The trip started off with a pretty normal flight. We (me and Joe) left from Newark Airport and landed in Belize city. Took about 5 hours. For some reason I thought the time difference from PA to Belize was only 1 hour. But I was wrong, its 2 hours.
When we landed in Belize City we made the courageous decision to take a bus to Punta Gorda rather than the jumper flight. This decision was partially based off of the idea of taking it all in on our journey as well as the fact the bus cost 21 BZE which is equal to 11 US dollars whereas the jumper flight cost 235 dollars US. In order to get to the bus terminal we had to take a taxi. We were just waiting in line and a man grabbed us and told us to get in his taxi with three other travelers around our age. Turns out they were going to San Pedro for a vacation for a week. The taxi ride provided a great start to the culture difference here. The taxi driver jammed 5 of us into his little car and then took off while we all listened to his music which was a mix of modern day Justin Bieber with a little reggae and a little Caribbean feel. He kept skipping through the CD to find a song he liked and they all sounded the exact same to me which was very entertaining. I also realized that there are ZERO traffic laws in Belize. Or at least no one follows them. All the cars just drive without any care in the world. But surprisingly there was no beeping except for the friendly honks from one local to another. Obviously this was a huge difference compared to Philly where if you hit your brakes you basically get a nice long honk as if you personally insulted the other driver. Everything is much more calm here. Once we got to the bus terminal we said bye to our taxi friends and went to pay the taxi driver. He told us it was “25”. So to us that is $25 but we completely forgot the exchange is 2:1 so basically we WAY over paid him. But whatever. Learning experience I guess.
The bus terminal was interesting. There is no schedule posted and there are a ton of buses coming through. Eventually (an hour later) we got a bus that claimed it was express to PG (Punta Gorda). Express is a strong word since it stopped every time someone waved it down or asked to get off but whatever. Oh and when I say bus I’m talking school bus. Like the big yellow buses with no air conditioning. But it was actually not as bad as it initially seemed when we got on. The passengers were all locals who were SO friendly. We stuck out like soar thumbs with all of our luggage and our blatantly pasty skin color. But everyone was so nice and helpful. The bus ride was 6 hours long with no actual stops for bathroom breaks. Luckily I planned accordingly and didn’t drink water at all that day since I knew that would be an issue for me. I was really proud of myself when I made it through the 6 hours without having to go to the bathroom at all. But I was also SUPER thirsty and REALLY hungry.
When we arrived to Hillside we were ran into another student (Maggie) who has been here for 4 months now. She walked us down to the building and showed us around. The building that we stay in is really cute and very roomy. We each are sleeping in a dorm room and have a large living room and kitchen right in the middle. I have a roommate from North Western University for the first 4 weeks I am here. All the other students didn’t arrive until Sunday so we just hung out around the house for the night after our LONG day of traveling. All in all our travels were both cheap and quit the adventure. I definitely started this experience off with a raw cultural experience!