Saturday, May 26
Woke up late, for me, at the Hibiscus Hotel. Make a cup of the instant coffee in the room. Watch TV and generally relax. I have a busy day ahead of me: I am waking up in the capital of one Central American nation of going to bed in another.
Walked over to the market. Ate breakfast of ham, eggs, beans and flour tortillas with coffee and watermelon juice. After that, I walk around the market area. Not shopping--just for relaxing fun.
I finish packing and load the truck. Chat in the parking lot with an acquaintance. He had been at the fundraiser last night but was too busy to talk then.
Drive the truck to the Shell station and fill up with diesel. Comes to BZ$161 (US$80.50) for about 15 gallons. I figure that is decent fuel usage for my week with the Ford.
I then drive it to the nearby Guanacaste National Park. I must have driven past it 100 times since 1998 but never once stopped. I park and go to the visitor's center. I am the only visitor. The kind attendant makes small talk and takes my BZ$5 admission. I walk down to the Roaring Creek and take some snapshots:
Notice that truck is an oil tanker transporting crude oil from Spanish Lookout to Independence. Let's hope it doesn't crash going over any of the bridges en route. Those bridges are old and were not designed with this load in mind.
Here, Roaring Creek flows into the Belize River. The creek is clear as it flows mainly out of protected lands. The Belize river carries a heavy load of sediment washed off of cleared land. That sediment will be deposited on the coral reefs I was diving on just one week earlier. It is all connected.
This snapshot of the stairs leading down to the river bank for swimmers shows two things: 1), that it has rained a lot already; 2) the difference in water clarity between the creek (foreground) and river (background). Which would you rather swim in?
I also take snapshots of the flora:
and fauna, in this case, leaf-cutter ants (Atta sp.):
All in all, a very nice little park with a great location. My guess is that 90% of the visitors to Belize would be happy with a "jungle walk" at Guanacaste and not need a big wilderness with large animals they are unlikely to see.
From Guanacaste NP, I continue east along the Western highway. I stop in at Monkey Bay. Been a long time: since 2000. I meet a couple workers I vaguely remember. The wife gives me a tour. I'll spare you most of the photos, but here are a few.
The main building as of 2000 in now one of several large structures:
Buses for the University groups they arrange trips for:
Their famous outhouse system is still there:
but now alongside a modern lavatory facility:
I thank my hostess for the tour and continue east. At Hattieville, I go north on the Burrell Boom road to the Northern highway, where I turn right (south) towards Ladyville. I arrive near the airport early for my flight, so I got past the airport to the next major street and turn left. I go down to the waterfront and eat lunch at the Oar House restaurant, on a dock. Grouper! It is delicious. I also use the WiFi to check in my Rhea on Facebook.
Back to the airport, where I return my Ford:
I drag my luggage across the parking lot and inside. There is no line at TACA so check-in is fast. I go upstairs to the viewing deck and watch for my plane to arrive from San Salvador:
I go to security and discover I forgot to complete my departure record form. Oops. I step aside and do that in a minute. No problem, but I wish I had simply done it on my incoming plane. The security system is not crowded, as the American and United planes had just left. Walked around in the departure lounge until time to board.
Boarded. The TACA jet was a new A320. Very comfortable. We take off and fly south down the coast of Belize and over Honduras as the sun sets. I can see a bit of El Salvador from the air. It is seemingly all agricultural land: no forests in my lie of view.
San Salvador airport is fine, but dated in style and bit dingy. Many duty free shops but nothing in interest to me, except: free WiFi. I do a bit of IMing with my wife, which is fun.
Boarded. Flight to San Jose is another A320, but a bit older. Nearly full, unlike the jet down from Belize (less than half). Excellent meal on the short (~1 hour) hop. Land just fine. Deplane. I get to the immigration line first. The man tries Spanish first, but when he gets no where resorts to excellent English. I get my checked bag and take it to customs, which consists of running all luggage (checked and carried) through a canner. No problems. Walk outside and am greeted by taxi coordinators. I let them know which hotel (Hotel 1915). The cab is a new red Toyota Corolla with a diesel motor. Very nice car.
We leave the airport on a modern expressway and pass a Burger King, KFC and WalMart right away. Definitely not in Belize anymore! The hotel is close. The fare is US$5; I give him 7 ones. Hotel staff is expecting me. Check in easy. Handsome, historic "boutique" hotel. I am tired and so fall asleep quickly in Costa Rica.