The Place to Go Slow
After a long journey from Tulum in Mexico through Chetumal and San Pedro, I arrive at the beautiful bounty island of Caye Caulker in Belize. A small island with crystal clear water and home to a Rastafarian community of no more than a 1000 people.
Strolling the sandy streets, I hear the reggae music playing from every corner and people with big dreads walk around barefooted. The smell of marihuana finds its way into my nose and everywhere I go, I get told by signs to go slow which apparently is a way of life in Caye Caulker. Since the island has no cars, I know the signs are not meant for them but for me and the rest of the walkers and of course, the golf charters and people on bicycles.
It doesn’t take long before I start feeling myself going slower and at the same time I find myself falling in love with both the people and their creole language which is a broken English that entails everything I combine with being Rastafarian. I cross a sign saying “Anda De Wata Tours” which shows the broken elements in the English – you just gotta love it! At the same time, it doesn’t take long before the people of the island start feeling like a little family. Even though, I’ve only mentioned my name once, everywhere I go, people remember it and great me, stop for a chat and give out hugs.
I guess Caye Caulker is just one of those places that slows your pace, lets time stand still for a while and just lets you be exactly who you are and are meant to be. My hostel, The Tropical Oasis, captures this essence perfectly. Here you’ll find exactly the right vibe and energy combined with a good amount of beautiful and inspiring people. The place is in no way clean, but I guess you really don’t need cleanness to have a good time. At the Tropical Oasis, you’ll find yourself sleeping in small wooden houses or tents set around the sandy camp site. During the day, you can choose to relax in the hostels comfortable hammocks.
Diving Caye Caulker
So beside going slow and enjoying the Rastafarian vibe, what else is there to do at Caye Caulker? Well, Caye Caulker is world famous for its marine and underwater life, which is why I decide to take my diving career a bit further and do an advanced adventure course here. Every since I started diving, I’ve been hearing about the famous Blue Hole and now I’m finally here.
To explain it shortly, the Blue Hole is an old cenote that has been eaten up by sea. Besides fish and rays, it’s now home to both sharks, dolphins and whales, but most of all, you go diving here because of the amazing stalactites that have been formed during millions of years. You’ll find the stalactites at a depth of 40 meters which is why you’ll need to be an advanced diver. This is where my course gets in handy.
In all, I do 6 dives in 2 days while studying the material for the course. 2 hectically days but definitely worth the effort. The Blue Hole gets to be my second deep dive. The first, I do the day before to get me ready for the Blue Hole.
From Caye Caulker, it takes around 3 hours to get to the Blue Hole by boat. On our way out there, we spot a big group of pilot whales. They’re playing around the boat, and if it wasn’t for the fact that they are hunters just like the killer whales, we would immediately get our scuba gear and go diving with them. But it’s probably wiser to stay on the boat.
After our amazing dive at the Blue Hole, we stop at a small bounty island called Half Moon Bay. Here we get served lunch before heading out to our next 2 dives that are just as amazing as the dive at the Blue Hole.
Under the water, you’ll find a whole world filled with corals and fish in all colours and shapes. You’ll find sharks, turtles, lobsters, big crabs, moray eels and of course, the beautiful sting and eagle rays. For a short amount of time, I get to be part of this amazing world – and I love it!
As part of my course to become an advanced diver, I do a night dive. Everything in my body just yells “hell no” when we set off with the boat at sunset. It feels so wrong being on your way out for a dive when the darkness is closing in on you. It feels even more wrong putting on all your scuba gear getting ready to jump into completely black water. All the light we got, is the light from our torch which attracts all kind of marine life, and while I’m feeding a brain coral with small red worms, all the sudden a sting ray finds it way down my right shoulder – what a scary and at the same time thrilling experience!
So what do I do when I’m not diving? Mostly, I just lay around in a hammock listening to the waves, looking up at the palm trees and the blue sky. If I’m feeling active, I go kayaking or do yoga on a rooftop while the sun sets. At lunch and dinner time, I enjoy the amazing food of the island. My favourite dish is the curry coconut lobster. Comes night time, I meet up with the people from my dives or the people from the hostel at one of the bars. Yeah, I know, I guess it is what they call the sweet life.