Tuesday, 29 October 2013

249 On to Belize

Monday 28th October 2013
Miles today  225 Total 26,502

After a traditional 11am check out and a couple of cups of coffee to use up some of the local currency, we set off for the Belizian border. We turned up at the Mexican side and after a serious debacle over getting the VIN (vehicle identification number) photographed by the customs people, they finally agreed to reimburse me with the $400 deposit. We then had  our passports stamped with the exit stamp and we were free to depart.
Our arrival in Belize, having crossed a long bridge with barbed wire and high walls either side, was a bit odd. Firstly I had to get Wallace fumigated. I was turned back and sent to a hut with a garden hose outside. On arrival a guy came out, sprayed the bike with pesticide and charged me $15BZ (about£5) for the privilege. I paid in Mexican and asked if he could change the rest of my Mexican. He did and I walked out of there with $35BZ. A currency with the Queens Head on it. Nice.

It was then on to customs and immigration. The immigration officer asked us what we did for a living and when we told him and showed our cenotaph photo in full uniform he chilled out completely and asked if we had come to arrest anyone.

Customs was a formality and Wallace was added as an immigrant to my passport. We then drove out of the restricted area and bought a weeks worth of insurance at the government insurance broker just outside. We paid about £9 for a weeks insurance and whilst in the office discussed the roads we intended to use that day. The broker told us that one of the roads, a dirt one, was flooded the last he heard. We will see.

It was then into town to get some more currency. We soon found a bank and were off again. We had about 225 miles to go and had no idea if we could use the roads that we wanted to. It was now around 1pm, the sat nav told us we would be at our destination, Placencia, at about 6pm. About 1/2 an hour into darkness. Not good in a place where pot holes are accepted as the norm.

The good thing about Belize is that it's a British colony and the Queen is the head of state and much like Canada, the "Queen" is the legal prosecutor and the laws (as posted on the appropriate walls) are written in a form that we as ex police officers are familiar with. The biggest bonus though it the fact that English is the national language so communication is a lot more relaxed.

Anyway, we had to get a move on and the weather situation had not changed. The roads were almost permenantly wet with strong showers passing through al the time. It was not an enjoyable ride and twice we were driven off the road by idiots overtaking into our lane. Fortunately, Wallace has the best brakes in the world and saved our skins when needed. I love this bike.

These people have been suffering the same tropical depression that we have had to endure. There were floods everywhere.

We eventually arrived at the road that we had been warned may be flooded and thought we had better find someone to ask about it. It was raining and the only people about were kids on their way home from school. Karen then stated "I don't think we need to ask, look at that". I looked down the road and 200m in front of us was a lake where the road should be. We decided to go and have a look to see if we could ride through it.  

 So clearly it would be difficult but we thought we would take a closer look to see if it was fordable. The alternative was a long way round.

 Looks pretty deep. What is that moving around in the water ????

My God is that a person ?????

Oh, it's OK. It's just a kid on his way home from school.

Despite the rain, the jungle was still very pretty.

Needles to say, we had to take the long way around and we eventually arrived at Placencia at around 7pm having driven and hour and a half in the dark. Trying to find a hotel among the myriad of other small hotels on a 4 foot wide concrete pathway, in the dark and rain turned out to be a pig. We eventually found it and I went up to the manager and asked if he had a reservation. He checked his computer and 5 minutes later, a very polite "No" was the answer. I was somewhat confused and asked to check my e-mail on his computer but for technical reasons it would not let me do it. We decided to find a bar with WiFi and found the 'Purple Space Monkey'. We had some dinner and a beer whilst I checked the mail. The confirmation e-mail was the very hotel we had just been in and when we went back I showed the e-mail to the manager, Juan.  Without hesitation he gave us a key and showed us the room. We later found out that the hotels conformation e-mail had been sent to a sister hotel. Doh !!

We moved in and I prayed whilst I rode Wallace through a dark sand bottomed flood up to the hotel. We moved our gear in and then went back to the bar to (I was going to say 'drown our sorrows' but we are well past that stage) get drunk.

Tuesday 29th October 2013
Miles Today 0 Total 26,502

After a good nights sleep I woke up with a hangover and as normal, Karen didn't ! 
 (that's because  I don't drink as much, ha ha ha if you believe that, you'll believe anything).
The water overnight had gone down a couple of inches exposing some more of the walkways to the atmosphere. We took a photo of the hotel and nicked one from it's website for comparison. 

The website photo....

...and today. I could not take it from the same spot without standing in a foot of water.

The floods were everywhere. You can see why we had trouble finding the place.

Wallace on dry (ish) land

Juan, the manager. An absolutely lovely guy that could not do enough for us.

A frigate bird.
We took this picture as there were lots of these floating overhead. They are amazing birds. These birds do not swim, cannot walk well and they cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for weeks at a time, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs. They feed in the air and often steal from seagulls. In flight they look a lot like pterodactyls. 

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