HOPKINS

After our few interesting nights in Punta Gorda we all walked to the bus station. My mum went to draw some money out of the bank so I looked after Jed and the ultimate traveller got the tickets to go to Hopkins which is further up the coast of Belize. When the bus arrived,my mum still wasn’t here but the ultimate traveller said get on. I said we had to wait but I didn’t really have any choice so I got on. The ultimate traveller asked the driver to wait for his wife but he started the bus and drove off.
Me and the ultimate traveller looked at each other with worried and “what to do” faces until the ultimate traveller spotted my mum walking back from the bank. He shouted”DONNA!” a few times until she heard and then he shouted!WE ARE ON THIS BUS COME ON!” then she sort of jogged to the bus and in the mean time the ultimate traveller shouted “DRIVER,MY WIFE IS HERE”. If we hadn’t seen my mum she would have had to wait for the next bus or follow us in a taxi. I am delighted that we found her other wise I would of had to watch Jed the whole way and he had started to cry when the ultimate traveller shouted. What a relief!

The journey was three hours. The bus dropped us off at a tiny shelter(a bus stop) in the middle of nowhere. I had to crash through peoples heads,arms and legs with my bags to get out. We waited at this bus stop(we knew we were going to get dropped off here) for about 10 minutes until another bus came and turned down another road and that’s where we got on.

The bus drove down this straight,bumpy, long road for 10 minutes until we arrived at the bus stop of Hopkins. The road was made of rocks and stones but it had been flattened down so it wasn’t that bad.

Me,mum,Jed and luggage all waited in a bar(where no one served us because they were too busy building and smoking) near the sea. The Caribbean sea was still not as stunning as some other places we’ve been but it was OK.

The ultimate traveller started walking around hostels,hotel and huts for 1 hour whilst we entertained Jed and watched the “seagulls”(some sort of sea bird),waves and were sprayed by bird poo.

sea bird - Hopkins #1
sea bird – Hopkins Travellingminstrel #1

We thought that when he returned he would say ” I haven’t found any where it’s all booked up” and then he usually swears but this time he came back and said”it’s brilliant, you’ll thank-me when you see it, we will have to take a taxi though because it’s quite far”. We took a taxi with a miserable taxi driver all the way to a place called…(I cant’t remember it’s name) Later on we found out that that taxi driver stitched us a lot with that ride(it was only a 5 minute drive).

The place had a restaurant and 2 huts where the owners lived, it was run by a women’s cooperative. Our hut was on a plain deserted bit of beach with a view of the Caribbean.

view of the caribbean- Hopkins Travellingminstrel #3
view of the caribbean- Hopkins Travellingminstrel #2

It was on stilts

hut - Hopkins Travellingminstrel #3
hut – Hopkins Travellingminstrel #3
DSCN0692
inside our hut – Hopkins Travellingminstrel #4

and had a dining table, small fridge, cupboards, bathroom and 1 single and a double bed.

inside our hut - Hopkins Travellingminstrel #4
inside our hut – Hopkins Travellingminstrel #5

It was luxury compared to the other places in town and was only 20 dollars a night.  Some of the days we just stayed around the hut(it didn’t have wifi) just reading or chilling out and playing in the sea and looking at these Wish Willy’s(a sort of iguana which were everywhere).

Wish Willy Iguana - Travellingminstrel #
Wish Willy Iguana – Travellingminstrel #6

One day we decided to hire bikes for 2 days. The first day we cycled(the road was very flat so it was easy to peddle but whenever there was a minuscule bump or hill it was extremely hard for what it was) to a town about 3 miles away called Sittee river. The bike hire place had a baby seat so we could cycle with Jed.

mum and Jed getting ready to set off - Hopkins Travellingminstrel #6
mum and Jed getting ready to set off – Hopkins Travellingminstrel #7

The bikes were very basic. Plus they had no breaks.
As we got futher out of Hopkins there was a lot of posher houses here with 3 floors and a dock. Some even had a separate building across the road for a posh boat house. It was a big contrast to Hopkins which was quite poor.
When we arrived at the river we decided to hire a canoe. I got in a single one and the rest of the family got in 1 double canoe. The river was very wide and beautiful, although we didn’t see a trace of wildlife. Apart from this heron hanging around near the banks of the river.

