Monday, March 27, 2000

Our first full day we drove down to Dangriga. As we turned onto the main dirt road we saw someone walking and I recognized her as the one who had been at Gentles the night before, so we gave her a lift to town. She was going to walk until either the bus picked her up or she got a ride.

Cynthia told us she has five kids and that her husband is a cop but that he works in Orange Walk now so she doesn't see him much. When we arrived at her house, she was all excited because he cousin, who was watching the kids while she was gone had done all the laundry!

It's a messy little town that didn't impress us. Drove around a bit, bought some flip flops that gave me a blister and ended up at the end of a road at the Malibu Club.

We find the best places at the end of roads!

We walked into the club that is set right on the beach. The main part of the building is round and thatched with palm leaves and two pool tables take up some of the space. Far across the other side two men were sitting at the bar. Brothers, they said, Austin and Charlie.

Welcome to paradise is how we were greeted. Charlie quit his job at Xerox after 25 years to return home and Austin had survived 3 years in the states before coming home. Interesting men who invited us out to his island. But we decided against it for the moment as they were pretty far into a bottle of brandy and milk! Interesting drink.

But the thing that interested me was the fact that there is aquaculture in Belize. They are shrimp farming and someone is thinking of oyster farming but that has to be done in perfectly clear water. These guys had an English mother and Creole father and after some thought, Austin said he sort of remembered that they had a cousin in Gales Point. Johnny, and be sure to say hi to him. OK.

The same bumpy, dusty road getting back and a bit of surprise - no water - a big bucket of fresh water delivered to the bathroom for sponge baths.

Oh well, certainly not a five star hotel! But I wouldn't have it any other way.
That night it was a cabbage-type soup, and the most amazing pudding - sweet potatoes and stuff that was smoked - I think it had a nutmeg flavor too. But it was certainly different and Susan said it stayed with her all night.

As the time rolled by the sparsely furnished, basic accommodations sort of melted into the background as we were drawn into the village life. We were accepted into their lives with no expectations. The family treated us as family and we did the same. There was nothing contrived about it, it was all so natural.

The following day the boys took us manatee watching. We climbed into their old canoe and young Leon fired up the outboard and we went slowly down the lagoon.

But we had a stop to make on the way - Cisco had run ahead of us down to the Lodge and was
throwing his fishing net off the pier for bait. John, who had first taken us to the Perez house, gave him a hard time about catching tarpon. You take a hook, put some bait on it and that's what you do! Another young man came to watch, and leaned on his upturned rake, also giving advice. No hurries, no worries.

Bait in bucket, all aboard and off we went, out to the manatee hole that is staked with a couple of poles. The hole is actually an underwater fresh water spring and the manatees hang out and live there. The water in the lagoon is fairly murky so the only way we would spot them is if they spouted or we saw the transmitters that are attached to their tails for tracking - two little orange baubles floating around. The manatees are being tracked by VHF radio and satellite, as more information is needed on the behaviors so that they can be protected. Currently five have been tagged and they pretty much all stay within the lagoon although apparently there is one who will go out to sea for the day and then come back at night.


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