The day started off with trouble with the hot water. First there wasn’t any, then it was way hot, then it was hot then cold then hot. I managed to jump in and out of the shower without injury and got reasonably clean.
Off to breakfast at 8:30 and it was quite good – scrambled eggs, watermelon and bananas, hot tea, and toast, The whole group sat down together to eat and discuss the day. Ana had found a driver to take us and we were to meet up at 9:30. I went back to the room and got all my stuff, and off to the adventure.
It was a van of sorts – cracked windshield, more than muddy floor, only one window worked – but it ran! Our first stops was to be the iguana project but the driver didn’t know where to go. We went way past the stop, had to ask directions, then turned around to head back about ten minutes. The project is located in a fancy hotel – apparently each big hotel has some sort of project to conserve the local resources. Nice3 place – way out of our league. But we were met by Bert (Umberto) the guide.
Our tour started near the swimming pool where we were introduced to a couple of small spiders. Then to a large enclosure with the iguanas. The first part was the breeding pen. There were a couple large males – “Mr. George” the biggest – and they bred with twenty to fifty females each season. The hatch rate is 74% compared to 4% in the wild. They transfer the young to a smaller pen so the adults don’t eat them.
The iguanas were quite friendly. We picked them up and stuck them on each other. Hans had ten on him at one point. The only one we had to be a bit careful with was Mr. George because he could whip or scratch if upset. Most of us had five or six on us at any one time. They liked the warmth and were quite difficult to get to let go. It was great fun. There was an even larger male sitting on top of the enclosure wanting to get in. It is breeding season.
Then we were off to the land of the little ones. About 20 to 30 small iguanas. They were just as friendly except for one who was brought in from the wind. He would whip his tail at you if you tried to pick him up. The others quite friendly. We could hold handfuls of the things with no problems.
When we were done we headed back to the van and drove off to the botanical gardens – another complex on a luxury hotel’s grounds. The trip was interesting. Past a huge field of soybeans on a paved road, the on to the approach road. It was washed out, muddy, and steep. At one point we were going up such a steep slope that the gas tank empty light came on. We chanted “I can do it” several times, but when the van stopped we stopped as well. We got going again and scraped bottom several times until we got to the gardens.
This one was less about preservation and more about introducing people to the great diversity of tropical plants. At the entrance was the Pimento Palm – the only palm found exclusively in Belize. Once inside the place was very muddy. We were introduced to several quite interesting trees, plants and flowers. One was called “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” When the flower first blooms it is dark purple, on the second day light purple, on the third day white. We couldn’t walk on most of the paths as it was too wet so through the grass we went.
They had constructed a typical Maya house with the interior as the original Maya would have had the place. Then off to the orchid house where there were quite a few I had never seen, including the Black Orchid, the state flower of Belize. Just outside was a big coffee bush. But no cocoa plants.
Back at the lodge the driver backed the van to a work area and we waited about ten minutes. He was buying some gas from them just in case there was the same issue with the hills as before. Although they were just as muddy and bumpy there were no issues and we got back to town by about 2:30.
We were dropped off at the local fruit and vegetable market – 15 to 20 stalls each selling pretty much the same thing. We bought a bunch of fruit, most of which we were not familiar with, and planned to have it for dinner. Very colorful place.
Just up the hill was Burns street where we headed for lunch. I ordered a bowl of Chicken Soup (Belize Soup) with rice and a beer. Food took 40 minutes to show up! We finally left a bit after four. I stopped in a bookstore and some other shops as the other folks headed back to the hotel. When I got back they were just getting ready to clean my room!
I went and chatted with one of the local slate artists about a calendar then back to the room to put stuff together. We eat at 7:00 tomorrow and have to be ready to leave at 7:45 for the trip to Tikal.
I realized that I had too much Belize money and might need a long sleeve shirt for the cool trip to come (up in the mountains) so I went downtown to look for a clothing store. I found one that had some really loud shirts with multi colors and fancy designs. Too much. Went to another and was taken to the back to look through the huge stock of shirts. As the guy kept pulling them out I noticed a statue of Genish in what was a Hindu shrine. Seems the Chinese and Indians are big players in the local town. Anyway, finally bought one for $35 Belize.
Wandered back to the hotel and now I have to pack for tomorrow.