Crooked Tree is said to be named for its many cashew trees (which do have a rather crooked, multi-branched habit) by early logwood cutters boating on the Belize River and Black Creek to what is now the Crooked Tree Lagoon (source: Lonely Planet). It's a small, sleepy village with a sparse full-time population, but fortunately, one of the "chicken bus" lines in Belize, Jex, runs a daily bus to the village. Since we are traveling on a budget in order to see as much of Belize as possible, this sounded perfect to us. We'd take the ferry to Belize City, then grab the bus to Crooked Tree and avoid car rental and taxi charges.
We made reservations at the Crooked Tree Lodge, a charming family-run place right on the Crooked Tree Lagoon. Mick and Angie run the lodge and live there with their two young sons and a menagerie of dogs. There are a handful of simple casitas of various sizes (starting at $60 US per night) with lovely water views; and delicious, colorful, healthy meals are cooked and served in the timberframe lodge. There is also an honor bar, where guests can grab a Belikin, a soda, or mix a drink on their own, listing their purchases in a notebook.
Getting there - always an adventure...
Finding the bus was another matter. From our research, we knew that the bus "terminal" should be on the other side of the famous swing bridge, but once we walked across, we saw no sign of it. We did see some other buses there, and upon asking some men standing around, learned that we had to walk a bit farther to find the Jex Bus. So it wasn't "just" on the other side of the bridge after all. We continued walking down the road, but all we saw was an old broken down bus a ways down, and it didn't even look like it was in running order. So we backtracked to a small hotel we'd just walked by and asked a nice lady inside the lobby if she knew where the Jex Bus terminal was. Turns out the "broken down" bus we'd seen down the road was indeed the Jex Bus! Yep, sometimes it's hard to "belize" things here!
The bus looked a bit sketchy, as did the building next door, and we had a bit of a wait, but it was all fine. Since there was nowhere else to sit, we went ahead and boarded the bus and waited the 45 minutes or so until departure, watching people come and go from the building next door. At some point they opened up the door, and it looked like some sort of a Lion's Club building or something similar, nothing as illicit as what my active imagination had conjured up!
Crooked Tree Village
Cashews, a very interesting "nut"
Crooked Tree Lodge
To be continued...