Monday, December 22, 2008

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...

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18 Comments:

At 22 December, 2008, Blogger HalfAsstic.com said...

Oh Wow! How cool is that?! Even without monkeys! ;-)

 
At 22 December, 2008, Blogger Jay said...

Actually, this sounds like a really great adventure. Much better than a day at Disney.

And, I would prefer for the piranhas nibble on nipples than other things they might want to take a bite out of. ;-)

 
At 22 December, 2008, Blogger Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

frankly, I wouldn't skinny dip in a place where there might be piranhas, and what are those little fish that try to climb up your willy? Maybe living in the frozen north isn't so bad....

 
At 22 December, 2008, Anonymous emily said...

so far I LOVE this story!

 
At 22 December, 2008, OpenID kcinnova said...

So far, you have pretty much cured me from wanting to travel anywhere south of Florida in the Western Hemisphere.

I loved exploring Europe, and I've been on an excruciatingly long car ride on the ALCAN before it had much asphalt. I would love to go to China, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

But I'm still waiting to hear the rest of the story!

 
At 22 December, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

Bonus points for surreality, if nothing else.

Oh, man, my verification word is "dogural." That's just giving me the giggles.

 
At 22 December, 2008, Blogger Janet said...

Belize made me so sad...

 
At 22 December, 2008, Blogger LL said...

I take it that you've still got your nipples then?

 
At 22 December, 2008, Blogger Jen said...

What an incredible story! You wouldn't get me anywhere near water that has piranhas. For serious.

 
At 23 December, 2008, Blogger Hilary said...

Sounds like a fine adventure to me.. aside from piranhas. Looking forward to the rest.

 
At 23 December, 2008, Blogger fiwa said...

Aw, I'm disappointed to hear that about Belize. It always sounded like such a cool place to go.

 
At 23 December, 2008, Blogger Woman in a Window said...

A country is always so much more than what you can see in a couple hours, right? And what you see on a tour isn't necessarily what is. But I think you got some really real glances there. The poverty anyway. A country is probably never what is expected. It's always a surprise. I have some images of a few countries I've been to that I know shortchange the country and its people. I'd like to go back to see differently but I probably never will. (Especially the Phillipines...scared the shit outta me.)

 
At 24 December, 2008, Anonymous Turtle said...

"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."

LOL That sounds like something OUR tour guide in St Maaten would have said!!! What a trip! I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. You guys obviously had a blast on your cruise. Let us know when you're ready for another. We are so there!

 
At 25 December, 2008, Blogger sheilah said...

Actually the official language of Belize (formerly British Honduras) is English and virtually everyone speaks the language.

It is definitely a third-world country and even those who are quite well-off live in pretty ordinary-looking (by US standards) houses.

 
At 27 December, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

be careful. poisonous snakes bit anytime

 
At 28 December, 2008, Anonymous Daisy said...

A beau who received large annual bonuses would take me on nice vacations -- I never much liked the ones where I felt like a privileged rich person living in a compound guarded by armed men, while all around me was poverty, and a few of those poor people were trucked in each day past the guards to make my bed or cook my food....

At the same time, it was good to go to faraway places to see how other people live.

As for you guys, I think you make grand adventures wherever you go!

 
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