Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tom’s next project…

…is going to be building an ark. It isn’t raining now, but it rained most of the day yesterday and all last night, it’s still gray, and the weather report is for showers through tomorrow morning. Yesterday, Tom went into San Ignacio to do some construction things at the police station. He’s working with a community group that is trying to form good relations between the police and the community, and since he can’t attend a lot of the meetings because they’re at night in town, he’s chipping in by building a wall in the police station so they can have a private meeting room. Somebody else donated the building materials, and Tom is donating his time.

Anyway, he wasn’t home at 7:30 last night, and I started to get a little worried. I, of course, had visions of him trapped in Tinkerbell upside down in a torrent of rushing water. I turned on the computer and the satellite to check email and Skype. He’d emailed at 7:00 saying he was stuck in San Ignacio because both roads to here, the Cristo Rey and the Georgeville Roads, were closed due to flooding – so my awful visions really weren’t so far from what could have happened. He emailed later to say he might have made it through after he ate his dinner last night, but when I scanned the news sites this morning, I was very glad he remained in San Ignacio for the night. When I’d started to think about him being so late coming home, I realized that I hadn’t heard any traffic on the road, and the news sites confirmed that both roads were closed.

This is from the Friday newscast about the San Antonio/Cristo Rey Road:
Rene Montero; Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Area Representative Cayo Central
“Since this morning the causeway from just outside Cristo Rey was washed away. We have the personnel from the Ministry of Works working in the area but it seems as if though it is very difficult to fight against nature as soon as they fix it the water just wash it away. I would want to advise people using that road to be extremely cautious because that creek is constantly going up. And although we have the personnel from the ministry of works it is very difficult to keep up with it because the water is very strong. It’s constantly raining from 7 miles, San Antonio, Cristo Rey, Georgeville and if this continues I think the people in Georgeville has to be very cautious because the water is coming very strong from the Mountain Pine Ridge.”
Late this evening NEMO Cayo closed off the roads to Cristo Rey, Mountain Pine Ridge and Benque Viejo as water continues to rise in those areas and the access roads have been compromised. Back in the Belize River valley area the focus is on the Crooked Tree causeway and residents along the river where water levels continue to rise. We spoke to area representative Edmund Castro this evening about the conditions in his area.

And this is from Channel 7’s newscast about the flash flood on the Georgeville Road, which is the site of the big washout a couple of blog entries ago.

One good thing about this weather – I’m catching up on blogging and email!

Friday, October 24, 2008

If you're even thinking of coming to Belize...

...check American Airlines. They're having a great fare sale to get to Belize. I checked round trip from Boston and it's $261, and round trip from Atlanta is $140. Sorry, Tim, LAX is still pretty expensive, as is Rochester.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Still Raining

It’s still raining. The floodwaters in the western part of Belize where we live have started to recede, but all that water has run through the rivers to the eastern part of the country, which is now having flooding problems. And it’s still raining. And meteorologists expect it to continue to rain for the foreseeable future, thanks to a big blob of wet weather sitting in the western Caribbean. The country’s meteorological department is issuing a daily flood forecast, and while they’ve observed that the flooding in the west has gone down, they’re not making any promises that it won’t go up again if this rain continues. This is their forecast for our area for Saturday based on where water levels are now, and what they expect of the weather between now and then:


We’ve had a couple of breaks of sunshine over the past few days, but it seems that within a couple of hours it clouds up again and starts to rain. We wake up and hear rain on the roof at night, and in the morning we ask each other if that really was rain, or if it was just part of a bad dream…and every morning we’ve determined that it wasn’t just a dream.

In the lowlands around here, people are starting to think about moving back into their homes, or whatever remains of their homes. But, they’re keeping an eye on the skies and the weather reports, and keeping their options open. Here in the highlands, it’s just muddy – mud like even our NY horse friends wouldn’t believe, nor would our Vermont relatives who even have a season called Mud Season when all the snow melts and turns everything to mud. It’s impossible to even walk down the driveway to the road without getting muddy, and doing the horse chores results in mud smears and splatters over at least 80% of our bodies.

We’ve said to people that we’ve never seen anything like this, and that while we knew Belize had a rainy season, nothing led us to believe there would be this much water. The response from Belizeans has been that they’ve never seen anything like this either, and while everybody expects rain and mud and some flooding in the rainy season, this is way beyond the usual.

