Trip to Belize, San Ignacio, Tikal , San Pedro, and May Flower Bocawina Forest.
We flew from Miami to Belize city on AA flight. It was a short flight less than 2 hours. Belize city airport was small, kind of old but people were friendly. It took less than 40 minutes to go through immigration and customs.
We had reserved with Belize Shuttle a car for us to take us to San Ignacio. Young man named Jamar was waiting for us. Jamar was very proud and knowledgeable driver who stopped for us to get coconut water and lunch. He gave us lots of info about the area. The road was full of speed bumps. They were affectionately called sleeping policeman by locals. We were in San Ignacio Welcome center within couple of hours. Our hotel Crystal Paradise Resort shuttle picked us up. This resort was very beautiful. The grounds were kept immaculate. We felt we were in Hawaii. Again the roads were kind of bumpy.
We spend two nights here. Nice dining room Breakfast lunch and dinner were served. BF was US $ 10, dinner $ 15.00. Everyone ate the same food. Salad, Soup, Entre, Desert. Food was nutritious and had local flair. The owner Victor was very friendly. His family took care of the resort. Each room had thatched roof, no TV or AC. But it was pleasant with chairs and Hammock outside. There is a small hike to the river down. Ms. Clara helped us a lot with reservation etc. We went to town had a lunch and went by local fresh vegetable market. There were many food vendors there. Wish we had eaten there instead of in restaurant. We took a local bus back to the resort. We did not see the Mayan ruins in this town as we were going to Tikal next day.
The border to Guatemala is less than 15 miles. One of the resort employees was going that way, and gave us the ride to the border. We exchanged $ 100.00 US for local currency 700 Quetzal from money changer. Had to pay US 20 for exit of Belize fee, entered Guatemala, had to stamp passport, no charges. Lots of people there. We were looking for a bus or taxi to Flores. One of the cab driver latched on to us and started from 600 till we settled for 300.00 Quetzal. We had booked a rental car from AVIS at Flores airport. It was much cheaper than in Belize. $ 95.00 for 2 days , including insurance and taxes. We drove to Tikal. Flores is a nice town on the huge lake. Lots of resorts and restaurants here. Its less than 40 miles to Tikal. We had booked a room in the Tikal National forest Jaguar Inn. Biggest Burger King and Pizza Hut I saw were in Flores. Drove to Tikal with stop over to for coconuts for 5 Quetzal.
Entrance fees for the park were 150 Q per person per day. No charge cards or US Dollars accepted. As we were staying in the park for two days it would be double the amount. Luckily the ticket agent told us to wait till 3PM and then he will charge us for only a day. For Guatemalan citizens it was only 25 Q. per day.
During dinner and breakfast we had met a Canadian Couple, we decided to take guided tour together lowering our cost of the tour $ 35 instead of $ 50.00. Mayan ruins were great. Still do not know what happened to them after 1200 AD. Jaguar Inn had limited power 6-9 AM and 6-9 PM. No TV no AC. Bring few small flash lights and mosquito repellent. After the guided tour we drove to little town called El Remate (?) 30 minute drive. There were quite a few restaurants and hotel in towns. Food was ok. Later that night power was shut down after 9 PM. Saw lots of stars. Next morning drove to Flores and returned the car. Beautiful young lady at AVIS was very friendly and nice. Gave us a ride back to Green Monkey Hostel ( Had the best cup of coffee there) for a coach ride to Belize City Marine terminal ( Marlin Espadas ). The bus was AC and cost was only $ 20.00 per person. Back to the border for change of bus and stamp passports. We had to get on to new bus as Guatemala bus could not enter Belize. There are too many bumps on this road. They were known in Belize as a sleeping policeman. Stopped 3 places and we were an hour late for Belize express water Taxi for San Pedro. The cost was $ 35.00 round trip. Our bus driver could have sold it to us for $ 30.00.As it was Christmas Eve this place was busy. Hour and half ride were ok.
In San Pedro we had reserved a cart with XRT rental. They were at the port waiting for me. They drove us to Captain Morgan Resort with our luggage in the extra cart. The manager and his staff were very nice. They did not charge us for that extra cart for the luggage. Cost for seven days for rental was less than $ 300.00.
