Home is Where we Hook-up

December 9, 2008

Reminiscing 2008

Some numbers from the last year:

12 months, eight countries, 27 states, two provinces and two continents. These are my travel stats, Keith’s vary slightly – add one province and a third continent…he’s off to Australia this week. I regret that I am such a chronological blogger, and that if I don’t write when travels are current…I don’t write. There is a lot of sharing to catch up on.

The first three months of 2008 were spent living in Belize. Having our our Visa’s in order meant we could stay for a year, and were considered Belizean. This last bit doesn’t mean much, but was fun to acknowledge. Such a beautiful little country, I fondly think back on the snorkel trips, Mayan Ruin exploring (taking us into Guatemala), jungle treks, trips to the islands, helicopter flights over the reef and life in general camped at the Cucumber Beach Marina. Most of what is packed into my journal from living last winter in the Caribbean are not details of the trips we took, or wildlife we encountered, it’s about the people we met, time shared with new friends, and things I learned from other people. That’s what I cherish most. We will return to see our friends and build our life in Belize. To see archived blogs, search Jan, Feb, March 08 on the right-side of the blog. For photos use the Webshots link, search Belize Album.

I get very attached to the people and places we visit, but when it’s time to roll I get anxious to move on. When it was time to head back to the U.S., at the end of March, I was ready. The drive up the west coast of Mexico was a rewarding 18-day trip in itself. The lessons we’d learned on the east coast in the fall made us feel like real pro’s, not cocky enough to get into trouble, just confident enough to have a nice time. We beach camped our way home staying along nearly deserted stretches of beach some nights, other nights we camped near Acapulco, Zihuatenijo, Puerto Vallarta (actually, Sayulita, a place that won our hearts), and Mazatlan. The days were long again, just like summer days as a kid. Beach combing, body surfing, meeting new friends and just working on our tans, ahhh a couple of lucky people. An archived blog in May 2008 has some photos of our camping spots.

The first week of April we crossed the border from Nogales, Sonora Mexico into Nogales, Arizona U.S.A. Immediately the fact that we had a schedule to keep sunk in. Our plan was to be in Gananoque, Ontario, Canada  by Mother’s day. Sounds doable. The catch was, we were not traveling directly,  but via some of our regular haunts, Las Vegas NV, Bishop CA and Tumwater WA to attend to the business of life that always awaits our return. At that time, we were paying $4.25/gal for diesel, on a truck hauling a fifth-wheel RV, getting 15 mpg. This 4500 mile cross-country journey we embarked on was likely to be the first (for me) and last time to see some of this country.

Our home for the summer season ’08 was an “ecological reserve” in the 1000 Islands, Landon Bay Centre. Knowing we would be away for a better part of the summer, the $7 a day camping rate was a better than average deal. One quick week after setting up our base-camp, we were on the road again. This time a “vacation”, spending 10 days in Virginia touring the Nations Capital. As I wrote in the June blog, this trip to D.C. and the area made me want to spend so much more time here – and as it turns out, we would return for 2 more weeks later in the fall. Yeah!

The majority of the summer was spent in Alassio, Italy on the Italian Riviera. Keith worked six out of nine weeks, I played, isn’t that how it goes? If you are keeping count, this makes the sixth country of the year. From here we hopped the train to visit Monaco and Nice, France – eight rounds the tally. This is the sort of summer that really puts life into perspective for me, how lucky a person could I be? Well, lucky enough to spend glorious days biking the cobblestone promenade from one village to another alongside the shallow waters of the Mediterranean, sipping espresso and eating gelato whenever I wanted. Unlucky enough to have a gigantic tree fall on our truck two days before leaving for Europe, only to have the wonderfully repaired truck stolen from the Montreal, Quebec airport not a month later – these things are all just part of life, taken in stride it makes for an interesting ride.

Our Ford dealer in WA was more than accomodating to help us replace our vehicle, without which meant our “home” was stranded in Canada, the winter clock ticking. Ironic to find ourselves making a repeat of a cross-country drive that we would take us through country we never thought we’d see so soon. Taking advantage of the opportunity, we changed the route from the I-90 to the I-94. We had some weather to out run, but enjoyed the last of the fall colors going back into Canada.

It was late October when we hauled out of the 1000 Islands, just ahead of the first snow storm of the season. Having decided long ago that since we are on the east coast we’d may as well stay, explore and enjoy it we spent November and December slowly making our way to Florida.  During the 2008 Presidential Election, we were camped in Maryland exploring more of D.C., where we stayed for more than 2 weeks. Now we’re hooked up in our home in Kissimmee Fl. where we’ll finish out 2008, and begin 2009. What’s in store? Not really sure, Belize and Mexico would be nice, spending more time in D.C., getting up to Newfoundland might be an option – we’ll let ya know.