But, we can’t do much about it. We now understand why people build their houses on legs here; if we had a basement, it would have been flooded a week ago. Our biggest concern is the horses, since the town of Spanish Lookout is flooded and cut off from the rest of the country, and that’s the only place we know of to buy horse feed and hay. The feed stores in San Ignacio usually sell it, but they get it from Spanish Lookout too, so supplies are dwindling. However, we’ve learned that horses love avocados, and we have two trees that are dropping quite a few, so between avocados, some time in the new pasture every day despite the mud, and the good old “tie the horse to a rope in the ditch” trick, they probably won’t starve.

We’ve been very impressed with how people are responding to the flooding. Everybody seems to be helping everybody else however they can. We have not heard any reports of looting, and we’ve heard lots of reports of people helping each other. People with boats are helping others get in or out of their properties, and sometimes shuttling supplies across rivers when needed. The government seems to be stepping up to the plate and keeping NEMO crews where they’re needed, and keeping the road crews doing whatever they can to keep the roads passable – although they obviously can’t do anything about bridges that are still under 10+ feed of water. In reading the reports of what’s going on in the rest of Central America as a result of this weather, we feel very fortunate to be in Belize where there haven’t been any casualties, unlike some of the other affected Central American countries. Regarding the roads, we’re glad to see that the two roads we use to get in and out of here are on the list of roads that are both being watched now so they’re kept passable, and which the government is planning to continue to work on when this stretch of bad weather is over so they won’t wash out so quickly if this happens again.

Mark and Don made it out, and actually flew out of Belize City a couple of days early. They left here on Monday, knowing that if they waited flooding would only get worse towards Belize City. They had to drive over the flooded Roaring Creek Bridge, which Mark said was a somewhat creepy experience when he looked out his car window and saw a man rowing a boat right next to him and not much below eye level. The bridge was flooded, but the police were letting high vehicles like SUVs and trucks cross. Mark emailed when he got home to Minnesota and said it was raining there too – but he was still glad to be home.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Besides the Rain…

We’ve been staying busy with Mark and Don, who arrived a week ago Thursday. They’ve been staying here despite Mark having a house down the road because he fired his caretaker, who wasn’t taking much care of his place, and Mark has felt awkward hanging around his house and watching the caretaker pack up his eight kids and farm animals and get ready to vacate the premises. He’s had a lot of business to take care of while he’s here between straightening out the caretaker situation, doing what he needs to do for the next orange pick, and trying to open a Belize bank account for all of this, but we did manage to have a little fun before the deluge began.

Last Sunday, we went up to Caracol. Mark and Don hadn’t been there before despite multiple trips to Belize. Fortunately we went before the rain started so the road was still passable, and it ended up being a beautiful day. We found that the BDF isn’t requiring Caracol visitors to go with the military convoy, although they do offer an armed escort in your vehicle if you want it. Because we were already cramped in the front of the truck, we declined, but had a brief moment when we second guessed ourselves. When you’re almost to Caracol, you go down a long windy hill with a lot of washouts just before a concrete bridge over the river. As we came down the hill and around the last turn, we saw an old Suburban parked sideways across the road, blocking the bridge. This was the area where a number of robberies happened a few years ago, so Tom and I both, as we found out when we talked later, did an immediate inventory in our heads of what we had that was stealable, and what plan for resistance was practical. Fortunately, the Suburban was just turning around – although that’s a really weird place to turn around – and we just had to squish over to the side of the road so they could head up the hill with everybody in both trucks nodding and waving and smiling. We have no idea what they were doing, but our heart rates were all back to normal by the time we got to Caracol.

We made Don, Mark’s father-in-law, climb Caana. We told him that he didn’t have to climb any of the other temples, but said that he should climb Caana since there’s no way to truly see how big and impressive it is from the ground.

Despite two fake knees, Don made it up and down safely and said it was worth the climb when he got to the top.

Wet and Wild

These pictures say it all. Belize is flooding. A tropical depression (TD16) formed about a week ago in the Western Caribbean, and during all of last week moved along the north coast of Honduras, then into Honduras and southern Guatemala, where it stalled, and continued dumping massive amounts of rain on Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvadore and Belize. Rain started here Monday and continued through the week, and by Friday things were pretty wild with water levels rising in all creeks and rivers almost to the point where they were when Hurricane Mitch, the last big hurricane to hit Belize, blew through in 1998.