Sittee river - Travellingminstrel #7
Sittee river – Travellingminstrel #8

First we went up the river and turned right(they told us that this was the way) up a very narrow,”mangrovy” and quiet side river which was the perfect spot for a crocodile hang out.

the adventures looking for crocodiles- Sittee river Travellingminstrel #8
the adventures looking for crocodiles- Sittee river Travellingminstrel #9

So we were very still and glided for as long as we could and then just did one stroke with the paddle waiting to see something but unfortunately we didn’t.
At the end of this river(it was only a short river) we came to a large, nearly round lagoon with mangrove banks all the way round.

lagoon - Travellingminstrel #9
lagoon – Travellingminstrel #10

If you were to decide to paddle all the way around the lagoon and come back to this small, hidden and secret river you would be lost as there were no markers out.

beginning of the small river - Travellingminstrel #10
beginning of the small river – Travellingminstrel #11

We only rowed for a bit and then we went back through the mysterious river. We paddled upstream instead of towards the sea. By this point I could feel my arms weaken and my strength disappearing so we turned back.
When we got back and out of the canoe my arms were dead and my legs were tingling. We got back on the bikes and peddled further up the road until we came to a dead end because they were building an estate. We were planning on going to the mouth of the river and the sea that way but we couldn’t so we headed back home. We stopped at a bar for a drink and sat on a platform which reached into the sea, it was beautiful.

On our way back we saw a sign saying “Sew much hemp” for sale this way.(hemp is a commonly used term for high growing varieties of the cannabis plant and you can use it to make textiles,paper,oil and milk.) So we followed the signs for 50 meters until we reached a hippy bus. This is a picture of it and on the right is the hippy women.

hippy bus with our bikes in front - Hopkins Travellingminstrel #
hippy bus  – Hopkins Travellingminstrel #12

We went to the door and knocked. A couple of minutes later a women in bedraggled cloths with dreadlocks came to the door with a big smile and a happy voice. There were a couple of dogs behind the bus barking. The floor inside here was dirty and smelled as well. She showed us her hemp products. She had: moisturising cream,mosquito repellent and some cloths(dresses and hats). We bought a few of the creams and mosquito repellents and then we were off again.

The next day we just peddled around the town and found a few secret restaurants and places. We mainly just did that and sorted a few things on the internet at Funky Dodo’s cafe.

At the same place where we hired the bikes from, I got my hair braided into a caribbean style. It was very painful when I got it done and it made my eyes water but when it was finished it was good. It felt fantastic to walk back on the beach to our hut with the sea breeze blowing on my head.

Travellingminstrel - #
Travellingminstrel – #13
Travellingminstrel - #
Travellingminstrel – #14

2 nights before we left, me and the ultimate traveller were about to watch Starwars. He was in the bathroom whilst I was waiting for him at the dining table.

I noticed that the sheet of my bed was on the floor so I got up and picked it up and I felt the worst sting ever in my third toe of my left foot. Within half a second I had jumped onto my bed and I saw something big and black but I took no notice of what had stung me.

I was in dreadful pain. The only thing I could do was squeeze my toe, I was screaming and I had jumped onto the bed where my mum was and she was asking me loads of questions and telling me to calm down but I was shouting at her saying”BUT IT HURTS!!!!” and she said I know and gave me comforting words but nothing could make the pain go.

By then the ultimate traveller had looked under my bed and saw a scorpion! He wasn’t sure at first, he said it was a scorpion and then he changed it to a frog!!? How could a frog sting me? My mum was worried and stressed so she had a look and it was a scorpion.

I was still screaming and I could just about see the insect with it’s tail down. Scorpions are very ugly and scary creatures,they have small pincers,8 legs and a spiral tail with a spike in the end of it where it stings you. This scorpion was only about 1 inch in length. This a photo of it against a British pound coin after the ultimate traveller killed it.

scorpian - Hopkins Travellingminstrel #11
scorpion – Hopkins Travellingminstrel #15

