Sunday, April 12, 2009

Decision time in Dangriga

“So where are you going?” Norma asked as she poured out the coffee.
“well, ,were going to head to Dangriga to see if we can catch the Garifuna festival,” I replied.
“Hmph” Norma’s lack of reaction didn’t bode well.
In desperation I added, “Maybe we’ll head to Tobacco Caye.”
“Oh, good. It’s nice there.”

Actually, Adrian and I hadn’t decided. Belize was depressing us only because we couldn’t do anything. We’d already walked around and seen all there was to see. And we’d done the day trip to Caye Calker. But until everything reopened on Tuesday that was all there was. Our decisions were made worse by the lack of internet cafes with their access to bus schedules and accommodations.

However, the tourist brochure in the hotel promised the rich Garifuna culture of Dangriga so we thought we’d head there. The Garifuna are a descendants of African slaves and the Caribe people; they have there own language and music that links then more with the Caribbean than with Latin America. Dangriga was home to the Garifuna museum and a festival. Plus it’s also the place where you can catch a boat to Tobacco Caye or a bus to the beach town of Placencia if we found ourselves still searching for life in Belize.

Loaded up with our big backpacks on our backs, day packs on our front and bags over our shoulders we walked to the bus station which didn’t look any better than the day we arrived. An employee near the entrance, let us know that unfortunately we’d just missed the bus to Dangriga. Our hearts sank.
“When’s the next one?” I crossed my fingers and hoped it was less than four hours.
“18 minutes,” he replied. Yay!
And in exactly 18 minutes a school bus pulled up and we got on. It was full until the police pulled off 3 guys sitting at the back. Don’t know why but they were taken to the police truck and thoroughly searched while the bus pulled out of the station.

The bus drove directly to the capital city of Belmopan. And I’m glad we didn’t go there. There was nothing there. And I mean nothing. So thank you Andrew for warning us. Then it was another hour to Dangriga.

If we thought Corozal had been in a coma, well it looked like they’d pulled the plug on Dangriga. Once again every window and door was shuttered in the rundown little town. We headed towards the shore where there was a group of cabanas, hotels and b&bs and started inquiring. No vacancy. No vacancy. Too expensive. No vacancy. Finally we found a place. At first they offered us a room for $50US but then mentioned that they had basic rooms for $14US including free wifi. Woohoo! We’ll take it. How basic could it be? Very basic. It was a bed and fan and a shared cold water shower that looked like it belonged in a camp ground. So for the first time I pulled out my silk sleep sheet just to make sure that I wasn’t sharing my bed with any 6-legged friends.

I took advantage of the internet access to upload photos and send out some email inquiries (it didn’t look like we’d be staying in Dangriga) while Adrian went out in search of food. He came back with the best in gas station cuisine – chips, ice cream, bread and cheese. Oh well. At least it wasn’t mystery meat again.

As we ate our sandwiches, a French couple arrived and took the room next to ours. They had just returned from Tobacco Caye where they had to spend $75US for one night (the only room available) and then rent a tent for their last night. Not a good sign. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that we were not enjoying Belize and perhaps it was time to just pay the high price. Maybe then we’d start having a good time.

Ronan and Celine assured us we’d have more accommodation choices on Tobacco Caye now that Easter was coming to an end. My friend Andrew had recommended a place where he knew the manager so at the very least we’d be assured of a friendly face. Plus the accommodations there included food which meant we might finally eat real food again. Anything was better than our dingy cabin and gas station menu. I hoped.

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