Tom was out with our guests on Friday, and they barely made it home because the creek running through Cristo Rey and into the Macal River was over the bridge, and some vehicles were choosing to turn around and head back to San Ignacio. Mark, Tom, and Don chose to drive through and made it, but said they were almost stuck again when they got to a point on the road just before San Antonio where a flooded spring had turned the road to deep and heavy mud.

The buses were already stuck, but thanks to Mark’s Prado’s high suspension and 4WD, they made it through.

On Saturday morning we decided to head out and see what was happening in the rest of the Cayo District.

We weren’t even sure if we could get out, but although the road was bad, the Prado was able to get around the washout on the Georgeville Road. We headed towards San Ignacio down the Western Highway and decided to see what was happening with the ferry to Spanish Lookout.

We couldn’t even get as far as the ferry because the river had formed a branch and was running through these cow fields and across the road. We watched an Isuzu Trooper drive through the flood, but decided not to risk it since we had no burning reason to get to the ferry.

When we got into Santa Elena, we joined a lot of other people looking at the Macal River where it usually flows under the low lying bridge to San Ignacio. The bridge is entirely submerged. If you look at the two phone poles in line with where the road should be, the bridge starts where the second phone pole is sticking up from the water.

We got in line to drive across the Hawksworth Bridge and parked on Burns Ave. near Celina’s. This is the view from the San Ignacio side of the low lying bridge.

This is the market, which is usually well above the river.

And here’s a peek between a couple of buildings on the square where the taxis and buses line up. These buildings are now riverfront on the market side.

After we left San Ignacio we decided to drive through Succotz and into Benque to see how high the Mopan River was.

It was up and rising, and was already crossing the road in a few spots. If you look at the “FLOODING SHOT” threads on this BB, you can see that it went up even more overnight and this morning, and the Western Highway is impassable through Succotz and Benque.

All but the highest bridges are covered. In fact, the only bridge I can think of that isn’t flooded is the Hawksworth Bridge. According to the flood report, even the bridge between Belize and Guatemala at Benque/Melchor is under, and possibly gone or damaged depending on the rumor. The bridge at Roaring Creek is under, and we’re hearing mixed reports as to whether it’s passable. We know from the flood report that Spanish Lookout is cut off from the rest of the country, and if the Roaring Creek bridge isn’t usable, that means San Ignacio is cut off as well.

While Belize is being cut into pieces by raging rivers, things are generally quiet up here in the hills. It’s possible that we (“we” being the Mountain Pine Ridge and the villages of San Antonio and 7 Miles) may be cut off by road damage from the flooding, but we saw yesterday that the road crews are working to prevent that where possible. When we came home yesterday afternoon, we decided to come through San Antonio even though we’d heard that the flooding spring had washed out the road.

The road crews were there dumping gravel and big rocks and running heavy machinery over the road to firm it up, and they said that their next stop was to fill in the washout on the Georgeville Road.

The sun was shining briefly yesterday afternoon, but shortly after dark it started raining again and it rained all night. We’ve had showers, some heavy, off and on today, and the weather report looks very bad with another big wet tropical depression sitting in the Caribbean just off the Belize coast. The forecast is that the depression will continue to dump rain over the country for at least another two days, and it could turn into a tropical storm. So, we’ll be keeping up to date on what’s happening in the country via the internet, and hoping that the rain stops soon.

All that aside, we’re doing fine up here in the hills. Yes, it’s wet, and we have standing water in places we thought would always be dry, and the wet mud is everywhere. Nobody we’ve talked to has any dry shoes left, and if people don’t have dryers, they don’t have any dry clothes. Taking care of the animals is an endurance test as we slog through the mud, and the horses aren’t too happy about all the rain and mud. Little Lodo was cold on Friday, so Tom and Selwyn built a little shelter, and we haven’t seen him shiver since then so apparently he’s using it although we had a colt/woman mud wrestling session when I tried to drag him into it for the first time. The water from the pipe is running brown because the rivers and streams are all running so fast, but we just shut it off to our tanks and have been collecting rain water – and there’s no shortage of that. We have enough food up here that if we are cut off for a period of time, we’re not going to starve.

Our biggest worry is that Mark and Don are scheduled to fly home on Thursday, and we’re not sure if they’ll have any difficulties getting to the airport – but at this point, there’s no sense worrying about four days from now, and if we have to come up with a plan before Thursday, we’ll figure something out. This is our road about a mile from our house. It used to be two lanes, or at least two cars could pass.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tourists: Enjoying & Being!

