TWO terrified friends on a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world were forced to flee an island after it was put on hurricane alert.
Laura Barrett, 22 and Aimee Binstead, 24, of Hilsea, were enjoying a three-day break in Caye Caulker, Belize, when news broke that a hurricane with 90mph winds was due to hit the coast. A storm with torrential rain and high winds had already battered the hostel they were staying in the night before.
Aimee said: ‘We had already endured a tropical storm the night before, which was quite scary. The sea was very choppy and the rain was bad.
‘Then we went for breakfast in the morning and heard some of the locals talking about the storm turning into a hurricane. We then saw a television news report about it so we started to worry.’
Realising they needed to leave, the pair boarded a boat the morning before they were due to leave the island to Belize City so they could continue the rest of their eight-month global tour.
But leaving the peaceful retreat on Tuesday proved tricky as hundreds of other tourists tried to evacuate.
Belize City Express, the local water taxi company which ferries between the ports of Chetumal in Mexico, to Caye Caulker, San Pedro and Belize City, had suspended services to Chetumal because of the weather.
Laura said: ‘Everyone was anxious to leave and people were getting stressed.
‘There were two small boats and around 300 people on one pier.
‘We were worried we’d be stranded as there had been storms the whole night and weather conditions were bad.’
Aimee said: ‘We just wanted to get off the island but there was no organisation and people pushed and shouted at each other to get by.
‘It was quite terrifying. We were concerned because of the infrastructure of the hostel and other houses on the island wasn’t great so we knew we had to leave. If we hadn’t got the morning boat we would never have got out. Though we didn’t fear for our lives we were just glad to get out of there.’
Luckily the hurricane avoided the island yesterday before hitting Mexico.
‘It was a shame because the island was a lovely, peaceful getaway with beaches and nice restaurants,’ Aimee added.
‘Though we were shaken up by what happened it hasn’t put us off our travels.
‘We just want to put it behind us and continue visiting some of the world’s most amazing places.’
The pair are now trekking through Guatemala and plan to visit New Zealand, Australia and Thailand before returning home.
Their trip began six weeks ago when they flew to New York.