Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Belize

Wednesday morning, the ship anchored several miles off the coast of Belize. Even that far away from land, the water was so shallow that the ship stirred up sediment from the bottom.


If cruise ships keep going to Belize, they may be able to build a dock someday.  In the meantime, we took a tender to the mainland.  The tender was small, holding about fifty people.  Moving at a high rate of speed, skimming over the tops of waves, we made the trip in about twenty minutes.


We had booked a tour to the Lamanai Mayan ruins, so immediately after reaching shore, we boarded big buses and drove through Belize City. Our guide, Simone, described buildings and the landscape as we rode by them. She talked about the poverty in the country with no middle class, just 20% rich and 80% poor. There are few roads in the country, and we passed several huge garbage heaps near the road we were on. After an hour that seemed like a week on the bus, we parked and all of us were loaded into boats.

The first tourists to arrive at New River were seated on comfortable boats on seats with backs. The unfortunate last ones, including Hub and me, were seated on a narrow bench along the sides of a speed boat, with no place to hold on. If we had leaned back, we would have tumbled into the muddy New River with all its known and unknown creatures. I just didn't see how this could turn out well.


We saw several different bird species, including this Great Egret, but it is rather difficult to take photos of them while riding in a speedboat.  It took all my energy trying to stay inside the boat and keep my hat and head from blowing away.  The photos here were made when we slowed down for Simone to point something out to us.


These birds, Northern Jacana,  walk on the leaves of this flower; the locals say they walk on water.


Can you see the little black bats clinging to the tree?  They are loved here because they eat so many mosquitoes.  Hub could never see them on the tree; maybe he can find them here.


See the little crocodile in the lower left corner?  I'm still not convinced it was real or alive.  I saw no movement at all, and I found it strange that the boat driver knew just where to stop to see a croc.

There was a lot to see on that river.  We'll travel a little farther tomorrow.