Our Cruise: Day 5

I told the cruise my favorite stop was Belize, but I think if I’d had to not give up only one I would have kept Chichen Itza. But I had lots of fun in Belize. M and I went on a jungle trek, about forty minutes of steady walking up and down a volcanic hill. (R and E were scuba diving.)

We figured out how someone could walk uphill to school both ways. There was a very steep climb right at the beginning where you went up maybe a 60 degree angle and then straight back down it to get from the bus to the lockers. Then to get back at the end you had to go over it again in the other direction. It was M who figured out about the uphill both ways. Funny guy.

We took off some of our clothes and bought tee shirts there to wear afterwards. I didn’t realize there was another place to buy tee shirts and we ended up with two Belikin Beer tees. I’ll wear them to go jogging. There were other tees at the other shop (which I hadn’t seen). One of them said, “When was the last time you did something for the first time.” I told M that was today, yesterday, and the day before that. And for the rest of my family the day before that as well. It felt kind of good.

The jungle trek would have been a lot more fun if we hadn’t had to look at our feet all the time. It had been raining and the path was slippery mud. But it wasn’t a hard walk, no more 60 degree hills!

We got in the water, oh my was it cold! But it felt good too. Then we spent almost an hour tubing through the middle of the volcanic hill we had just trekked across. That was a lot of fun. I did get a bit worried about M once and myself once, when I couldn’t keep away from the sides, but it was more fun than frantic. We were at the beginning almost the whole tubing trip, but then right at the end we fell back and I was the absolute last one in. In fact, the guide came to get me, I was going so slowly.

We went back to the start, changed clothes, and ate. We had chicken (The guide said it was iguana.), cole slaw, and rice and beans. The rice and beans were a bit overcooked, but the chicken, and even the cole slaw which I don’t normally like, was quite good.

We used almost the last of our money at hand to buy Lays, Snickers, and M&Ms. M said I hogged the chips and that I should have eaten them one by one. I told him tough toots.

I saw a live monkey in a tree on the way back over the steep hill, but M missed it.

When we got back to Belize, M and I were trying to figure out which tender was ours when some strange man hailed us from behind. Okay, it was R. We took M to the tender and sent him back to the ship to hang out with the teens, which was his favorite part, and R and I wandered the Tourism Village. I got several postcards for a boy in Wyoming who has cancer and wants post cards and I bought a beautiful wood bowl. The artist must be an immigrant, because his name is Spanish, but he does an incredible job. The bowl also included a thin stick of the different woods so that I could know what each part of the bowl was.

Our guide, George, told us some about Belize. He said that no one borrows to build a house. The bank charges 25% on loans. So everyone has to save up to build a house. He said that houses in the smaller villages would be about $35,000 and that to buy in the Prime Minister’s neighborhood would cost $100,000. He said there are no permits to buy. If your house falls down, that’s your problem, since there was no loan out for it. It seems to me that doing it that way would make it hard for folks who don’t really know what a house should look like while it is going up. They also prefer concrete houses, because of the hurricanes. I can understand that. They are probably coooler too.

He said that government workers, who have the steadiest pay checks, make $75/week. Doctors, lawyers, and judges make quite a bit more. Of course, most of their doctors are from Cuba, but their nurses are Belizen.

He also said that the income tax is a flat 8%. The property tax depends on how much your home is worth. I guess that’s not flat? But he also said 10%, so maybe it is a flat ten percent but it costs more for folks with nice homes. And the sales tax is 8%.

The mahogany is their national tree. I only saw two. One was tall and skinny and about 40 years old. The other was huge and in the middle of the road. It was about 100 years old. He said that it takes about 100 years for them to be big enough to harvest. In Belize dining room and bedroom furniture might be made of mahogany, but nothing else. Their floors are made of zericote, which he says has seven different colors and shines up beautifully. In my bowl it is only brown, but I have only one small piece in the bowl.

In case you didn’t know, Belize is a member of the British Commonwealth. They speak English. The country is 80 miles by 42 miles, or something close to that. The guide told us most of the people were freed slaves. So most people in the country are black.

Belize also raises oranges, limes, and lemons. Most of their oranges go to Minute Maid.

They have a cat preserve where jaguars, pumas, and ocelots live free. They also have the world’s smallest zoo, with natural habitats for the animals. I didn’t see it, but we did pass by it. It’s pretty small.