Flip Flop Flying

Belize, day 3: Placencia

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My first non-travel day. I was clearly on holiday for the first two days, but with all the moving around, planes, buses and water taxis, I can’t say I was properly relaxed. There was a point at the beach bar, where I just sighed and could feel the travelling drift away.

I woke at 6am. Well, I woke at 2am first and considered that it was too early to get up, so went back to sleep. At 5am, I woke up and heard the rain on the trees and roofs (shouldn’t that be rooves?). At six, the rain had stopped. I put on last night’s tshirt and decided not to shower: there was a big ass Caribbean Sea just 20 feet or so from my room.

There were only a people on the beach. A gringo woman having a walk, a couple of local chaps jogging, another dude having a slow walk. He stopped to talk. Ordinarily, I’d’ve happily chatted, but I kept my answers short. It was 6am, dammit, nobody goes to the beach at that time for a chat. I was there to just let my eyes relax, watch the early morning sun behind the clouds, and empty my brain. I rolled a cigarette. The guy continued his walk. And I stood with my feet in the warm clear calm water. A shark! Oh my- oh, no, it’s a dolphin. Hola, Flipper! He went under the water then resurfaced a bit further along. He did that three or four times. He must’ve realised I put my camera away, cos that’s when he leapt out of the water, doing that dolphiny thing. I audibly “wow”-ed. I’d never seen that not-on-telly before.

I had a swim. One of the big regrets in my life is having let my interest in swimming drift away. I was alright at it when I was a kid (bronze medal 50 metres freestyle Lincoln Pentaqua swimming club, yo). As with the boy scouts, it somehow got away from me in my teens. I swam for a bit, then just crouched in the shallow water for a while. I find it difficult to relax in general, but there, in the water, without my spectacles, or a device that could link to the Internet, I felt relatively relaxed.

Coffee and breakfast (a relatively boring omelette), and I was ready for the day. And as luck would have it, it was a couple of minutes to eleven, so I went to the bar, had a few stouts, sat around and watched the local expats congregate. I get the feeling that retiring to Belize would be terrible for your liver.

Realising I’d spent most of my awake time in Placencia at same bar, I decided to check out another bar. Yoli’s is a thatched kinda palapa thing on stilts over the water on the southern end of the peninsular. A good twenty minute saunter away. Exercise! I walked past the football field one corner of the field had a backstop for playing baseball. When I was here in 2012, there were kids playing baseball. Now, home plate is the only patch of dirt that remains. (Later, I asked someone about it, and they said girls used to play softball but not anymore because, he said, “they got fat.”)

Sometimes you have a brief interaction with a stranger that reminds you that humans are, fundamentally, good. A brief interaction that makes you and the other party smile. I was walking down a dirt track towards Yoli’s and an older couple in a golf cart (a popular mode of transport here) pulled up alongside me and asked if they could give me a lift. I told them that, thanks, it’s not necessary, cos I’m just going to Yoli’s, a few yards away. I told the guy I liked his accent (Texas) and he said the same about mine and asked where in England I was from. “Lincoln.” I explained in vague geographical terms where it was and dropped the tedious “joke” I always tend to tell Americans: we leant our name to one of your presidents. He laughed and said, well, being American, I guess we just stole it. We all laughed, said goodbye and wished each other a good day.

At Yoli’s, there was just one customer and a barman. They were chatting. As I walked up the steps, the customer shouted, “Liverpool!” referring to my LFC shirt. He was a Londoner, a Chelsea fan. Worked in computers. Moved around all over the world. One of those people who was kinda vague about his work and method of supporting his lifestyle. Nice bloke, though.

A huge silver-fronted black shelf of cloud was covering the peninsula as I left Yoli’s. Time for food. I walked back along the Sidewalk, and felt a drop of rain. A full ten seconds later, I was drenched. It was like the heavens was water cannoning me. I did what I could to protect my iPod and wallet from turning to mush, covering them with my hand inside my pocket. I nipped into Barefoot Bar to escape the rain. Had a beer and a moment or two later, the power went off. And it stayed off in the village for over an hour. At least that meant the shitty light inoffensive beach-y reggae was off, too.

It got dark, and I was sat there in my sunglasses, hoping it’d stop raining soon so I could go and put on my regular specs. There are few minor niggles I hate more than wearing my sunglasses when it gets dark. A soaked German guy came in and sat beside me. He asked what beer is good. I told him the choices are pretty limited. It’s Belikin or Belikin stout unless you wanna fork out for imported Heineken. He was a tour operated based in Berlin. He’d spent the last month going around Central America checking out places to bring German tourists next year. Seems like the best job in the world, that. He chugged his beer down, said goodbye and was soon replaced by an American drinking rum and Fanta.

Hungry, I went to a Chinese restaurant called Dragonfly Moon. There are lots of Chinese people in Belize, and lots of Chinese restaurants. To be honest, the Chinese food I’ve had in Belize before has been pretty ropey. Big plates of sodium. Dragonfly Moon was great, though. I ordered a cheap boring dish (chicken fried rice) not really wanting to spend a lot of money on crappy food, but it was delicious. No need to smother it in hot sauce or soy sauce. Fresh with loads of tasty vegetables.

Back at the hotel, my neighbours were watching telly. Loud telly. As often seems to be the case, the telly in the next room in any hotel seems to be showing some sort of car chase. But if Belizean telly is anything like Mexican telly, there is always one of the Fast and Furious films on one of the channels at any given time. In Mexico, it always seems to be the one set in Rio de Janeiro. I’ve seen that so many times, just because I can’t be arsed to search for anything else to watch. Earlier at the bar, the rum and Fanta dude was joined by a couple of women. They were chatting away about various things, and Vin Diesel came up. Both of the women agreed: they preferred The Rock.

Written by Craig

October 24th, 2014 at 9:29 am

Posted in Travel

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