It seems like we just got to Placencia, and it was already time to head back to Ambergris Caye. It was another early morning as the alarm rang at 5:45 am. We made coffee and ate oatmeal cookies for a quick breakfast. We had decided to go back a slightly different way, so we could experience two different ways of traveling between the same points. We would take the Hokey Pokey water taxi from the lagoon side of Placencia over to Independence and catch an express bus to Belize City there, avoiding the bus change in Dangriga and all the extra stops of the non-express bus.
Jacki kindly gave us a ride to the water taxi dock. This turned out to be a very good thing because the dock was not where our map put it, and we might have missed the boat if we'd been walking. We said our goodbyes and waited for the boat to pull up to the dock.
Emily waiting for the Hokey Pokey
Hokey Pokey water taxi dock
Boat from Independence that we would board to go back there
Right as the boat got going, it started raining HARD. There was a large piece of plastic beside my seat that all the passengers pulled over ourselves to keep from getting soaked. Barry and I were sitting in the front row, so along with another couple, had to form boat's "windshield" by holding the plastic down in front. Because of this, we didn't get to see anything along what was presumably a very pretty boat ride. Disappointing, but yet another reason to go back for another visit! By the end of the twelve-minute boat ride I also ended up sitting in a puddle of water that leaked in, so the butt of my skirt was soaked and looked like I'd peed myself. Classy!
I tried to peek out, but once the boat got going fast, I had to pull the plastic down completely.
Our boat after docking - hard to tell, but it was raining hard
It was still pouring when we got to Independence, so we waited awhile in the covered ferry shelter as we had plenty of time, or so we thought, before the 7:30 am James bus. Finally, we could wait no longer and shared a taxi with a couple from Madison, WI we'd been talking to ($2 BZD per person). Unfortunately, when we got to the stop, the bus had just left -- 15 minutes BEFORE the posted time of 7:30 am! I didn't realize anything was ever early in Belize! Our cab driver was great, though; he sped off after the bus honking his horn and finally got the bus driver to stop and pick us up. We were lucky as this was an "express" bus, so the driver could have refused, but fortunately he wanted our fares.
This bus would take us all the way to Belize City for $22 BZD each ($11 US) with a minimum of stops (only in the cities of Dangriga and Belmopan, not all along the way), so it would be faster than our trip down. Also, the bus was air conditioned and the seats were nicer than the buses we took down. The A/C was set to sub-arctic temperatures, though, though, so I was glad for my wind jacket, and Barry wore his rain jacket the entire bus ride to stay warm. One time we dared to open our window to try to let some warm air in, and the attendant came by and promptly shut it!
This bus driver didn't have the radio tuned to the terrible "mash-up" station we'd been subjected to on the the Ritchie's bus on the trip south, though he kept changing the station for the entire ride. He was also "horn happy" and gave long blasts of the horn at just about everyone we passed along the way, whether car, truck, pedestrian, or cyclist. I guess he was just being a bit overzealous in his safety warnings, but it was really annoying. We even saw locals outside turn and give him dirty looks. If I were biking on the road and heard that kind of a blast from behind, I would jump out of my skin!
Definitely the nicest bus we took on the entire trip, and the least crowded
We stopped at two different bus terminals along the way, and Barry and I each had to use the facilities at one of them. The bathrooms in Belize bus terminals are not free -- Dangriga charges $1 BZD, and Belmopan charges $.50 BZD. This fee doesn't buy you any toilet paper, hot water, or a paper towel, just a toilet and cold water to wash your hands. The money is obviously lining someone's pockets b/c it sure isn't put to use maintaining the rest rooms!
Bus terminal in Belmopan, the capital city of Belize
Our express bus from Independence to Belize City
Belize City bus terminal
We finally got to Belize City (called "Belize" by the locals and those in the know) and grabbed a taxi to the ferry terminal for $10 BZD. It was lunchtime, and we had an hour to kill before the next ferry to San Pedro, so had a nice lunch of Belizean stew chicken, stew beans and rice, and veggies and shared a huge Michelada at one of the small eateries in the ferry terminal. Unlike in a US airport, where food prices are inflated, the restaurants in the ferry terminal are quite reasonable. Our lunches cost just $8 BZD ($4 US) each. The Michelada was a bit pricey at $10 BZD, but it was huge.
We ate at Anna's Lunch Box in the ferry terminal
An $8 BZD lunch - tasty and plenty of it, with homemade hot sauce
We thought we were going to be on the same large ferry boat back to the Caye that we came over on several days earlier, but the number of passengers waiting to board was on the small side, so we all had to pile onto a boat not much larger than a Coastal Express water taxi. If it had poured rain, we would have gotten wet as there were no more seats inside. Fortunately, there were only a few spits of light rain on the boat ride, despite the ominous looking sky.
Our little green boat back to San Pedro
When we arrived in San Pedro, we walked over to Pampered Paws to pick Paisley up. She was in the play area when I got there and started jumping over and over when she heard me come in. She had made a friend, "Biggie", who was super cute. He appeared to be some sort of bulldog mix. Kathy told us that they had a blast playing together and posted this funny photo on Facebook earlier that day. He looked really sad to see her go.
Paisley and Biggie playing tug-o-war
While I was paying, Paisley found a large rawhide bone in one of the bins of merchandise for sale in the storefront and carried it over to us proudly. We couldn't take it away from her; after all, it was her fourth birthday on this Groundhog's Day! So, that was her birthday gift. She carried it all the way through town on the walk to the Coastal Express water taxi terminal.
We got a lot of comments and smiles from people as we paraded her through town on her leash with her bone. We could tell she wanted to find a place to "bury" it. Sure enough, when we got home, she quickly located a nice hiding place in our shower, and then crashed to sleep off her exciting visit to Pampered Paws. Glad we've found a place to take her where she is safe and well-treated, and can find new friends to play with too!
Paisley showing her new bone to "Biggie"
Okay, time to go home, and me with my bad new bone!
Leaving Pampered Paws -- so glad they are here in San Pedro!
Not long after arriving back at our condo in Chico Caribe, the heavens broke loose again and we got a heavy rain. People here said it had been raining every evening as well (though not as much during the day as in Placencia). We are still waiting for dry season to kick in!
All in all, even with the disappointing Scarlet Macaw hunt, it was a great trip, and we loved Placencia. For those who are interested, here's a summary of our trip expenses:
Transportation (ferries, buses, taxis to/from Placencia): $278 BZD ($139 US)
Lodging (3 nights): $392 BZD ($196 US)
All meals out: $337 BZD ($168.50 US)
Car rental, gas, and tour guide + tip (Red Bank trip): $290 BZD ($145 US)
Miscellaneous (snacks): $8.50 BZD ($4.25 US)
Pampered Paws (boarding + food): $100 BZD ($50 US)
TOTAL: $1405.50 BZD ($702.75 US)