Stay in beachfront accommodation
“Yo brudda, wan’ a coconut? It’s better than water,” said a dreadlocked man in a thick Rastafarian accent. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs of my beachfront cabana in Caye Caulker, a tiny tropical island in Belize with one foot planted in Central America and the other dipped in the Caribbean Sea. “Not this time” I said as I stared beyond him at the curvature of the earth that crowned the glistening ocean. Residing on the coast removes trivial everyday grievances like bad weather, noisy neighbours and thinking where’s the closest place to go for a swim. There are no problems in paradise, or so I thought.
Aside from a shrinking array of problems, living on the beach also leaves your to-do list each day refreshingly simple. This afternoon’s agenda was to go snorkelling and watch the sunset. As I walked towards the translucent ocean in search of tropical fish, I noticed a sign that punctuates most of Caye Caulker’s roads. In place of the speed limit sign you find all over the western world, these words were written on a hand-carved rectangular slab of wood. ‘No Shirt. No Shoes. No Problem.’ At first glance, this appears to be a harmless slogan scribbled in good spirits. However, I think most rational people would class sore soles and the risk of sunburn as a pretty sizeable problem. What an irresponsible motto.
I found the snorkelling spot and decided to order a mango and pineapple smoothie from a small, sweet Grandma before I entered the water. After fifteen long minutes it finally arrived and I’m pretty sure she’d forgotten to put pineapple in it. I know the chilled Caribbean village vibe is one of Caye Caulker’s attractions, but a quarter of an hour wait for the incorrect juice? Come on. It looks like someone will be receiving a sternly worded write-up on Trip Advisor. I walked towards the water with my snorkelling gear ready to explore when the coconut salesman pounced again.
“Why you not buy coconut from me?” he questioned.
“Sorry, I felt like a smoothie. Next time.”
“Are you angry?” I asked.
“I’m not angry, I’m disappointed,” he said, like a parent guilt-tripping their child after he’s nicked a Twix from Budgens.
I waded into the sea and floated around the underwater world. I flippered through the gentle waves as fish simultaneously noticed and ignored me, gliding past and carrying on with their business. I felt like a gatecrasher at a party who nobody wants to talk to, sitting quietly in the corner waiting for a conversation. Then, I spotted the chance of a chat. A king angelfish was lurking below, robed in sparkling purple with a diamond white sash and friendly yellow tail. I dived deeper to investigate and, up close, its beauty literally took my breath away. When I remembered to breathe, I sucked in through my now submerged snorkel and got an unwelcome mouthful of saltwater. Will this country ever stop terrorising me?
I noticed the sky looked a little darker and decided to head back in time for sunset until I was forced to cower for cover by an unwanted surprise. In a matter of minutes, the pristine blue sky was hijacked by a swirling mass of ominous deep grey clouds. They rolled in from nowhere and caught the sun unaware, like a sneaky pirate ship, unleashed a relentless twenty-minute rainstorm then vanished without a trace of the crime, like Dexter. What is this? Rain on a tropical island? Seriously, this place is a craphole.
I sheltered underneath a palm tree until the storm subsided and emerged as the sun was beginning to set. I panicked slightly at the thought of failing fifty per cent of my day’s duties. I started running down the pavement to the amusement of the street vendors then galloped along the beach until I arrived at my front porch. I sat down as the sun was retreating for the night, leaving an otherworldly pink and yellow footprint as its calling card.
“Yo brudda, wan’ a coconut? It’s better than drinking the sea,” said the persistent coconut salesman. Now, that was true. If this is paradise’s version of a noisy neighbour, it’s not too bad. I relented, purchased one and sat coconut in hand, with no shoes, no shirt and no problems. What a motto.
Article written by Chris Watts.