“Slow down, why you walking so fast, man. Take it slow.” One of the locals said to me in a Caribbean accent. I smiled at him and nodded. I had no reply for him, I always walk like I have somewhere to go.
My day started with a 0300 wakeup call. After making a protein shake, getting dressed, and stripping off the bed, my dad was already asking me if I was ready to go. He was driving me to the airport. I replied I needed at least another 15 minutes. This was my third time leaving to a new distant land to go write a book in The Chapters of My Life Series. I had packed the night before, and for once, I’d been able to cut back on what I was taking with me. But, I still needed to grab the last of my things, before I could head out the door.
The flights to Belize City, from Boston, via Miami, unfolded without any issues. I arrived, and, as soon as I had my luggage, my long sleeve shirt was stripped off, down to a tank-top, and my sneakers switched out for sandals before I made my way to the local gate for my flight to Caye Caulker. It was beach time! It’d snowed during my short two weeks back to Massachusetts, so I was excited to get back to the beach.
I was the only passenger on the small propeller plane heading to Caye Caulker. I could’ve taken a water taxi, it would‘ve been cheaper, but also longer. Since I get sea sick, the 10 minute plane ride worked for me. I felt like a well-traveled millionaire taking a private plane to my own island! The water was a beautiful, clear blue, and welcoming me to my home for the next seven days.
I landed, exited the plane, and was asked if I needed a taxi. I wasn’t sure where my Airbnb cottage was located so I accepted the offer the attendant made of calling me a taxi. The island is only five miles long and a mile wide, at its widest point, so I was pretty sure I could’ve handled the walk, but how many times do you get to take a golf cart as a taxi? There are very few cars on Caye Caulker, transportation is either by golf cart, bicycle, or on foot.
I checked-in to my new home, traded everything I was wearing for a bathing suit and shorts, applied sun tan lotion, and went exploring—that’s when I was called out for walking too fast. I would later learn the moto of the island is in fact: Go Slow.
Caye Caulker is a simple place, with a few streets, and about a half mile ocean front strip with a few restaurants, bars, a coffee shop, and a few places advertising rooms for rent. There are no resorts to be found. One side of the island is for tourists, and the other side, for its residents. Although small, and designed for tourism, it didn’t feel touristy. There’s a healthy selection of companies from which to select snorkeling, or diving tours to a plethora of spots all advertising exciting sights and sea life.
I did a one day sailing and snorkeling tour with Raggamuffin tours. I hadn’t snorkeled since my time on Okinawa, a good 14 years ago. It was an excellent tour—took sea sickness pills, so I didn’t have any issues. We stopped in three different locations, and the guides took us around pointing out the sea creatures and different aspects of the thriving barrier reef. Most memorable was swimming with the nurse sharks, string rays, and seeing a green eel. We were treated to juicy pineapple and watermelon on the way to our initial stop, lunch after our first excursion, and delicious shrimp ceviche on our way back. I met and chatted it up with a couple from Quebec, and later a guy from Toronto. I encountered quite a few Canadians on this trip. It was a splendid day!
Aside from my day out at sea, snorkeling, my time on Caye Caulker was spent in a routine of waking up early, exercising on the beach, having breakfast at the Caribbean Colors Art Café (loved both their egg whites omelets, which came with a nice serving of fruits, and yummy banana bread and their banana pancakes, which were light and fluffy), writing, followed by taking various breaks to enjoy some sort of water activity.
I rented a sea kayak a few times. My first sea kayak experience was in Dubrovnik where I initially struggled, lagging behind the other couple on the tour with me. But eventually—I figured out how to paddle properly, something I remembered how to do. I surprised myself with how easily and familiar paddling felt once I got back in a kayak. I had kayaked one other time, at Lake Bled, in Slovenia.
My Caye Caulker first was wind surfing. I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly didn’t think it was going to be easy, but I also didn’t think the two hour lesson was going to wear me down, as much as it did. The sail was so much lighter than I expected it to be, meaning, it didn’t offer me the balance I was looking for. The balance, my instructor kept reminding me, is in leaning back and keeping my arms straight while comfortably keeping my hips forward. The position he wanted me in, was not one my body allowed me to achieve. I fell a lot and had to hop back on the board, re-establishing myself into the neutral position. I did manage to learn some of the basics like the neutral position, front and back turns, and I even sailed back and forth for a bit. If I lived by the beach, I’m pretty sure I would pick-up windsurfing as a regular addition to the activities I partook in.
The day came when it was time to go and I felt bummed out. I was a little behind on my word count, and definitely not ready to leave. It was with a heavy heart I looked back at the tiny island, surrounded by clear blue water, as I flew back to the mainland to pick-up my vehicle for the next leg of my adventure.