Belize 1: Caye Caulker

In an amazing first, the optional rest period was not observed.  The team headed straight down the main street of Caye Caulker to find Raggamuffin tours, a provider that runs a three day, two night sailing, camping and snorkelling cruise through the Belizean Caribbean.

Heeding the calls to slow down, the team ambled their way through the town.  After a while they arrived at the Raggamuffin stand and quickly read the notice that said that they were closed until November!  Hugely disappointed, they were about to give up when they noticed some rasta types hanging around the back of the Raggamuffin stand.  Inquiries with the staff quickly revealed that while Raggamuffin was closed, they would be willing to run a tour provided eight able seadogs could be press-ganged into coming aboard.  The manager told the team that there were two other people interested already.

Ah drinking…

Energised with this additional challenge, the team set off to the nearby hostel of Bella’s.  There they were able to successfully locate the two Canadian dudes who had found a pair of Dutch girls who were also interested in the trip.  The team exchanged relevant details with the Canadians and set off to recruit others.

Four guard dogs cover all angles

Along with organising the sailing trip, the team’s task was to sample each of the dinner options and rate which is the best. Ignoring most of the touts, the team settled on a small ice cream/lobster joint.  This restaurant, like most on the island, had a big grill out the front.  Two lobster meals were ordered for $15 each.  Simon and Ang both scored their lobsters and the restaurant, 8/10.

Water cocktail

The next morning excellent progress was made on the additional passengers for the sailing trip.  Whilst at breakfast, Ang was able to sell the sailing trip to three Irish friends, who were travelling the Amazing Exclusive Race Ireland.  With the addition of the extra three, the quota had been met.  Contact was made with Raggamuffin tours and a briefing session organised for that afternoon.  To celebrate, the team swam at the split and ate banana bread, fresh from the cake man.  Simon was told to slow down when he went to pay the man, which was a hard thing to do as he was wading through chest high water at the time.

Golf cart parking

At the briefing session, the nine passengers gave their deposits and were given some information on the trip.  Charlie, the owner of Raggamuffin, was confident that the trip would go ahead, but she organised another meeting for the following day to confirm.  The only thing that could prevent the trip from going ahead was the weather.  If the forecast was ok, they would depart on the Friday.

With the meeting completed, team Australia along with team Ireland headed to the next restaurant on the list – Rosie’s.  The tout for this place had the advantage of a table full of lobster for the teams to pick from.  A discount was organised and the two teams from the two separate series sat down to eat dinner.  Despite the discount, the lobster and sides were disappointing at Rosie’s due to the tout hype and the cost.  Simon gave them 6/10 and Ang 7/10.

The next morning involved more going slow and general relaxing.  Rather ominously, James, an Australian electrian who team Australia had met on the water taxi from Mexico, randomly and somewhat like a storm bird, decided that the one cloud in the sky meant rain was on its way.  He promptly left the island, heading further south to Panama.  Later that afternoon, showers started…

Golf buggy mechanic

On their return from their lunchtime walk to the split, the team sampled the food of a guy known as Budget Man.  He had a simple set up of 4 huge pots on a table and served cheap tasty food.  The team sampled his tender chicken thighs and were hugely impressed, despite possible food hygiene issues.  Simon scored this food 9/10, even though it wasn’t lobster.

Ordering from the Budget Man

Then it was time for the meeting with Charlie from Reggamuffin.  The outlook for the trip was not good as the rain over Central America was swirling over Belize.  The passengers were given the option to pull out, but all elected to wait one more day in the hope of a clear forecast.  Rain continued to develop during the day, with many of the local streets slightly flooded.

Pier to nowhere Another pier to nowhere
Partially flooded street, Caye Caulker

That night, continuing with the food challenge for this leg continued with the team eating at La Bodgerdita Del Medeo, a Cuban run knock of the Cuban owned original version.  The tout out the front was very annoying and the lobster overhyped, possibly undercooked with miniature sides.  Simon rated this worst of the restaurants tried so far, scoring it 5/10.  Ang refused to provide a rating due to the highly annoying tout.  Ang would later say, “who cares if you are running for mayor, have 5 passports and are wanted for crimes in three Central American countries, I just wanted to eat in peace”.

Unauthorised Cuban rip-off avoids being sued by tilting some letters

The next day brought bad news. Heavy rains over night and no sign of clearing weather meant the Raggamuffin tour would not go ahead.  All teams were given a deviation.  A deviation occurs when circumstances outside of a team’s control mean they are unable to complete a challenge. In this instance bad weather prevented completion of the sailing trip, so an alternative challenge was provided.  Team Australia was to complete a one day snorkelling trip.  This was hastily organised for the next day.

Sunset panorama

For dinner that night, the teams finally gave into the ridiculous over the top touting (even for a Caye Caulker tout) that was embodied in the Lobster King.  He had been persistent with his outlandish claims (and so had been avoided up to now).  Simon’s favourite was ‘we’ve got it all tonight – two kinds of meats; lobster and chicken; lobster and beef; lobster and fish – together as one’ all accompanied with outrageous hand gestures illustrating the marriage of meats.  Simon reckoned that even if the food was not good, the experience should be entertaining.  A discount of 20% for the group was secured before both the Irish and Australian teams committed.

Soon the teams ordered and were provided with what was surprisingly good value.  They ate their meals and were not annoyed by any touts, including the King himself. Despite half the lobster missing from the whole lobster (probably used for the lobster curry), Simon and Ang rated the quality 8/10. This was equal to the first night, but the value for money was much better.

Buoyed by their meal, both teams headed to the Ocean Front bar where drinks were ordered.  Ang in particular took advantage of this to order big.  Outside, due to the rain during the day, Budget Man had set up shop for a rare dinner special.  This was much more interesting than the bar, as Budget Man had brought along a Garfiuna drum band to support his sales of food.

Team Ireland and Australia at the pub
Large cocktail Empty cocktail (Ang is sad)

Later, after a quick nightcap at the I and I bar, the team correctly identified the Budget Man as the best value for money food provider on the island (even though he didn’t do whole lobster).

With all tasks complete and the next morning’s rain meaning the snorkel trip was cancelled, the team (along with team Ireland), boarded a water taxi for Belize City.

Ya man, we are Rastas

…to be continued.


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