Globetrottergirls are Dani and Jess, a German-American travel writer and aspiring photographer who left their adopted home in London in April 2010 to become location independent, working on a freelance basis for their UK-based employers. They started their journey in the United States where they traveled 70 days through California, Arizona and Nevada, followed by 88 days of extensive travels in Mexico. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Dani and Jess as they battle sting-rays, sharks, skeletons, caves, ruins, and border crossings in Central America.
This post was originally published in 2010. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Day One: Monday
Work day, all day.
8:30am: Eat breakfast at the Happy Lobster, the best breakfast on Caye Caulker. Bump into the Irish newlyweds, who we met on the ferry from Mexico to San Pedro. They recommend a snorkelling trip with Harry and Steve from Blackhawk Sailing, mentioning something about sharks and lots of rum. We meet them, and decide to join them snorkelling tomorrow.
10:00am to 7:30pm: Work all day straight through. Jess works on her travel newsletters and a commissioned travel article, and Dani edits thousands of her most recent images, writes a blog post, updates our social media networks and uploads images to Facebook and Flickr, all with a screechingly slow internet connection.
7:30pm: Remember that we should eat. Head out for dinner at Canadian sports bar after the outdoor movie evening at Paradiso gets rained out. Decide never to eat at the Canadian place again, as Chinese food was masked as cheese quesadillas. Yuck.
Day Two: Tuesday
8:30am: Have breakfast at the Happy Lobster.
9:30 – 4:30pm: Go snorkelling with our guide Harry and Captain Steve, plus two Americans, a Polish girl who has spent three months on Caye Caulker and a young couple from Slovenia.
We jump on board, head out into the Mesoamerican Reef, the world’s second largest reef, and proceed to see a sea turtle, swim in shark-infested waters and even touch one. We question our sanity. Then, it’s swimming with sting rays and touching one of those, too. If we’re crazy, we like it! Get drunk on the boat on the way back with endless cups of rum punch which Steve makes sure are always full. We remember that it’s Tuesday at 4:30, and appreciate that we are not in the office, instead cruising the Caribbean listening to reggae music and drinking rum.
7:00pm: Have dinner at the Paradise Hotel. It’s mediocre, but they have cheap breakfast, so we’ll be back tomorrow. We’re getting tired of so much eating out, and can’t wait to have a hostel with a kitchen again.
Day Three: Wednesday
9:00am: Breakfast at Paradise Hotel – not great, we miss the Happy Lobster’s huevos rancheros and banana pancakes.
10:00am: Walk back to hotel. Meet another snorkelling guide, Mario, on the street who easily convinces us to go on a half day tour.
10:30am: Half an hour later, we are on another snorkelling boat, this time a different set of three stops in the crystal clear water. Proceed to jump into Sting Ray infested waters. Question sanity but thrive on adrenaline rush. See more sharks and discover cool corals on the Mesoamerican Reef. We miss Steve and Harry, this guide is not quite as cool as our guys from yesterday.
1:30pm: Return to hotel, this time not drunk from rum punch.
2:00pm: Drop off laundry for washing and are grateful for being in Central America where somebody washes, dries and irons clothes for us.
2:00 -6:00pm: Spend the afternoon reading and relaxing, enjoying our last afternoon on this laid-back, quiet little island. Jess reads a Dan Brown book and unsuccessfully tries to avoid getting sucked in. Dani is long since obsessed with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
7:00pm: Chow down on delicious pasta at an Italian place called Sandro which was recommend by fellow travelers. Meet a girl who says that we should do the ATM tour in San Ignacio tomorrow, as it is full of hiking through water-filled caves and Mayan skeletons. We nod politely, sure that there is no way we’d do a caving tour like that.
9:30pm: In bed early, not much to do on the island at the moment, as it is low season.
Day Four: Thursday
8:00am: Last breakfast in our favorite restaurant, the Happy Lobster. Order huevos rancheros and banana pancakes.
10:00am: Take ferry from Caye Caulker to Belize City.
11:30am: Speed from pier to bus station – no chance of us staying here. Hop on 1950’s school bus for a three-hour ride to San Ignacio for $3.50 each.
2:00pm: Check in at a guest house called Hi-Et. Realise only much later that day that it’s spoken the same as ‘The Hyatt’, laugh at how far from a Hyatt the Hi-Et family guesthouse is. Unfortunately, no kitchen here either, but it’s only $20 a night, which is cheap for Belize.
3:00–6:00pm: We explore the tiny town and book a tour for tomorrow. We let the guy from MayaWalk tours convince us to do the ATM tour the girl on Caye Caulker mentioned, exploring the famous Actun Tunichil Muknal cave.