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 🙂

bike-racers.jpg

March 6, 2008

Mayan Travels

Filed under: Photo Album,Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 5:29 pm
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February 27, 2008

And I speak Creole, too

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 2:45 pm

Part of what I am so fond of in living in this marina, are all the characters I get to interact with. I’m coooool around here, you know. I toss my head back and say “hey” and “s’it goin’?” to the guys around the marina. No big dimple smiles and sing song hello’s, nah, I briskly put my hand up, flick my fingers just slightly – this is how I wave. Very cool. It’s a better perception for them to have of me, I think, like, I’m friendly but you don’t want to mess with me. Which is true. And I get a kick out of being so laid back.

Chav, one of the employees here, rides around on his bike, bobs his head slightly and says,

“Ariiiight, ariiiight.”

Even though it’s not a question, I reply with something like “Yep” or “right”. This is his way of having a fairly complete conversation, an implied statement about life is good, things are going along just fine, no problems. Good.

The man who is going to teach Keith and I to dive is a large Samoan looking guy – he says a lot of people mistake him for Hawaiian or Samoan, but insists he is Belizean. Yeah, me too! Mark is kinda “the guy” around the marina to know, and around here it is ALL about who you know. His greeting is different than Chav’s, he always asks,

“How ya doin’ ma dear?”

Belizeans use dear, sweety, sugar, darlin’, sweetheart and other similar terms, liberally in their greetings of friends and perfect strangers alike. Takes some getting used to.

One morning while walking along the boardwalk, I passed one of our friends, I don’t know his name, but he is still a friend. Every bit of 6’5″ tall, he always wears work gloves and a back support. I have never seen him without his ballcap and orange lensed glasses that contrast with his night black skin. He and I each raise one arm, and make one high, wide, sweep through the air towards each other.

“Maanin Ma’am” He calls out to me.

“Mornin” I call back.

A couple of guys who were walking behind me started to laugh. One said,

“So, you speak kriol now?”

I also laughed and said “No, I don’t speak Creole, why, did I just then?”

“Ya, Maanin is how you say it in kriol.” I didn’t bother to clarify that I thought I’d used more “r” in my greeting, I’ll be sure to leave it out next time.

As I retold that story to a new friend, Carol, in a cab on the way home yesterday, the driver said to me,

“I also hear you speak the kriol, you don’t?”

I guess I do!

Here are a couple fun links about the Kriol language, one has a very short MP3 file with kwik kwik guide to pronunciation, give it a listen, it’s fun 🙂

http://www.belizeanjourneys.com/features/kriol/newsletter.html

Kriol Mini Dictionary 

February 18, 2008

Ohhhhhhh, You’re Belizean…

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 5:29 pm

I love Belize. My friend Caroline from Jr. College told me in 1988 that I would, and she was right. Wish I could find her and tell her so.

I stood in the laundry room of the marina this morning and had a 15 minute conversation with a man who works in communications for the American Embassy in Belmopan, 45 minutes south of here. His is the boat in dry dock that little mama chose to have her pups under, and that’s what got the two of us talking (never mind he was going in to use the bathroom, and…he was using the womens…) He and his family have traveled extensively, but it’s the Caribbean that has captured his heart. We both say it at the same time,

“There’s no stress”

I, of course, make the motion of gliding my hands out from the sides of my body. He just stays, leaned against a door jam as he’s been since the beginning of the conversation. I’m telling you folks, seriously, come here to unwind, it happens quickly.

Keith has had his Belizean work permit for the better part of 2 months, I have a dependency Visa from just about the same time. Both are good until this time next year, this makes us Belizean. We get a “locals” discount. This cracks me up. Keith shrugged off the potential savings at one of the ruin sites, something about the difference in the few bucks meaning more to the caretakers of the ruin than to us. Little did he know, the trick is to not take the ticket issued…that’s where the real difference is made. The corruption of this country is nothing if it is not completely on the table. Ok?

Yesterday we took a Sunday drive. We were not going far, or for long, but we just wanted to get out. Heading for one destination, we turned at another, Jaguar Paw, a place we’d been meaning to explore for awhile. Isn’t that the definition of a Sunday Drive?

