December 5, 2010

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 🙂



December 4, 2010

We actually got a late start because Alex was feeling worse and we decided to eat breakfast first. We first headed for Chetumal near the border to try and sell the bullet-proof vest. After visiting 7 stores, Alex finally gave up. It seems no-one had any interest… hard to believe. So, for now, the vest stays with me as “motocross chest protector” in case it gets discovered 🙂

We stopped for our last lunch/meal in Mexico and the place turned out to be run by a bunch of deaf, in-bred local retards who couldn’t take an order if their life depended on it. In the end, we got the most disgusting egg sandwiches despite ordering something completely different. Oh well… a bad ending to wonderful cuisine in Mexico.

Crossing the border was actually relatively pain free. We turned in our Mexican visas and got our bikes stamped out of Mexico before crossing into Belize. A half a mile before the border checkpoint, we were flagged down by a guy who spoke at the speed of light. He explained that we needed to have mandatory insurance for our bikes and also that we needed to have our bikes “fumigated” before entering the country. Then he asked for $5 per bike and said he would go up the road and “take care” of the fumigation for us. What a guy! He pointed us in the direction of the insurance office / “shack” and, as he climbed into a waiting van and sped off, he uttered the immortal words of the Terminator… “I’ll be back!” I looked at Alex in a daze as I marveled at how easily and completely taken I was… we would never see that guy ever again.

Into the insurance shack we went and paid the princely sum of $200 pesos for 3 days worth of insurance. Halfway through the paperwork, who marches in the door with fumigation certificate in hand but our good friend the Terminator 🙂 Apparently, there are still a few honest guys at the border. I actually told him that I never expected to see him again… he took it well. With papers in hand, we headed off to the actual border control point. Inside we went with papers in hand and ten minutes later we were crossing the border into Belize. Easy as pie 🙂 No entry fees, no bike importation permits, no hassle. The guys were very nice and I even understood them given the official language of Belize is English. Go figure. Check my blogroll for more info on Belize.

We breezed down the northern highway, took a short-cut on the old northern hwy which turned out to be an absolute disaster of a road. The locals were all signaling us to turn around and that we were crazy for going that way but were ignored them. As I said to Alex, “Dude, we went down Copper Canyon… how bad can this be?” It was bad but in a good way. The pavement ended and what ensued was a hard-packed, pot-hole filled stretch of goat track that felt like we were riding on a washboard. Still, it took us deep into the cane fields and off the beaten path and it was fun riding.

We eventually got back on the northern highway and headed south toward Belize City. The sun was falling fast and we rode into Ladyville and spotted a hotel. Turns out it was a Chinese owned hotel and that there is a large Asian population in Belize. Good thing Alex knows some Chinese as well 🙂 We were fortunate that they let us ride the bikes right inside the hotel to keep them safe and we slept soundly because of it.