Belize, North to South

Here we are in Placentia!. Keith again, bringing you from Coraloz to Placentia…

Ok, so we have promised to be more diligent and keep you apprised of our current travel/adventure situation. Billy and I decided it would be prudent to do a quick blog from Belize since it is the smallest country we will visit on our adventure. Somehow having multiple updates from the same country will increase its perceived size…

We left you last in a small Belizean town named Corozal. A small tranquil place with a population of about 8,500 people. It is only ten miles from the Mexico border town of Chetumal so nearly all people speak either Spanish, English, or the Caribbean. The hotel we found was perfect for our needs. A safe place to park at night, AC, and a friendly staff. We finished the previous blog after four hours at their bar with laptops, cameras, GoPros, and USB cables everywhere.

We had dinner at a place up the street that our bartender recommended. When we got there the music was so loud you could not hear yourself think. Fortunately, at 9:30, the kitchen was closed. Off to the next establishment across the street. A Chinese Food restaurant in Belize? That’s right awesome Chinese food with a traditional Chinese husband and wife running the restaurant.

As we indicated before, we had numerous people telling us to stay out of Belize City. Ok, easy enough. We decided on a route that would take us south to the village of Palencia.

The ride was stunning. We began in coastal lowland beach flats with soft grounds and loads of sugarcane fields for miles. Green everywhere and no hills or mountains to be seen. The roads are nowhere near as nice as in Mexico but the change was welcoming. It felt good to read signs in MPH rather than KPH and warning signs in Yards as opposed to meters. We made good progress and stopped around 12:30 for lunch. Billy & I found a traditional roadside eatery and stood there waiting to order. A more than colorful woman was cooking up some delicious beans, rice, and chicken.

We sat there salivating waiting for our turn. Turns out we were too late; she just sold her last plate to the man we were talking to about our journey. This guy was super interesting to talk to and makes his living flying to LA, buying used school buses, and transporting them back to Belize to sell here. Not only that, he contacts Belizean people in LA who want to ship back stuff to their families and he loads the bus up with their treasures. You can’t make this stuff up…

Lunch turned up later at another roadside eatery where we finally got those rice and beans we were cheated out of. It was delicious and again we met another fascinating man who approached us. This guy runs a shelter for more than 2,000 orphans in Belize City. The guy was a saint and told us loads about his country. You can’t imagine how poor this place is. Workers get paid $10/day and good skilled labor could make as much as $35/day. It was sad to hear how little these people make.

He also told us how inexpensive land was. In some cases, you can buy acreage here for a couple of thousand dollars an acre. He also told us Belize is now a hot spot for religious Mennonite groups who are buying up land at a staggering rate and cultivating the land and living off the grid. He was right, after having lunch we saw multiple horse-drawn buggies and several me in dark trousers, suspenders, and straw hats, and the women in conservative long plaid dresses and bonnets.

Headed south and passing through the capital city of Belmopan the topography of Belize changes like turning on a light switch. You go from Sugar cane fields to vast rainforest jungles and stunning landscapes. At 3 pm you can set your watch for rain. Nearly every day at 3 pm you get rain. We got caught in a refreshing downpour that cooled us off from the oppressive heat. As we made our way further south on the Hummingbird Highway we reached the Palencia highway.

The village of Palencia occupies the southernmost mile of the 27-mile peninsula of the southern highway. It’s a very quaint town with an odd mixture of people. There are locals, tourists and loads of ex-pats from all over the world. We have met people from Canada, the US, the Czech Republic, Italy, England, Ireland, and China. Did I mention China? Turns out Belize is overrun with the Chinese. Not overrun in a bad way, these people are hardworking, industrious, and non-violent immigrants. In the town of Corozal, there are now more businesses owned and operated by Chinese than Belizean people…

When we finally reached the town of Palencia it was something reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. We rolled into town trying to find a hotel for the night. After striking out three times with either locked gates or prices out of our budget we heard a big group of people laughing and having a great time on the porch of a large plantation-type building. One of the people asked us if they could point us in the right direction. When we walked over, we found four couples handing out having a group dinner.

They were all ex-pats from Canada and the US. They immediately invited us on the porch and would not take no for an answer. They insisted we have a beer and some soup and sit down for a bit to hear our story. After another beer, some good soup, and a ton of laughs one of the guys called his friend who owns a hotel right next door. Just like that, we found our place to stay with a Czechoslovakian family who operates the Manatee hotel. $35/night we were in. After a quick and much-needed shower, we headed to the barefoot bar for Lobster Fajitas and Nachos. Both exhausted and overtaken by the bizarre surroundings we called it quits by 9:30 and off to bed we went.

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