Surprisingly, the road was fantastic. Paved and not potholed, this means big money in this country, and for us, it meant we could relax and just keep going. We missed the Jaguar Paw – tourism is not at its finest around here, signage is a problem and businesses are often behind shut gates. Fortunately, in Belize, where you end up is equally as good as where you intended to be – insert Western cliche – “It’s all good”.

The road ended at an Archaeological Reserve. A ticket booth had been built between the end of the road and the parking lot.

“You going tubing?” The guy behind the glass asked.

“No. We live here.” Keith replied.

“Ohhhhhhh, You’re Belizean.” The ticket guy finished, waving us along to park.

We wished we had brought our suits, going tubing looked like a fine idea, and lots of people were partaking. All along a shaded gravel walk-way were small corrals filled with inner-tubes, and “guides” offering to take us tubing. By now we had the phrasing down,

“Nah, s’ok, we live here”

Off we went to walk into the jungle, wade into the river, and explore like the locals were able. Keith convinced me to follow him “off trail” (I swear from one time to the next I am not going too…but I always do) to look for what might have been coatimundi, or even a tapir, for sure a toucan that we had heard earlier was back in that way. Soon enough, I lost sight of him, and began feeling less than prepared to be trekking in the jungle. I mean, most people at least have a machete to hack along this growth, not to mention that I’d forgotten bug spray, was walking in open toed shoes and had no water….this went on inside my head for a few minutes as I stood atop a vine claimed tree stump under the shade of a banana tree.

Butterflies were surfing on the refreshing breeze, I scanned the tree tops for Toucans (and glanced at my feet occasionally looking for a Fer De Lance, the aggressive and deadly snake I’d learned about). When Keith emerged from the distance, he did so clutching a beautiful purple flower, like a morning glory but 15 times the size. It’s like that here in the jungle, take any common house plant of garden flower and expand it 15 times. A person could wrap themselves in a single philodendron leaf here. I put the lovely flower behind my ear and we trekked on out.

Before we left the reserve, we assured the guide, Lewis, that had approached us before the others, that we would call and arrange a tubing expedition. He offered that we could get in on a “night” tubing tour – and though I don’t know the real difference between tubing through a cave in the night or in the day, I suspect it’s because we are Belizean that we received the offer.

archaeological-reserve.jpg

February 15, 2008

Adopting Dogs

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 9:25 am

Well, I’m sure to have my heart broken into a million pieces by the time we leave this country. There is very little that can be done to prevent it, either. I can not figure out why it is so difficult for a country to prevent stray dogs from procreating. Baffling. I understand the financial limitations, but the end result of watching these poor creatures, mangy, starving, and injured is surely enough to make it worthwhile to attempt at fixing the problem.

“You can judge a society by the way it treats its animals” – Mahatma Gandi

When we got to this marina, we had one dog. The same dog we’ve had for 13 years. She is walked on a leash when we are out, sleeps inside the camper during the night, gets regular baths and bug medication, and is just all around a pretty lucky dog. On our walks it used to be just her and I. Now, we walk with Zoe, Brownie, Little Mama, Smiley, and Big Mama (who doesn’t come near, really, she only watches us from far away)

The first dog we brought into our circle is Brownie. Brownie has been spayed, and is not starving, except for attention. She whines and cries to greet us, bounces herself around in circles at the sheer joy of having some company. The most submissive dog in the entire compound, Zoe was not threatened to allow her to tag along with us. How can you deny the joy a dog shares at simply being allowed to hang around with you?

brownie-for-blog.jpg

brownie-for-blog2.jpg

Now, I never intended on feeding these dogs – but one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, one cup of food is being put out, then two, three and now I have a whole system set up for feeding time. Each dog now has to be fed a certain distance from the next, we are not here to create fighting. I don’t feed them everyday, they must still be able to find their own food and not entirely count on us.

Little Mama was next to break into the “zone”. Just a young, timid, starving, sweet, goopy eyed, tail wagging thing. She began to show that she was pregnant a few weeks back, only by the size of her teats, her belly would never give it away. I was guessing that she would have her pups in the next month or so. Last night she did not show for feeding, but I saw her over by the boats in dry dock. She yelped, so I went to her, and could see the first of four (or five, not entirely sure) pups hanging from her. She cleaned it off all good and proper, gently picked it up in her mouth and disappeared under a boat. Our friend Ali has named that first pup Valentine.