We’ve had a very busy week between taking care of tourists and being tourists ourselves. We had guests the last few days of September, and are scheduled to be pretty busy now through December, so we figured we’d better take a little time to see and do some of the Belize things we haven’t done yet.

Last Sunday we picked up our guests, Shari and Nikki, mother and daughter from South Carolina, in Belmopan. They wanted to see the Inland Blue Hole, which is only about 12 miles out of Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway, and since we’ve never seen it either we thought that would be a good diversion before heading home. Now, for all of you who know I was an English teacher and are wondering about the verb tense in the previous sentence, we’ve still never seen it.

We did, however, see the entrance to St. Herman’s Cave, have a great hike, and climb the fire tower near St. Herman’s Cave for a beautiful view of the hills around the Hummingbird Highway. We were a bit foiled by the weather, which was copious rain on that day. The park is in two parts: one has St. Herman’s Cave, another cave named Crystal Cave, the fire tower, and lots of hiking trails, and the other has the Inland Blue Hole. The Caves part of the park is closer to Belmopan, so that’s where we stopped first. We took off on the 10 minute hike to the cave, armed with headlamps, so we could go into St. Herman’s Cave. It took us longer than 10 minutes to get there because we had to wade through knee deep mud, and then when we got there we found that the path into the cave was flooded with about three feet of river water running over the path.

Undaunted, we took off for the fire tower, which the signs say is only a mile hike, but which seemed like about 5 miles given the weather conditions.

But, as we got to the tower, it cleared up and we enjoyed an incredible view from the top.

We then hiked back to the truck and went down the road to see the Blue Hole. However, even though it wasn’t officially the park’s closing time, we found the gate closed and locked; apparently we were the only visitors to the park on that rainy Sunday, and it wasn’t worth keeping the staff around for four people. We’d been told that the Blue Hole was more brown or green that day anyway, so we’re just adding that to the list of things we still have to see. And Shari and Nikki are planning on coming back to Belize, so they were great sports and are adding it to their lists too.

Driving back to the farm on the Georgeville Road, we found that it had also been raining hard there during the day, and at one point the road was washed out to the point where we had a tense couple of seconds driving Tinkerbell over what was left of the road, not sure if the washout extended under the roadbed, and with no extra space on either side of the tires.

We should have known, since this is what the Iguana Creek Bridge on the road to Spanish Lookout looked like that morning. We made it, but because of the depth of the water in the flooded creeks, we did a bit of quick replanning for Monday’s activities, which had been for Selwyn to take Nikki on a horseback ride to Big Rock Falls to be met by the rest of us with lunch before taking a driving tour of the Mountain Pine Ridge.

Instead, Tom took Nikki and Shari into San Ignacio to see the sights there and to do some shopping. They tried to go to Xunantunich, but found that the ferry was closed due to the high river, so they saw Cahal Pech instead.

Fortunately it didn’t rain much on Monday and Tuesday turned out to be a very nice day, so it worked well to switch Monday’s activities to Tuesday.

Nikki had a lot of fun on the ride, learning about the jungle flora and fauna from Selwyn and taking lots of pictures.

We met them for a picnic at Big Rock, and then I ponied the horses home while Tom, Selwyn, Shari, and Nikki visited the Rio Frio Cave and Rio On Pools – which Tom said were as high as he’s ever seen them.

On Wednesday, unfortunately, Shari and Nikki were scheduled to leave here to go spend a couple of days in Hopkins. Since Tom and I had been thinking about a few days away, we took advantage of heading towards Belmopan with Shari and Nikki and after eating a “local” lunch at the Belmopan Market – rice and beans, venison, gibnut, and tamales – we got Shari and Nikki on the bus and we headed to Jaguar Paw for a ziplining adventure.

Neither of us has ever done it before, and while we’ve heard that the Jaguar Paw course is considered a fairly short “beginner” course, we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed flying through the trees.

The only scary part for me was rappelling down from the last platform, where they asked me if I wanted to go fast or slow. I’d had a lot of fun going fast on the ziplines – but they don’t take you freefall fast, and I let out a yelp as I kicked out off the platform and made it to the ground in about half a second. Fortunately the guides there know what they’re doing, and I landed quite softly and gracefully (at least for me!).

Tom knew what to expect so he managed to get down without yelping, and we headed for the Zoo.

