Archive for February, 2011
More photos from Belize on Flickr.
Here’s a handful of photos from my Belize trip. On the Flickr.
As the seats were being flicked upright, the armrests being lowered, the cabin lights dimmed, and I sucked on a Tic Tac to try and help me not get weird ears, the view out of the window turned from black with the odd clump of lights to a landscape covered in lights. I know I mentioned this at the start of my holiday, but it’s a truly astonishing sight to behold.
Through immigration and customs, into a taxi, and feeling like I was home bombing through the city. It’s a comforting feeling recognising the route a cab driver takes fro an airport. Conversely, it’s also a great feeling seeing a city for the very first time through the window of a taxi.
Back in the apartment, and the accumulated information that I missed: 3 actual pieces of mail (one of which that has taken since 18 November to get here from the UK), and then the electronic information: 55 podcasts (over 27 hours worth), 720 RSS items, and over a thousand emails. The problem I have is wanting to be “settled” straight away. My mind flicks from one thing to the next. Oooh, app updates! Oooh, download photos from my camera! Sort out my sleep chart! Sort out my ballcap chart! Empty out my backpack. I wanna do them all at once.
Rather annoyingly, I got home to a messy apartment. Three of the four people who live here have been or are on vacation. It sucks to come home to dirty dishes in the sink, a fridge full of food that may or may not be useable, and overflowing bins in the kitchen and bathroom. That last one, the bin in the bathroom, wouldn’t be such a big deal in other countries, but here, where the plumbing and pipes in the buildings just isn’t up to what a western European fellow is used to, you can’t flush toilet paper. It has to be dropped in the little bin next to the lav. Every place, apartments, bars, restaurants, hotels: they’re all like that. When I first arrived, it took a while to get used to it. Partly because of the rather natural habit of dropping paper in the bowl, and partly because, well, it’s fucking disgusting. After a while, though, you get used to it. And the toilet paper here is way more perfumed than the toilet paper in the UK or Germany, so that kinda neutralises the smell. But I never really get over seeing the bin full of toilet paper. And returning home to a full bin, I noticed the smell. It didn’t smell of poo, but the perfume smell is a smell I mentally associate with poo.
One good thing, though, returning from a Caribbean beach with an altitude of a couple of feet, to Mexico City with its altitude of 2,200 metres (7,217 feet), is how, this time, I’ve not experienced any adverse effects. Amazing, really, how the body can get used to things.
Spent most of today going through all of the backlog of electronic life. It was lovely to have a really good cup of coffee again; something that is few and far between in Belize. And tacos; beautiful, darling, tacos.
And some laziness, too. Returning from vacation late on a Wednesday evening is a recipe for writing off the whole week. Wake up on Thursday and, well, tomorrow’s the weekend. And it’s Super Bowl weekend, too. So, it’ll just be housekeeping and boozing for me until after that. Then life can begin again.
Finally, to those of you who have read any or all of the 13,174 words of blog posts I wrote whilst on holiday: thank you. Photographs and more drawings will be coming soon. Don’t wanna get them all up just yet, though; want to drag out the holiday feeling for a bit longer.
All drawn in Maya Beach, Placencia, Belize.
This one was drawn mid afternoon at the end of the hotel’s pier, looking south.
Just before dusk.
In the morning, looking east from the pier. Windy day, choppy water was making the sea cloudy with sand.
Drawn at Cahal Pech Village hotel, San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize.
Drawn using the iPod app, Vellum.
Last sunrise before heading back to Mexico. I was up at 5.30, so got to see it all. Sat at the end of the pier watching some clouds on the horizon, which first gave up a red sliver, and within the space of two minutes gave way to the complete red sun.
A quick chug down of coffee, and we were in the car heading back to Belize City. After five relaxing days at the beach, it was nice to get one last journey where I could see some jungle. The time of day meant we spent a lot of time behind school buses, taking children from tiny villages to do some book learnin’.
We passed a man trying to hitch a ride outside of Hattieville prison. Good luck with that one, dude. Although, I’m fairly sure the one place an escaped prisoner would be stood around trying to hitch a ride is directly outside the prison he just escaped from.
