The motto of Caye Caulker is “Go Slow” and our third and final day in Caye Caulker began VERY slowly. We slept in late, wandered over to a bakery for some breakfast, and attempted to find some Internet. After that stimulating start we were ready to take things down a notch so we found a sunny spot to read, which turned into a nap. Life sure is rough.
Feeling rested (although, let’s be real, I was plenty rested before my nap), we felt compelled to do something with our final day on Caye Caulker. And what exactly did these two idiots from a landlocked state chose to do? We decided to swim across the Split and explore the north island.
What is the “Split”?
Good question. The “Split” is where the island of Caye Caulker literally split into two pieces during a hurricane in the 1960’s. At the time of the split there were only a few families living on the northernmost part, which became separated from the main island by a channel of water. The Split was never repaired and now the northern island’s only occupants are rich-ish, eccentric, hermit types with their own boats wishing to live off the grid. There are no roads, no stores, no electricity, and no tourists.
So why did we decide to visit this island? Well… I’m honestly not really sure. We had not heard of anyone else going across the Split, but we had seen some kids jumping from the trees on the northern island, so I guess we figured, “if they can get over there, why can’t we?” Maybe subconsciously we wanted to try something totally different than what we had read about doing on Caye Caulker. Whatever the reason, we were hell-bent on swimming across the Split.
However, apparently “go slow” applied to our thought processes as well, and without even thinking about silly, unimportant things such as THE TIDE, we jumped in and started swimming.
Getting Swept Out to Sea
I knew right away that we were in TROUBLE. What started out as a leisurely swim across the narrow channel turned into a fight against the current as we were slowly swept out to sea. This description is a tad dramatic as there were about a hundred people lounging at the Lazy Lizard who could have sent help had we been in real danger, but I was terrified all the same.
Logan stayed calm and was able to make it onto a mangrove tree sticking out of the water on the northern side of the channel. After he made it I knew I could too, so I swam, and swam and swam, and after what felt like and eternity I was finally able to grab onto the tree. We laboriously pulled ourselves onto shore, feeling thankful and a little proud that we had not ended up in the open water.
We walked around the island a bit, which was pretty and very rural, but the people who live there did not seem to take well to visitors. We saw none of the inhabitants, but we did encounter their barking dogs and many NO TRESPASSING signs. After walking for maybe 20 minutes it became clear to us why nobody came to this side of the island. There is NOTHING there. So, we turned around and made our way back to the Split, where we gathered our courage to make the dangerous (and idiotic) swim once again.
Making it Back (Alive)
Having learned a little from our stupidity, we set off swimming furiously in the exact opposite direction we wanted to go, letting the current carry us down the channel as we attempted to swim across it. Logan was able to make it right to the ladder on the southern side of the Split and successfully got out of the water all by himself, but I overshot it by about 20 feet and ended up under the dock of the Lazy Lizard where a nice Rasta man reached down and helped me escape from our mis-adventure.
So was it worth it? HELL NO!!!
We both felt dumb and scared and the northern island wasn’t even that cool. The only positive thing that came from the experience was the confidence I gained as a swimmer. While I was battling the current I was sure that I was undertaking an impossible task, but I made it. And once I fought off the urge to break down in tears I actually felt pretty proud of myself. (For the swimming, not the poor decision-making.)
On Dry Land
After some time simply sitting in the water (NOT SWIMMING), a calming rum punch, and watching our final Caye Caulker sunset we went out for what was supposed to be a budget conscious dinner. Haha. Right. On our last night on a lobster fishing island? Unlikely.
Learning from our previous mistake, we made sure to ask how much each lobster cost at our restaurant of choice (La Cubana), before deciding to once again share a gigantic, 14 inch, 2 pound beauty and the three sides that came with it. With a Belikin beer in one hand and grilled lobster dipped in garlic butter in the other we toasted to Caye Caulker and the time we had spent there.
Rookie mistakes, rainy day trips and near death (!!) experiences aside, we loved our time on Caye Caulker. We were able to go slow, eat delicious food and learn valuable lessons about travel. Although we were sad to leave, we were ready for our next adventure in San Ignacio!
Dollars and Sense
TIP: When by the ocean, pay attention to the tide. Revolutionary, right?