Life On Caye Caulker

 

I wish I could tell you every single detail of what living on Caye Caulker has been like day-in and out but honestly, the most I’ve stayed here is two or three days in a row so far.

I spent the holidays in Belize City, went back again for a photo shoot (for an exciting magazine cover coming out end of February), day-hopped to San Pedro and tomorrow, I’m off to Mexico for a few days for a family reunion. Basically, January has been full of back and forth.

But, that’s the plus side to Caye Caulker. I can get away from the noise of the city and the hectic pace whenever I choose. Or I can get away from the “go slow” mode  – all I have to do is go thirty minutes one way by boat (to San Pedro) or 30 minutes in another direction (Belize City).

Still, I’m hoping that February provides more time to stay still in one spot.

Here’s a quick overview of life on Caye Caulker, when I actually am home. >>

My Studio Apartment

My apartment complex is in “the back” of Caye Caulker – close to the airstrip – which ironically is only about a ten minute walk from the “front,” also known as tourist-land. I like that I get to escape the crowds (which aren’t even that bad).

My studio is basic but spacious, with everything I need – a powerful fan, a kitchenette (I’m awaiting a stove but with food so cheap I’m sure I won’t be cooking much) and more importantly, awesome wi-fi (it’s only gone out once). I get a nice breeze because I’m on an upper level. At this time of year, I can deal with not having air-conditioning.

I feel safe and can leave my door open in the daytime if I choose. One of my neighbors’ two dogs don’t skip a beat every time someone approaches the building (they just need to get to know the residents though, that barking is getting a little tedious, as is my neighbor’s constant rants).

If I walk out of my apartment complex, it’s just five-minutes for me to reach the water front area.

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I got a super deal on my studio in exchange for some blogging lessons (see below).

I could definitely live in it for longer than a month, that’s how cozy it is. I’m still debating renting a bike – walking daily with my SLR is exercise enough!

The Caye Caulker Bakery

It’s my new favorite stop. I’m normally not inclined to eat sweets but hello, freshly-baked cinammon rolls. I heard they were quite popular so I showed up early at the bakery one day just to sample them. It was worth it. Not too sweet, and so soft (and bad for your thighs but heck, I do walk off my calories every day. I just took a break from this post to go get some, I’m in trouble.)

You can also get a fresh baked loafs of wholewheat bread (if I remember correctly, one loaf goes for BZD $2.50 or US$1.25).

Recently I got one cinammon roll, and two cheese and sausage rolls for US $2.50 total.

Fresh Food, Fresh Drinks

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I can get freshly made food for just over a dollar – like a delicious corn and chicken “tamalito” or “dukunu” from the mobile vendor.  It was spicy and enough to fill me up for lunch.

A large bottle of freshly squeezed fruits from Julia’s stand – like a mix of banana, pineapple and orange -  goes for US $2.50.  There are all sorts of combinations, like carrot and orange. Or if I want bananas, it’s 50 cents for 4 bananas.

The Water Taxi

I seriously wish the Belize Express had a mileage program (am sure the taxi drivers would agree, they already greet me with a “welcome back” when I get off the boat).

A ten-minute walk from home gets me to the water taxi stop. There’s another water taxi service too – the Caye Caulker Water Taxi – about the same distance from my place. Between the two of those, it’s super easy to go to Belize City or to San Pedro, for a day or more. Their schedules and rates are online, but stop by the kiosk to get a more current schedule as it can change.

Blogging Lessons

One day a week, I provide Blogging lessons and training to a hotel owner and staff (part of the trade I mentioned above). We started this week and I’m enjoying teaching all I know about WordPress and helping set up an exciting, interactive blog for the hotel from scratch, as well as discussing the uses of social networks for marketing. It’s great to be a part of something productive and to share knowledge and experience to help others succeed even more. I’m considering offering these classes as part of my services in 2012.

Friendly Faces

It’s nice to see familiar faces where I live – like the friends I made during my last trip here as  Road Warrior.

Photo Ops, Every Day

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Caye Caulker inspires me to get my camera out and shoot a little daily. There are so many interesting quirks and charms to this island and how it runs every day. I have yet to have a day where I want to take a break from taking a photo. There’s just so much material here, as sleepy or “slow” as it may seem. If anyone’s on Instagram, friend me to view my one-photo-a-day from Belize stream.

