After three snail-paced days on Caye Caulker it was a shock to our relaxed systems to be back in big, dirty Belize City. We quickly re-calibrated and focused on the task at hand: getting to San Ignacio.
But where is the bus station? Should we take a cab or walk? When we get there should we take a tourist shuttle or hop on a chicken bus? We quickly learned that travel days are often the most stressful days on the road and the ability to think on your feet and make quick decisions (and stick to them) are tools you must arm yourself with if you want a calm journey.
Our first decision on the journey to San Ignacio was to save a few bucks and walk to the bus station. It was the middle of the day, so how dangerous could Belize City really be? So with a crudely drawn map in hand we set out, feeling confident in our navigation skills and ready to test out our ability to walk a fair distance with all our crap attached to our backs.
Despite being the largest city in Belize, Belize City is extremely dilapidated and difficult to get around in. The infrastructure is severely lacking and there were absolutely no street signs to orient us. We did not feel as though we were in any danger, but we attracted quite a bit of attention as we stomped through the run down neighborhoods. “Look at those white guys!” one teenager called as we walked by.
No street signs rendered our map essentially useless and after walking around hopelessly lost for a while a local stopped us and asked us if we needed help. We told him where we were going, and he offered to walk us there! Still skeptical of strangers (stranger danger!!), but feeling tired enough to not really care, we took him up on his offer and in less than 10 minutes he was pointing at the bus we wanted, wishing us luck, and walking away. He didn’t ask for any money or solicit anything from us in any way. It turns out not all strangers are out to get you.
Our arrival coincided perfectly with a chicken bus leaving for San Ignacio so along with approximately a million other people we elbowed our way onto the brightly colored school bus with a nearly flat tire and away we went.
By not listening to our taxi driver from the first day we ended up a little lost in Belize City. Although we did not feel totally comfortable walking around with our “look at me I’m a tourist” paraphernalia (aka, our backpacks), everything turned out fine in the end. We learned that it’s okay to trust that people are sometimes offering to help because they actually want to help, and I learned that 20-minutes is about my breaking point for walking around with my backpack.
But the question is: would I get a taxi next time? Honestly…probably.
Dollars and Sense
Chicken bus from Belize City to San Ignacio- $4/ person