Dropped off the car, into the terminal. Despite being ready for an argument about the exit fee a couple of days ago, I just couldn’t be arsed when it came down to it. I just coughed up the US dollars like a compliant tourist.
I’d be interested to know why security is different at different airports. Some allow cigarette lighters, some don’t. Shoes off or on?
No air conditioning in the departure lounge. Bit sweaty. Nipped into the duty free shop a couple of times to make use of their A/C and to absent mindedly look at bottles of alcohol that I can never be arsed to buy (carry, more truthfully), and ther fine fine fine selection of Swarovski crystal animals.
Spent my last Belizean dollars, no point in having it any more. Truthfully, as nice as Belize can be in places, this will probably be the last visit for a while. Too many other places I’ve not been to to bother going again any time soon. Plus, next time I need some beach, Mexico is likely a cheaper option. And the quesadillas are better.
Bought an airport coffee. Basic rule of life: if adding enough milk to a paper cup of coffee to make it look at least semi-appetising shade of brown, if that makes the cup so full that it is impossible to lift without spilling it and scolding your fingers, the coffee is gonna be horrible.
Bought a bottle of Marie Sharp’s habanero sauce with the last remaining dollars. And with that it was time to bid farewell to Kraig and Barbara. Lovely to spend time with friends, and hopefully the next time I see them it will be because the US visa people has decided I can visit the country again.
Guy next to me on the first of my three flights (Belize City to San Salvador; to San Jose; and then to Mexico City) had a baseball cap with a curvy, presumably naked, women on it with the word “Skin” across it in a gothic font. We did okay with sharing the arm rest, despite the occasional uncomfortable feeling of his arm hairs on my arm. Presumably, it was the same for him with my arm hairs. Sadly, though, he kinda had bad breath, and when he dozed off for twenty minutes or so, he kinda did so with an open mouth, breathing in my direction.
I lost my Swiss Army knife midway through the vacation. It’s somewhere in Belize. Hopefully someone finds it as useful as I did. Just an object, I know, but it was my object. I bought it in a hardware store on Schoenhauser Allee in Berlin, and it went everywhere with me for the last three years. It was always on my desk when I was working and I genuinely used it every day for something. Obviously, I can get a new one, but, y’know, sentimental value.
When we were coming in to San Salvador airport, the flight flew past the city so it could land coming from the west. Looking out of the window, a guy near me exclaimed loudly, “That’s the old Pacific Ocean right there.” No shit.
An hour or so layover. Back to the bar where smoking is allowed. A couple of beers. A Salvadorean brand, Pilsener. S’alright.
I’ve never spent any time in El Salvador, but this was my sixth time flying through the airport. And each time I’ve been struck, that there are some truly beautiful women here. Every person’s tastes are different, but for me, I really should plan a vacation in El Salvador.
Sat in the lounge waiting to board, staring out at the skywalk, I had one of those moments where you realise the vastness of the world: there are companies out there that make skywalks. There are companies out there that make exit signs. Cotton reels. Toothpicks. Those little plastic battery operated fans. Paperclips. So many people working all over the world making more and more stuff. Still, as long as there’s a company out there that still make porno playing cards, we’re gonna be alright as a species, I reckon.
Rows one, two, and three board first. Then bunches of ten rows, working from the back to the front. It’s always an interesting socialogical moment boarding a plane. You look at the first class passengers, they look at you. They look smug, and seem to look down on the plebs. But maybe that’s all in my mind. That little curtain, though, allows the rest of us to know who to kill first when the revolution comes.
I was flying with an airline called Taca which, presumably, is the feminine form of taco. It’s kind of churlish to complain about specific airlines; on the whole, they all suck in some regard, but, the miserable cunt at the Taca desk in Belize gave me middle seats on two of the three flights even though both of those flights were barely half full. Twat. (Of course, as soon as the seatbelt signs were turned off, I was up and out to window seats near the back.)