Planning Ahead

Three weeks in Belize and believe it or not, I haven’t even been in the water (gasp!). I blame that strange cold front in early January, but then it’s been so hectic that I haven’t had time to really go slow for a couple of days.  I head to Mexico tomorrow and ironically, that’s probably where I’ll get to relax and sit still!

When I get back, I’ll be starting on my blog revamp (introducing new content), preparing for ad and affiliate space (as my blog stats are growing) and researching work opportunities long-term, while also pursuing travel blogging & photography gigs short-term (drop me a note if you’re interested). I’ll also continue getting a feel for what it’s like living in Belize.

Lebawit Lily Girma

Lebawit Lily Girma has contributed writing and photography to CNN Travel, New York Magazine, AFAR, American Way, Travel Channel, BBC Travel, and others. She’s the new author of MOON BELIZE for Moon Travel Guides, and is completing a second title, MOON BELIZE CAYES. A serial expat, Lily’s lived and studied on three continents, including Africa–from her native Ethiopia to Côte d'Ivoire––and Europe, and is fluent in four languages. A former attorney who ditched the office for the road in 2009, she favors all things culture, adventure and storytelling, and escapes Washington DC’s winters every year. Lily also runs her award-winning travel and photography blog, Sunshine and Stilettos.

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12 Comments

  1. Chaa Creek 13 January, 2012 at 10:45 PM #

    I love caye caulker! It is one of my favorite cayes in Belize!!!

  2. Jamaica My Way 13 January, 2012 at 10:46 PM #

    i love this post! Your photos are stunning and I liked hearing about the blogging lessons too. I thought about doing it in JA but I’m a horrible teacher. Always have been.

    Enjoy! And keep updating!

  3. Erin 13 January, 2012 at 10:50 PM #

    Hmmm, I dunno – that walk to the water seems awfully far. HAHA You haven’t been in the water yet at all???? Tsk, tsk.

    And I’m not sure Feb will see you slowing down, at least for part of it…I will be there mid-month it looks like so at least one day trip back to SP will be in order! :D

    And great..now I want one of those cinnamon rolls! :)

  4. Lebawit Lily Girma 13 January, 2012 at 10:56 PM #

    Mine too, Chaa Creek! :-) Such a special place.

    Thank you so much Kristi/JamaicaMyway!! We just started the lessons this week and I believe our first session went great – I’m looking forward to getting the blog off the ground for them. I will definitely keep updating, thanks!

  5. Lebawit Lily Girma 13 January, 2012 at 11:02 PM #

    Erin, isn’t it though? HA! Keep me posted, would be great if it worked out! You can show me your San Pedro since Dorian didn’t have time for me. :-)

  6. Marilyn Cutkelvin 13 January, 2012 at 11:59 PM #

    great job Lily!!!…. proud of ya!…. mmmm… that fresh juice mix of banana, pineapple ‘n orange from Julia’s stand…. always so refreshing ‘n energizing…. cld use a bottle right now! :-))

  7. Lovenia 15 January, 2012 at 9:42 AM #

    I LOVE your photographs!! Great peek into your experiences there!

  8. Lebawit Lily Girma 16 January, 2012 at 10:53 AM #

    Thanks very much Lovenia!! More to come :-).

    Marilyn thanks!! Julia’s rocks.

  9. April D. Thompson 19 January, 2012 at 8:41 PM #

    Your photos and stories are really making me want to make Belize my next stop! Enjoy!

  10. Lebawit Lily Girma 20 January, 2012 at 3:33 PM #

    Thanks April! More to come, and if I’m still here you’re welcome to crash on my couch! :-)

  11. Angela Myers 9 February, 2012 at 10:45 AM #

    FABULOUS. And those cin rolls are calling my name!

  12. Tina Klein 21 February, 2013 at 12:58 AM #

    Moving to Caye Caulker in Sept 2013 Do you have any tips, advice for me? I am looking at one of the cabana’s to rent behind Wish Willy’s.

    Thanks in advance.
    feel free to email directly,
    Tina

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