Honeymoon: Day 4
Hoop says that I have to stop finishing the sentence, "Belize was nice..." with the words "...but there were no monkeys." Because it wasn't about the monkeys. But it was. It really was. I was disappointed the moment we stepped off the ferry. I don't know what I expected; lush rain forests and houses in the trees maybe? I know, I'm such a stupid white girl. What we got instead was an early morning wake-up, followed by a jostling crowd of people and a long dirty bus ride. You can't wander in Belize City like you would other ports of call. They give you two options: buy an excursion or stay on the boat.
Hoop and I bought the excursion where you *clears throat*, "Lie back on your tube and let the current take you down the river. Stop for a dip in one of the swimming holes. Emerge in a Mayan tomb site, Hubelna, overlooking the river. Enjoy a tropical feast served in the heart of the jungle." Pretty cool, huh? What they failed to mention (but do now, coincidentally) was that there would be an hour and a half drive to get to the river. But that was before our guide turned the bus around fifteen minutes into the ride to tell us that our excursion had been cancelled. He told us fifteen minutes later that he was joking.
No one laughed.
After we picked up our missing tourists, the real reason for turning around, we were on our way. Belize City was nothing short of shocking in its poverty. Most of the houses looked condemned, although the clotheslines outside indicated differently. The streets were narrow and flooded. The people were skinny and dirty. Graffiti was everywhere. I noticed immediately that it was all in English. Words like "Cunt" and "Puppy" were often painted on the same wall of a bus station. "And now we leave the good side of town" our guide announced as we crossed into a portion of the city that looked absolutely no different than the one we'd left.
We all stared at him, waiting for an indication that he was lying or joking. But he wasn't. Although I would never agree to such a long bus ride again, I did learn a few interesting things about Belize along the way. One, most Belizeans speak English! Their lineage is a cross between British, African (slaves) and Maya. Two, "Mayan" is the word for the language the Mayas spoke, not the people. Three, Mayas still exist! In Belize alone there are three remaining tribes. Their names are Yucatec, Kekchi, and Mopan. If you ever stumble across a Maya in Belize, the appropriate greeting would be "Hach ki'imak in wóol in wilikech."
Or you could just nod.
During the trip, our guide described to us some of the wildlife we might see. It was here that monkeys were mentioned. "What about crocodiles?" I whispered to Hoop. He quickly raised his hand to ask. "What about crocodiles, snakes, and piranhas?" The guide chuckled. "There are several poisonous snakes in Belize, but all of them are nocturnal. Although I know we have crocodiles, I've never seen any in this river. As for piranhas, we have some, but they're very little. They like to nibble on nipples." "For real?!" One nervous tourist blurted out. The guide gave a sly glance and said, "You better wear a shirt."
After the hour and a half bus ride, we were dropped off at a little house not far from the border of Guatemala. Guatemala. I'm not even kidding you. An older gentleman, the owner of the house, loaded us onto a trailer fixed with benches. Then he pulled us up the mountain with his tractor. His wife and three small children watched with curiosity from the open doorway as we left. I couldn't stop cracking up at the absurdity of it all. "This isn't at all what I expected!" I shouted at Hoop over the clank of metal and wood. "Do you really think they have piranhas?" He replied.
To be continued...