We arrived safely in Belize after a long but uneventful 17-hour journey via Salt Lake City and Atlanta from Vancouver. First order of business after clearing customs was to change out of our cold climate layers into more appropriate attire! With shorts, t-shirts and sandals in place, we loaded up Richard’s cell phone with a local SIM card and airtime (cost was US$25 total) and walked the 4kms from the airport to the main highway.
Once we hit the highway, we waited for a bus that would take us north on the Northern Highway to our first destination, a village of 1000 people, called Crooked Tree, located within a bird sanctuary surrounded by a lagoon. The buses in Belize are repurposed American school buses complete with boom boxes and a variety of decor! There is a driver and a conductor. Fares are paid once you’re on the bus – we paid US$1 each for a 45-minute ride. The bus dropped us at the Crooked Tree junction and we made our way to the meeting point for our accommodation.
We had a bit of a rocky start as our accommodation, Tillett’s Village, was a bit more rustic than we thought it would be. It looked wonderful on the web but the lodging was very run down and the village had flooded with heavy rains the week before, so the area was waterlogged with no road access. We received an email on the morning of our departure telling us that the owner would meet us with a boat along what used to be the road into the village. Yikes! We decided to go anyway and although we weren’t terribly comfortable in Crooked Tree, it was an interesting look into Belizean village life. To really test our resolve early, we were also subjected to a heavy downpour on the second night, and we were challenged to find dry spots under the heavily leaking thatch where we could put our gear. A sizeable family of cockroaches also seemed to be seeking refuge from the rain and kept us company in our room.
Although Tillett’s Village receives good reviews on websites such as Tripadvisor, we recommend passing on them for now as it seems that maintenance, upkeep and customer service has not been a priority for them of late. We paid US$40 per night which is expensive compared to other lodging we’ve enjoyed since. We also thought that their meal prices were expensive for the quality and portion of food. We paid US$10 per person for dinner and US$6 per person for lunch. It was unfortunate that the flood had occurred, as we may have had access to a few other meal options but the other lodges operating in the village were closed. We did have a very nice experience with a lady called Nora who runs a “restaurant” out of her backyard in the village. She made us delicious rice and beans with fried plantain for US$1.50 each (great for the backpacker budget!). The bird sanctuary was also closed due to the flood, so part of our reason for visiting was unfortunately inaccessible.
Bev’s thumbs up: Successfully navigating our first few days under less than ideal circumstances
Bev’s thumbs down: Feeling very lonely and far away from home on the first night!
Richard’s thumbs up: Experiencing the village of Crooked Tree; wifi at Tillett’s Village
Richard’s thumbs down: Pretty much everything else about Tillett’s Village
View our TripAdvisor review of Tillett’s Village in Crooked Tree here.