[:en]By Temi Coker
I had never been snorkeling before, because, as ridiculous as it sounds, I had a fish phobia..I was able to get in the water as long as I didn’t see what was going on around me.
Danielle and Oscar swam a lot. We spent the first few days in Tulum swimming for most of the day and I felt like I was missing out. With a little coaxing, I was able to get over my ‘phobia’, try a bit of snorkeling and days later bought myself a kit. We went to Akumal and swam with the turtles and wonderfully coloured fish and I wondered how I could have lived all these years without seeing the true beauty of the ocean.
By this time I had developed an itch for the open sea, not dampened by some very wet days we spent cycling back from the beach completely drenched or going stir crazy in the flat not at all designed for heavy rain, so by the time they suggested joining them on a trip to Caye Caulker, Belize to see the coral reefs, I jumped at the chance.
On our way to Belize we spent a night in Bacalar, having discovered the cheapest way to get there was with two colectivos from Tulum rather than one ADO bus and were hosted by a couch surfer named Christian who took us to a really cool local bar that evening after cooking together in his beautiful Eco lodge. We spent that night watching a puppet show and some Argentinian clowns. The less said about that the better.
The next day we got on a boat to Caye Caulker, a journey which, although brief, was so choppy it’s a surprise we weren’t all throwing up..
But It was worth it. We were greeted by the most stunning sunsets and loud reggae music.
We arrived at ‘Yuma’s house’, a spotlessly clean hostel run by a no nonsense german woman called Suzanne who had left a life in New York City to live in paradise.
We decided not to hire bicycles as we quickly discovered that the town was only 5 miles long and could be navigated by foot. That first night we ate beautiful fish and pork and drank rum cocktails that were so strong and so cheap that it was included in the meal. You could choose to have 3 rum cocktails with your meal or one small bottle of water!
Caye caulker is possibly the most laid back place on earth. A place where the island motto is ‘go slow’. In order to truly appreciate the significance of the ‘go slow motto, I shall briefly mention the barber, whom, while I waited for a haircut, excused himself to have a joint and the waiter who took our order with literal smoke coming out of his ears.
The next day we began by having some beautiful coffee, eggs and pancakes from ‘Caribbean colours’; a small palapa run by an American lady who had also moved to Caye Caulker for another pace of life. Her art work was displayed on the walls of the cafe and works by various artists were hung upstairs in the showroom. We were very grateful for the delicious ‘Mexican style cafe de olla’ as the Yucatan does not have decent coffee and it was therefore long overdue. We also seriously underestimated the size of the ‘massive’ pancakes and struggled to finish them. Well fed and several coffees later, we rested for a few hours before heading to ‘The split’ for a swim. Although a beautiful island, Caye caulker does not have it’s own beach. The best way to go for a swim in the crystal clear waters is to head to ‘The split’ which is a narrow waterway which divides the island in two. There is some debate as to whether it was created by the hurricane in 1961 or whether it was man made. It is flanked by a lively bar playing reggae and dancehall and an array of cocktails. We ordered drinks and food and then went for a swim. We were greeted by the sight of hundreds of fish of various sizes and shapes including manta rays and red snapper.
We spent many hours in the water, hung out with a lively couple from San Diego and laughed a lot that afternoon. At dinner time we remembered reading in a guide book that someone on the island was selling $9 lobster, so we made it our mission to find the location. This proved a simple feat as on our way back from ‘The split’ we spotted a large sign ‘Wish Willy $9 lobster’. It simply could not be any easier!
Wish willy was run by a man named Maurice who had been selling lobster, grilled fish and shrimp in Caye Caulker for many years and recognized that he had a good thing going by charging the same price for most dishes even though he was famous for his barbecued lobster tails. While we waited for the lobsters on the grill we shared a jug of a rum cocktail and talked with our new acquaintances from San diego. The bbq lobster tails came with a heaping of grilled vegetables and rice and we left satisfied.
We began early the next day and headed to the boat which would be our transport for the day. We had booked a snorkeling tour of about 4-5 spots around the area with the best coral reefs including a marine reserve. The tour with a sail boat cost $65 and included water, food from a local restaurant and unlimited rum cocktails.
As I mentioned earlier, since in the recent weeks with oscar and Danielle I had been snorkeling and seen wonderful things but nothing prepared me for the stunning beauty of the limestone, the yellow and deep blue coral reefs, sharks, manta Ray and thousands of schools of fish swimming past us. In the water I tried to etch in the sights as it would be a long time before I would ever see anything this breathtaking again. We were in the water for many hours, led by our experienced guide George, who pointed out notable fish and some caves. It was a stunning day. Possibly the best day we had shared together. One I will always remember.
Our last days together were spent in San Ignacio, visiting ruins and doing little else as most sights in that area were closed due to the recent poor weather.
I headed back to Mexico and they headed forth to Guatemala. It was much harder saying goodbye than I had anticipated. These wonderful new friends were continuing on their adventure, while I was continuing on mine..
I still miss their appetite for unlimited juices and smoothies as well as their ability to spend entire days in the water. The coffees Danielle and I shared and the countless tortilla chips we ate until our stomachs hurt.

-Lodging: Yuma’s House
-Kitchen: Yes
-Cost:~$32USD for a private room
-Date: November 2014
-Rating: 5/5
-Review: Run by a german woman and named after her son, she runs a very tight ship. Beautiful hostel, the cleanest I have ever seen, right on the water. A must if you are going to Caye Caulker.