If any of these dogs were to make it on board this camper for the trip back home, it would be Smiley. Our introduction was not pleasant at all, he had appeared from who knows where, front paw injured, and charged Zoe and I on an early morning walk. His aggression was frightening, but mostly I was surprised by it. Zoe stuck up for herself, which is good for her, but is also what caused the biggest problem. Nothing came of it. Over time, he decided to befriend us. In doing so, he would wag the entire back half of his body, stretch his lips as far back to his ears, and kinda run his tongue over his teeth. Smiley dog. Smile at us, and if he thought we weren’t looken, he’d snarl at Zoe. Funny. They’ve made peace now, and somewhat even play together.

Yesterday he showed up in really bad shape, back leg held up, but the injury was more than that. He could barely walk. He spent the day under the bus, we gave him food and water, which he ate and drank. I saw him last night by one of the boats, his smile has completely disappeared, the look in his eyes desperate. He ate some more. Best sign I can hope for. I’m afraid his back-end is severely damaged, I hope I’m wrong.

Big Mama is a large dog by Belize standards, a dark brindle looking thing – starving and with another litter of pups on the way. I think she is Little Mama and Smiley’s mom. The guys around the marina are often trying to catch her, I hear it’s to sell her, or something like that. So far they have had no luck, and when she hides under our trailer I chase them away – other than that though, I have to stay out of it. I don’t want to befriend her at all, otherwise someday she just might let her guard down and get caught by these idiots around here. I do put food out when I see her, but try to stay far away from her.

flight-to-hopkins-001.jpg

Zoe is the last dog Keith and I will have, until we settle down from this traveling life. Its not hard to see that I will always have love to share with dogs no matter where we go. I will do the best I can by the dogs here – I know I can’t save all the dogs of the world. But if just one has a better day because I could give it some food, bug guard, or a pat on the head, then so be it.

February 14, 2008

La Isla Bonita

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 2:30 pm

Having been in the country for a little more than a week, I was getting a bit antsy to see more than just the marina. At one point I was near telling Keith

“If you show me ONE more picture of that BLUE HOLE, I’ll have to strangle you!”

See, he’d been out flying some spectacular locations – all part of why we are here, but I had yet to really get out to see much, was feeling a tad jealous. So, the Friday morning that he called and said I could go to Ambergris Caye (Key). one of the highly touted local hotspot islands, with him for the weekend – I became a blur of activity, throwing a few things in an overnight bag and making calls about somewhere to leave Zoe.

A flight from the Municiple Airport in Belize is about 15 minutes long, over the shallow Caribbean waters. For the first time, I could relate to the photo’s Keith had been sharing. I spent the entire flight scanning for sharks, stingrays and manatees. Didn’t see any, but had a great time looking! We landed in San Pedro, the main town on the island, walked across the brick, sand covered street and checked into our hotel.

Ahhhh, immediately a change in attitude. Actually, this is where all things changed for me, this is where I began to fall in love with this little country. This island is no longer the kick back island that created it’s popularity. People race around the streets in motorized golf carts, kicking up sandy dust – not very pedestrian friendly. There are a handful of good restaurants, we had conch fritters and lime juice for lunch at a place called Celi’s with an all sand floor, right on the beach. Another one of our favorites is Elvi’s. In the heart of the town, Elvi’s has the same sand floor that Celi’s has, with a very open air, jungle atmosphere. The food is fantastic – best fish burrito and key lime pie on the island.

(Keith laughs when I put all the food items in my blog, ha ha – but I always said from the beginning that I would write about food here, remember What’s for Breakfast?….)

I pretty much spent the whole weekend lounging by the pool, dipping in to cool off, lounging some more. A girl could sure get used to this, and quickly!

Our hotel room had a sign on the bathroom counter, with little music notes around in the corners, it was a request not to waste water. It said:

“La Isla Bonita does not have much water to spare. Please don’t sing more than a few tunes in the shower”

I read the sign, and re-read it….just on the edge of catching the significance, when all of a sudden, I found myself singing,

“Last night I dreamt of San Pedro…..blah, blah, blah….La Isla Bonita…”

Oh, my gosh…THIS is the island from the Madonna song!!! Wow! Yeah, can you tell it’d been a long trip, I was highly amused 🙂

Keith came home from flying a filming crew all day, and began telling me about this multi-million dollar resort that he’d spent most of the day hanging out on. He said as he approached the owners, the woman looked at him an immediately said,

“I know you!”

Astonished, Keith replied “I know you too!”

“You are the one with the 3-legged dog at customs” she continued.

And she turns out to be the woman who paid the “fine” to shop for filet mignon and lobster over in Mexico from the post on Reaching our Destination.

What are the chances of that? Turns out, in Belize the chances are pretty good. More stories like that one to come, this country has been a real trip to hang out in.