And on the booking confirmation, there needs to be some sort of law that you simply can not list “brunch” as the meal and serve a teeny packet of nuts. That is not fucking brunch. If we were to employ the same nomenclature standards to the flight itself, it’d mean I’d be using a pogo stick to get to Mexico.
Thankfully, having three flights afforded me the chance to have brunch twice and an evening meal. The second brunch was different. Maybe because it was 3pm and no-one eats brunch at that time of day. Brunch number two was a bread roll with slices of carrot inside. And something else. Something viscous. No idea what it was, though. Like gravy dressed up as melted cheese at a fancy dress party.
And another thing, Taca: clean your fucking windows. In this world where the governments and their idiotic, theatrical attempts to persuade us we are safe has taken the vast majority of the joy out of flying, looking out of the window at clouds, lakes, fields, and towns is one of the few things left to enjoy. Gimme a rag and some Windolene and I’ll do my own window if it’s that much fucking trouble. We certainly can’t enjoy the entertainment on this flight, restricted as we are to drop-down screens showing “Two and a Half Men.” Seriously. When was the last time you went on a flight and that paltry show wasn’t on one of the channels?
As the flight approached San Jose, I took some photos out of the window. Mostly because I’d noticed a setting for aerial photos and I wanted to compare normal vs. aerial settings. Not bad, as it goes. Boosted the contrast a bit and seemed to be more colourful. Interestingly, though, when I chose that setting, a message came up on the camera screen: “Turn off the camera during takeoff and landing. Follow the instruction of cabin attendant.” I don’t like an inanimate object telling me what to do. So I took a couple of pics after we’d been told to turn off electronic devices, just to show my camera who’s the boss.
Never been to Costa Rica. But now I can say I’ve been on Costa Rican land. In the San Jose airport, anyway. Had two hours to kill before the third flight. Had a mooch around. And, oooh, a sign for a smoking bar. It was called Nimbus Lounge. Lots of blue light and lots of smokers. They didn’t seem to stop people from standing inside the door to chug down a quick cig, but I sat down. Sitting down, you had to spend a minimum of three dollars. I ordered a domestic beer. Imperial. Nowt special. Five bastard dollars, though. I only had twenty US dollars with me. I’d spent eight in San Salvador. And this five left me with..? Anyone? Anyone? Yes, Charlie? “Seven dollars, Sir.” Correct. Still, the TV was playing “In a Big Country” by Big Country, which I quite like. It soon switched stuff I didn’t know. Spent five of those dollars on a double cheeseburger from Burger King and left for my final leg of the trip with two useless dollars in my pocket.
Nothing even worth mentioning about the flight to Distrito Federal, really. Moved from my middle seat to an empty row of seats to spread out a bit. Watched an episode of “CSI: Miami” and typed these words whilst listening to Vampire Weekend’s second album which I’m enjoying more and more. May not have the highlights of the first record, but on the whole, way more consistent. I’m being told to put my seat in its upright position now. Mexico City beckons.
I’ve never really got to grips with how I should handle myself when I return to a hotel room and the maid is in there. A cheery hello, a polite smile, and the overacting of I’m-just-getting-something. I exit the room and do something for ten minutes or so, aimless wandering or sitting and waiting somewhere. All the time, though, all I can think about is getting back into the room and dropping the kids off at the pool, which, well, it’d be rude to destroy her sterling work while she’s in the room, wouldn’t it?
Sitting in the hammock in the palapa at the end of the pier. There are two hammocks and a two-seated wooden swingy thing there. Whenever I’ve seen people using one of the loungin’ options, I’ve put on hold my desire to go out there. It just seems a bit weird to encroach on someone’s relaxation. Like in a small hotel pool; if someone else is using it, I don’t really want to bug them by working on my cannonballs. Not so, though, with an older American gent, who harshed my mellow by standing at the edge of the palapa and dropping a fish hook attached to a small reel of line into the sea. I’ve swum around the end of the pier before. It’s knee depth at best. He caught nothing. And with another man present (me), by catching nothing he announced to the world that he is useless at fishing. Thus useless at providing for his woman. And he’d be too weak to defend his family. And not able to defend his position as leader of his tribe and village. I can therefore go to his town and take over. I will assume the role of alpha male. And I will institute laws allowing me to do what the fuck I want. (My reign will be based on the reign of King Mswati III of Swaziland: loads of wives and cars for me, while my people live in poverty and die of AIDS.) He’ll soon wish he never walked onto MY pier. The funniest thing, though, was when he dropped the reel and it rolled all the way across the pier floor and plopped into the water. Holding the thread in his hand, he started to try and pull the reel out of the water, all the time just pulling more and more line off of the reel, which was more than likely stuck in the sand on the sea bed. (Sea bed seems like too dramatic a name for sand that’s a foot or so beneath the surface, though, right?)
