Introducing Chris, an acclaimed photographer, Guinness World Record owner, and unapologetic British bloke whom we had the great fortune of living next to in Caye Cauker. Filled with vim, vigor, wisdom, and the funniest stories you have ever heard, it’s impossible to be in a bad mood when in his company. He is the only person to have ever compared Randi to a Ferrer Rocher and who speaks fondly (and often) of masturbating dolphins. Make of that what you will.
When We Met: March 2014
Where We Met: Caye Caulker, Belize
You make your own luck and you make your own travels but you have to have the ability to jump your own shadow and color outside the lines of normality.
Why do you travel? I have always had a burning desire to travel since I was a small child. I was never satisfied with the scenery 5 minutes after I arrived somewhere and always wanted to know what was around the next corner or the next headland. I always wanted to know what the view was like from the top of a mountain and it became part of me as I grew older and I’m too old to change it now. Additionally, being ex-ambulance and losing my mum at a young age to a brain tumor I always have a reminder that life is short and memories come from travel and not from watching TV.
How did you find yourself in Belize? By accident. I flew 9000 kms (~5600 miles) away from the UK to find some answers to questions that were troubling me and when I landed in Cancun I knew it wasn’t for me instantly. I was looking at some pictures on the net and saw this one of Caye Caulker that I pasted into a Google images and was blown away by the results. Kinda like a Eureka moment I pointed South and yelled “Take Me There”, no one did so I left the airport and went to the ADO bus station and pushed hard all night and the next day to arrive at San Pedro for an hour then finally made it to Caye Caulker at 2:00 pm that afternoon. I came for a day and stayed for a month!
Why did you stay for so long in Caye Caulker? Well I was supposed to be traveling hard around Belize and discovering its incredible hidden gems and crossing back and forth into Guatemala and then down into Honduras but I sort of stopped here and couldn’t leave. Caye Caulker has a magical attraction that is addictive. So after a month I got on the boat and wandered back home with a bucket load of new friends and some truly awesome memories and beautiful experience. Belize just sort of does that to you.
What are your impressions of Caye Caulker? Staggering. They have managed to keep it so natural and non touristic. For sure it has its mix that is required to survive but it is interwoven with the far south of the island where you can vanish for a day and sit by yourself on a jetty and not see a sole apart from a passing pelican or a thousand identical fishes looking up at you through the ever translucent turquoise waters. Yes there are Rastas who offer you things they should not do within seconds of you getting off the boat but like any country you just say “I am a Police Officer” and they soon leave you alone. San Pedro the neighboring island as quoted by Madonna in “La Isla Bonita” is everything that Caye Caulker is not and long may that continue.
Did you visit anywhere else on this trip? If so, where and what did you think of those places? I traveled back up through Mexico with a group of French model film crews chaps who called me Dad all the time and we ran back up through Tulum and visited several Cenotes which were a good laugh. We stayed at Playa Del Carmen for a couple of nights which is exactly what you think it would be. I was sad not to make it to San Ignacio in Belize but I loved it so much there I am coming back in 3 months. All around Belize is incredible and everywhere I went and everyone I met was super keen to be friendly. A truly lovely nationality.
What is the most interesting trip you’ve ever taken and why? I did 60,000 km (~37,300) around Europe in a motorhome that was pretty cool and I also did 366 days around the world with Central and South America, then Fiji, New Zealand, Australia then overland from Singapore all the way up to Cambodia and Vietnam so that was awesome. To be honest, one of the best and most memorable trips and mental journeys I have ever gone on, is this one to Caye Caulker in Belize. I watched every sunset and every single sunrise (bar one after I lost the Green Lizard challenge) and this place just got under my skin in so many ways.
If you could live anywhere in the world that you have been to, where would it be and why? A good question that I get asked a lot as global traveler. I always used to say hands down, The Isles Of Scilly which are a small archipelago 43 kms (~27 miles) off the South West tip of Cornwall in the UK. You can get Ale, wine, call home for free, go to the bank, eat Cornish Pasties (a meat pie) and its easy with awesome weather. But now, I’d say 50% there and 50% roaming Belize.
Do you prefer to travel alone or with companions? I am happy either way just so long as the person or group are cool and easy going. I traveled with a group once who had to prebook everywhere and know where they were sleeping. That drove me mad. I’m not irresponsible I just prefer to land somewhere and get to speak with locals and ask them for advice or even end up couch surfing and getting to know locals in their homes. Sure yeah I could go check into a Hilton but you do not get the ‘knowledge’. For example in Macchu Pichu in Peru I got to do the most awesome horse ride high into the passes because I helped a local who’s bag had broken and they said “Go see Santos and say Horse”, I did and that day still stays with me. You get the “knowledge” by talking to people face to face.
Have you ever had any really negative experiences while traveling? Drugs mainly. I hate idiots who go “Backpacking” and think its cool to do drugs and get off their faces. That makes me so cross. Travel is about opening your mind and soul not about creating artificial highs. I learned on this trip there is a big difference between Tourists, Backpackers and Travelers. Each have their benefits but I prefer hanging out with Travelers. The only time I get a bit twitchy is when I see backpackers or tourists being disrespectful or impolite to locals. I tend to speak to both calmly and settle things down.
When you go on trips do you decide what your budget will be ahead of time? Roughly but I am frugal so splash out when I want to and keep it less expensive the rest of the time. After 3 weeks of cold showers I want a hot shower and clean sheet so I “upgrade” ha ha ha.
What’s next travel wise? Hurghada in Egypt. After working with the Belize Tourism Board I’m heading out to Egypt straight away to do some Kitesurfing and Diving work. As a National British Press Photographer who specializes in extreme watersports photography it’s never a dull moment. Once I have done that I dont know. I am applying at the moment to get involved in War Zone Photography so time will tell.
Do you have a process when planning your trips? Eeney – Meeny – Miney – Moo or they come to me in dreams, seriously.
How many bags did you pack for this trip? At the last minute I saw my friend had “borrowed” my mountain bag so I ended up throwing a few things into a Kite Bag and front packing a day sack. Total weight 31 kilograms (~68 pounds). Way too heavy. I normally go 15 kilograms (~33 pounds) on my back and 4 kilograms (~9) on my front.
Do you prefer to stay at hostels or hotels? Why? Hostels through and through as you get to meet people with “the knowledge”. Hotels never give you the feel for the area. I love lizards in my room and dogs walking in and out or watching the never ending parade of ants across the floor.
Do you have any advice for people that want to travel but feel like they can’t? Yes I do. I sat in my job in The City (London) for many years watching vapour trails over head wondering where they were going and I never had the opportunity to travel. I was a dead hamster on a dead wheel just going round and round. 5 weeks holiday a year and a 12 year old boss. Thank God redundancy hit and I saw sense. You make your own luck and you make your own travels but you have to have the ability to jump your own shadow and color outside the lines of normality. That is how you end up on the bow of a dive boat taking pictures of breaching hump back whales off the coast of Ecuador. Or it is how you end up kitesurfing on your own with a lone dolphin for 2 hours in New Zealand, or flying in a World War II Catalina Sea Plane. It could be singing in the Sydney Opera House (and being told to shut up), or it could be the simply incredible sight that I saw at The Split in Caye Caulker with a full bloodied sky of fire sunset to my left and a full moon rising to my right, both over the water. That’s why I travel – I travel to understand my very existence.
Check out Chris’ website here: Lazyblueskies