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BELIZE    DIARY  4


Photos Map & Plan Diary 1 2 3 4 5

From the southern part and Diary 3, I now see the north.
22/1 2020.
I spend most of the night freezing, despite I find a big table cloth, and balances my towel on my shoulders. At least, it is a sunny day, and I get heated up in the car. I head north along the huge lagoon and then Belize River.

The first part is a good road, allied with nice houses. Behind them to both sides, I find mangrove, one in the lagoon, the other one at seaside. I stop a few times, but fail to find anything new. Then the road turn inland, through wetlands and some pine savannah. I reach Rancho Dolores, and look for the Spider Monkey Trail. If it is the right one I find, it is a badly maintained, sticky clay train, leading through a dark forest. I don't really feel for that.

I thought my next target should be the large pyramid area of Lamanai, but the road I have found, turns out to be two muddy trails on a lawn, one kilometre in, on the 70 kilometre tour. In a Land Rover or Toyota with good tires, I would have enjoyed it. In a crappy Jeep with vide slicks, I don't dear. I guess I can access it from Orange Walk in the north.

But that does not mean I can't see Mayan pyramids today. I head back to the bigger roads, and here are a few scattered villages. and all the way out to Altun Ha. The road is strangely sealed the entire way, and then I get the explanation: Here are 15-20 huge busses with cruiseship guests. A long line of souvenir shops and three restaurants.

I make a fast loop in the area, but find it too crowded with colourful Americans. A long, well maintained but deserted trail, leads through the dense rainforest to a large pond. I see some nice plants and get close to some striped lizards - unless it is agamas?. The pyramids are still covered in Americans, and I head for lunch. The only dish  can find is vegetable-rice, a quarter of fried plantain and a bit of salsa.

I see the souvenir stands, which all have the same machine-produced crap, and some huge pieces in polished wood. The museum only have a few objects, but one is quite impressive; A head/scull made out of one large piece of jade. Outside are samples of their national bird, flower, tree and alike. I would have expected the Black Orchid to be darker.

I return to the pyramids, and now, I have the ruin town all to my self. I just prefer it that way! Some of the structures have been restored, others are still pointy green hills. Here are two courtyards, of which they claim one was the market, the other the secret place. Now, there is a fantastic sky: Deep blue with a few bright white clouds.

When I have seen it all, and climbed the tall structures to see the surounding rainforest, I head back to Belize City. I figure I might find some great restaurants where the huge cruise ships docks. Well, they don't dock; I see them fare out, and I head towards the harbour and immigration area. 

It is once again through the centre of town, and I get confirmed; it is actually the centre! Could fool me... The coast is a mix of trash and mangrove, and the mangrove is loosing terrain fast. The harbour is an import harbour, and closed for strangers. I head back towards the centre on a large road, hoping for a restaurant.

Close to home, I give up, and stock some food at a Chinese supermarket - they all are actually. Then I see the little Rasta Family Pot, and get them to open. I get some real tasty plantain fries and "tacos" made in breadfruit slices, filled with two types of salsa, avocado, shredded red cabbage and cheese. Delicious! Rancho Dolores and Altun Ha ruins.

23.  I head back pass Altun Ha and further up the Old Northern Highway. It should be scenic, but to me, it look like all the rest of the savannah, I been driving through recently. It is just above sea level, and here are a lot of flooding. The first half is mainly sealed, the last hardly. I guess it once was, but here are only a few short stretches.

I stop a few times to penetrate the rainforest, but I just drive through the savannah and pine forest. Here are a few communities and some scatted wooden houses on the first part. Then they vanish, but here start to be a few cane-, pineapple- and oilpalm fields.

The only real nice views I see, is at the river crossing in Maskall a larger settlement. My next target is Crooked Tree, but I figure I might as well swing bye Orange Walk, and sort out a bed for the night and find lunch. The bed turns out to be the most expensive, but nice, the lunch at a religious Chinese vegetarian place, only serving dumplings today. Well, they are good.

I head back down the new highway to get to the swampland with Crooked Tree island in. On the way, I pass the lush area on both sides of the highway, home to a huge herd of water buffalos. Crooked Tree is the first wildlife Sanctuary in Belize, and home to a lot of birds. I see quite some, but I am more fascinated by the pond turtles, the huge snake and the Black Iguanas.

I walk along the rather flooded lakeside, and enjoy the board-walk. Here are a few huge Bromeliads and some large orchids in the trees, but not much more interesting. Then I head inland. Here are way more houses than I had expected, and many are rather nice. Horses are everywhere, and here are some happy pigs as well, having their own little swamp and lake. A posh resort at the lakeside get to sell me a cup of tea, then I head further around the island.

In the coastal mangrove-like forest, I encounter a large snake. In the ponds, here are many pond-turtles and in some of the dryer places, the Black Iguanas are found. I get back to the car, and make a complete drive around the island on sandy trails, and a way into the dam, connecting it with the other side of the mainland.

When I feel I have seen what Crooked Tree can offer, I head back to Orange Walk. On the way, I pass the ancient toll bridge one more time, and I see the black smoke, oozing up from the sugar factory, the area is known for.

Orange Walk is actually a proper town, with shops, clock-tower, market and restaurants. I do a tour around and see it all, along with the mangrove-like river. Then I find my way back to a rather posh restaurant, offering veggie quesadilla. Then it is back to work with the few photos of the day. Old Northern Highway, Crooked Tree, Orange Walk town.