Sharon has been telling us to come spend a night at the Zoo’s Tropical Education Center ever since they took the first batch of cage material last January, but we hadn’t wanted to both be away from the farm during Mellow’s last few months. We didn’t think it was fair to either Mel or Selwyn to leave Selwyn with a dog that sometimes crashed going down the stairs – and that could die at any time – so we just put trips together on hold. But, we now feel we can leave Selwyn in charge for a few days and this was a good chance to head to the TEC. The TEC is beautiful, and we had a very enjoyable evening visiting with Sharon and the TEC staff. We saw a crocodile in the pond, and lots of birds that frequent the wet savannah instead of the hills of the Mountain Pine Ridge. The TEC cooks created an absolutely delicious dinner and a wonderful breakfast the next morning, complete with fry jacks. We started talking about cooking and they discovered I love to cook, and asked if I make fry jacks. They laughed when I told them that I refuse to learn because Tom and I both love fry jacks – which are as fatty as they sound, but utterly delicious – and if I could make them, we’d eat them every meal and we’d both weigh 300 pounds.

We took a minor detour Thursday morning on the way to the water taxi to San Pedro, which was the second part of our mini-getaway. On Tuesday, I’d slipped going down our steps, wrenching my back and shoulders by catching myself on my elbows, and giving myself a bruised butt like I haven’t had since the last time I fell off a horse and landed butt-first in a pile of jumps. I was telling Sharon about my fall, mostly to make her feel better because she’s still nursing a pinched nerve in her back as a result of her fall down the same steps early last spring. Coincidentally, she was planning to visit her doctor – chiropractor, acupuncturist, and masseuse – in Belize City after dropping us at the water taxi, so she asked if we wanted her to switch her order and get me into the doctor as well. I was all set to pass, not wanting to take the time or spend the money on top of my general aversion to doctors, but Tom had been watching me limp and wince for two days, so he told Sharon that was a great idea. So, for $60BZ and an hour of time I had my muscles massaged, my bones straightened, and a few pins stuck in my back – and walked out feeling better than I’ve felt in months (and maybe years), with the exception of the bruised butt which isn’t fixable by anything but time. Tom is now looking for an excuse to go to Belize City so he can get himself realigned and get something done about some tennis elbow which has been bothering him, and when he finds the excuse I’ll go along to get whatever is aching at the time fixed!

We got the 1:30 water taxi out of Belize City to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, arriving at about 3:00. We were immediately surprised by how civilized San Pedro is – streets, cars, shops, restaurants, resorts, apartment buildings, just like lots of other beach towns we’ve visited. We decided we had to go to San Pedro because lots of tourists have asked us about it, and we had to keep telling people we just didn’t know. We hadn’t really rushed to get out there because everyone who knows San Pedro and knows us has said that we should probably just stick to Caye Caulker because we’d like that better. But, we had to find out for ourselves, and we’re glad we did because we had a great time. Not what we expected, but lots of fun nonetheless.

We were planning to get a hotel room, go out for dinner and a few drinks, get a bottle of wine and sit on the beach, then go to bed and get up early Friday morning to go snorkeling in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. That’s not quite how it worked out, due to synchronicity and the fact that Belize really is really small.

Shortly before we moved to Belize, we found that the son of one of our neighbors in New York has owned a condo in San Pedro for about 20 years. These neighbors are the ones who gave us our Doberman, Midge, when the husband died and didn’t want his wife to be hurt by the overly energetic dog. After the husband died, the wife sold the house to good friends of ours and moved to Virginia to help one of her sons and his wife with their B&B. We’ve kept in touch despite my dreadful correspondence habits because she’s also kept in touch with our friends who bought her house, so if I neglected to write to see what she was doing, Claire would tell me. Anyway, Claire told Betty that we were moving to Belize, and Betty just happened to be in Belize visiting her son in San Pedro. She said that if we ever got there, we needed to look him up, and he told us that she’s asked every time he’s been there if he met us yet.

So, after dumping our knapsacks in the room, we decided to wander down to Banyan Bay and see if our old neighbor’s son just happened to be there. It was sort of funny because we had the sons mixed up, and thought that the one she’d moved in with was the one with the condo. So, we walked up to the Banyan Bay reception desk, and Tom asked if the son was there. The girl looked at us sort of funny, and then pointed to the computers right behind us and said Mr. B was sitting right there. We didn’t think he looked like the son we know – no surprise now, since he isn’t – but we walked up and introduced ourselves and within a few minutes had figured out who everybody was and that we actually did know his mother…and we were the people she’s been asking him about for two years now!

