The Border agent took his time , checking every paper , comparing numbers and names, again and again . It seems like a left over from the colonial era , when entering into Belize, that self importance of the government agent issuing our visa and car import.
Previously called British Honduras, it was not until 1981 that the country gained full independence. It does have a different feel then Mexico , the more colonial style houses blackened from mold and the mix of cultures and languages.
We spent a day walking through Belize City, while our truck is in the shop to have a driveshaft bearings replaced. With the exception of the tourist area where most visitors come through to take the ferry to the outlying islands, its a dirty, uninviting and dark city. The beauty is in these Cayes and the second larges coral reef in the world a few miles boat ride out from the mainland.
We quickly move into the inland jungles and visit a baboon sanctuary ,. It a community effort to save a large privately owned stretch of land to save the habitat for the howler monkeys along the River. One of the moms comes by with her baby clawed to her belly .
The mountains around Belmopan, the new capital of Belize, and especially along the Humming bird Highway contain more jungle experiences and we stop to take a swim at the Blue Hole national park.
In Hopkins, a small town further south , we have a beach house for the christmas holidays and our two younger kids come by to visit. To get out of our 40 sqft camper into a house is especially nice, when the occasional tropical showers come down.
Walking through the small town, while signing with our deaf son, gets us introduced to the one deaf young man in town, who is so happy to have someone speaking his language. Connections are instantly made. Additionally we hired some local guides for fishing and snorkeling and in no time we are well known in the village. The Garifuna drumming session we are invited too gets everyone dancing.
In the cute little town of Placencia, an hour further south, we take a trip down the monkey river and see manatees , krokodiles and many howler monkeys.
After dropping our kids off again ,one at the airport ,the other one at the border to guatemala. This is where we spent new years in the town of San
The town has a lively market , with products including fruits, veggies and meat from the nearby Mennonite farms . These religious german immigrants to Belize really change the land around San Ignazio into clean, orderly farming communities with many businesses supporting most of Belize from tractors to imported goods. As Germans and Europeans we feel ambivalent, about this inherited programming, we like the beauty , cleanliness and product availability , but the area also feels like a foreign object in this Caribbean country with its laid back attitude. It heightens our awareness of our differences ,even when walking around town or at the beach, our steps are determined and goal oriented to reach the next location, while the locals walk with an effortlessness, presence and enjoyment,even in the rain, that is foreign to us.
We also discover some smaller Mayan ruins there, Xunatunich , which really surprises us,with its height and beauty. This prepares us for our next destination , one of the oldest maya cities, Tikal in Guatemala.