Today was a bitter sweet day. After 4 months of faithful service we locked our bikes up for the final time. The new owners work in the kitchen at the Palapa Bar and Grill. A big thank you goes out to Ivan for facilitating the transfer.
For anyone planning on spending more than 3 weeks on Ambergris Caye, and you are physically able to ride, there is no better solution to transportation then going to one of the hardware stores and purchasing your own bike. With a bell, basket and lock you will probably spend just over $200BZ ($100US) per bike. The rental rates we found were $40US per week, so after 3 weeks you are on the plus side. In addition there is no toll for bikes when you cross over the toll bridge at the north end of San Pedro. The biggest benefit I noticed, which anyone who rides anyway already knows, is that your interaction with the environment around you is heightened to an amazing level.
From the time we first started riding everywhere we noticed things that others, racing by in their golf carts simply could not hear or take the time to notice. This is not to say there are not times when I didn’t envy cart owners and was happy to be offered a ride to more distant destinations or for late night outings. But overall, the daily trips into town for groceries or to run other errands were very enjoyable when done on a bike, or even just walking. The health benefits were also wonderful. You just feel better when you go for a ride.
The ability to go explore the farther reaches of the island was wonderful. Whether it was going north up the coastline to enjoy the views or visiting bars it was always fun. Even if you got caught in a short rain storm. It is only water after all and you dry quickly.
Another serendipity I noticed was the locals seemed a bit more friendly if you were on a bike. A couple of times when I was having problems with the chain bouncing off the rear sprocket I had locals stop and absolutely insist on helping me. The second fellow flipped the bike upside down, got out an adjustable wrench and adjusted the wheel right there on the side of the road. Fixing the problem permanently. It was awesome.
Something you must be prepared for is the rate of rusting that occurs here. The chains and kick stands were rusted in weeks. For the basket we had to get a piece of cardboard from the grocery store to put in the bottom because it had rusted right out in less than 3 months.
As our time in Belize comes to an end I have to say one of our best decisions was purchasing our two bikes. Environmentally friendly, cost efficient, good exercise, and just fun. They are the way to go on island time. As well, handing them off to new owners at the Palapa Bar just felt right. This will certainly be an option we investigate as we visit new countries in our travels.