On Thursday (I think it was Thursday- I have a hard time keeping track when I am travelling), I left Flores with my Kiwi friends Arron and Caro and we headed for the Guatemala-Belize border. This was a much less interesting crossing than my last one; a stamp on one side of the river, then a pedestrian bridge, followed by another stamp on the other side. One small comfort: Belize is a member of the Commonwealth so English is the official language and the Queen smiles up from all the currency. She seems to have a bit of a sly grin on her face on the Belizean dollars- my guess is that the weather put her in a good mood. It was just a nice change to be able to carry on a full conversation with local folks instead of them looking at me bewildered as I tried to communicate via pointing and poorly pronounced Spanish nouns.
Across the border, taxi drivers were trying to charge 15 USD for the three of us to get to San Ignacio, 15km away. At most, it should have cost 6 Belizean which is tied to the US dollar at 2 to 1. We decided to hoof it to the nearest bus station 3km away, but before we had gotten 100m from the border a truck pulled up and offered us a ride. I had seen the guy dropping some folks off at immigration so he looked non-threatening enough. Also Aaron was twice his size, so we took him up on the offer. His name was Willem and he worked maintenance at the Hospital in San Ignacio. He gave us some tips about the town and drove us right to the main square. We booked into the Central Hotel which, though a bit dodgy looking was only 8 BSD per night each. It was managed by a lanky black guy who called himself Kenny G. He was born in Belize but had spent 20 years in New York City and said “motherfucker” more times in one sentence than I probably do in an entire year. He was really cool though and pointed out some cheap places to eat and helped us organize a cave tour for the next day. We even got to see an x-ray of his jaw surgery. I have my doubts about his claim of having 6 wives though. Kenny G wasn’t exactly a what you would call handsome…
The tour, abbreviated as ATM, though I can’t remember the full name, was absolutely incredible. We started out with an hour of hiking followed by a brief swim into a limestone cave. We had to alternately wade through caverns and scramble over fallen boulders, but in the end came out into a chamber used by the Mayans over a thousand years ago for rituals and sacrifice. The culmination of the trip was a set of female human remains left in pose almost 800 years ago. This in a setting of almost total darkness and surreal cave formations, stalagmites and stalactites. I had told myself that I wasn’t going on any more tours for a while but this was definitely worth it.