The boat from Glovers Atoll will drop you off at the marina just outside Hopkins or in Sittee River. The marina is easier unless you need to go to Sittee River. We shared a mini van taxi from the marina. There were 8 of us plus luggage and the driver in a 7 seat van. The drive from the marina into town took us past fancy new homes built for foreigners.
The homes may have been fancy but the road was not. Full of large pot holes. At one point the bumper fell off the van. The driver just got out and put it back on again. There were a couple of speed bumps on the road which we found truly bizarre. The pot holes were more than enough to slow traffic!
The driver stopped at the store and the ATM for us all. We could not get the ATM to give us any money. Little did we know at the time it was the first of many ATM’s that would not give us any money.
We paid $20 B each to be dropped off at the bus stop on the highway at Hopkins Junction. The driver waited with us for the bus so he could pick up his next fair getting off it. The driver who took us into Hopkins when we arrived there also showed up he played country music loudly and expressed some very negative opinions about Donald Trump. Who is definitely not popular in Belize.
The bus arrived and we all got on and got seats. There is some advantage to getting on at stops away from the major stations because the buses tend to fill up at the stations. When you arrive at a station they announce that there will be a bathroom break but we never got off because we were worried our seats would be gone when we returned. Later in the week Harold left his hat on a bus by mistake when we were leaving a bus at a station. When we went back for it the bus was full but no one had taken the seat with his hat on it, so I guess we could have used the bathrooms after all. Kids actually board the buses along the route selling baked goods. The get off a couple of stops later and them sell baking on the bus going the other way. The bread looked amazing.
When the buses pull into a station vendors pile on selling all kinds of food. We had some excellent meat pies. Much better, and cheaper than airline food. The ride across the Hummingbird highway is beautiful and only slightly alarming.
From Hopkins Junction we went to Belmopan where we changed buses. Our final destination was to be Guatemala but we decided to spend the night in San Ignacio which is the last bigger town in Belize before the boarder. We did not want to cross into Guatemala in the dark. If I had it to do again I would make the same call.
We did not have a reservation in San Ignacio for that night but we did have one for later in the week. We were able to get a basic room at the Hi-Et guest house for the night. It was so small only one of us could walk around at a time but it had a little balcony, the shower in the shared bathroom had hot water, the room was clean and it cost us $30 B for the night so all was good.
We ate at Ko-Ox-Han-nah (lets go eat) the food was tasty and reasonable. San Ignacio is a hub for tourists going to the ATM caves and other adventure tours. The tourist area is very compact and it’s traffic free so other than the excitement of crossing the road to get there (the cars do stop but it’s not obvious they are going to), it’s easy to get around.
We were getting low on cash and San Ignacio has three ATM’s so we tried them all. None of them gave us any money. Belize Bank never worked on this trip we always got an error message saying the card was not recognized. We had back up $US which can be used anywhere in Belize. There is a fixed 2:1 exchange rate with Belize $ which you always get as change.
As we are Canadian we also had Canadian cash which we have exchanged in many places. Not so in Belize we actually went to a bank teller in Caye Caulker and they would not exchange Canadian money. All the books we read before coming said ATM’s were easy to find in Belize. They are easy to find but not easy to get money from. In Belize City we were able to get $ from a Scotiabank machine but on a return trip through Belize City the same machine refused us. We were able to get money from Atlantic Bank in Belize city but we could not get anything in San Ignacio except error messages all of which were different and none of which made sense.
We were not the only ones having problems there were sad looking tourists at every bank machine in town. This was the beginning of a new game we called bank machine roulette!
Our room faced the street and there was a lot of traffic so we were up early the next morning looking for breakfast. We found a local spot where everyone obviously knew each other. A mix of locals and expats speaking a mix of English and Spanish. Different races and backgrounds but obviously friends. A good reflection of the country!
Breakfast was eggs, refried beans and fry jacks with real coffee!