In San Pedro our resort was on the Ocean, each room faced water, swimming pool and coconut trees. It was the time share exchange. Very relaxing place, had a complete restaurant and a full bar at the main pool. We had a kitchen in our condo, and had bought basic food from US. Most of the grocery stores in town had a same price. They either were owned by Chinese or Lebanese people. Anything American coasted over 3 times. So if you plan to cook, try and bring all the basics. Having a cart made us going back and forth to town easy. There was a small toll bridge with $ 1.00 toll each way. Mohamed, the manager at XRT rental gave us a pass to cross for free. San Pedro was the smallest resort town we had been to. We eat at Neri's Tacos, El Fogon and Elvi's (?) We liked Neri's and El Fogon a lot as you got your money's worth. Neri's Tacos was for local people. They were always busy. It was very reasonable and, freshly prepared .Wife and kids went to 9 AM Yoga classes ( $ 15.00) . Unlike Guatemala, Belize accepted US dollars with the rate 2 to 1. All prices mentioned here are US dollars.
We had bought 2 bottles of wine and vodka from a duty free shop in Miami. Wine and liquor were very expensive in Belizean regular stores. When you land in Belize there is a duty free shop, once you get out of immigration area, where you can purchase alcohol and walk out with it. We felt that the grocery stores were kind of expensive compared to the restaurants. We wondered how local service people survived paying the high prices to eat. Having no Wal-Mart makes everything expensive.
We had brought Christmas candies, chocolates, ornaments, flash lights etc. We gave them to local kids. Little things bought so much joy to their life. Little kids always shared their candies with their friend and families. Thought about us in USA, we have so much. We as a family gave some our clothes to people working in our resort. Our goal was to relax and have family times. My grown children went to town every day. On Friday evening we took a very relaxing Sunset cruise with SEADUCED for $ 45.00 cash. It included some drinks and some food.
On 31st morning we returned the cart and took Belize water taxi back to Belize City. We had reserved a rental car for next two days with Crystal car rental. Rina helped us a lot. All car rentals were expensive compared to US. Cost was $ 150.00 for 2 days. Gas was close $ 5.00/ gallon.
We dropped our son at the airport and headed toward Mayflower Bocawina Rain Forest. It was About 100 miles from Belize City. Driving in Belize is same as US. Important thing to remember is that if you plan to take left turn, pull over to right shoulder, check for the front and rear before you takes left turn. The Western Hwy up to the Capitol Belmopan was bumpy. Be careful as it could damage to your car. We always looked out for car ahead breaking to warn us. Wife was in charge to spot these bumps but after missing 3 bumps I had to fire her. ( LOL) . She was more interested in poor stray dogs on the street. We found a hole in the wall restaurant in Hattieville, which is on the left after the roundabout to get on Western Hwy. We drank coconut water and eat local chicken, rice, beans for $ 4.50. It was very good. After capitol Belmopan the road got better. It was evening, little cold and slight rain. Surrounding mountains had low hanging clouds. It was just beautiful. Felt that this part of Belize was more prosperous. Found out later that there were Amish or Mennonites people living there. Pot holes on the road were filled with gravel unlike any other place.
Bocawina Mayflower rain forest was 4.5 miles off main road to Placencia/Hopkins. No services of any kind nearby. Entrance was $5.00 per car/ week. Resort we stayed had a nice restaurant. Room had no TV or AC. Resort was more expensive to stay, eat and do excursions. Very nice waitress at the restaurant.. Internet was very slow if you got on to it. We Hiked to Bocawina water fall lower level. We were there by ourselves. It was very beautiful and peaceful. Due to the rain the path was little muddy.
Next noon we drove to Hopkins. It was only 12 miles from our resort. It was sleepy town with the worst dirt roads we have driven on. As it was New Year’s Day most people were partying. Saw dance troupe going from one house to other. They wore costume and were carrying make believe sword. Couple of people drummed and other 3 took turn doing some dance routine. I would imagine they were following their traditions. I would imagine they were trying to bring in a good luck and word off evil spirits. We met the owner of Driftwood Pizza. She invited us to 7th anniversary party at her place. Lots of local people and few tourists. Cold beer, chicken, ribs, pork chops, and pizza were on the menu. Had a DJ. Very reasonable. This was our last night of vacation.
Next morning we drove back to Belize airport. Close to the airport we found local Chinese restaurant. It was very good. Airport was very busy. Lots of shops. People were friendly. Flight back to Miami on AA was fine. But once we landed in Miami on ( January 2nd evening) hell was waiting for us. Both Miami Airport authorities and American Airlines get ZERO points from us.
All through the vacation we were worried about mosquitoes and Zika virus. We had bought enough repellent (in checked luggage) In San Pedro there were lots of mosquitoes , got bitten many times as we stayed out after dark. But none of us four got sick with Zika virus. Sometimes we feel our government blows everything out of proportion.
It was a nice and relaxing vacation. It took me long time ti figure out the mechanics of getting one place to other.