We’d been recommended to get to borders early to avoid lorry queues and endless waits, so we did just that, arriving at the Mexico-Belize border at about 9.30. Contrary to our expectations, the officals were efficient and very friendly, stamping our passports with surprising speed and a conversation about “soccer”. Will’s wasn’t properly completed the first time – remedied by the customs lady yelling across to her colleague “Hey! Mike! This is your stamp! You’ve done it wrong! Can you fill this out properly, please?!” – informality, brilliant. they also saved us a fair wedge of cash, giving us a transit visa for the bikes through the country instead of making us go through the whole painful import process. One hour later were across the border, somewhat surprised at the speed and simplicity! Belize is one of only four English-speaking countried in the Americas, thanks to us helping get rid of the filthy Spaniards in the 1800s – resulting in superb English (spoken with a very Caribbean accent) both at the border and throughout the country. Spanish is also widespread, but English is the official language – which means signs are in English and distances are in miles – result! We felt like we’d earned a reprieve from wrestling with our fumbling spanish when people started conversations in a familiar language. Even a few miles inside the border, the change in country and culture is evident. The countryside is greener and people seem to take care of their houses and gardens, to the point of mowing the lawns! People seem far more laid back – arriving at a toll bridge, the toll booth guy noticed that getting change would be a pain for us so just waved us across – “Straight through, man!” – excellent! Belize City feels familiar and comfortable, a mix of Spanish and Caribbean, worn wooden houses with peeling paint, dusty roads and the ubiquitous thud of reggae music. One forgets that the country is tiny, with few major roads and even fewer major settlements – it’s only when you arrive in a capital city, drive through it in five minutes and are able to stop outside the (unguarded) president’s house that you realise how small it actually is! A comfortable hotel gave us a base from which to wander the capital – which we gradually realised had a strangely edgy feel to it…not quite the easygoing Caribbean city we’d initially thought – beggars are more prevalent than we’d noticed, and wandering into some of the less touristy parts of the town brought glances and looks that intimated that we weren’t perhaps as welcome as we’d thought. Plans to stay a few days were revised once we realised that the city didn’t have a great deal to see and do and that prices for diving (etc) were dramatically hiked to take advantage of what tourist trade existed. Next stop…Guatemala.