Un-Belize-able

Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
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19
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Trip End Jul 15, 2010


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Flag of Belize  , Cayo,
Monday, January 18, 2010

I've landed in a realm that is hot, wet and wild. It’s not jacks night club, but the humid heat of Belize’s low lands and jungles. A far cry from the islands (cayes) that most tourists come here for. This place was once part of the Mayan empire, but after a complicated history now infuses Caribbean, Spaniard, English, Chinese, some Indian and still, the modest Maya.

It was a three day ride out of Tulum, Mexico. Flat tarmac highway enclosed in a 20ft jungle tunnel so thick you can’t see more than a few meters into it. Boring but good to get ks under the belt, or around the belt in my case. We camped under roadside thatched roof huts, and had one night at a lakeside campground were the clear light blue waters were refreshing. In the Q.Roo state capital; we stayed in a hotel and looked forward to a new country.

The Belize border is weird. There’s a stretch of no man’s land between the two countries. This mini town is a tax free haven. It looked pretty crapy and felt lawless. It was bizarre to see Chinese and Indian sales people after coming from Mexico where there was zilch, and all were trilingual too!

After Belize customs cleared our bikes, writing in our passports that we had them on entry in case we sold them, we rode out into this completely different landscape. The thick jungle had been cleared many years before by the English loggers. The dilapidated wooden stilt houses were on grass properties with big trees, instead of sandy limestone Yucatan jungle. It was similar to Cuban countryside except the houses. Some concrete, some wood, some tin or hut and some of all styles together. Concrete is the new thing, its hurricane proof! I was ignorant of Belize history before coming here, I only realised, upon looking at the guide book a few days before entering, it was a commonwealth country. I’d expected it to be Spanish like the rest of Central America but the second language was English. First Spanish and third Kriol (like Jamaican)

We camped in the town of Corozal the first night and Orange Walk the second. First by the inlet and second by the river that housed a 14ft crocodile and some major aggressive flesh eating ants! Tenting on the river bank was nice, the croc didn’t appear to be home but the ants and mozzies were. If you stand on their patch they can swam over your foot in a matter of milliseconds. To their delight I was wearing flip-flops. It hurt! The next day Matthew was getting changed and put his fresh shorts down on a patch without knowing it and then putting them on got the buzz of his life. It was very hard not to laugh as he danced around screaming fuck ahh fuck they are biting my balls and ass.

Instead of taking a tour by boat to the impressive Mayan ruins of Lamanai, like normal people, we decided to bike the 40 miles and camp somewhere near. The pathway there was along dirt roads through the farm lands of Mennonites. They would go past in the horse and cart women dressed in black men in the denim dungarees, the modest clean houses washing lines full of the same clothes. It’s strange to see them and you can’t help but think what they think of others. Sinners, for driving cars, and wearing shorts? We, on bikes, got a few waves, a few smirks, and loads of cold stares, and some friendly directions from the next Mennonite community, who now have taken on machines to help with the farms.

The onward path after the ruins was unknown but after studying maps and talking to locals we believed we could cut through a huge nature reserve to get future south. It would have been quicker to backtrack but where’s the adventure in that? Lamanai Ruins were set in deep lush jungle, the oldest settlement we have seen to date with one building dating back to 200bc. There is a family of Black Howler monkeys living in the tree canopy and the noise they make to warn off other packs is incredible compared to their size. They sound like a cross between a gorilla and a big cat. Scary but cool noise and from that point on we would hear them nightly. The reserve was untouched Belizean jungle which was awesome to ride through, but now, in the 30 something heat with legs, arms, necks and balls swelling with itchy mosquito and ant bites we were feeling well, dirty and on fire. That night we asked a local family if we could camp on their lawn. Robert had 4 generations living in the house and his mum was 93 in April. The dogs, chickens and cat kept us company on the lawn, oh, and the ants which gave me a good ankle bashing in the morning. I now look everywhere on the grass while walking.

From Roberts to the Belize Zoo was a half day ride and we stayed at the Tropical education centre TEC lodge. It was a collection of huts with screen porches, a dining hall, classroom and lush lawns, labelled trees and walks. The cold showers were amazingly good after three days of sweat, jungle bugs, sun cream and mozzie spray.

Belize Zoo was outstanding. Set in natural forest, small, but has some very cool Belizean animals. Toucan’s, pumas, leopards, jaguar, ocelot, harpy eagle and more strange things I’d never seen before. Most of the animals were there after a Belizean documentary was made, the rest have been illegal pets, inured, bred in captivity and gifted from other zoos. The enclosures are large and almost open and the animals are happy to see people, unlike crowd heaving city zoos. It’s very quite there, only us and two other families’ there at the time. The Ocelot cat was my fav and I know I could have had my fingers clawed off but I couldn’t help but scratch it behind the ear through the fence. You can do an internship for 300us a week if you want to get in to playfight these big cats.

Now we have made it to San Ignacio, passing through the smallest capital city in the world (Belmopan). San Ignacio is a small town near the Guatemala border, set in the foothills of the Maya Mountains which holds many sights to keep us busy for a few days. Once again the mixed culture puts on a show. There’s Chinese karaoke going on, the Caribbean’s are playing football, chicken bbq-ing on the roadside, people lounging on there porches as the jungle river flows down past much the same throughout Belize. 
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Comments

Esme on

J, these blogs and photos are friggin awesome.. i can't get over the adventure you are having. You could be making a whole travel show on this..
Your thighs must be looking mighty fine by now!! xx

Derek on

Can't belive you're still going strong. Love reading about the adventure and hearing that everything is OK

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