for reading! If you didn’t subscribe yet – do it! While I’m off to Belize you can tell me about your New Years Resolutions in the comment section below!

Hasta luego,

Martin