Into The Jungle
Thursday, February 8
Belize Day 9/10
Cycled 28km and 11km
Hopkins to Cockscomb
Cockscomb to Maya Centre
Once again, at the crack of 10:00am I mounted the old mule and set out into the unknown jungle regions of Belize ...well, unknown to me. Slow going on the dirt road. Sittee River was a really charming quiet little place. Kinda reminds me of some country lane back home, with a sauna added for good effect.
Road out of Hopkins to Sittee River.
I paused at Maya Centre to reflect on my desire to cycle the 11km up the bumpy dirt road to the Jaguar Reserve, while having a nice and healthy Coke at the Women's Craft Store. Not being one to whimp out I rode up in the sweltering heat and got there in an hour. Plenty of time to set up the tent underneath a palapa in a jungle clearing. I once again ran into the New York family as well as the woman with whom I had shared the cab from the airport into Belize City. Up I hiked into the jungle with the NY family, past a refreshing looking creek. The NY family and I parted ways and I continued all the way up to a viewpoint. The vista was amazing, covering the entire Cockscomb Basin with Vitoria Peak, Belize's 2nd highest mountain, looming in the distance. The peak was nice and breezy, a welcome relief from the moist jungle heat. I almost felt like back home, with all the pine trees surrounding me. A true moment of peaceful solitude which I savoured until I felt that darkness would engulf me if I didn't get my rear in gear. That night I listened to the fierce "roar" of the howler monkeys while making dinner and fell asleep to the sounds of numerous jungle creatures in the bushes. A veritable lullaby of nature's best symphony orchestra.
On a Jungle Walk.
Word had spread that a group of 30 students was coming to camp up here. The rain had been coming down all day and I had already done another nature walk this morning. Enough birds for a while and on to something else. It was time to head on back down for something a bit quieter. So I saddled up the old girl and off I rode back down the bumpy road losing my panniers every now and then. Gotta get rid of those cheap made in China front panniers for good. On the way down I met the chartered bus with the 30 students on their way up. The driver simply grinned fiendishly at me as I patiently waited with the snakes and scorpions in the bushes as he squeezed by.
Back in Maya Centre I stayed with the local Maya herbalist, Aurora. A Maya woman who took on a role that has traditionally been done by men. Way to go sis! She had some basic bunk rooms for US$10/night and a decent dinner and breakfast. We joked with Aurora about silly tourists who scream because of a spider in the shower. She told us about how her village didn't know anything about tourism until lately and how she and her sister used to be afraid and how they'd run away from those strange looking white people who started showing up when they were teenagers. Upon returning to my room I spotted a hairy black thing on the wall. Approximately 5 inches long and 3 inches wide with legs outstretched. It was clinging to the wall just above my open panniers. I carefully moved all my belongings into another corner, opened the door, grabbed my brand new Chinese bike pump and shooed the tarantula out into the grass while the local dogs looked on with a bored expression on their faces. All in a day's work for a Scrabblebiker ...pass the rum please ...eek! spider!