The ADO bus as mentioned in my earlier blog (read about it here) dropped us off in Orange Walk Town, Belize. At 6 am the sun was out and already very warm. Our friend from Cozumel, Dave – previously I blogged about the artwork on his house, (read about it here) – connected us with his friends in Belize. Raul collected us from the bus terminal that is merely an open piece of land with a shelter and seats.
It is not possible to overlook or to avoid noticing the decay and bad state that the town is in. We hoped that this was just perhaps this town, but sadly we were informed and later found out that this is the state of the country.
But arriving at the Lamanai Riverside Retreat, owned by Raul, we were pleasantly surprised at the peace and tranquility it offered. Resting on the side of the New River the only noise was from birds and insects. It is walking distance from town, has running water and electricity, so it’s not as though you are stuck in the middle of no-where without necessities.
The resort has three rustic cabins with only the basics; a bed, chair, table, TV, shower, and toilet but very clean. It’s all you need. The main building is the restaurant, bar, and office. Along the river are tables and chairs under palapas.
On the downside of this potentially fabulous place was that not once were we offered a meal at either breakfast or dinner. Instead, we were informed that this town sells the best Tacos. With the amount of tables and chairs available in the restaurant, it gives the impression that meals are served here all the time. The hosts cook for their family that also lives there and since we were the only guests it would hardly break a pot to add a meal for two extra people; that we would obviously be glad to pay for. If you don’t ask for a cup of coffee, you won’t get it. We had to go to a supermarket or rather a general dealer, and buy something to eat for ourselves. The town has little to offer other than Tacos or beans and rice and is very expensive.
The town square is a park surrounded by little stores selling the same things and mostly owned by the Chinese. Bottle stores are a dime a dozen and always open therefore seeing a drunk person straggling in the streets at 8 am is common and sad.
The roads and buildings show great decay and collapse; it is obvious the unemployment rate is very high and this was confirmed to us by several people. If it were not for the Mennonite’s that supply 60% of the agriculture in Belize, they would be in an even worse state of affairs.
After two days in Orange Walk Town, we got on a “Chicken Bus” and headed to Belize City. The bus stops for anyone and everyone; sometimes that can only be twenty meters apart. At one time the bus driver drove past an elderly gentleman; the driver stopped reversed a few meters until the gentleman was a step away from getting on the bus. The supposed maximum passengers are 58 and yet by the time we reached Belize City it was close to eighty, thank goodness the windows were all open, and a good breeze blew through the bus. A wonderful thing to see is all the official bus stops that have inspirational messages on them, a pity more countries don’t do this. A trip that should only take at least an hour took two hours due to all the stopping and starting, but it was still fun, safe and enjoyable.