When you’ve got to get away, go Belize

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A quiet and windy Sunday afternoon on the beach in San Pedro Town. The bar known far and wide as Wet Willy's sits on the end of the dock.  If you are looking at his and all it does is remind you of the three feet of snow outside your front door, then you should be booking your flight to Belize. Right. Now.
A quiet and windy Sunday afternoon on the beach in San Pedro Town. The bar known far and wide as Wet Willy’s sits on the end of the dock. If you are looking at this picture and all it does is remind you of the three feet of snow outside your front door, then you should be booking your flight to Belize. Right. Now.

I don’t know if this is a trend or merely a reflection of the relentless winter that has left so much of the US in the freezer but in two days we met two people who spontaneously booked the next flight to Belize.

One fled Chicago and the other Massachusetts, both on two days’ notice.

I see a new Belize Tourism Board campaign in the works: When you’ve got to get away, go Belize.

Paris Hilton-like celebrity watch: Peering through to door of Estel's on a sunny Saturday afternoon we found local San Pedro Scoop impresario Rebecca (left) and San Ignacio real estate/media maven Macarena Rose hard at work -- munching down on BBQ. They were among several high-profile judges for a local Q-off!
Paris Hilton-like celebrity watch: Peering through to door of Estel’s on a sunny Saturday afternoon we found local San Pedro Scoop impresario Rebecca (left) and San Ignacio real estate/media maven Macarena Rose hard at work — munching down on BBQ. They were among several high-profile judges for a local Q-off!

Mike, the guy from Massachusetts, was driving his golf cart past us as Rose and I walked over to Coco Loco for pizza and ear-shattering dance pop and mud-wrestling screams from the relentlessly weird Kama Lounge next door.

We’d stopped beside the road to shoot photos of the fireworks display taking place at the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk & Water Taxi Terminal Inauguration. He stopped to do the same. This was Mike’s last night on the island and he was headed downtown to shoot some pool.

His vacation had its ups and downs. He claim he’d been tossed from two hotels and one restaurant … but on the other hand, he’d had a great time and he was booking a return trip and he was going to blog about it the next time.

OK.

We shared a table at Estel’s on Saturday with a woman from Chicago who had only arrived two days earlier. There was a barbecue cook-off going on, a fundraiser for the Sunshine Scholarship Fund and an island all-star jam band pumping out some amazing music.

Not a bad way to sample the island.

Her adventure was just beginning and she was loving it. Sub-zero Chicago was only a bad dream at the moment.

 Here is San Pedro Scoop’s comprehensive and fun report on the events at Estel’s – and I’m not linking to it just because I happened to make it into the outer edge of one of her many photographs. Really. I wouldn’t be that vain. No, seriously. I can take selfies and post them … if I wanted … I mean, if I knew how.

At the Marco Gonzalez Mayan ruins site in the southern tip of Ambergris Caye, Rose heads boldly into the mangrove bush, well ahead of me.
At the Marco Gonzalez Mayan ruins site in the southern tip of Ambergris Caye, Rose heads boldly into the mangrove bush, well ahead of me. …

Sunday morning, Rose and I were up early and out the door headed south on our bicycles to the Marco Gonzalez Mayan Ruins.

Which, by the way, are clearly not just 1.8 miles south of San Pedro, as one guide book says.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty. I’m never sure where people measure distances from. Like, is there a painted pole outside the town council offices that everyone uses as a starting point? I just don’t know.

... Moments later, a soul-chilling scream rises out of the mangroves. Birds tke flight and the very air grows still and hot with trepidation. "A! Snake! There! Is! A! Snake!" cries out Rose. She was right, too. It looked mighty pissed off as it slithered out of the sun and disappeared into a mangrove tree.
… Moments later, a soul-chilling scream rises out of the mangroves. Birds take flight and the very air grows still and hot with trepidation. “A! Snake! There! Is! A! Snake!” cries out Rose. She was right, too. And it looked mighty pissed off as it slithered out of the sun and disappeared into a mangrove tree.

By my reckoning it was more like five mile … and possibly 30 miles on the way back. Allowing for the amount of effort it took to pedal into the wind and bright sun. And age. Yeah, age is a factor.

