Planning to stop for one last night in Belize, we dropped anchor by the charming seaside village of Placencia. It was the most comfortable anchorage we have found so far on this trip and we agreed almost immediately that although we were a mere 51 nautical miles from Guatamala, we would stay here and rest for a couple of days.
We found Paradise when we stepped ashore and considered staying an extra day. Far off in the distance we can just make out the peaks of the Cockscombe range of the Maya Mountains reaching up into the clouds. Placencia is on the southern tip of a long peninsula with a long, crescent shaped beach on the ocean side. Colourful homes and guest cottages are built up on stilts to catch the cool Caribbean trade wind. The main thoroughfare through town is a narrow, mile long sidewalk that took nearly 30 years to complete. We walked till we dropped, enjoying the colourful flowers and trees in full bloom, some of which we had not seen anywhere else.
On the other side of the peninsula is the entrance to the Placencia Lagoon, which provides protection in stormy weather. We discovered that we could check out of Belize in the little town of Mango Creek, just across the lagoon and up the Mango River, a short 20 minute dingy ride. So on our second day here we set off with a full tank of gas and all our paperwork to find the Immigration Office. Somewhere along the way we made a wrong turn and drove for many miles through mangrove lined waterways that snaked like a maze towards the mountains. Our 20 minute ride took a couple of hours and eventually we stopped the only people we saw out there, a father and two sons cutting some poles out of the thick undergrowth and asked for directions. The looks on their faces told us we had gone way past our cutoff so we retraced our path and eventually found where we had gone wrong.
Arriving in the little Creole Community of Independence/Mango Creek, we tied up beside a fishing boat and asked the first person we saw for directions to the Immigration Office. He walked over to his pickup truck and gestured for us to get in. He drove us to the office, lucky for us because it was 2 ½ miles away and by this time we were sunburned and hot from our long dingy ride. It is always interesting to get further inland than what our feet will take us and to see a town that is not geared towards tourists.
The clearing out process only took about 5 minutes, cost $15 Belize ($7.50 US) and best of all involved NO new paperwork. We asked how long we could stay once we were cleared out and received a very vague "no problem" as an answer so I don't think it really matters. It was a breeze. We were returned to our dingy and as we passed the fishing boat we noticed a nice pile of lobster tails on ice. We bought 1 lb. for $25 Belize (12.50 US) and for that we received 3 smaller and one large tail, enough for a feast.
Placencia is the Belizean base for the Moorings Charter Company. There are currently 17 of their boats anchored here along with 5 private boats and Diamond Lil. We are the token Canadians. Sailors fly in from all over the world to cruise the beautiful waters of Belize, with it's hundreds of cays and interesting mainland destinations to explore, everything from Mayan ruins to jungle trips.
We picked up a fresh pineapple from a little stand on the side of the road in town, after smelling the sweet aroma from about 20 feet away. We enjoyed seared jerk tuna (from our catch back near Cozumel) and added the fresh pineapple at the last minute. It was the most delicious pineapple we have ever tasted. Today I want to go back to the same stand for a few veggies, some oranges and a mango.
I enjoyed a little fishing from the swim platform yesterday and got a little squirrel fish. Something big chased him up though so I think I'll try again later. A big sailboat beside us has just pulled away and I wonder if we will see him up the Rio Dulce. The Captain has gone to shore for some ice and we promise ourselves that we will definitely leave tomorrow. Manana.