I did work on my cannonballs in the pool, though. The hotel emptied out on Sunday, so at 10am there was virtually no-one around. Got some good height and big splashes going on.
Some bobbing around was in order. Bob bob bob. I backed into a corner, supported myself with my hands on the side of the pool and hummed “Also sprach Zarathustra” to myself and pretended my feet were monoliths (duoliths?) rising from the ocean. Nice to feel the change in temperature, from cool to warm as the sun hits the feet.
“Club Tropicana” by Wham! A song that my childhood self thought of as the epitome of what being an adult on holiday abroad was like. At the age of twelve, some 28 years ago, the farthest afield I’d even been was a school trip to a small town on the northern coast of France called Le Portel. (It was a trip for us to practice our French. I remember being amazed that morning coffee came in a big big cup with no handle, and mostly that there were topless sunbathers on the beach.) And I remember thinking the “Club Tropicana” 7″ single had a nice sleeve of a tropical palm tree beach scene. Even though the chorus clearly states that “all that’s missing is the sea.” Of course, the second verse does mention that one can “watch the waves break on the bay” and that there is “soft white sands” and “a blue lagoon.” Really, that song needed a fact checker. Still love it, though.
For a change of scenery I moved from the pool that is nearest to my room, to the pool near the bar. Dripping on the sand for the 30 second walk.
Stood at one end of the pool, opening the top of my shorts to let it fill up, the squeezing the crotch to let the bubbles float out.
Again I was alone in the pool so I waded around in the bouyant way one can do in a pool, pretending I was walking on the moon.
I spent some time zoning out, enjoying the light refracted in the water. And quite some time trying to be as still as possible so my feet looked normal under the water.
Strode around some more, this time pretending I was evolution occurring, from a blobby thing to a tadpole-y thing to a fish, to a frog, and leaping out of the pool, missing a few steps in the evolutionary chain, to being a short-sighted English human groping for a towel and his glasses.
Got back in and did some laps. Breast stroke, of course. The lazy man’s swimming style. Wondered which freak ever invented butterfly. Fucking idiot. And more than that, how in the hell such a style of swimming became an Olympic sport.
Out in the kayak for a change of pace. I had no plans for a specific journey; just fancied paddling around in the sunshine. I got about 50 metres from the shore and noticed something floating. It couldn’t be what I think it is, could it? That looks like… a piece of poo. (Or as the iPod just autocorrected: a piece of pop.) I paddled away, and saw another. And then another. And soon enough I was surrounded on all sides by chod. And slowly, the poops started coming up through the little holes in the bottom of the kayak. The craft was filling up with faeces. And as it filled up, the kayak started to sink. The stench was unbearable, but I was powerless. Down and down I went until all that was above the crap stew was my head. A sudden, swift feeling around my ankles and I was dragged under. I had just enough time for one last gasp of air, and held my breath. My eyes were closed, but I could sense the darkness above me, as a canopy of plops blocked the sunlight. I was dragged down and down until I became aware that I was no longer in water. There was air. I opened my eyes and saw I was inside a hut. It had clay walls. A tiny man—about the size of a Tickle-me Elmo— beckoned me to follow him through a door that was big enough for a human. I entered a big hall. Lining the walls were gold-framed oil paintings of turds. We kept on walking, towards a door at the other end of the hall. The tiny man smiled, and beckoned me excitedly. He looked like he knew what I was getting for Christmas, and that I would love it, and he was dying to tell me. Through the second door, we entered a short corridor, and through a third door, into a room that looked not unlike one of the weirdly fake-looking bedrooms they have in IKEA. Lounging on the bed was another small man. He was wearing a crown, though. The first man shook my hand and left. The man in the crown cleared his throat.
