Honeymoon: Day 4 (Continued)
Previously on Pickled Beef...
Day 1 & 2 (Key West)
Day 3 (Cozumel)
Day 3 Continued (Cozumel- Maya Ruins)
Day 4 (Belize)
The camp looked like a movie set for a drug smuggling operation. The three buildings on the grounds looked like jungle huts. But they were relatively modern on the inside, with running water and tiled floors. It wasn't intentionally campy. Rather, as if the buildings couldn't make up their minds what to be. It reminded me of that early 80's movie, "Victor Victoria" where Julie Andrews plays a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Only, these were huts pretending to be modern buildings pretending to be huts.
The employees of the camp were all business, never smiling as they politely ushered us around. My mind painted them with machine guns and I was startled to find that the image fit just fine. After buying rubber shoes and a tube of bug repellent (Hoop was still scared of Malaria), we stripped down to our bathing suits and waited for the guide. I was instantly self conscious of my tiny bikini. Whether due to our guide's previous warning about piranhas, or because they were equally self conscious, most of the other women opted to stay fully clothed.
After a short trip on the tractor-taxi, we arrived at the beginning of the river and a pile of inner tubes. The water was crystal clear... and freezing, much like the spring fed rivers in central Florida. Hoop and I happily jumped right in. Floating down the river, buffeted by jungle, made all the day's misadventures worth it. My only complaint was that the guide's attendants, who were also on tubes, continuously shoved at the people in the back to make sure the group kept moving. Apparently, Hoop and I are more *cough* dense than some. We were almost always on the tail end.
About halfway down the river, the guide, who was up from us, started pointing at the water and shouting, "There they are! There are the piranhas. Watch your nipples!" Several people took off paddling. I, on the other hand, had unintentionally drifted right into the spot where he'd been pointing. Cautiously, I looked over my float and saw... minnows. I laughed about that for a good twenty minutes. Nipple-biters indeed. Then we hit some miniature rapids. I loved that part, until I scraped my ass on a fallen tree. It was still worth it though.
After floating down the river we stopped to look at some Maya ruins, followed by a meal back at the camp. Our guide tried to convince us that it was iguana we were eating. After the whole piranha incident, no one was inclined to believe him. I'm pretty sure it was chicken. At least, I HOPE it was chicken. After we ate, Hoop and I wandered off to check out the caged jaguar. The poor cat was pacing the enclosure, mouth open and wide eyed. It wasn't like a jaguar at a zoo. You could tell this guy had been caught recently, and he was itching to go back.
Hoop stood so close to the bars, I envisioned the story I would tell our kids one day about how Daddy lost his arm. Fortunately, they called us back to the tractor-taxi. Back on the bus, our guide continued telling us of his culture. In Belize, one of their delicacies is Cashew wine. It's made from the fruit, not the nut. They're soaked out in the sun under a blanket of brown sugar until they ferment. The result is a thick, almost syrupy, orange wine. "Coincidentally", the guide's Mother happened to make the wine and wouldn't you know it, she had made a fresh batch that day!
After a quick stop at the guide's Mother's house (no lie), we were on our way back to the ship with drinks in hand. I wanted to like the wine. I really did. I daydreamed about buying a few bottles for my friends and family back home. My treasure from Central America. Unfortunately, the wine tasted like a mixture of cooking wine and lighter fluid. My eyes watered at the smell of it. Hoop tried not to laugh as I juggled the full cup on my knee the entire way back. He finally took pity on me and snuck it off to the sink in the back. Oh well. Belize was interesting. I'm not sure I would go back though. Not unless they could guarantee monkeys.