I have picked up a small obsession during my daily morning runs here on Ambergris Caye in Belize.
I count iguanas
At first it was just the novelty of it all. Running in San Diego most of my adult life I encountered plenty of rattlesnakes, small lizards, coyotes, dog poop, dollar bills, drug syringes, homeless people and tourists. None of these were in quantities worth noting on a daily basis.
But here, the number of iguanas warming themselves on the rip-rap walls at the edge of the Caribbean Sea is pretty amazing. And sometimes alarming. Well, at first.
I mean, why are they all staring at me with those inscrutable, expressionless faces? Haven’t they ever seen a runner before?
It wasn’t long before I realized that these magnificent creatures had no interest in me. For one, I am far from the only runner out there, most mornings. No, the iguanas were doing just what they seemed to be doing: gathering warmth from the early morning sun.
Still, once you start counting iguanas …
My best is 21 iguanas. Most days the number is between 14 and 18, depending on the time in the morning and the route that I take.
Size varies, too. As I grow more familiar with their habitat and habits I think I’ll start categorizing them into Godzillas, Mamma Iguanas, Throne Seekers and Toddlers. Names to follow.
I mentioned the iguana obsession on Facebook recently. My former U-T San Diego colleague and friend Greg Gross quickly shot back: “When you start to measure your morning runs in terms of iguanas rather than miles, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore …”
You got that right, Greg.
But that got me thinking. Are there ways that Belize, specifically San Pedro Town, is like Kansas?
The answer to that, I can’t say. I think I only drove through Kansas once, in the early 1980’s, en route to California, and I was in a stupor the whole way.
I do see similarities to life in the U.S. in general.
For example, in San Pedro we, too, have drive-through pharmacies:
And we have discount pharmacies — which bring smiles to faces all over the island, I assume:
There are publicly accessible GPS/search engine stations to help people navigate San Pedro Town:
Sometimes our parking lots fill to capacity:
And sometimes — more often than you would think — there are traffic jams:
Bitcoin, schmitcoin … we have innovative money markets/currency exchanges, too:
Innovative entrepreneurs abound, unshackled from conventional business notions:
And there are entrepreneurs, like Maria, who carry their entire inventory on their heads or front of their bicycles and travel the length of the town setting up shop where they find people and a stretch of shade:
Can you think of any other similarities between your homeland and Belize? Post them in the comment section! Thank you for participating. There are no prizes, only glory.