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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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There and Back Again, Belize Tire Run

Sep 14, 2016
by John
in: Belize

There are directions, and there is direction. One determines the course for the other. We had been needing a new set of tires ever since we experienced our first failure right before leaving Mexico, our original plan was to replace them in Colombia. The gringo in us had us only considering a couple brands, first world viewpoint and all. We had reached out to both Toyo (what we started the trip with) and BFG with similar results, the old brush off from giant conglomerates who want your money up to the point of actually providing service...that's someone else's job. We used Google to locate shops anywhere ahead of us in any of the countries we'd be driving, emails ended in the inevitable, E rated 285/70R17 with 3ply sidewalls are really hard to find in Central America.

On a whim, we reached out to Caribbean Tire to see if they could find any in Belize. While BFG and Goodyear were sold out, shipment arrivals unknown, they did have a set of Hankook DynaPro AT-m RF10s. Being unfamiliar, we spent a couple days reading about them on Google, another first world approach. Ultimately we rationalized the most essential and logical conclusion, when in Rome...

Driving back to Belize would be a backtrack, who are we to stick to a direction. We may not be as erratic as a couple of Kiwis we one day hope to meet, but heading back from whence we came is not unbeknownst. We needed to renew our visas anyway, two birds and all. A fortunate side effect was running into Natasha & Pete (Here Until There) and Benjy (Cornwall 2 Capetown) when we overnighted in Coban during our three day blitz to reach San Ignacio.

What We Did

Spanish Lookout, Cayo

We had four new tires balanced and installed, our alignment checked, our brakes inspected, and a full service all before lunch. Caribbean Tire was a wonder to work with and they went well and above normal service. Joshua took exceptional care of us and asked us to keep them informed as to how the tires perform over the duration of our trip. We also purchased a spare set of Bosch brake pads, we expect to need to replace them somewhere in the Andes.

Of course we stayed at Mana Kai in San Ignacio, how could we resist hanging with Javier and his family again. We also made sure to devour our favorite foods at Ko-ox Han-nah, Mickey's, and Sister's Diner in Spanish Lookout..our real justification for returning to Belize. We also ran into other overlanders that were passing through, Jeremy (8th grade teacher turned backpacker), and Carlos (Colombian doctoral student). We expect to run into them again.

Spanish Lookout, Cayo, Belize

You get new shoes, we get great burgers

Placencia, Stann Creek

Our previous foray to the Belizean coast, a few months prior, ended in us running away after one night spent in Hopkins covered with hundreds of no-see-um bites. We needed to test out our new tires so we decided to press our luck and try again, this time checking out Placencia. Everyone raved about Mariposa Beach Suites, it is so much more than the hype. Sharon & Bruce have been working hard over the past 4 years to build their mini resort. They let Overlanders camp in the parking lot for free as long as they eat at the restaurant. While the prices aren't cheap, the food is good, the location phenomenal, and the amenities are bar none. We had no trouble getting a couple of rounds by the pool and eating at least one meal each day. When the breeze died down the bugs did come out and it was hot, nothing like Hopkins though. We are really glad we gave the coast a second try.

Mariposa Beach Suites, Placencia, Stann Creek, Belize

We don't see any oats

Mariposa Beach Suites, Placencia, Stann Creek, Belize

Almost didn't leave

Mariposa Beach Suites, Placencia, Stann Creek, Belize

Damn hippies will live anywhere

Rio Blanco & Noh Sos, Toledo

We decided to explore a little more in the Maya Mountains since we skipped most of it the last time we were in Belize. We chose Rio Blanco for our overnight spot, $5US per person to visit the falls and $5US per person to camp, $20US in total. It's a beautiful waterfall about a 5 minute walk from the visitor center, the water level was high making the flow rather strong. We also stopped at Noh Sos, a great swimming hole at the base of another waterfall, which was free. We probably could have camped in the parking lot but are glad we contributed to the local community by staying at Rio Blanco.

Rio Blanco, Toledo, Belize

Tubing not recommended

Rio Blanco, Toledo, Belize

Clockwise, still in the Northern Hemisphere

Rio Blanco, Toledo, Belize

Flowin like Snoop Dogg on Ex-Lax

Noh Sos, Toledo, Belize

Thank god we found the shower

Noh Sos, Toledo, Belize

Hold my beer

House Sit in Cayo

The idea of going back to Lake Atitlan was bounced around on more than a few occasions, even before we left the lake to head back to Belize. We have learned that we should not pass things up or cut them short for the sake of continuing South, so after a few emails with Pierre, we made the decision to return to his place for another stay. That left us with a couple weeks to spare so we checked out Trusted Housesitters and found a sit not far from the Belize and Guatemalan border. It's not the best place but the wifi is strong (and all ours) and good groceries are close. We'll hang here with the resident tomcat and neighborhood dogs before starting our drive back to the lake, assuming we get back into Guatemala. We must be living the lessons of Bilbo Baggins, there and back again.

Cayo, Belize

Now a three bedroom off grid home

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Say what? (2)
Pam and Randall
Sep 15, 2016 at 10:05 AM
Two thumbs up for Carribean Tire! After blowing an outer rear tire,we replaced all six tires on the diesel motor home on our Yucatan trip at Carribean Tire in Orange Walk. Thankfully we were only about 5 miles away when it happened. They allowed us to stay in their fenced yard for the night, with the wi-fi left on. Not having the tires on site, they trucked them in from San Ignacio by the next morning. Super good people.
Sep 18, 2016 at 12:14 PM
They shipped a set of tires to Spanish Lookout from Belize City just to make sure there was an available set when we arrived. Truly a great company to work with, thanks for sharing your experience too!
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