Home is Where we Hook-up

March 10, 2008

No Saving Time in Belize

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 10:05 am

Yesterday the computer showed that it was 8:08 a.m., and even though we’d slept in, I thought this was really odd, impossible even. Glancing at the battery operated wall clock above my head reading 7:08 confirmed that for some of the world, Daylight Savings had just occurred. It wasn’t until today that either Keith or I even cared if Belize acknowledged the switching of the clocks.

Ali put it this way, “It’s hard enough already to get these people to go to work, let alone try and trick them to go in an hour earlier.” Good point.

So, we split hairs about what time zone that put us in – we decided that while we stay on CST, our clocks now match that of MST. If a person had to be somewhere at a certain time, it would all be very confusing. Thankfully, we don’t.

It wouldn’t have mattered too much, anyway. Today is a holiday. Or, rather it’s a day off from work after the weekend of a holiday. March 9th is Baron Bliss Day. Stories vary, but the jist is that a wealthy British born traveler, Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss willed the country, at the time British Honduras, two million dollars to a trust for its citizens. He is a much celebrated hero in their eyes even today- though I can’t help but wonder if his “trust” was handled anything like the $10 Million Venezuela’s Chavez recently gave to Belize, now found to be completely unaccounted for and disputed to be closer to $40 Million. The citizens were never going to see a dime, that much is obvious. We’ll just have to see how that plays out.

The weekends celebration events included a 2 day canoe race from one end of the country to the other ending today, and a major bicycle race from Belmopan, the countries Capital, to Belize City, the former Capital. A ride of about 45 miles along the Western Highway.

We had gone into town to buy a few supplies for the week, unaware of the cyclist sprint that had just taken place. Traffic cops frantically waved their arms for us to ignore the light and come ahead, Come Ahead, COME AHEAD – we don’t drive near crazy or fast enough for the likes of the people around here. When we made it through the intersection, there was more arm waving and I wondered why we seemed to be the target of all this attention. I rolled my window down, a cyclist straddling her bike was pointing to us, urgently, and when we passed slowly by I could hear her arguing with a cop on the sidewalk,

“Why can’t they take her?” and then directly to me she said “Can you take an injured cyclist to the hospital in the back of your truck?”

“Of course” was the only possible response.

A half dozen spectators began to direct us to park near the curb of the sidewalk. I got out of the truck, and sure enough, a woman nearly unconscious with scraped and bloodied knees was sprawled on the concrete. The tailgate was lowered, and I asked why we couldn’t lay her in the backseat,

“it’s better for her to be straight out” they said, and I didn’t argue.

Thinking about the situation later gave me chills, to remember her limp body being situated into the truck bed, maneuvered with someones camouflage jacket as a gurney. This would NEVER happen in the States. Here we didn’t even consider the liability of our actions, there was no ambulance around, and the woman needed medical attention. Who organizes an event like this, and doesn’t secure on site medical assistance? Belize, no surprise. The cyclist and one of her very own teammates had collided during the sprint. Her teammate was already at the hospital, it was not more than 5 blocks away. Again, we were hurried to get moving, hurried to make the turn, hurried to get to the Emergency entrance. Keith kept a slow and steady pace, against all efforts to get him to race around like a mad person. I don’t know the outcome of her situation.

On the way back to the marina I got the impression the big race was about to come through very shortly. People were parked along the side of the road, here and there, very spectator looking. Reaching the Police checkpoint we saw the cones and ropes had been removed, and the cop while waving people through, also issued the request to “go along carefully”. We stopped at the entrance of the marina and waited for the big show. Within less than ten minutes the lead cyclists raced by. Another 2 or 3 minutes and the peloton passed, followed by 20 or 30 unofficial support vehicles of all makes, models and condition, driving rapid speeds and passing one another.

We hung around watching groups of three, two and single riders, risk their lives racing on the Western Highway, of which regular traffic had not been diverted. I left just after a group of cyclists were nearly run over by a speeding truck coming behind them. The driver refused to break to slow. There was oncoming traffic passing the cyclists and this person just roared right up to the back tires of the poor racers, before swerving wildly to make his pass once the oncoming vehicles had cleared. Shaking my head, I could watch no more of this maddness.

This photo is from last weekend, and while it fails to show any real elements of danger, our luck is usually that we come up on groups on both sides of the road, with a guy on our tail thinking of passing at the same time as a large oncoming vehicle approaches and we all meet in the middle. I hold my breath a lot around here 🙂




  1. Funny… I had the same problem when I woke in Haifa on Sunday and read about daylight savings change back home… but alas we dont do that here. So no need to change..

    funny on the bike race… I got stuck behind an international bike race in The Thailand-Mynmar border in Jan 07 of an hour when they raced to Three Pogoda pass and back past us… not what I expected up there.

    Good luck with Belize I enjoyed my short trip there a couple of years ago.


    Comment by mochafueled — March 10, 2008 @ 10:31 am | Reply

  2. Hi Paula,
    After reading about this trip, I`m glad I live here.
    Like you ,seeing this I think I`de rather be somewhere else.
    Even if it is a beautiful place.

    Comment by Kathy Gill — March 13, 2008 @ 12:54 pm | Reply

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