24. Thought the hard way, I get early up, and head out for the pyramids of the day. Right out of Orange Walk, the road turn gravel, and that is it, the next 50 kilometres.  I passes through Guinea Grass village, which does not offer much. For once, it is not the usually savannah, but a bit higher ground, giving room for way more fields.

And the farmers are sure special: All have huge hats on, the women real nice, vide dresses, the men overalls, all looking brand new. The men have shirts with patrons, and many ware sunglasses. Their horse wagons are generally fitted with roof, but they do have rubber wheels. I think Amish, except they use machines??? And weird one, that is.

Their horse wagons are everywhere, also in front of the more modern shops, and among cars. Then I figure; It is the Mennonites. I'm told the don't use rubber wheels in the fields, and it does look that way. I can't remember that phrase in "the book". Well, they look happy, and wave back to me, while I try not to kick-up too much dust or scare the horses. I see some gathered in their congregations halls, but it seems like most is out in their single horse wagons. 

I would have loves some photos of them in their wagons or gathered in big numbers along their fields, but it feels wrong. Then again; they might think it is cool, or demand a selfie? Well, I didn't ask.
The road is filled with potholes, and made up by broken-down limestone. It is vide and rather smooth - except when it isn't. I try to keep a good speed, without killing the car.

I make it the the archaeological site of Lamanai before nine, and only have to share the entire area with two Brits, I know. They are teasing me about being late. This area have some lovely huge trees, the river next to it and of cause; the Mayan pyramids.

The first I meet is the Jaguar Temple, and someone sure ought to make some small copies of these large, sterilised jaguar faces. Then I see some lower buildings, and don't bother finding out what they have been used for. But I do read the Spanish actually collected tax here. Despite the "stone age" appearance, it is not that old - although is was stone age for them.

Besides from the huge trees and interesting smaller plants like epiphytic cacti, here are squirrels, howler monkeys, Amazon parrots and small parrots along with a huge list of starlings, finches, doves, pigeons, hummingbirds - and alike with feathers attached.

Next up is the Ball Court, which either is nicely restored or have gone through time unharmed. The rocks used for the constructions are old limestone, almost rocks. Then I meet the High Pyramid (N10-43), which despite its 33 metres seems to be very tall. Again, I make way too many photos, but the sun is harsh on half the pyramid, the other half blend in with the rainforest.

I climb the tall one, and are amassed how steep the sides are; practically vertical! The view to the surounding forest is - green. The huge Water Bank on New River are seen a bit further out. The tall structure have some huge faces on the front, on each side of the central stairs.

Further down the vide and smooth path, another pyramid, and it have restored reliefs. And the trees around it is covered in Spanish Moss, which look great. The pyramid is covered in green mosses, and somehow, this location seems more moist. I pass the Jaguar Pyramid on the way out, and try a few more photos. I also  get a photo of a tarantella hole and a little agama.

At the entrance, I have a long chat with a Mayan man, selling the usually Cruse-ship souvenirs. It seems like he do have a great life here. Their museum does not have many objects, but the few flint works are astonishing, and the pottery is great too. I pass the Water Bank, on the way out, and see a few cormorants. Just outside the area is the sorry remains of a Spanish church.

I find another way out - part of the way. It is again through farmlands, but not that many Mennonites, and the last half is by sealed road. In the village of Yo Creek, I see a Keel-billed Toucan; Ramphastos sulfuratus, right in front of the car. I meet quite some cane-trains, either trucks or tractors with three trailers. I figure the drivers must eat too, and find a truck-stop in Yo Creek. I get a mount of tacos, sprayed with bean-paste and generously sprinkled with shredded cheese. Rather filling for less than 2. If there are no motives, I just include the sky with clouds, and I got a great one.

Through Orange Walk without stopping, and then right out on gravel again. While much is cane, I find some Mazena and a lot of white Indian oxen too - some on the road. My next target is Little Belize, which I remembered as a Mayan community. Well, 50 kilometres down the gravelroad I have to realise: It is most defiantly a Mennonite's, which I have seen enough off, and still won't make photos of.

Well, I could go back through Orange Walk, like the GPS like, or I could count on a bridge or more likely; a ferry further down the trail. It is only 25 kilometres more, and I get to see a Green Iguana on the road. It is more gravel, more cane and a few other crops.

There turns out to be a cable ferry across New River: Puerblo Nuevo Ferry, and before long, me and thee other are crossing by hand craft, and it is even for free! Great views to the vide river and mangrove trees, along it. While I wait, I see some Guppies in the clear water.

Just around the corners (9 kms), I find the little cosy Corozal town. It is actually a bit more Mexican than the rest of Belize. The sealing is bad, the dust dominates and even one relaxed. My first choice of guesthouse is closed, the next is being renovated and so on. Well, I find Lighthouse, and spend BEZ 50 (25) on a private room.

I have three hours to see the beach, the market, the old English Fortress and some ruins along with the rest of the town. Well the market is small, the handy-market closed, the fortress the size of two bus-stops and the beach only the boulders. But the rest of the town is charming.

When I have seen most, I find "the Canadian Embassy", and get a pot of tea. They also offers a vegetarian dish, which turns out to be nachos and salsa. Well, there are supermarkets on the way home. At the central square (Spanish) is a Clock-tower (so much British), and at six at dusk, A LOT sinning starlings.
Lamanai, Mennonites and Corozal.

It is time to open Diary 5 - and see some lovely beach!

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