Into Punta Gorda

Monday, February 12
Tuesday, February 13
Day 17/18
Belize Day 14/15

Cycled 30km
Big Falls to Punta Gorda

For the first time I was actually awake and ready to go at an early hour. I had simply wheeled the bike into the room, adjusted my annoyingly grinding gears, reloaded the bike the night before and I was ready to go with about 15 minutes notice. I set off up the steepest hill yet at 6:15am hoping to make it into Punta Gorda before 9:00am. As it turns out, that hill was the only really bad one along the way. More friendly villagers cheered me on and giggled at the site of this overloaded tourist coming through.

Punta Gorda, locally known as PG, has a pleasing, relaxed and sleepy feel to it. It didn´t take long to find a guest house for US$11.50/night, complete with complimentary cucaracha and ant colony. Come to think of it, the ant colony was probably imported by me in my food pannier.

The hot and lazy day lent itself very well to just bumming around town. Within an hour or so I ran into Stu, whom I´d met in Plancecia. We basically spent the evening drinking and playing cards. I also ran into two expats living in Livingston, Guatemala. We had drinks and dinner at a Rasta place called Earth Runnings, where I met Leelaa Vernon´s brother. It turns out that Leelaa lives right in PG. I split when the spliffs came out. Not my cuppa tea.

Nature´s Way Guest House.

The next day, 2 Immodiums later and holding my aching stomach, Stu and I took the US$1 bus west and decided to walk and hitch hike into Lubaantun, some Maya ruins. We walked in the searing heat looking overhead for telltale vultures. They hadn´t spotted the yummy gringo morsels yet. I stuck my thumb out towards the first passing vehicle and was given a strange hand signal. No, it did not involve a middle finger. I later found out that the signal meant "where are you going?". The second vehicle stopped. I think it might have had something to do with me standing in the middle of the dirt road and making the "praying" please sign with my hands. We rode in the luggage area of some huge air conditioned Expedition driven by 6 tourists from Seattle. They took us right into Lubaantun after getting lost and going straight back where we first came from.

James Bus Line.

We were the only visitors at the ruins. No diesel belching tour buses, no cruise ship passengers, no package tourists ...just perfect. The 6 others simply vanished somewhere and we were just walking and sitting, taking in the amazing energy of the place. Walking amongst the ruins was simply awe inspiring. To think that there was a large advanced society living here more than 1200 years ago. It´s simply mind boggling that all this seems to have been built by hand. Lubaantun is a rather small site and I'm looking forward to seeing the likes of Tikal and Caracol.

On the way back out the Maya women were selling locally made crafts at seriously ridiculous prices. I did end up buying a change purse. We hoofed it back out to the¨main "road" and walked back to San Pedro Columbia Village. By now word had spread amongst the avian population. Two silly and seriously sweating gringos were coming down the road. The vultures kept us company for a while. A local villager rode by on his bicycle carrying an ancient looking rifle. I´m sure he only uses it for vultures. The horrified shriek of terrorized tourist in the background was probably just in my head ...grin. The villagers were once again exceedingly friendly and we found a hardware store selling water in this village of 900 people. We ignored the old drunk staggering up the road and started hoofing it back to the highway in the even worse heat. Man! we were both looking forward to that cold Belikin at the little Tiki Bar at the highway junction. 45 minutes later the same tourists picked us up again and offered to take us the the next ruins. We politely declined, preferring the company of the cold Belikins.

Church in San Pedro Columbia.

On the bus back into town I ran into a couple I had met on my 3rd day in Belize. There was also a family I admired immensely. They´re from Bend, Oregon. In their forties, with two adopted children in tow, one cutie from Guatemala and one from Korea. And they were backpacking through Guatemala and Belize. I´m always heartened when I see those who don´t just become sedentary as they get along in life.

My energy has been low for the last few days and I was off the bed early while listening to my ipod for something different.


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