Going it on the Cheap
After living here for a while, you kind of figure out how to live much cheaper than when you are just passing through. For instance, you learn that a rum and coke at a bar is 5bz and that an entire bottle of rum at the corner store is 11.95bz (Caribbean Gold). That's what this article is all about. Having a good time on a couple of bucks.
Finding a place to stay can be an experience in and of itself. There aren't the usual dorm rooms for a couple of bucks a night and camping is the same as a cheap guest house if not a little more. Here we have guest houses and hotels. Some are cheap some aren't. In the hotel section, there is a pretty good list of the ones in town. The cheapest you will find in town is about 25bz a night (The Central 'Otel and the Hi-Et, for 27bz - Tropicool). Those rooms include a fan and shared bathrooms. From there prices jump to 45-90bz, sometimes a little higher in the high season. So if a cheap room is what you want 25bz is what you'll spend, however if there is a little group of you, splitting a room could be worth your while. Places like Tia Maria and The Mallorca have kitchens for guests. Tia Maria is around 90bz, split by say 3 people is 30bz per person and you can cook your own food. A normal dinner will run you about 15-20bz per person, breakfast will be between 5-12bz per person. The money you would save on eating out more than offsets the cost of the room.
Food is another problem, if you took the advice above and are in a place with a kitchen, you shouldn't really have to worry about much of this (just go to the market and make something yourself).
Burns Ave is the main strip in town, meaning it's also the most expensive, usually. If you are going to try to eat on Burns expect to spend 10-15bz on a burger , 12bz and up for most main courses, drinks are 4bz for an 8oz beer and 2-3bz for sodas. Tabs can add up pretty quickly. So how, you ask, do I avoid paying 20bz per meal. For dinner,street meat is the way to go.
In the center of town there gathers a random assortment of food items. Starting infront of "Tai San" the big Chinese grocery store: You can get two nice, big, fat Samosas for 3bz (veggie and meaty). The guy under the umbrella (Nelson) will sell you plate of rice and beans for about 5bz (you can get it with out meat also). To the right of the ice machine there is a little old lady who sells garnaches, which are like little tostadas, 1bz for 3 (5 is a nice number to fill your belly), she also sells bollos and tamales. Bollos are like tamales but made with beans instead of corn and wrapped in a banana leaf. Across the street, there are a couple more rice and beans vendors. On the other side of the intersection you will find the taco lady. She sells tacos 3 for a dollar.
If you don't want to go with the street meat, you can go to Maxims on Far W. St. and order the small veggie chow mein to go (the portion is a good deal bigger and oddly enough the small is the same size as the large) for 7bz and the meat versions are a little more expensive depending on the meat.
If you are around on Saturday or you feel like a little walk you can get the Belizian version of ambrosia (which is really from El Slavadore) ... The Papusa. They sell them in the market for 2-2.5bz each and they are awesome. Two is a good sized order. They are a corn dough stuffed with beans, cheese and meat or any combination of those 3 that you want. They also come with pickled cabbage and salsa. There're two stands that are open on Saturdays in the market and the respective restaurants are located across the bridge in Santa Elena. To get to my favorite, go across the low bridge and up to the main street then take a left. It's in a bright blue building on the right hand side down maybe like 5mins. The other place is across the low bridge and to the right maybe like 3 mins., in a pink building.
If you are up for indian, the South Indian Restaurant on W. St. is the cheapest option. Curries are 7-12bz and the other good thing is that he is open till sometimes 2am. The down side is that if there are more than 3 people there before you (and i'm not kidding) expect to wait up to two hours for you food. But while you are waiting you can get a 2bz banana shake or a 3bz lassi. He's also got the cheapest beer in town at 3bz for the same 8oz beer (for the most part the only beer sold in the country), but he has no spirits.
There are other cheap places, but those are the vast majority of them.
This can be summed up very quickly -- Happy hour and the Chinese Stores. On Burns Ave., Greedy's Pizza and Flayva's have happy hour between 3pm and 6pm. 2Bz for a rum and coke. So if you are around and want to start with the drinking early that's where you want to go. If you are up for a good night the Chinese stores are the way to go. You can buy a 5th of rum for the same price as two watered down drinks at a bar. The prices are the same at pretty much all the stores and range from 11.95bz for regular rum up to 22bz (1 litre.) for coconut rum. If it's after 9:30pm all the stores will be closed, but fear not; the Delicious Seafood Restaurant (that's the name of the place) sells bottles of rum for 19bz which is still pretty cheap. The South Indian Restaurant is the cheapest place for beer late at night 3bz. Cigarettes at a bar are 8bz per pack, but the Delicious Seafood Restaurant sells those for 5.5bz till midnight.
Concerning Beer. The two beers sold in the country are regular belikin and stout. At bars, they are both 4bz a bottle; stout, however, is 6.5% and regular is 4.8%. Now I ask you, which one makes more sense.
The last and cheapest way to get your booze on is with a beverage called red top (in stores) or tiger nail(at bars). It's the cheapest thing in town and it has the amazing trait of getting you so drunk, so fast that you can actually feel yourself getting drunk. One little bottle (about 6oz) is about 6bz and will get 4 people pretty well toasted.
Aside from eating and drinking one can only assume that those coming here want to see some of the country. This site leans more towards the do-it-yourself traveler. So in the river, ruins and other fun stuff sections there are directions to all of the places that can be gotten to without a guide. That aside, there are several ways to get around.
#1 walk, Cahal Pech is not too far from the middle of town. The river is always nice.
#3 bike as of March 1st 2010 you can rent bicycles at the old mall. With a bike you can get to most of the places that you can bus to without much trouble.
#4 Hitchhike, this might sound odd but this is something of the national form of travel and people are usually pretty willing to give you a ride. When you want to get out just bang on the top of the truck.
Let's reviewSo lets say you want to find a place, eat a bit, go to some ruins, have a few drinks and generally enjoy yourself.
- 25bz room
- 4bz for papusas (breakfast)
- 4bz food from the market (lunch)
- 1bz bus to Xunantunich
- 10bz entrance fee
- 1bz bus back
- 4bz 3 tacos and a couple of samosas (dinner)
- 6bz redtop
- 2bz some coke
- 57bz (27.50us) for a damn good time