Thursday, April 9, 2009

Time for plan b, c or d

this picture has nothing to do with the post other than it's the only one I took on this day

6 months before taking off, I mapped out a rough route of where to go and what to see but a combination of things was about to change all that. First it was almost Easter or Santa Semana as they call it in Central America. That meant everything was about to shut down and accommodations were about to fill up with people taking advantage of two week holiday. The second was an email I had received from a friend back in Toronto (hi Andrew). Andrew’s family is Belizean and he’d been all over the country; he’d also been all over my Belizean itinerary. His verdict was blunt and too the point: Corozal – quiet; Orange Walk – nothing to see there; Belize City – a hole; Belmopan – really nothing to see there; Placencia – really touristy. In a handful of words we’d decimated my plans. Since he was bang on about Corozal, I took his advice to heart especially after talking to Gwynn and another expat staying at the Hotel who’d lived in Belize City for the last 20 years and ran a site on the transportation links. Both of their verdicts were similar. So what to do?

We sat on the balcony of the hotel, whipped out the computer and began our quest. Orange Walk supposedly had tours into some nature reserves and awesome ruins. So despite everyone’s words of wisdom we thought we’d give it a try. I emailed our hotel of choice (in terms of price and comfort) but they were full. Our second choice only had a room for $50US. Well, that settled it. No Orange Walk. What next? So there was a boat from Corozal to San Pedro in the Cayes. Once again I sent emails and once again the only thing available was a cold water hut on a beach for $50US. Been there didn’t enjoy it. Oh and there was no boat tomorrow because it was Good Friday. Scratch that. Maybe we’d stay in Corozal. No go. Gwynn was booked solid. That left the dreaded Belize City.

We asked Bill for some recos. All he could do was hesitantly say “it’s interesting”. Great and he lived there. Gwynn however was more blunt.
“My advice? Don’t go. Latest news is that they’re now throwing grenades instead of shooting bullets” he said.
“Well that’s less accurate than guns,” I tried to joke.
But Gwynn wasn’t joking.

Adrian however was determined. Armed with a 5-year old Lonely Planet which said “it’s not as bad as soon doomsayers will tell you”, he decided that where we were going. At least we knew we’d be able to get a bus there on Good Friday and there’d be more room options (particularly if everyone was getting the same advice as us). Plus, Adrian was convinced that there would be plenty to see.

That settled (or in my case unsettled) we spent the remaining part of the day hanging out (the photo above) and taking to Gwynn and the other guests that now filled up the place. There was an Irish couple just starting off on their own RTW adventure passing through on their way to Tikal in Guatemala, and an couple from Texas who were just finishing up 6 months in Mexico before heading to Alaska to work for the summer and of course Gwynn, who was full of interesting stories from his years of living in Central America, some funny and some sad. But before we all got too tipsy chatting away over beers, we dispersed preparing for our early morning departures.

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