It was our first trip past the paved road south since last fall and, happily, little has changed. There is some coastal condo construction and some very beautiful homes on spacious lots but little of the heated real estate frenzy seen farther north.

Part of the ersatz excavation compound at the Marco Gonzalez Mayan ruins. For now, use your imagination (and bug spray). The potential this site holds for education and tourism is huge. Are you listening Microsoft Foundation?
Part of the ersatz excavation compound at the Marco Gonzalez Mayan ruins. For now, use your imagination (and bug spray). The potential this site holds for education and tourism is huge. Are you listening Microsoft Foundation?

That’s just my impression. There might be a real estate frenzy to the south. Just doesn’t feel like it. Maybe the fact that so much of it is swampland and lagoons, although that never slowed ’em down in Florida.

Like all Mayan ruins, the nearly eight-acre Marco Gonzalez site is a work in progress. Notably, of the 19 identified Mayan sites on this 25-mile long island, it is the only one that can be described as a “work in progress.”

While sites of 49 structures have been identified the level of excavation has been modest. And even so, the structures would have been pretty suburban compared to some of those found at Xunantunich, Lamanai and Altun Ha. The highest mound at Marco Gonzalez is 15 feet high.

Still, with enough mosquito repellent and imagination you can walk through the site and feel the commercial trading going on in the plazas more than 2,000 years ago.

Sadly we didn’t bring bug spray so our visit was cut short by the onslaught of mosquitoes which acted like we were the first blood they’d sucked in days. Disgraceful behavior.

Marco Gonzalez site is surrounded by mangrove swamp. The sea level has risen two feet since this Mayan colony first disappeared, according to the website.

Entrance to the Marco Gonzalez Mayan Ruins in southern Ambergris Caye. There are big plans for archeological excavation of  this 2,000-plus years-old trading outpost. Like anything, it will take lots of time and money.
Entrance to the Marco Gonzalez Mayan Ruins in southern Ambergris Caye. There are big plans for archeological excavation of this 2,000-plus years-old trading outpost. Like anything, it will take lots of time and money. Listening, Ford Foundation?

To reach it, you must walk out a quarter-mile-long elevated footbridge made out of random cuts of recycled wood and pallets. It is quite sturdy and must have been a daunting undertaking. Oh, keep an eye out for the pencil-thin snakes at your feet and the spider webs at face level.

Or, do what I did: Let Rose head out in front of me and wait for the shrieks to signal a snake sunning itself on the walkway. On the other hand I face-planted right into a spider web for her.

Go, Team Adventure!

Pedaling back north, I did something I have not done in years, out of respect for the public and in deference to my age. I took off my shirt.

“Why not?” I said to Rose. “After all, I have the body of a teenager.”

Rose, with split-second timing: “Yeah? Maybe the body of three of them.”

Ta-dunk.

Thank you. We’ll be here all week.

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7 thoughts on “When you’ve got to get away, go Belize

    Belize Blog (@SanPedroScoop) said:
    March 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Woohoo! Love it. Celebrities for sure!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      March 17, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      You did a great job covering — and capturing –the day, Rebecca!

      Like

    Tracey said:
    March 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Hi!

    I’m hoping you can answer a question for me. I was just about to buy a lot a few yards south of the ruins and then read your post! From what I saw from the pictures and videos it looked like the lot was on high, dry land. Was everything around there swamp land?

    Thanks!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      March 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Tracey,
      Oh gosh. I’m not the one to answer your question. We didn’t get past the Mayan ruins site, so I don’t know for sure what is there. I do know there is an awful lot of swampland down there, but everything on the ocean side of the road seemed dry and there were quite a few houses and developments. Did you retain a local Realtor to check it out for you?

      Like

        Tracey said:
        March 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm

        Thanks! Yes, I have a realtor, and he leads me to believe it is a good lot. But buying site-unseen, I got worried. I can’t get back down there for a while because I just returned from a trip to the Galapagos, which tapped me out on time and $$ for a while. 🙂

        Like

        robertjhawkins1 responded:
        March 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm

        Good luck, Tracey! Start saving for that next trip. Galapagos must have been the trip of a lifetime!

        Like

    […] weeks ago we went south, to the Marco Gonzalez Mayan Ruins, where we learned about mosquitoes, snakes and very large spiders. And the importance of […]

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