For our first night in Belize we camp in the costal town of Corozal and immediately feel a lot more comfortable than in Mexico. Being able to read every sign and pretty much understand every person makes me feel extremely safe and happy – I can tell I’m going to like Belize a lot already. At night we head into town and have a few local beers while playing pool.
We get moving the next morning and I throughly enjoy learning about a new country. Belize uses miles per hour and gallons for gasoline, so apparently they have not switched to metric. Also the Belize Dollar is artificially fixed at 2 to 1 to the US Dollar, which I had no idea about. After being in Mexico for two months I’m a little shocked at the prices which are much close to the US and Canada, it’s obvious this is not going to be a cheap country. I drive for about an hour without seeing a single road sign of any kind, and asking for directions yields the thickest Jamaican-like accent I have ever heard.
Our first stop is at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, an extremely peaceful place where the local community is living in a sustainable way. While we are having lunch the park ranger guys wander over and we chat for a long time about a whole range of topics. Both of us immensely enjoy this ability to just sit around feeling very safe and chat about life. We wander around the sanctuary for a couple of hours, enjoying the peace and quiet while spotting tons birds.
We move along and find the Bermudian Landing Community Baboon Sanctuary, a small town that has lived in harmony with a thriving population of howler monkeys for generations. The visitors centre has just closed so we drive around kind of aimlessly looking for a place to stay. We end up at a tour company run by a funny guy named Shane. He charges us next to nothing for camping and before long we a sitting down to a delicious meal cooked by his grandmother enjoyed with some mango wine we bought from a guy with a stall on the side of the highway.
We wake to very heavy rain and so the tent and some of the things inside are completely soaked and covered in mud. Not to be deterred we set out on Shane’s wilderness tour and are amazed to find a family of howler monkeys in a tree less than 30 meters from our tent. The really heavy rain seems to dampen their spirits a little no matter how hard Shane tries he can not get them to come down to him. We wander around in the jungle for a while learning about all the plants and trees before calling it quits. Just when we are about to leave Shane coaxes a couple of the younger monkeys all the way down to him. Kate holds out a small piece of banana and the smallest of them all comes down, tugs her hand closer and eats right out of it. It’s an amazing experience, although I’m not sure how I feel about feeding wild animals.
Shane assures me there is no dependance or habit forming behavior. Hmmm.
Kate is quite sick and we’re both cold, wet and tired as we set out for Belize City.