Route Map<br>(Click to enlarge)
Route Map
(Click to enlarge)
Belize and Guatemala
Feb 6, 2000 to Feb 8, 2000 - Back to Belize (City), Dangriga, Mexico
By: George Bovard (george@dotGeorge.com)
The five of us with Blanco at the
tourism office of the hotel. (L to R)
Jim, Mark, Steve, Jefe, and myself
(click for larger image)

Feb 6 - Sunday : Got up with the sun (6:15) at the posh Biltmore Best Western of Belize City.  Had coffee on the deck and a chance to catch up on my notes while most of the others slept in.  Then we all took turns eating breakfast while others used the Internet connection at the tourism office in the lobby.   We used the timer to take a group photo with the attendant, Blanco, explaining to her that we wanted to get more photos people and needed a Belizean.  She explained that she was half Guatemalan, half Chinese.  Oh well.
It seems strange to see everything
written in English again

(click for larger image)
Checking our schedule we decide we can spend another day in Belize.  We don't really like Belize City so we decide to try to get away from it and find a beach and a place to camp.  The next  town of any size to the South is Dangriga - population 10,000.  The road heads inland first, toward the Caya district and the Trek Stop before we can catch the "coastal" road and head back to the beach.  Its mostly dirt with a little gravel and passes through a mix of jungle, open areas, and hills.
The road to Dangriga
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There are Jaguars here, called  Tigers.  We don't see any.  Getting to Dangriga we realize it is not a tourist town.  The nicest place is the Pelican Inn at the edge of town.  It must be a leftover from the colonial days.  Very British.  Uniformed black servants are pruning the yards and raking the beaches.  There is a bar and we have a beer sitting in large deck chairs on the porch, but today is overcast and there are no "beach activities" to be seen. 
Plican Inn - Belize
View from the Pelican Inn porch.
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Double rooms run $78 to $92 US and we decide to look elsewhere.  I still want to camp. The airport is right behind the Pelican Inn and Tropic Air runs a couple of flights a day with their single engine turbo prop. The bar next door says we can camp in their yard (nearly on the beach) for free, but its a little dirty and a little busy. Meanwhile, Jim has asked a cop and its OK to camp in the city park, but again there are just too many people milling about. Steve and Jefe have gone to check the military compound we passed on the way in. We had seen some American Hum-vees and Duece-and-a-halfs on the road down. They find out that the US Army is there to build schools as a good-will project. When asked the town folk and they like having them here, not for the schools but because they spend a little money in town.
Chaleanor Hotel - Dangriga
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Jim and I check out the Chaleanor Hotel. Its built of concrete and its clean. There are three stories and a deck on top. I want to camp on the roof, but the owner (Chadwick) is concerned about the lack of rest rooms. The rooms are nice with private baths for 50 to 60 Belizean dollars (25 to 30 US). Mark and Jim want a room and Chad will let the rest of us camp in the yard of the "economy" rooms (with outside bathrooms) next door for $5 Belize. He also has a locked backyard to put the bikes in. This has to be the best deal in town.
Chadwick - Chaleanor lobby
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We drop our laundry off at Val's after an inexpensive lunch of "real" Belizean food - Coconut rice & beans, potato salad, and some kind of stewed beef or chicken. Very tasty. Its always interesting to eat where the locals eat. While we are eating someone has washed our car and now wants $15 Belize for it. Oh well, it needed it. For dinner we decide to splurge and head back to the Pelican for a proper meal. $33 Belize for your choice of garlic or mustard shrimp and a couple of Belicans. Belicans is the only beer of Belize and its pretty good. Light or dark. We finished up with Passion fruit ice cream and bread pudding.
Belizean school kids