After getting that straight, we went to his condo for a Belikin and to call his mother, who sounds just like she’s always sounded even though we haven’t seen her in three or four years. He had dinner engagement planned with a Belizean friend, and as Tom and I were making noise about leaving so he could get ready for his evening out, he invited us to go along. We made sure he wasn’t just being polite, and since we were having so much fun talking about Belize and people we know in the US, we went with them for a delicious seafood dinner at one of the restaurants near his condo. Then he decided that we needed to see a bit of the real San Pedro, and took us on a tour of the “backatown” bars where we were generally the only three white people in the place – but it didn’t matter at all since we’re all used to Belize, Belizeans, and life in the slow lane, not to mention seedy bars everywhere, and we ended up running into a number of people we either know or at last know of, and since Mr. B has been spending big chunks of time in San Pedro for 20 years, he’s a local anyway. At one of the bars we caught the tail end of the vice presidential debate, and the Belizeans watching were quite passionate about it. When they found that we are US citizens, they very enthusiastically encouraged us to vote for Barack Obama, and told us that we owed it to the Belizean people to cast our votes for them, for Obama.

When the bars closed at midnight or 1, we went to the all night clubs and went dancing. Apparently I need a little more work with the doctor in Belize City since this white girl had trouble loosening up her hips to satisfy the Belizean women we were dancing with, but we all laughed a lot and had tons of fun…and didn’t get back to the hotel room until 3AM. It’s been a long time since Tom and I have been out dancing that late, and we weren’t able to drag our aging butts out of bed until 10 the next morning, too late for the snorkeling trip. We spent the day wandering around, eating nachos and ice cream. I didn’t realize how much I miss good ice cream. When we go to Spanish Lookout, we always go to Western Dairies for an ice cream and it’s good. But it’s not real good, real coffee ice cream which is my favorite. In San Pedro, you even have the choice of coffee ice cream or coffee custard, which is utterly delicious. And, the woman who owns DandE’s Custard likes to make animal noises as much as I do, so she and I had fun comparing our versions of the Belizean potlicker noise, which is very distinctive. Maybe my tired body was just craving the sugar and caffeine, but it gave me enough energy to go out for an abbreviated re-do of the previous night, and even though Tom didn’t have coffee ice cream, he found the energy too. We went to another equally good restaurant for more seafood, then to the backatown bars on the north side of town. Unfortunately, I started to fade around 11, so we skipped the dancing part of the evening and went back to the hotel. Again unfortunately, the tropical depression that just ran into Mexico was at that point passing over the Yucatan Peninsula, so the constant torrential downpour and wind kept us from snorkeling on Saturday morning. But we had a great breakfast with more fry jacks at a restaurant where a friend from San Antonio works, as well as a good visit with the friend who was our waiter.

We got the water taxi out at 11:30 and got to Belize City about 2 hours later. We took a cab to the bus terminal, and then took a bus to the Zoo where we’d left Tinkerbell. Besides wanting to be able to tell people first hand about staying at the Zoo and about San Pedro, we wanted to get a little experience dealing with Belize’s public transportation system. We found that the experience was good. The cab fare from the water taxi terminal to the bus terminal was $8BZ, and the bus fare was $2BZ each – much cheaper and easier than trying to park Tinkerbell in Belize City for three days. The bus terminal is chaos, but lots of people are around to help, and since buses only leave the terminal in two directions, you’d probably really have to work to get on the wrong bus. Tom became the center of attention on the bus because one of the vendors getting on the bus to sell snacks to the passengers told him that he looks like Chuck Norris (which he hears a lot here) and then everybody on the bus had to get up and take a look at him, with a running commentary in Creole. Tom was a little embarrassed, but I thought it was hysterically funny, of course. The bus got rolling in about fifteen minutes, let us off at the Zoo, and we retrieved Tinkerbell and headed for home. Selwyn had done a great job taking care of the place and the animals, and we’ve spent the past couple of days getting back in the swing of things and getting ready for guests arriving on Thursday.

So, did we like San Pedro? You bet. It wasn’t what we expected, and we didn’t do what we’d planned to do, but we had a great time. We’re not going to go back every week or even every month – we couldn’t afford it either physically or financially! – but it was great for a change of pace and we know plenty of people who would have way more fun there than they would on the more laid back Caye Caulker. And we have to go back to do the snorkeling trips we were planning to do this time. Now we can say we know what it’s like…but we definitely need to do more research!