Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Don't stop Belize-ing

Today started with me waking up around 7:30 very sore. Most likely from the extremely bumpy boat ride I had yesterday out to the dive sites. I rolled out of bed and headed out the door with the intention of going and seeing Godfrey and his nephew Tucker at the restaurant I ended up at a few days ago. I jumped on my bicycle and headed to their place. When I got there, there was a sign that said they were closed until Friday morning. Luckily, Godfrey was inside eating breakfast. I stopped in and said hello and caught up with him. They had shut the restaurant down for two days to head to the mainland and get some new equipment on a barge for the restaurant and hotel. They had arrived to the mainland too late and were not able to get room on the barge coming to Caye Caulker. Godfrey had to head back to the mainland and try again for the next couple days. After we caught up a little, I headed out to find some some breakfast. A place down the block called Marin's had been recommended to me, so I stopped in for some breakfast. I was the first person in and had my choice of seating. I grabbed one overlooking the intersection and ordered some fresh OJ, some coffee and one of their specialties; lobster and eggs with fry jacks.
2nd Floor restaurant, 'Marin's'
Overlooking the busy intersection of Caye Caulker

Lobsta' and eggs with fry jacks and OJ

 After finishing breakfast, I went towards the northern end of the island to meet with a local artist I had been talking with over the last couple days. He was making me a mask and a bowl out of locally sourced mahogany. I went and finished negotiating with him and picked up the pieces. I began a slow ride back to my apartment to pick up my bags and head to the water taxi. On my way, I passed Godfrey and he stopped me and told me his nephew, Tucker, was in the restaurant and I should stop and say hello. I went in, sat down and joked for a little bit. We all exchanged info and I carried on my way. I hope to make it back to see these two. They really made my time on the island a lot of fun and welcomed me into their family.
Godfrey, myself and Tucker outside of their restaurant.
  I picked up my bag and headed to the water taxi. I had just under an hour boat ride to the mainland ahead of me.
Last looks at Caye Caulker
After a pretty smooth boat ride (especially compared to yesterday), I landed in Belize City. I had a few minutes to kill before my ride showed up so I explored the few blocks around the marine terminal. The entire time was filled with people stopping me and trying to sell me their goods. It was worse than china-town in NYC. After making it back to the marine terminal, I found Tosh. She was my ride into Santa Elena on the mainland of Belize. It was a great ride and she filled me in on a lot of the history of Belize and the importance of some of the landscape that we passed. Through the ride, I was able to find out that she and her daughter were the only two female drivers in the Cayo District of Belize (the largest of 6 districts) and two of the very few female drivers in all of Belize. Women equality is slowly starting to take hold her and her business is starting to be well-known for their services in the country.

 After about two hours driving west through Belize, we reached the Cayo district and my hotel. I checked in to a very basic room (which will be perfect since I am only using it as a home base to go explore some Mayan Ruins nearby). I ordered some rice and beans with stewed chicken (very similar to what I had on Half Moon Caye) and headed into town to find a guide. I jumped in a cab with a local that was heading into San Ignacio and set out to find someone willing to take me on a couple trips.
Rice and Beans in Santa Elena

I was lucky and found someone with openings for the two trips I wanted to do on my second stop. Tomorrow morning, I will head to the ruins of Actun Tunichil Muknal. Known as ATM for short, this site is a Mayan archeological site that is famous for the 'Crystal Maiden'. This is a calcified skeleton of an teenage boy that is believed to have been sacrificed at the altar. The Mayan are believed to have altered the cave formations to create altars and to project certain shadows on the walls.

On Thursday, I will wake up a little earlier and take a trip to Guatemala in order to visit Tikal. Tikal is belived to be one of the capitals of the Mayan empire. It was declared an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. I won't get in to too many details about it here because I am sure I will have many more nerdy facts Thursday evening. Needless to say, I remember studying this site through textbooks in High School and am beyond excited to get to visit in person.

Oh yea, btw, it is a full moon tonight...

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