On Wednesday, 1/23/13, I was up early for a breakfast of oatmeal (raisins and brown sugar) and made-to-order omelet (green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, cheese). After breakfast, I borrowed a clear garbage bag from the kitchen staff (longer, stronger, and cheaper than the $3.00 rain ponchos the boat was selling). The constant rain as we docked turned to dense fog as we dropped anchor at 8:30am outside Belize City, Belize.
The country, formerly British Honduras, does not have a deep water port, so we were "tendered" in small boats holding about 100 persons each. Ours had several leaky skylights, so it was almost like being outside in the rain!
Once ashore, our Fearless Leader negotiated the rental of a Church van to take us to Al-tun Ha, the Mayan ruins. Our driver, Denise, spoke slightly accented, but excellent English, and gave us a short driving tour of Belize City. Belize City appears to be very poor and when asked about the Americans who retire there, Denise replied that their villas are in the mountains in the Western part of the country and that "if you bring $1 million in, it is then worth $2 million" as the cost of living is very low.
Wegot on the "North Highway, barely two lines of unstriped concrete, for 15 miles before turning off on the "West Highway", a broken concrete and gravel road. It was raining again as we avoided pock marked puddles past chickens, goats, and skinny dogs. Most of the housing we passed was concrete block with corrugated roofs.
We played a steady game of "Mexican chicken" in which either Denise or the drivers of the empty tour buses coming at us would suddenly veer off the road to let the other pass. Only once did I doubt our driver's ability and the width of the road as a propane truck swung into the "chicken" mix. What happened? Both the bus and our van pulled to the sides of the road as neither wanted to risk a head on explosion; the propane truck ploughed on in the rain without even slowing down! We arrived at Altun Ha without further incident.