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Feb 7 - Monday : Dangriga - Up early for a cold shower and hot coffee. I'm going to try to take more photos of people starting now. Hotel owner Chadwick Poses for us. He's a very nice, soft spoken man. He's very proud of his establishment and you can tell he puts a lot of work into it. He recommends the longer, paved road back that passes through the capital, Belmopan. Its a much faster road passing through more jungle. We pass lots of kids walking to school or waiting for the bus. It seems strange to be driving so fast with young kids sanding so close to the highway. The country people appear to be more Indian while the towns folk were largely black or a black mix (Garifumi?). We stop to take a photo of three kids after asking permission and we give them each a belizean buck. Each school must have its own uniform. The kids clothing was usually clean and pressed.
Cemetery - Belize City
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Nearer Belize City we pass a lot of signs written in Chinese. We also passed through an Amish colony. It was very strange to see bearded whites working the fields. This place is just like Ohio. From the West you enter Belize City by passing right through the Cemetery. The road even divides around an "island" of graves. We stopped at the Biltmore Best Western for lunch and to use the Internet again.
Hotel - Escarcega
Hotel courtyard - Escarcega
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Crossing the Mexican border is no trouble and we retrieved our car title back. It took the boys a little longer because Steve is arguing to get his Mexican tourist card back without re-paying the $19.50US. The customs people never should have taken the tourist cards in the first place when you are re-entering. They never took Mark's or mine. That's the problem with border crossings. Every time its different. Jim, Steve, and Jefe eventually get their "gratis" tourist cards, though Steve is feeling a little remorseful for being the "ugly American". We book for Escarcega and get there just before sunset. its been a long day with at least 350 miles covered.
      Tree - Escarcega
One of many tree sculptures - Escarcega
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The guys on the bikes are beat. We settle into a nice, safe hotel with a locked courtyard, TV, and hot showers (in one of the rooms. Only 165 Pesos for a double 195 for a triple. Time for phone calls all around (Belize was too expensive). We shop for bandages for Mark heading over to The Titanic for steak smothered in mushrooms.
      Jafco
El Jefe (Jeff)
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Feb 8 - Tuesday : The hotel has a small coffee shop / snack bar where we grab rolls and coffee before hitting the road at 8:15. The only car left in hotel lot is VW Jetta driven by an American couple we had passed on the road yesterday and seen at The Titanic. There is a tour book on the dash for "Belize, Guatemala, and the Yucatan peninsula".
      Juan
Juan and Suzuki - Villahermosa
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Escarcega to Villahermosa is about 200 miles and we are there by noon. We stop at the Suzuki shop first and Juan is not quite done with my bike. We grab lunch at a mediocre barbacoa (BBQ) down the street while he wraps it up. Steve and Jeff got a roast chicken at the place next door that looked better. I never quite figured out what Juan did, but he had the top end off. I think I'm lucky it was done. I know I'm luck it only cost 390 pesos ($39 US). There is no charge for storing the two bikes for a week. I gave Juan a hundred peso tip for taking such good care of the bikes. This time there is room at the Hotel Plaza Independencia so we start shuttling bikes to the locked storage there. We hit the Internet cafe before heading back to the hotel for margaritas y cervesas. Jim and Mark decide to eat in while Steve, Jefe and I walk down to the Choco for another Filet with mushroom gravy. Afterward we hailed a cab for the cabaret. The cabby wants to know if we "quiere damas llamas su hotel?" ... No! Kind of a wierd place catering to the locals. No tourists here. At first we get a little playful heckling from a rowdy bunch of Mexicans, but the lounge singer (who looks a lot like a Mexican Dave Bradley) broke it up. Steve and Jefe fall in love with a couple of dancers (Nora and Alejandra) while we spent way too much money (especially Jefe). Holy Sh!t, batman - our bill comes to 1200 pesos! (120 bucks U.S.) The place closes at 2:00am & surprisingly there was no angry crowd waiting to lynch us. Thirty pesos got us a rapido cab ride home. On the way back Jefe realizes he has the key to the room he is sharing with Jim (oops). Mark still is not feeling well and has decided to fly home. It's the internal injuries, not the knee, that kept him from riding home. Bummer! Now we have to figure out how to get his bike and luggage shipped home and close out the temporary import paperwork at the border.

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