|Well, here I am in Placencia! I would have liked to have spent a few more days in the western Belize, but it's hard to get to any of the good sites without a car, and the organised tours are a little too expensive for me.
I woke up this morning and found a 10:45 express bus to Belmopan, where I was able to get on a bus to Dangriga and then another bus to Placencia. I don't know if the buses run that frequently, or if I just got lucky, but it was a pretty easy trip, at least logistically. Logistics aside, it has been a bit of an exhausting day. Most of it was spent on "chicken buses", which are old American or Canadian school buses that have been repainted and now serve as the predominant form of transportation for Belize's population (humans AND otherwise... that's how they got their nickname). Remember the Zinck buses that we used to have to ride when we went on field trips in elementary school? Well, imagine spending 5 hours on one of those (that probably wouldn't pass inspection) in 30+ degree heat, and the last 2 hours down the Placencia peninsula was on a bumpy dirt road... ouch! At least I was lucky enough to get a seat.
I arrived in Placencia covered in dust and soaked through with sweat and found a pretty cheap room in a hotel on the beach, only to find out that the village was experiencing a power outage. This meant that the all-important fan in my room wouldn't turn on AND THERE WAS NO WATER!!! At that point, I had never wanted a shower more in my life. Someone actually approached me in the street and asked if I had been swimming or did I just sweat alot. Yes, that's sweat, thank you very much. By 5:30, the power was back on and I am now squeaky clean, although my towels definitely aren't.
Placencia is small fishing village located at the southern tip of a long peninsula on Belize's Caribbean coast, and it's known for having one of the best beaches in the country. It's definitely not as nice as the beaches in Mexico, but I guess that Belize doesn't have much sand along its coast and a lot of seagrass grows in the shallows. Or so I've heard. It will be interesting to see what the Cayes are like. Placencia is also famous for having the narrowest street in the world, according to the Guiness Book of World Records. The Sidewalk, as it is called, is about three feet wide and winds its way along the coast through lots of houses, hotels, and restaurants. Placencia also has a relatively new and mostly unpaved road for vehicles, but most businesses are clustered around the Sidewalk.
I've been bumming around beaches for a few weeks now, but Belize is the first place that I really feel like I'm in the Caribbean. Everyone is incredibly friendly and laidback, and reggae beats follow you everywhere. The national language is English, which is very weird... I can read signs and I don't have to keep running through Spanish phrases in my head that might be useful. The Belizeans have no problem understanding me when I talk, but it's a different story when they speak. When they're dealing with tourists, they make the effort to speak the sort of English that we're used to, but the rest of the time, I'm completely lost. I guess they're speaking Creole, which I know from school has a lot of English words, but I'll be damned if I can make any of them out.
Not sure how long I'll stay here... I want to try my hand at scuba diving on Caye Caulker... but for now, I'm just going to enjoy swinging in a hammock with a good book.