February 11, 2008

What we’ve been up to

Filed under: Photo Album,Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 7:03 am
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February 8, 2008

First Impressions

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 6:52 am

Belize is one country that really makes you work to discover its bounty of pleasures. For me, the adrenaline had worn off after getting through the border protocol and I was ready to stop moving – anytime. We found ourselves fighting the same road conditions, potholes and unmarked speed bumps that we’d endured for the last 1500 miles. The improvement on the road was that, where the asphalt crumbled to nothing, there is actually a shoulder rather than a sheer drop like in Mexico. This only meant we had a lot more pedestrian and bicycle traffic to maneuver around. And, we were catching up to what looked to be a significant rain storm ahead.

Keith remarked on the obvious British influence of the colonial homes, but I was a little too focused on the trash, junk and dilapidated hovels that people live in. When we reached Belize City, my energy levels spiked with excitement.

“We’re Here!”

We miraculously navigated ourselves through crowded round-abouts and narrow congested bridges onto the Western Highway where both Astrum Helicopters and Old Belize Marina are located. The highway begins at a cemetery. Graves on the left and on the right, and with an island of plots in the middle. That’s right, a drive through cemetery.

belize-city-cemetary-003.jpg

The road widens, and the area becomes slightly industrial, and immediately turns to to a garbage dump. This place is supposed to be paradise, is it not? Uuugh, I’m so sick of all the garbage.

After finding and touring the Astrum facilities, we backtracked into town for supplies, and returned along the highway to set ourselves up at our temporary base of Old Belize marina.

The rain storm we’d been following earlier had come through, leaving us little choice but to park in the mud. Keith and I take our shoes off, its no problem, but Zoe doesn’t really understand the “wipe your paws” direction. While hooking up the power, Keith learned that besides being a big mud puddle, the area was home to biting fire ants – now mad biting fire ants. Seemed going outside was going to be challenging.

We were unsure of the draw of our a/c unit on this shared power supply we’d hooked into, and decided that we’d not test it on our first night here – enough breeze was blowing that if we opened all the windows, we’d keep cool enough. Sometime after midnight, both Keith and I were being “zapped”, felt like little jolts of electricity for split-seconds. Our first encounter with the dreaded sand fly, they came right through our screens and ate us as a midnight snack.

The following day, Keith went to the office to settle up on our camping arrangements before heading to Astrum for his check ride and other employment obligations. He returned to the motor home, put the thing in gear and says “I paid up for four days.” I am positive my eyeballs almost came out of their sockets and I repeated, but in a much higher, much louder voice,

“You paid for FOUR days!!!”

That was 8 weeks ago. My impressions of the marina have changed drastically, and I am happy to call this place “home”.

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” Paul Theroux.

February 4, 2008

Reaching our destination

Filed under: Travel,Travel in Central America — Heligypsy @ 8:12 am

The border crossing into Belize was as painless as the one into Mexico. We had to have the undercarriage of our vehicle sprayed, and pay $5 to do it, which amused Keith & I. The agents were pleasant – uninterested at some points, a little tricky at others. Our vehicle was searched and it was Zoey that cost us the most, (time and money) to bring in.

While waiting to complete Zoe’s permit, and pay an “administrative fee”, a petite woman who looked like she had money was escorted into the cramped office. As she stepped over the sprawled Zoey, she apologized to me for cutting in. I waved her off, it was no problem. Her story was interesting, I tried not to stare while she played it out. She wanted to cross the border into Mexico with her vehicle and do some food shopping. She wasn’t sure at this point what she would be bringing back, as she didn’t know what would be available,

“Maybe if they have, you know, some nice steaks, filet, I’m not sure. Or lobster tails, fish, whatever they have.” she gestured with her hands to show the size of what she was hoping to bring, both thumb and forefingers extended to meet in a circle.

“Where do you live” The agent behind the desk asked.

“San Pedro” she replied.

“How much did you want to bring?” He asked.

“Oh, just an ice chest in the truck. I thought there was a ‘fine’ that I could pay, or something, is there?” The woman was attempting to take care of customs before she even left the country.

At this point, the agent behind the desk turns to the man who escorted the woman in, and begins discussing dates and times when this transaction might take place. The only thing the customs man wanted to coordinate, was that they could bring some fish for him as well. Everyone was in agreement, each would get what they wanted.

The woman left, and I paid the agent the “administrative fee” of $50, completing our transaction. We were free to take our dog and finish the process of getting into the country.

So, welcome to Belize – where if you have the money to pay the “fines” and “administrative fees” you will probably do alright.

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