The ultimate traveller was looking up things about scorpions and reading it out making it even worse for me.
My mum thought that my toe would swell up because I am allergic to bee stings and possibly a few things more because a doctor in France told my mum that I am allergic to a lot of things but he didn’t say what.
The pain was like hell and it was like a dreadful, terrible bee sting that lasted for 2 hours. At the end of 2 hours I took a pain killer and fell to sleep and it seemed to wear off.
The ultimate traveller went to ask the ladies who owned this hut and land if they knew anything about this scorpion (He killed it,put it in a box and showed it to them). They said it wasn’t a deadly sort (thankfully) and that it’s a terrible pain. Just by lifting that bed sheet up all that happened in 1 night!
The morning after the scorpion sting we walked a bit towards the town center and found a car hire place so we went in and asked about cars.
Apparently she had been stung by a scorpion too and she also had folder with photographs of her dad (who was english) when he was young (in black and white) and terraced houses in England. We got the car for a day for 120 Belize dollars.
We drove to the Cockscomb Basin nature reserve which wasn’t that far from the main road off Hopkins. When we arrived at the entrance we paid and kept on driving down a none bumpy track through the jungle for about half an hour until we arrived to the nature reserve itself.

juagua crossing - Combstone nature reserve Travellingminstrel #12
juagua crossing – Cockscomb Basin nature reserve Travellingminstrel #16

We stuck Jed in the buggy and off we went again. We went over a foot-bridge with small fish in a stream and I thought I had a bug on my foot so I shook it about and my flip-flop came off and fell into the stream so I went down to get it.
We were able to push it until the foot path became too rough so we decided to leave it behind a tree. Here there was a junction between 2 paths,one said tubing exit and the other one said waterfall. So we followed the waterfall path.

path through the jungle- nature reserve Travellingminstrel #13
path through the jungle- nature reserve Travellingminstrel #17
mum walking down the steps - nature reserve Travellingminstrel #15
mum walking down the steps – nature reserve Travellingminstrel #18

The path went right into the depth of a proper Belizean jungle. Me and mum had flip flops on so sometimes it wasn’t very pleasant to walk through leaves and think what there could possibly be underneath them.

the family walking through the jungle - nature reserve Travellingminstrel #15
the family walking through the jungle – nature reserve Travellingminstrel #19

We walked on the path for around 45 minutes until we arrived at a small waterfall with a natural spring pool at the bottom. It was set in the heart of the jungle (it felt like it) with jungle birds singing, plants growing on trees and the jungle stream flowing round the bend into deeper jungle where jaguars would drink from (there are over 90 jaguars in this whole reserve but it is massive ,for example you could take a 5 day trek into the jungle with your own supplies from the reception).
We swam in the cold fresh water and dipped our head under the waterfall.

waterfall - nature reserve Travellingminstrel #16
waterfall – nature reserve Travellingminstrel #20
DSCN0792
waterfall – nature reserve Travellingminstrel #21

After our swim we walked back to where the pram was and the ultimate traveller took the pram and Jed and walked to where the tubing exit was and we went back to the reception.
When we got to the reception we asked if we could go tubing and paid a bit ,collected 2 tubes (these tubes had a wider hole than the ones at Semuc Champey) and followed the signs down to the river. Since it was so hot it seemed like a really long walk but it was only probably 20 minutes. When we got to the river there was this couple trying to fit a small day bag into a plastic bag so it wouldn’t get wet(they might of been 30 minutes here before us trying to do what they were doing but we had nothing on us except clothes so we just jumped in).
We just put our tubes in the river, jumped in and off we went. The river was nowhere near as fast as the one at Semuc Champey so that’s probably why we didn’t need a guide. The river was also very shallow and there was lots of moments were we said to each other ” BUMS UP”.
In some parts the current went faster and you had to dodge rocks and you had to make a decision very quick on which way was the best before you had already gone down it. We just floated and listened to the birds singing and the quietness of the jungle. There was a kingfisher which was following us down nearly the whole way.
At one point we thought we had gone past the big yellow sign and started shouting”IAN” and “JED”. We thought we were lost because it felt a lot longer (because the river was slow flowing) than it should be. After 5 minutes of panicking we calmed down when we saw a sign saying ”
exit 200 yards ahead” and then we caught sight of the ultimate traveller with the camera so all was ok.

me and mum coming down the river - Travellingminstrel #
me and mum coming down the river – Travellingminstrel #22

 

me in the tube - Travellingminstrel #
me in the tube – Travellingminstrel #23

 

mum and me relaxing - Travellingminstrel #
mum and me relaxing – Travellingminstrel #24

 

me attached to my tube - Travellingminstrel #
me attached to my tube – Travellingminstrel #25

 

mum getting out of the river - Travellingminstrel #
mum getting out of the river – Travellingminstrel #26

 

Jed having a go on the tube - Travellingminstrel #
Jed having a go on the tube – Travellingminstrel #27






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