Monday, August 30, 2010

some days are like that

I must start by saying it is so hot. I can't believe it. Whew. No fan, no breeze. **(next morning) There was an amazing amazing storm last night which cooled everything off enough to get a couple of hours of sleep and today is overcast and cloudy, which, while making it more muggy at least cuts some of the heat and I'll take it! I forgot about those storms. They are so great.

On the other, more exciting hand, I am in a Garufina family's house in Belmopan. I was trying to go to a hostel that I understood from the Internet was close to here so I got to the bus station and asked the taxi driver if he knew where it was and he didn't so we called the number from the web page and the lady gave him directions and we ended up at a house in Belmopan, not a hostel on the river on a farm that I was expecting. The old woman said that the farm is about forty-five minutes away and belongs to her son so why don't I just stay here tonight and go tomorrow? So I said, “you have rooms?” and she said “yes” and there was a gringo sitting in the living room so I thought, “cool, I don't care, I just want to sleep somewhere after being on the go since five o'clock this morning” So I came in. It turns out that it isn't a hostel at all. It's a family's house. One of the daughters is the dean of students at the university and some kids from Ohio are here doing their student teaching so they were staying here for a few days while they worked out a house to live in, which they left for tonight because a bunch of family came to town and needed the beds. They invited me to eat with them and we sat and chatted about everything for hours and hours and they are amazing fascinating wonderful people. And now I am in a bed in the hallway and there is no way I'm ever going to sleep, it's so hot. And the neighborhood dogs are barking up a storm and it's all so great anyway. I expected to just travel through Belize just cause but didn't expect much of it and it has already turned into one of my favorite traveling moments.

The whole day has been great. I thought I was going to split this day of traveling into two days because one of the things on the list that didn't quite get obtained was a time piece with an alarm on it so I didn't have any way of waking up early enough to get the whole day done in one. So I got the bright idea that maybe if I left the air conditioning in my room at the condo on all night I would get cold early in the morning and wake up to turn it off and sure enough I woke up at five o'clock. Sweet! I wasn't at all sure that would work.

I headed off the couple of miles to the highway to try to flag down a bus. It was just starting to get light as I was walking so I could see but the sun wasn't out yet making a hot mess of the walk. Got to the highway and without too much delay was able to flag down a combi van and ride to Tulum. From Tulum there was a bus leaving for Chetumal in about twenty minutes so I got a smoothie and onto the bus with me. Arrived in Chetumal not sure what I would find in the way of buses going to various places so at that point I thought I might even head over to Flores Guatemala and head south from there if that's which bus was leaving. At the first class bus station there was a bus leaving for Corozal in about three hours and I vaguely remembered something about chicken buses going from somewhere else in town more often so I got in a cab and asked him to take me there. Luckily one left about fifteen minutes later and we went off to cross the border. I had about two hundred pesos with me and the bus ride was going to be two fifty so I changed out a twenty dollar bill which was just about two hundred and fifty pesos. So with that I paid the bus and wondered what I was going to do with this extra couple hundred pesos in my wallet. Well at the border I ended up having to pay an exit tax that I didn't think I was going to have to based on either misunderstood information from the guy stamping my passport into Mexico or a really insistent corrupt guy stamping my passport out of mexico. Either way, the exit fee was the two hundred pesos I had in my pocket. Just right!

The bus drove over to the Belize entry checkpoint and I kept talking to the passport stamper in Spanish and she kept talking to me in English til I remembered that they speak English in Belize so we had a laugh and off I went. The bus driver even changed CDs while we were in customs to and English one which made me laugh. Got to Corozal and had to wait just about a half an hour for a bus to Belize City. In Belize City I kept getting elbowed out of the way for the buses to Belmopan – one filled up so fast I didn't even try then the next one I ended up standing and thinking I was going to stand for a couple of hours but was just going to live with it but the bus driver said everyone had to sit but there was nowhere to sit so I had to get off the bus. Luckily, the bus next to it which wasn't going to Belmopan a minute ago changed it's mind and decided it was going there after all. So I was one of the last people on that bus and it was crowded and hot but then since it was originally a local bus everyone got off straight away and it was smooth sailing and comfortable all the way to Belmopan. Bob Marley's Legend at full blast and all.

In each town I only decided where to go next, not sure how the next place would pan out and I ended up getting a really long way today without any big mishaps and ended up at this nice family's house. It was a perfect day of well prepared with no plan. I had done a lot of internet reading and map looking ahead of time to see what kinds of options there might be so that I could always have a few options for the next bus out and it just worked out perfectly.

I think I've gotten better at this game.

Off to the farm hostel after all tomorrow then south to Punta Gorda and over to Livingston and up the river to Rio Dulce. I think.

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