Belize and Mexico Adventure 2016 – Orange Walk

Got up early with an upset stomach that seemed to last for three weeks. Thinking I got the drinking water mixed up with the river water. That was even more amusing since I travel with a LifeStraw, specifically to avoid stuff like that.

During the night, one of Carina’s dogs attacked the clothes line and we caught it running around the yard with parts of our underwear in his mouth. Had to wash everything out again. Didn’t matter since it was wetter than when we hung it.

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(Carina’s place outside San Ignacio)

Another side note… After a dozen years on the road and living in hotels, I have learned to pack and travel. We intentionally found clothes that were lightweight and could be washed and dried overnight. So, even though we were out for about 11 days, we only packed for 5 or 6 days. The system worked great except for the nights when the humidity, rain, or an easily-amused dog worked against us.

We accounted for the heat and humidity from tracking weather patterns for a year. What I didn’t consider was the intensity of the sun, thanks to being closer to the equator. My Geri has the benefit of Mexican/Indian blood and skin. She just turns brown. However, whatever my bloodline carries is determined to be as white as possible. I can sunburn under a flashlight.

Our old T-Mobile phones and hot spot did great through the country until we got here. No WIFI or phone service once we left downtown San Ignacio. For a guy who lives on the internet, it was like suffering withdrawals. Just know this, it’s possible, but not easy to survive without checking messages every 8 seconds.

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We hung out and talked with Carina and the kids for a long time. Helped the boys bring water up from the river. Talked about helping her sell the place. She doesn’t have the same access and experience with the internet, so I offered to let my readers and friends on the forums know about it. (Message me if you have any interest in the 110 acres with a nice house and guest cabanas, outside San Ignacio, that I mentioned in the last post.)

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(One of the guest cabanas)

She decided to drive us to Belmopan instead of San Ignacio. That saved us about an hour and a half of our lives. As we pulled up the bus to Belize City was about to leave. We walked in just in time to catch it, instead of waiting another hour.

Carina told the driver to make sure we made it to Orange Walk. Which he did. In fact, we as we arrived, the bus to Orange Walk was about to leave. We stepped off one bus and right over to the next one. Awesome. Another hour of life returned to us.

When we arrived in Orange Walk, I discovered that my ability to navigate was not as impressive as I had assumed. Even with my trusty map, which we discovered was out of date, I walked us about 5 blocks in the wrong direction.

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Once Geri realized that I didn’t actually know where we were, she walked up to some people sitting in front of their house and asked for directions. Rather than tell us, they offered us a ride. Not a practice I recommend in another country, but it turned out they knew where we were going and the family who runs it.

Alvaro, who offered us the ride, was a great guy. (And my wife is a genius.) He is also the vice principal of the local tech school and knows about the agricultural high school we wanted to visit.

I don’t think I have yet mentioned the school. When reading through forums, I ended up meeting George LeBard who wrote “A School For Others.” Another book worth reading if you want to know Belize. We wanted to see his house and the school while we were there.

We arrived much earlier at the Lamanai Riverside Retreat than expected, thanks to that rapid bus-hopping and gracious ride, and our room wasn’t ready. Went ahead and ordered some lunch at their bar while we waited and they figured out our reservation. We found out we were only their second booking through Airbnb. If you visit, make sure you spend time with the family. Good folks.

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I had nachos, Geri had fajitas. Lunch was good and they just started us a tab, since we were staying a few days. Which helped, because we had completely lost track of daily expenses. $4 for water, $10 for bus fare…

The room was one of three connected cabanas. Not a five-star resort by any stretch of the imagination. The bed did not like me. The shower had no hot water. But, the property is gorgeous. Right on the river with an open deck, a nice restaurant, and bar.

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(Typical plumbing in Belize)

We probably should have done more exploring of the area, but we were pretty tired from the last few days. Orange Walk is an amazing area with a rich cultural heritage. The tour boats even pull right up to the front of the retreat. They will take you out to hike the ruins with a tour guide.

The other minor issue keeping us from doing much here was the weather. Hurricane Earl was coming to visit.

It started as a tropical storm, but built up speed for days before reaching Belize. We were again glad we made the decision to end in Mexico, instead of our original route heading south. We would have been in Belize City tomorrow. (Will get into those details soon.)

The wind progressively increased during the night. The storm was still a long was off, but we were already feeling it.

M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.