Part 1: A few photos of Hopkins
Where do you wanna go?
About as extreme as cycling gets in laid back Hopkins
A friendly local called Will came and chatted to us one evening,
he was drinking Guinness brewed in Belize
…and he worked in ‘pharmaceuticals’…
Part 2: River Tubing through the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
The first couple of days in Hopkins had been a bit of a letdown as I mentioned in the last blog, mainly because the whole beach was choked by seaweed and the only other local activities are all excursions to places outside of town which cost a minimum of $90 USD (about £65 GBP) each.
Thankfully we met some really awesome people at The Funky Do Do including a friendly couple from Wyoming called Bryan and Claire, and a cheerful guy called Freek (pronounced Frayk) from The Netherlands. Bryan is a fellow snowboarder and lives not far from a famous ski resort in the US called Jackson Hole (stomping ground of legendary pro snowboarder Mr T. Rice) so of course we were gonna be friends! Add to this that me, Vicky, Bryan and Claire had shared the most random Valentine’s Day celebrations ever by playing crazy golf and drinking cheap rum-based-beverages at The Windschief…and appearing on the bar’s Facebook live broadcast.
Anyway, I digress.
Bryan and Claire were kind enough to offer me, Vicky and Freek spaces in their rental car so we could all enjoy a day at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s a 10-minute drive from Hopkins to the sanctuary and entry to the reserve only costs $10 BZD (about £3.50 GBP) yet the official tours from Hopkins are all around $100 USD (about £70 GBP); basically the official tours are all a massive rip off. So, to try and repay Bryan and Claire’s kindness we decided to make a packed lunch for everyone; it’s all about that travel karma peeps!
Hiring the river tubes is an extra $15 BZD (about £5 GBP) per person from the visitor centre. After they’ve pointed you towards the tubes and the mandatory life-jackets you’re simply left to your own devices to start the muddy 30-minute walk/hike to the river. It’s a fairly simple journey but you do feel a decent rush of adventure since you’re basically wandering around a Belizian jungle without supervision; especially for me and Freek since we had made awful choices in footwear (i.e. flip-flops) which just got sucked off our feet into the wet mud most of the time. In the end I just went into full Bear-Grylls-mode and spent most of the day walking barefoot through the jungle; I’ll be honest, it felt pretty Zen!
Claire, Bryan, me and Freek amped for the upcoming tubing
We saw these little legends all over the place carrying many times their own body weight in leaves
The tubing itself was definitely an experience, highlights of our 25-minute float-fest included:
- being eaten alive by mosquitoes and other water loving insects
- linking our 5 river tubes together with life jackets in one giant doughnut so no one got lost or left behind (we decided this was a much better use of the jackets instead of actually wearing them)
- numerous incidents where serious team paddling was required to avoid various flotsam and jetsam, logs, rocks and low hanging trees
- bashing into said low hanging trees/vines and accidentally dislodging myriad jungle creepy-crawlies into our laps (Freek won this contest when he noticed he’d welcomed a particularly large spider into his river tube)
The humungous jungle trees were epic!
(and so were the number of insect bites I got from river tubing, as evidenced by my pointing finger)
Overall it was a massively fun day out and I’d definitely recommend it, just be sure to taken plenty of bug spray and a change of clothes.
Part 3: Classic Hostel Camaraderie
Bryan and Claire had gone on a snorkelling/fishing trip the next day and caught a whopping six king mackerel! Having gifted four of the six fish to the local guide who had run the trip they brought back two massive fillets for a good old communal cook up.
Setting up a cooking assembly line with Bryan chopping, Vic egging/flouring, me bread crumbing, and Adam and Freek deep frying, we got those chunks of king mackerel plated-up a treat.
Breadcrumbing the King Mackerel
Adam and Freek get deep frying
The finished product having been caught just hours earlier, such a vibrant white colour
Part 4: Hopkins to Placencia
Our hostel friends had all left a couple of days before we did since we’d made the mistake of booking 6 nights in advance, so we were somewhat trapped in Hopkins. Sufficed to say we were keen to move on when the time came.
Thankfully the local bus stop is only about 50 metres from the front door of the Do Do so we didn’t have far to lug the backpacks. The 9am bus turned up at 9:30am after a somewhat bizarre wait at the bus stop listening to some local women gossip very loudly and hurl light-hearted abuse at other locals in a mix of Creole and heavily-accented English, the best one-liners being:
“Hey big-head, I’m gonna wop you off that bike!”
(directed at some poor bloke riding his bike)
“Women in this town be crazy bitches!”
(directed at me as we started laughing at the previous comment)
The hour’s bus direct from Hopkins to Placencia was only $6 BZD (about £2 GBP) each and the journey was fairly uneventful, other than the usual high-speed swerves and honking at people, animals and other vehicles that got in the way. The first sign that we were in the Placencia area was a strange housing development called ‘The Placencia Residences’ which reminded me of a budget version of the intro to Miami Vice.
Once off the bus we jumped in a $5 USD taxi to our next accommodation at the Manatee Inn just a short walk from the beach. Whilst we were grateful to be staying in a place with a bit more space than the hostel, we found that unfortunately the seaweed was also a massive problem in Placencia.
The seaweed-choked beach in Placencia
So much plastic; so depressing
The far end of the beach was thankfully a lot cleaner and actually swimmable which was nice, after having spent the last 7 days living by the ocean in Hopkins but feeling that it was too dirty to swim in; and even better than that, we were able to see dolphins frolicking in the harbour waters as they fed.
Local kids play in the warm waters of Placencia harbour as the sun sets
Tune in next week to hear more about the awesome little town of Placencia and how Vic passed her scuba diving PADI Open Water Certificate!