Tiffani's Yamaha FZ-07 Tour: Beautiful Belize

Chapter 3, Part 13.

Back in Mexico. Back in 100-degree humidity. Back to being bitten by mosquitoes, food- and water-borne illnesses, chaotic traffic, and trash everywhere. The trip to Ireland was a break I really needed, but it also seemed to amplify all of the things I struggle with in Mexico. We got back on a Tuesday afternoon, and the owner of Camping Cancun RV picked us up at the airport to drop us off with our bikes. While being an instant feast for the local bugs wasn't helping my mood, seeing my FZ-07 sitting there secure and still safe brought a smile back to my face. Motorcycles just do that.

We ended up staying a couple nights at the RV Park to recover from a bit of jetlag and regain our bearings, and then headed down to Chetumal to finally cross our first Central American border. On the other side of that little road Belize called to us!

Tiffani Belize
This is the face of someone really relieved to finally be out of Mexico. Belize is more beautiful than I even imagined already!Photo: David Hayward

The border crossing was pretty painless. Maybe an hour of paperwork, checking out of Mexico and into Belize, getting our bikes fumigated, getting our import permits and insurance for the country, and we were finally in. Although not without having my bags searched by customs, where the guard lost interest after my third bag of clothes and camping gear. Hollywood didn’t get searched just because they were too busy ogling his bike. I’m cool, too, guys! Someone pay attention to me!

I can’t really explain it, but I instantly felt a huge weight off my shoulders as we entered Belize. I don’t know if it was the English road signs, the slight temperature drop, the absence of trash in the streets, the overwhelming miles and miles of rainforest, or if I had just gotten that worn out by Mexico, but I couldn’t stop smiling.

Tiffani Belize
The bridges along Hummingbird Highway were barely wide enough for your average car, and the concrete was often ravaged by the trucks that could just barely squeeze through. This might have seemed unpleasant if not for that fact that they were also all placed above swimming holes (complete with rope swings!) and pristine rivers.Photo: David Hayward

The roads in Belize are far and few in between, with only one real main road through the country. And the pavement was much worse than in Mexico. And don’t even get me started on the road signs. On the off chance there was a sign at all, it was usually broken, faded beyond legibility, or vague and confusing. After only one or two brief wrong turns, we made it to our turnoff for Hopkins, the town we had opted to stay in for the night. As we neared the town, a local was setting up a sign that said in large, hand-painted scribble “Bridge Out At Manatee.” Manatee was maybe 20 miles up the road and was impossible to bypass (seeing how bridges are there for a reason and all), so we ended up turning tail and going the long way around, adding maybe 80 kilometers to our day. I would say this sucks, but the entire road we were originally going to use was dirt, so it was probably faster and less effort to take the longer, paved way anyways, haha.

We skirted around to Orangewalk and headed toward Dangriga on a road I later learned is called the Hummingbird. This was the best possible first impression of Belize. The road wound through hills and mountains all completely coated with thick palm jungles. There were small bridges, barely a car’s width wide, where we had to take turns with oncoming traffic to cross. The bridges spanned clear rivers and swimming holes where we saw children jumping into the water on rope swings, and the slight elevation even added an element of tolerable temperatures. So. Freaking. Happy. Right. Now!

Tiffani Belize
I don’t trust the motorcyclist who would complain about being rerouted to an extra 80 kilometers of mountain road that looked like this.Photo: David Hayward

After feeling spoiled by getting to experience such a fantastic road on my favorite bike, we rolled into Hopkins in the afternoon. Having seen a couple very expensive resorts in Hopkins when I was reading about it online, I was expecting a decent-sized town. But it turns out, even a big town in Belize is barely more than a small village anywhere else. With only 350,000 people in the whole country, I guess there’s only so much that can be built. The village was small and homey and personable with dirt roads and a handful of homes and shops. Just enough to get by, I suppose. We tried our first sample of Belizean food, deliciously flavored stewed beans, coconut rice, and jerk chicken—I think I could get used to this. We then rode over to one of the resorts that night to book the one thing I was looking forward to most when we started envisioning this trip south: lesson one of my scuba diving certification!

We woke up bright and early the next morning for our class and spent the day watching some videos, doing some written tests, and practicing a wide range of scuba skills in a swimming pool. The first time you put your head underwater and realize you’re breathing is one of the trippiest feelings I’ve ever felt. While Hollywood was predictably the perfect student, I struggled at first, being I have never been much of a swimmer. Read as: never actually learned how to swim. But I was determined and refused to give up, even if I did drink half the pool in the process, haha.

Tiffani Belize
Adventure skills +1! Because just riding overland wasn’t good enough. Now how can I outfit my FZ-07 to double as a scuba scooter?Photo: David Hayward

The next day we did two dives in open water to get our certification. They sailed us out to a reef in the middle of the ocean, and we did our first dive in the real world. The water in Belize is mind-blowingly clear and comes in at about 86 degrees. The second you dip your head under the surface, you can see straight to the bottom. Hitch-hiker fish swirled around us as we descended and we swam among the coral and rays and squids. Not a bad day, and on these drills I only drank a quarter of the ocean! Way better than yesterday!

Tiffani Belize
The water was so clear, you could see schools of fish right through the surface even several meters out from shore. Belize isn’t quite as moto-hobo budget-friendly as I’d like, but it certainly puts maximum effort into being worth it!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

We finished both of our dives successfully, officially earning our first level of certification, and added that to my adventure resume. A year ago, I never would have even imagined that I’d be in Central America, breathing 40 feet under the ocean surface, and riding home on my motorcycle. It’s amazing how such a simple LA to Florida cross-country trip has snowballed!

We spent the day celebrating our accomplishment with a toast of local rum and some backyard beach volleyball with the locals before setting our sights for the next border. I don’t know how we’re going to leave such a lovely country, but I guess it’s time to start moving on. Lots still to see!

Tiffani Belize
Belize offers the perfect introduction to the next stage of travel through Central America.Photo: Tiffani Burkett