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The adventures of Fe & Chris

Archive for September 21, 2007

Independence day

Today is Belize’s day for celebrating independence from Britain which happened 26 years ago.

Celebrations in Placencia have been timid but we were very excited about the prospect of a duck race in the harbour - but it never happened - very disappointing. Very little is happening in fact. It is all rather anticlimactic.

Perhaps a few rousing choruses of Rule Britannia would get them in the mood?

Mad women, premonitions and manatees

Upon finding ourselves unexpectedly in a different part of Belize we mulled over our options in a spartan yet perfectly acceptable Chinese restaurant in Dangriga. The guidebook, coupled with a look around town indicated nothing to detain the passing tourist there, so we made haste to the bus staion to correct the offset in our intended location of the day.

We took the bus southwards to Placencia where we met an American woman who suggested to us that we might like to stop at the town of Hopkins en route - it indeed sounded interesting, and she seemed a little batty, but nice enough, and conveniently had a place for us to stay on the beach.

Hopkins was lovely - a very relaxed little Garifuna town on a long sandy beach. Our accomodation was fine, if rather eccentric and the owner cooked for us, which was great.

The only downside was that our host talked at us incessantly. Utterly non-stop. She didn’t converse, she just rambled endlessly, mostly about her misfortunes. It was rather tiresome at first, but provided amusment after a while.

On our last morning we had tentatively planned to take an inflatable kayak into a nearby mangrove lagoon. It didn’t look a very sturdy craft so I had slight reservations about paddling through crocodile infested waters in it, but when both Fe and I dreamt about being eaten by crocodiles we wimped out.

It was a fine still morning, so I sat on the beach and watched the sea. After some time had passed some curious lokking black lumps surfaced 100 metres offshore - manatees - the leviathan of the mangroves! We finally succumbed to the crappy kayak and paddled out to say hello (manatees are herbivores and whilst they may be able to suck us to death, I think it unlikely).

We were treated to little ugly heads bobbing up around us, blowing lightly as they surface, then fine views of their big rounded backs as they rolled, and occasionally their great big single flippered tail would pop up.

The boat was indeed a piece of junk, but who cares? We paddled with manatees!

Transportation quandries

After being abandoned at the roadside by a broken bus en-route to San Pedro Sula we were keen for an easy passage to Belize. We planned to leave Honduras on the Gulf Cruza, alledgedly a 45 passenger boat, and cross the Caribbean from Puerto Cortes to Placencia in Belize.

The Gulf Cruza was broken, but another vessel, about half the size would take us. Hmm. When that boat cried off due to insufficient passengers our only option was a even smaller boat going to Dangriga.

Now, ordinarily for a 60 mile sea crossing I’d be slightly nervous about going in an open fiberglass boat, its only safety feature being duplicated outboard engines, but we were desperate not to spend another night in Puerto Cortes or endure the long bus ride to the shorter crossing in Guatemala so threw caution to the wind and jumped in.

All went well, but I’m glad we don’t need to do that again.

A break from the norm

We spent the night in Puerto Cortes - the only thing of interest was a nice Parque Central so after 15 minutes we searched for alternative entertainment. We chanced across a cinema - Ocean’s 13 was billed, and it was in English! Before the show we needed feeding. It was a sleepy Sunday and all that was open was fast food joints so we succombed. One chicken place even had veggie food.

The cinema was funny - 30 Lempiras (75 p) took us into the pitch black room where we had to find a seat by feel. The film was fun, but the sound quality was awful. I don’t suppose it matters if all you are interested in is the subtitles.

Afterwards we needed pudding so headed to the only likely place - Pizza Hut. We ordered a small pizza and a couple of deserts assuming the young waiter would work out our order of requirements. Needless to say he didn’t and we got our meal backwards.

I think the waiter was as amused by us as we were by him.

It was this big…

Although we have now been lucky enough to see the largest fish in the sea (yes, we’re still going on about it!), whilst sunning ourselves in another Bay Island - Roatan, their annual fish festival took place and we were able to admire their huge catches - the biggest fish they caught was a 270 pound Blue Marlin - these are massive fish (as the weight might suggest) and have a long pointy nose (like a swordfish) - certainly wouldn’t want to have met one of those whilst diving! The thing that amazed me most about these fish was their eyes - they were bright blue, but looked like fake glass eyes, weird. Unfortunately we had left our camera at home on this occasion, so no photos - I’m sure google will provide though.

The rest of our trip to Roatan was pretty uneventful, if rather expensive - the North Americans have adopted it as a tropical resort, hence the prices have risen accordingly. We managed to save a few bob by walking to the “world’s second most beautiful beach” (according to our hotel owner) - it was lovely - white sands and crystal clear water, and definitely an improvement to Utila’s lack of beach, however it was spoilt somewhat by the large number of resorts and hotels that have been built along it. Oh how ungrateful we are in paradise!