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Welcome Back Central America Readers

ANTIGUA, Guatemala- A travelogue is like a very long book with many different chapters and volumes. A country is a chapter, a region is a volume. Some readers just read a chapter or two, some stay on for a volume, while some read the entire work as it unfolds.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

ANTIGUA, Guatemala- A travelogue is like a very long book with many different chapters and volumes. A country is a chapter, a region is a volume. Some readers just read a chapter or two, some stay on for a volume, while some read the entire work as it unfolds.

Obviously, in my megalomaniac daydreams I would prefer for every reader to read this entire travelogue from the beginning up until the most recent entries and keep on going — some do, and they become real friends that I have communication with daily, friends that I can share opinions with, get opinions, and fight with like a couple of scrappy siblings (Caitlin).

Welcome back to Central America

Though I have found that most readers read by volume. It is like walking up to a shelf of encyclopedias, you browse the spines and pick out the volumes that have chapters that interest you.  Only an interesting character would start reading the encyclopedia from A and make their way down to Z. Likewise, I expect readers to hop on the bus for a while and then jump off when I past their destination.

So long, Joe, it was nice knowing ya . . .

When I go between regions of the world I notice that I get many new readers who have a personal interest in the region I am in — when I leave it and go to another region, they seem to stop reading. Or, they apparently stop reading, as I can only gauge the people reading this by their comments or email.

But when I return to a region of the world that I have previously traveled through and published travelogue entries from, I have found that many old readers return. Or at least they begin commenting or sending emails again. They jump back on the bus.

Welcome back, it has been a little lonely around here without ya . . .

So I now welcome back the Central America readers.

I have noticed that many former readers who were along for my previous travels through this region are coming back, and I welcome you wholeheartedly — it is good to have you along. Please continue to offer your feedback, comments, and suggestions on traveling in this region of the world that you seem to know well. This is what makes this travelogue, in the words of Motorcycle Bob, “an almost family affair.”

From Antigua, it seems as if we are either going to Panajachel or going to start out for Belize today.

I have never been to Belize, it is a country that I snubbed on my two previous times of traveling in Central America. Now I want to see what is there — though there is a cost/ benefit ratio that is digging its claws into my hide and making me think a little more than usual about choosing what road I take at this intersection.

But within two weeks to one month, we should work our way to El Salvador, where it is looking like we are going to find an apartment in the countryside for a couple of months.

If you have any tips or suggestions on cheap places to stay in Belize, they would be appreciated — the country seems to be incredibly expensive.

Welcome back Central America readers.


Filed under: Central America

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

15 comments… add one

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  • Caitlin March 23, 2010, 11:36 am

    Ha! I am scrappy.

    I loved loved loved Caye Caulker but it seriously ain’t cheap. $10 a day per person just wouldn’t be enough. Otherwise I haven’t been anywhere else in Belize, sorry.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 23, 2010, 4:58 pm

      Hello Caitlin,

      Thanks for this tip. Yeah, Belize seems really expensive all over. I have avoided it twice now solely because of price, and I don’t know when we are going to come back to this region — both Chaya and I have spent a lot of time here, and regions like Central Asia and East Africa have been sounding pretty good to us.

      We also think that Petra has proven to us that we can travel with her, so we also have more confidence to get a little further into the map. She is doing really well, I am so proud of her. Places like Ethiopia and Kyrgyzstan no longer sound out of reach.

      I am thinking that I should just suck it up and go to Belize for a couple of weeks — see what is there, spend a lot of money, and then make up for it by living really cheap in El Salvador for three months. Maybe it is silly to avoid a country solely because I feel too cheap to go there?

      Do you know if it is still true that you pay a cheaper exit tax if you leave Belize by sea?



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      • Caitlin March 23, 2010, 8:42 pm

        Not sure, sorry.

        Well, you’ll love Caye Caulker anyways. If you do go there, my brother and I found the Sandy Lane Hotel to be a really good deal because it’s off the beach. Then again, by “good deal” I mean 10 bucks each a night, but at least that got us a whole cabin to ourselves with kitchen and fridge and everything, while 10 bucks each would otherwise get us a bug infested dorm room on the beach.

        Then again, you have super ninja powers of finding a bargain, so you find something better.

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        • Wade March 25, 2010, 12:21 am

          Thanks Caitlin,

          We will make a note of this hotel! I will send an interview over to you soon!

          Would be good to feature another opinion on here.



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  • Bob L March 23, 2010, 7:02 pm

    I also loved Caye Caulker. But yeah, it is expensive. You may be able to rent an apartment for a reasonable amount in the off season, although I don’t think this is the off season.

    Of course, I also loved the Blue Marlin Lodge on Salt Water Caye?, but a week of diving there would set you back about 6 months of your kinda travel….. 8^) I found plenty of places that were dirt cheap by American Standards, and I found them easy, so with your skills you should be able to find places that are not astronomical, but I doubt you will find dirt cheap by your standards.

    Good luck

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    • Wade March 25, 2010, 12:04 am

      Thanks Bob,

      We are in Rio Dulce now and think that we are going to go over to Belice for a couple of weeks regardless of costs. Sometimes traveling costs money I suppose Ha Ha. Going to search the Couchsurfing listings and see if that turns up anything – or maybe find a farm to work on for food and bed. Don’t know. Expensive countries are sometimes more enjoyable to travel in because they force a traveler to be creative – can’t be lazy in a country where you can’t afford a be, I tell you that haha.

      Thanks for the advice!