“Mr. Robinson, I’m glad you could join me. I’ve been wanting to talk to you for quite some time,” he said.
“Really?” I said.
“Really. You see, I’ve been paying attention to you for many years. And you use the word ‘shit’ way too much. And ‘crap.’ And ‘poo.’ And ‘turds.’ And sometimes ‘ploppy.’ You use these words like they are bad things. And you seem to be amused by them, too.”
“Well, they are kinda gross. And funny.”
“But to us in the Fecalworld, it is offensive when you say ‘poo.’”
He kept on talking for a while, but I didn’t really notice much of what he was saying; all I could think about was trying not to laugh at him saying “poo.”
“… so if you could try to keep the toilet talk to a minimum in future, we’d greatly appreciate it. We don’t expect you to stop altogether, but, an effort would be appreciated.”
“Er, okay. I’ll do my best.”
“Goodbye, Mr. Robinson.”
And with that, the first man re-entered the room and lead me back through the doors to the hut. He smiled a last smile, shook my hand, and jerked his hand towards the roof, and I was instantly back in my kayak on the surface of the sea. Not a poo in sight.
Coming back to shore, Dean, the Virginian gentleman I spoke to the other day, shouted and asked if there were any fish out there. He called me Clive. I didn’t have the heart to correct him. (I once vaguely knew a guy in Lincoln, and the first time he got my name wrong, calling me Carl, I didn’t correct him. He called me Carl for three years before I left town and have never seen him since.)
Back to the pool. Even at its deepest, you couldn’t drown, so I walked the whole length in the style of John Cleese. You know the walk I mean.
Off by the steps up to the pool there was an iguana. I got out to get my camera and he scampered off. Iguanas look funny from behind when they run.
I spent a not insignificant amount of time pondering my finger nails under the water.
I inched along the edge of the pool, looking at the grains of sand around the edge. At the right angle, and focussing right up close, the grains look like cars on a vast open landscape, like an architectural model.
And then, oh no, the Chuck Palahniuk short story, “Guts” popped into my head. I tried to empty my mind. Stood in the pool. Tried to think of nothing at all. Specifically not “Guts.”
Empty the head. Think of nothing. Don’t think about thinking about nothing. I would’ve gotten further had the thought of lunch not popped into my mind. So it was time for a burger and a couple of beers.
Lunch, and a nice wee chat with a couple from Toronto, and I was back to the grindstone. After watching the dude fishing earlier, I had some interest in fishing myself. So I went to the end of the pier, sat down, and watched pelicans flying around and diving into the sea to grab a fish. Several of them did it while I was there, the closest dove into the water just ten feet or so away from me. It was nice to watch him lift his head and swallow his lunch, before flap flap flap and away he went for a second helping. A tiny school of fish were swimming under my dangling feet. There must’ve been about 30 fish there. Each one silvery in colour, and about two centimetres in length. They weren’t making much headway, though; the waves were bashing them backwards all the time. I decided to have a closer look, and slipped into the sea as stealthily as a horse trying to sneak out of fifth floor hotel room at the National Horse-Spotting Convention. And the fish darted off, showing that they were jet being lazy before.
Time for a shower. The shower cubicle and indeed, the whole bathroom, has a horrible tile. It’s got a brown to tan gradient, and has relief splodges that are supposed to look like water drops on the tile, with highlights and shadows. Except, the master craftsman who tiled the bathroom put them on upside down. It makes me chuckle to imagine at what point he realised that he had messed up.
Back to the bar for a late afternoon beer. I’ve been playing a game with myself, thinking of which famous people could be the parents of the bar staff. One dude looks like his folks would be Forest Whitaker and Martin Lawrence. Another looks like they are Jamie Foxx and Pookie off “The Wire,” and another looks like Eddie Murphy and New York Yankees player Curtis Granderson would be his parents.
