Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Bus Ride to Belize

I thought that I would have ready access to internet for most of my trip, but the opposite has occurred. Most of the buses and terminals did not have internet access, and once I got into Mexico, I could not find places to charge my devices either. One at a time, everything went dead. First my mp3 player, then my laptop, then my phone, and last of all my Kindle. Technically not dead yet, but with Wireless off to conserve power. There was decent 3G coverage in Mexico, and I was able to do a little bit, but it’s not an optimal tool for blogging.

I began my bus trip at the Greyhound station in Salt Lake, catching the 8:45 pm bound for Mexico City, by way of Denver, El Paso, and Juarez. Crossing the border was painless, but my Spanish was week enough at that point that I missed the agent telling me it would cost 262 pesos to leave the country. About $25, no big deal. I changed $60 into pesos in Juarez, hoping it would last me the entire time in Mexico.

American buses- typically Greyhound, are pitiful compared to Mexican buses. Mexican buses are a luxurious experience. The seats are more comfortable, the foot-rests better designed, the seats recline further, and there are drop-down DVD screens that play a succession of movies from 9 am until about 10:30 pm, except when the bus is in a station.

Food, on the other hand, was a problem in Mexico. Limited to the narrow selection available at the refreshment stands in the bus stations, I survived Mexico on Yoghurt, water, and occassionally crackers, for the grain. I craved fresh fruit and vegetables.
I also craved a good shower. Living by bus for so many days leaves you smelly. I learned that only proper hygiene has been protecting me from acne. The breakout is minor, and limited to my forehead. I hope it will pass within a few days.

The bus terminal at Mexico City was large, as expected. I arrived a little early at 1:30 am, and wandered through the terminal, reading the lists of destinations on each bus line’s signs. None of them said Chetumal, so I asked at each one until I found one that could point me to the right line.

The ticket to Chetumal was substantially more than I was expecting, and I paid for it with my Barnes & Noble Mastercard. I don’t know the exact cost, because it depends on exchange rates and fees, but it was a little more than $100. I was expecting it to be about $30 from Mexico City to Chetumal, again from Chetumal to Belize City, and again from Belize City to my destination, between Independence and Punta Gorda.

The bus to Chetumal took substantially longer than expected, too, although after the stick shock and a conversation I had the first day with a girl on the bus, I had revised my expectations somewhat. I left Mexico City around 10:45 am, and arrived in Chetumal the next day around 9:45 am. I had to catch a taxi to where I could catch the bus for Belize City, and then a short wait for that bus. No problems.

Crossing the border again was easy, and used up the last of my pesos. I budgeted Mexico accurately, except for having to put an extra 1142 pesos on my Mastercard. It will likely cost me to leave Belize, too, and I will budget for that on my return trip.
In Belize City, I caught another bus toward Punta Gorda, but the driver and conductor were not familiar with my destination, Hummingbird Farm, halfway between Independence and Punta Gorda. They let me off in Dangriga where I am waiting for my next connection to Punta Gorda by way of Independence. If this driver doesn’t know my destination, I will continue to Punta Gorda and find a Hostel for tonight.

I still don’t have an internet connection, so I am writing this in advance of posting, but I finally found power to charge my devices. Two other buses have come so far, but not the one I am looking for. I hoped to reach my final destination before dark, but that is looking less and less likely, as it’s already after 5:30. I’m not sure what time sundown is, though, since we are much closer to the equator.

It was starting to get dark when the bus finally came for Independence/Punta Gorda. I asked the conductor if he knew where Hummingbird Farm was, and he said he did. It was quite dark and late when I finally got to my destination. The driver honked as we arrived, and somebody came down with a flashlight. He was surprised at my arrival, because it was so late, but took me up to the main house where I finally met the owner and got settled in.


  1. I'm glad to hear that you are safe and sound, and that it mostly met expectations! Let us know how the farm is, I think that's the part of the experience I'm most curious about.

  2. I wonder if the Mexico buses are as nice in rural areas as the one between the US and Mexico City.

    Glad you go there safely. Sad you had extra expense.

    Now, don't laugh, but maybe you could get baby wipes. No, pre-moistened wipes (they do come in non-baby, non-feminine scents) for the return trip so you can at least sponge-bathe or wash your face.

  3. There will be more posts about the farm coming up.
    I will try to remember the baby wipes. That seems like a good idea.



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