We left Ladyville in the morning and headed back north to see the ruins at Altun Ha. The 14 mile “road” was a disgrace and was basically one lane wide and full of potholes. I wish I knew someone in the asphalt business who could fix these :). The roads in Belize vary from the main highways that appear to be rough paving with no line markings and about 15 years old to tracks that have barely any asphalt left and haven’t been paved in 25 years. I guess the government doesn’t have the money or at least the friends of the government aren’t in the paving business.
The ruins themselves were ok… Nothing to rave about but worth seeing once. Alex enjoyed a nice coconut from a local vendor at the site and then we headed south and west to the Belize Zoo. Apparently, that part of the country had suffered a hit from Hurricane Richard about a month and a half ago and so the zoo took a beating. Trees and buildings damaged, animal enclosures wrecked. Sad but the animals seemed ok except for the Jaguar who was doing that crazy pacing thing. After the zoo we frequented a local place called Amigos where we had lunch. The staff were very friendly and it was funny to hear them speaking Kriol. The restaurant had been badly damaged by the hurricane but had been patched up nicely by the time we got there. The hurricane was only a category 1 so I hate to think what would have happened if a really strong one hit them. There would be nothing left.
We finished lunch and headed further west to stop at Jaguar Park, site of some of the best cave tubing in Central America. We were quickly approached by a guide named Edwin who turned out to be a genuinely interesting and honest guy. He was knowledgeable, funny, entertaining and has great plans for his future. It’s nice to see a young man working hard to make his life better no matter what his circumstances are. If anyone is ever going cave tubing in Belize this is the guide you want. Edwin Standford and his email is jungleboy_83 at yahoo dot com.
We locked up everything the bikes and I locked my keys inside my side case and just took the one key with me in the velcro pocket of my bathing suit. We first made a river crossing in about waist deep water and then we had a 30 min trek through the jungle to the cenote where you enter the cave system known as Caves Branch. The water was freezing and I made the mistake of trying to listen to Edwin instruct me in how to get into a tube. Having only done it a hundred times I should have listened to myself but what ensued was a debacle of twisted arms and legs as a 6 foot 7 giant wedged himself into a tube made for a goat!
Finally on the river, we floated for an hour or so in and out of beautiful caves. The scenery went from the pitch black of the caves with their rock formations and bat colonies to a serene jungle setting and peacefully floating down the river. We could hear the howler monkeys in the distance but unfortunately didn’t get to see any of them. The whole trip was fantastic and I will post video as soon as I can.
We made it back to the bikes fine but then I discovered that my key had up and floated away so my bike keys were locked inside my case. No worries, I am prepared for a lost key because I have a set of keys hidden my bike. Smart right? Yes, except for the fact that the place I have hidden the keys requires a T-20 torx head screwdriver to get to it and that was also locked in my side case along with my keys!! Oooops. Plan not so sound after all :). After trying every single tool in Alex’s arsenal, we still could not get the three screws off that we needed to until… Rasta to the rescue. I was saved by a kind Rasta mon who calmed asked if I needed tools. He took a quick look at the torx head and disappeared off into the jungle. I’m thinking no way this guy has the tool I need but sure enough he returns with exactly what I need and ten minutes later I am back in business with my spare key in hand. Whew!
20 mins later we found another Chinese hotel as night was approaching fast. Tomorrow… A new country and a new adventure 🙂