Into Placencia for an ice cream. Kraig and Barbara mentioned they wanted to check out a crafts store, and did I want to come along. Yep, cool; I need something to scoff at. And as we walked along I was lucky enough to hear some Nickelback while I was there. That’s real music. None of your poncey electronic disco music. Good, solid, chunky, stodgy rock music. Canada is like Germany like that. With Germany it’s easy to jokingly assume they all like David Hasselhof and the Scorpions. And with Canada, the brain just flicks to Nickelback, Bryan Adams, and Celine Dion. Stupid, really. Especially seeing as though I’ve got ten Neil Young albums on my iPod.
Could’ve bought all kinds of shite at the craft shop. Seashell necklaces, a woven wallet, a keyring in the shape of a flip flop with a sunset on it, or a baseball cap in Rasta colours. Or a CD of a Belizean musician called Titiman. Snigger. They didn’t have them here, but you know those seaside joke gifts that are like an empty jar with a sticker on that says Real Seaside Air or something. I think I should set up an Etsy store selling them, just with a sticker saying The Breath of Authentic Misanthropic Scoffing.
Stopped off on the way back to the hotel to buy a couple of big bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, the best chocolate in the world—suck it, Switzerland!—a brand that I’ve never seen on sale in Mexico.
One last swim to cool off a little. An beautifully executed cannonball, too. Laps. Twenty of them. I guess the pool is about seven metres long, so however you look at it, it was quite a meagre amount of swimming. But, as dusk turned to night, a fitting way to end a hot hot hot day.
After dinner, a stroll along the beach. The sky has been clear here, and the stars are really bright. You can see beyond the constellations, and, for example, the hundreds of stars framed by the corners of Orion. It’s pretty darn cool.
And the day was finished off with a nice pink Benadryl to help with the still slightly swollen after effects of the doctor fly bite on my hand. Combined with a couple of beers: nice and drowsy snoozey time.
For some reason, in the bottom of my travel toiletries bag, covered in toothpaste juice stains, there was a tiny unopened plastic packet containing E.A.R Soft SuperFit ear plugs. I was lying in bed last night, drawing and listening to My Bloody Valentine, and I thought about the ear plugs: Am I just imagining it, or are they in my toiletries bag? I’d got the ear plugs in 2009, when my ex and I went to see My Bloody Valentine play in Seattle. I’d grabbed a few pairs from the baskets outside the area where the band would be playing, mostly because they were pretty. Bright yellow with an orange band and nice and squishy. I broke them out, and thus—placebo or not—had a lovely night’s sleep. I love the dreams, those that you cling onto the lovely feeling all day long, where something good happens. In mine I met a Bulgarian woman, a woman who I recognised. She had short brown hair, strong cheekbones and lovely dark eyes. And we recognised each other from college. She was the border guard as I entered Monaco. And she had a smile that stayed with me into the awake part of my day. All else I remember is that Monaco’s supermarket was really crappy, and the pools around the many, many fountains were all full of algae. Oh, and that I met a guy who seemed really friendly, and he wanted to blow me. And I let him.
Nice lazy day. Good to be having some lazy beach time. Spent a good deal of time alone in a hammock. And swinging in that hammock, in a palapa at the end of a pier, watching waves go by, I listened to DJ Earworm’s awesome “United States of Pop” songs—2007, 2008, and 2009 versions— and was singing to myself. The hotel restaurant wasn’t busy, and there was nobody in earshot, so I was singing moderately loudly. If, though, people had heard me, and weren’t aware of the Earworm mixes, they may have been confused. Not as confused as the Mayan woman who was walking behind on the beach a bit later must’ve been, though. She was trying to attract my attention so she could try and sell me some trinkets. As I walked along what I assumed was a deserted beach, I was listening to Ludacris’ “One More Drink” and singing the chorus: If I take one more drink/I’m gonna end up fuckin’ you/Is that what you wanna do, shorty.
