Monday, March 27, 2000

Slowly we left Gales Point, waving to everyone until we were flagged down by a man at the side of the road. We thought he was looking for a lift but he told us that a young pregnant woman had fallen down the stairs and hurt her shoulder.

"Mother Susan" leaped into action and before I knew it, she had Doris settled comfortably with an ice pack from our first aid kit on her shoulder, and myself heading back to the Lodge to find someone in a bigger car to take her to hospital. Karen, the manager of the hotel was already planning to go into Dangriga and immediately got into her car and followed me back to the accident scene.

"Doris," Karen said, "I know you didn't like the schedule, but this is a bit much!" That elicited a very pained smile from Doris, who works at the Lodge.

Feeling comfortable that the situation was under control, we finally got on the very bumpy trail.

(Doris and the baby are fine after first the Dangriga hospital and then the following day to Belize City for more care.

Belize has speed bumps on the roads before and after each village and around the schools. Although some are signed, quite often the distance noted doesn't correspond to the actual distance so we often had some nasty surprises! We ended up with several types of bumps in our vocabulary. "hold on!" "oh shit!" and "Whoa! Are you OK?" as we got launched over some of them!

Of course the dirt roads were their own hazard and I became quite efficient at skirting some of the worst holes and bumps, although there were times that we were sideways!

Instead of going south immediately, we decided to head up to the Western District and San Ignacio that we had heard was very beautiful. We wound along the road up into the hills, with the vegetation changing to more scrubby jungle and vast areas that have been cleared for cattle ranches. We passed several sawmills and a big agricultural college. Small towns and villages dotted the landscape. At times we ran alongside the Mopan River and we decided, by looking in our guidebooks that we could stay in San Ignacio.

Well, we found that we had missed San Ignacio, it was a lot smaller "in person" than it looked on the map and we ended up at the Guatemala border! That was not very nice-looking at all and we immediately turned and headed back the way we had come!

Missing San Ignacio was a godsend as we ended up at Clarissa Falls, a wonderful place on the Mopan River. The hotel is set on a Mayan mound and is run by a Mayan family that owns the surrounding farmlands. Our room was a bamboo sided, thatched cottage with plenty of water and a very noisy fan.


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