7:00pm: Have dinner at a Sri Lankan restaurant. Despite their own claims, the food is really only mediocre. We have been eating out a lot this last week, and we miss Mexican street food – easy, fast and cheap.
8:30pm: – Back at the hotel, we both try to finish up our books and get nervous for the ATM tour tomorrow. Who do we think we are? Indiana Jones?
Day Five: Friday
Discover that we all have a little bit of Indiana Jones in us.
7:30 – 4:00pm: Today is the day of the ‘ATM Tour’. It’s only us and another couple – Pam and her girlfriend JC from Minneapolis.
We hike 45 minutes through the jungle, including three river crossings before swimming into the mouth of the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) cave. We continue along, swimming, climbing, and balancing our way through the different chambers, including one section in total darkness. For the third time this week, we question our sanity. We finally reach the dry part where we see Maya artefacts & sacrifices, including a few skulls and one complete skeleton of a Mayan woman that has remained in tact for over 1,200 years. Then we head back into the water and climb our way out of the cave and hike our way out of the forest and back onto the school bus to get back to San Ignacio.
5:00 – 7:00pm: We work a couple of hours at Mr Greedy’s, a bar that has free wi-fi, along with a well-deserved beer.
7:00pm: Meet up with Pam & JC from the tour and have dinner at a little Indian restaurant that was recommended by the owner of the Hi-Et, our guest house.
9:30pm: The four of us celebrate the successful completion of our first cave tour with drinks at the Sports Bar.
Day Six: Saturday
Change of plans
8:30am: We head out for our last breakfast in Belize, as we plan to cross the border to Guatemala today and travel to Flores from where we want to visit the ruins of Tikal.
8:45am: Change of plans: While having breakfast at restaurant/bar/tour agency Flayva, we discover a tour through a Mennonite community and another cave tour in a brochure in the restaurant and decide to stay a day longer to take this tour. We saw a few Mennonites during our time in San Ignacio and are fascinated by their traditional & simple life style – keen to learn more about them.
10:00am: Walk 20 minutes out of town to the Maya ruins of Cahal Pech. The site is small but we are almost the only visitors and enjoy the tranquility there.
1:00pm: Jess is still beat from the ATM, so she naps while Dani reads up on Guatemala.
3:00 – 6:00pm: Work at Mr Greedy’s again, and split a calzone and diet coke for use of the free’ wi-fi.
7:00pm: Back to Flayva’s where we spend more time writing blog posts (more free wi-fi) and have nachos before heading back to the glamorous Hi-Et to read for a few hours on the terrace of the guest house.
Day Seven: Sunday
7:00am: Wake up early, pack our stuff and off to have breakfast at Flayva’s, now our third meal in a row there. If it ain’t broke…
8:30 – 12:00pm: Tour the Mennonite community, orange orchards and Barton Creek Cave with our guides Sergio and Feliz. It’s just the four of us in a Jeep, and as we drive by the wooden church (which looked to be built in 1820), the congregation of Mennonites turn their heads in a single, slow motion to watch us drive by. Fascinating, as was the cave tour.
12:30pm: Jess is tired again, this time with a fever. Consider napping before we leave, but decide against it. Leave our guesthouse and wait for a bus to the bordertown Benque de Viejo.
1:30pm: Cross the border to Melchor de Menos, Guatemala. Everything goes flawlessly, and aside from some haggling from the currency exchange guys, there is no waiting, no problems.
2:00pm: Catch a colectivo mini-van to Flores (Tikal) from the Guatemalan side of the border. Breathe a sigh of relief that we found the colectivos and didn’t spend nearly $60 for the private taxi ride, instead just $4 each for the colectivo.
4:30pm: Arrive in Santa Elena. Our backpacks are thrown off the roof of the mini van and disappear in the back of a tuk-tuk which brings us to Flores, an island in Lake Peten Itza.
4:45pm: Check-in to our hostel, Los Amigos. Jess’ fever is now full-on strong, but we won’t find out til after our trip to Tikal tomorrow that it’s dengue. Pop another Paracetomol and head out.
5:00pm: Book a sunrise tour to Tikal in the morning and get our wet clothes from the ATM tour finally washed.
6:00pm: Have pizza and pasta for dinner and enjoy sunset over Lake Peten Itza, happy to be in Guatemala.
7:30pm: Head back to Los Amigos and get ready for bed, setting the alarm for a blinding 4am wake-up call tomorrow to explore some of the greatest Mayan ruins in Guatemala.
Jess is back in business after her battle with dengue, and they are now working their way south through the rest of Central and South America before traveling to New Zealand, Australia and Asia in 2011. Check out their adventures at Globetrottergirls.com.