Most inappropriate-for-the-beach music I’ve listened to so far on headphones: “The Holy Bible” by Manic Street Preachers.
Listening to “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick makes me feel really nice inside my head.
I’ve never had an insect bite on a mole. I wonder if they deliberately avoid them for some reason? Are mosquitoes racist? Or have I just been lucky?
I bought some Flamin’ Hot Funyuns. I’ve eaten Funyuns before. They’re alright. But I do really like another of Frito Lay, Inc.’s products: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. So I figured I’d give them a go. The back of the packet says this:
Finally – the zesty taste of FUNYUNS® brand Onion Flavored Rings you’ve known for years has been set on FIRE!
FLAMIN’ HOT® FUNYUNS® brand Onion Flavored Rings deliver the crispy texture and shape of an onion ring with a sizzle that will set your mouth on fire.
Yep, they’re kinda spicy. Not as spicy as the Cheetos, but still pretty good. After eating a couple of handfuls, though, I noticed my mouth not actually on fire. I checked the packet for a disclaimer. There was none. The packet clearly stated that the snacks contained within would “set [my] mouth on fire.” There was no fire in my mouth. Not even anything resembling a fire. Just pinky-orange goop on my tongue. The sort of goop that looks like you’ve been eating a salmon-coloured Crayola crayon when you spit it out into the sea when you are swimming ten minutes later.
Late afternoon we took a boat trip. Most trips are kinda spendy, but an American dude with a good beard was doing a “sunset boat trip” around the lagoon for $25 (about eight quid). And very nice it was too. Saw a stingray leaping out of the water, lots of mangrove, and a very pleasant sunset, with a nice amount of clouds to make some lovely crepuscular rays. And it was nice to hear the wind making my beer bottle whistle, as I sat with legs dangling off the front of the boat, only momentarily dreaming that I was Simon Le Bon. The guy sailing the boat, the guy with the good beard, was called Jeff. He’d originally sailed a boat (a different one) all the way down here from Kansas City, which, by my calculations, is quite a long way. But man, that sounds like a cool trip to make.
We ate in a Mexican restaurant called Habanero’s. It was okay. It was kind of expensive, though. Belize seems to be expensive. Considering the country seems, at a cursory glance, to be only a couple of steps up from third world, the prices are only a couple of notches down from the prices in States and Canada. Certainly for me, living in Mexico, this has been an expensive holiday, only heightened by seeing the menu at a Mexican restaurant: tacos al pastor were BZ$23 (£7.32/€8.58/US$8.58/MX$142), whereas my excellent local taco restaurant sells them at 11.50 pesos each (£0.59/€0.70/US$0.95/BZ$1.86).
All of this, though is me mentally gearing up to have a good moan at the airport later this week. Belize has an exit fee that you must pay before getting your flight out of here. I’d been told it was 40 dollars and assumed that it meant BZ$40. But, checking online, it’s US dollars. Someone also told us we have to pay with US dollars. That is a currency openly used here, and it’s easy: two Belize equals one US. But if it is true that one has to pay the exit shakedown with US dollars, well, that’s inconvenient. Mostly because I’d rather get rid of my Belizean dollars. And, let’s not underestimate this, because sometimes, I kinda like to think of the mapped route of a heated discussion in advance. There’s an element of indignant apoplexy that I’m looking forward to expressing. Stupid, really. But, y’know, for a country that gains a not insignificant amount of money from tourism, it seems counterproductive that a visitor’s last impression of the country is to be tipped upside down for some last spending. I also wonder if having to pay in US dollars is a way to leave visitors with more Belizean dollars in their pocket than they’d anticipated, thus provoking gift shop and restaurant sales in the departure lounge to get rid of a currency tourists no longer need.
On a lighter note, I’ve got a doctor fly bite on my hand. All swollen and puffy. Feels like a big bruise. I will, I have been assured by a local, not die. Ever. I now have doctor fly DNA in my veins, and thus will be able to diagnose and treat any virus that attacks my body. I am now imortal. Which is nice to know. Maybe I’ll be alive long enough to see Liverpool win the league again. Maybe…