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  • Matt S March 24, 2010, 6:55 am

    Heya Wade, long time reader, first time poster.

    I’m one of those curious people that reads your travelogue regardless of where you are/are going. I don’t read your blog for it’s factual content (though it is excellent), I read it for the style, much like travelling I suppose – it’s not about the destination, but the journey itself.

    Enjoy Belize, it is a rather odd Central American country, much more like a little slice of Britain than the more Spanish dominated neighbours. But for your style of travelling it may be a little pricey – I didn’t mind it so much as I compare prices with Europe (which are hideous comparatively), so everything is a bargain! But it’s definitely worth visiting once, sometimes things aren’t all about the cost but the experiences to be had, and I’m sure you’ll find some hidden gems off the tourist trail there!

    Good luck and bon voyage!

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 28, 2010, 4:45 pm

      Good to hear from you Matt,

      Thanks for the encouragement to go to Belize. Can you really put a price on experience? I am not sure, so we are debating it all now. It is just that we are looking at around 175 USD in boat transport to and from Belize combined with the exit tax. If it was just a matter of expensive rooms and food then we would be there! No questions asked. But that 175 hit off the top for two hours of boat transport and exit fees is holding us back.

      That is an entire month of living in El Salvador!

      But on the other hand, should I let price hold me back???

      Belize is expensive, but it does not seem super expensive. I know that we could handle the costs once in the country – trade work for accommodation or something.

      I suppose I should just bite it and go. I have snubbed Belize twice now because of the high cost of taveling there, and I don’t know if this reasoning can stand for too much longer:

      I want to go there, it is expensive, it is just the way it is, I can accept it or just leave the country off my map.

      Thanks for the encouragement,


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  • hotspringfreak March 24, 2010, 11:20 am

    It’s just cheap in Panajachel, Guatemala — that is if you eat at comedors more than tourist trap restaurants (which are really good and usually cheaper by U.S. standards). The residential side is real cheap if you don’t suddenly adopt a tourist persona. A couple big sacks of veggies from the idigena mercado is under $2 and lasts days and comedor dinners likewise are under $2. A gourmet meal can be had for $4.50 – $5.50 though. A real good wifi balcony room with a great bed, shower and cable tv (for solo uno – I dunno for 2 persons + 1 Bebe = open to negotiation once money is in hand) is $4.50/day. I’ve got a biggish luxe room with amenities for this month that’s costing me (solo uno) about $6.15 daily. I’m not thinking about survival here. The coffee’s really good and it’s always a freak show. Loving it.

    – chris

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    • Wade March 25, 2010, 12:14 am

      Hello Chris,

      Man, I would really like to meet up again, though we have already flown the coop out to Rio Dulce. We should stop into Pana to visit either before or after El Salvador – or maybe you should come and visit us? We should get an apartment in El Salvador, and our door is always open.

      Have Fun,


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  • g March 24, 2010, 11:40 am

    Wade, I’m going to chime in here. If you want to experience culture similar to belize but don’t care much about the beach and want guate prices consider livingston downstream from rio dulce. You can find prices similar to what chris quotes for hippietenango while the culture is africa-garifuna same as much of belice. Nice water falls in the area but the beach isn’t much thanks to the area being located at the delta of the rio dulce. Livinston would also help you avoid belize’s visa taxes which I can see you don’t like. Either way you do it you shouldn’t be out that much money. g.

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    • Wade March 25, 2010, 12:18 am

      Thanks for the tip, G. We are on our way to Livingstone now! Though I think that we will continue on to Belice from there.



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  • hotspringfreak March 25, 2010, 10:58 am

    Thanks for the Salvadoreno Couch Surfing offer Wade. I’ve been “camping”(very cheap luxury Hotel room’s and apt’s) in Pana for near 6 months and though I need to do a Visa run in mid-April, El Salvador is in the same 4-country passport control block as Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. Meaning I need to renew in either Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica or Panama – unless I leave the region or have a quasi-“legal” service carry my passport across a frontera and back. El Salvador es poco problematico, por me. You were on my doorstep but flew the coop, Amigo – a $5 shuttle van ticket away. I know, it’s a disease…country bagging, jjj. I was once a mountaineer and “peak bagger”. Igual-igual, pero diferente.

    Well, Happy Trails. “We’ll be seeing you” – Further. Best to you and yours,

    – Chris

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  • Brindley March 27, 2010, 3:14 am

    Hey all.
    Im friends with Helen Michelson, she just mentioned you might be headed to Belize and you were looking for some cheap, fun places to see and experience. Not sure if I can be much help, as you seem to be the experienced travelers yourself. But I did study abroad here and am currently working and living here in Belize. SO maybe i could give you a few tips.
    What are y’all thinking? any specific things you might need to know or need help with?
    Good decision on coming to Belize. It is a beautiful small country with a ton of rich culture. Although more expensive then most of Central America, worth it indeed. Talk to ya soon.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 28, 2010, 4:23 pm

      Hello Brindley,

      It is looking like Belize may be a little too expensive for us to travel to right now. We are in Livingstone right now, and it is looking like it will be 50 USD for us to go there by boat, and then at least another 50 to get back here. Add to this the Belize exit tax and we are looking at 175 USD before we even begin to face the price of accommodation and food in Belize.

      We would really love to go there though, it just does not seem too feasible from an economic standpoint. If we had time to set up a few homestays or work for food trades, then we could probably make it work.

      Do you know of any farms in Belize who may take us in in exchange for work?


      Wade and family

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