Friday, May 31, 2013

Bill makes a fair and valid point

I've been slacking.   Slacking and sweating.  Well ... sweating, mostly, but ... here's some pics -- tail end of Tela, Honduras .... Puerto Cortes, Honduras ... and ... Placencia Village, Belize.

Again: sadly, I've been pretty conservative about where to just wander around, looking like a tourist, and carrying a rather conspicuous camera, and it's just been way too bloody hot to wear my day pack around, so ... what we have here is just a "snapshot," so to speak ;-)

Watchin' the ships roll in ....  Tela, Honduras ... where there really isn't a dock, much less a cargo dock.

East of Tela, along one of my epic walks.  Guess THIS guy won't be caught looking when the next hurricane comes.

Insert "Little Piggie" joke, here.

Unmarked, unnamed, no-sign lagoon, between Tela and El Triunfo de la Cruz.  Odd, but pretty !

Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Can you believe this guy beat me in an air guitar improv contest ??

Puerto Cortes.  Over 50% of Honduras import-export trade moves through this port (yeah: logistics !)

No flames.  No obvious sewage.  Probably not a cruise ship ;-)

Or you can buy a Coach Class ticket ....

My little runabout for the Puerto Cortes > Placencia, Belize jaunt.  Three (count 'em -- three) outboard motors !

The Sea can be a cruel mistress.

Yeah.  There was beach and beach goers, too

Probably swimming, but I like to think they survived a shipwreck, and were just getting to shore.

????  I kind of liked it, though !

'bout 30 of these in a BIG pen/cage.  Placencia Village, Belize

It's one of those Jimmy Buffett-type Caribbean destinations for the cruising set.

Some of whom ALSO stay in budget accommodations, incidentally.

Airstream spotting !!!

And a classic Winnebago !

The local woodworker.  Nice guy.  Says eternal vigilance is needed to keep the tools from rusting.  I'll bet.

Jet.  Words and music by Paul McCartney.

It's like the stuff grows on TREES, down here !  I really don't know what species any of it is, but ... there it all is !
Thank you, Mr. Richardson, for keeping me honest and on task :-)

Tomorrow, I fly from Placencia to Belize City.  I'll stay there about four days, and then water taxi over to Caye Caulker, staying there for 4-5 days.

But the tropical heat is beating me senseless, so ... if I can't find a way to be in a place where this heat isn't .... I'll be scrounging desperately for a plan -- where are we, now -- R ???

Ciao for now ... from the deeply tanned (so much so that my teeth look dazzlingly white !) nether-regions of ... The Gulag.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Placencia, Belize

Is where I am.

And it's beautiful.


It was an uneventful, nearly 3hr, ferry ride from Puerto Cortes -- a nice, but not particularly interesting port city -- to Placencia.

The room is 91* and 80% humidity.  Yeah.  Hot :-)  Got a big ol' fan, and it's blasting.  If I had any hair (I keep it really short, while traveling in the Tropics), it'd be all kinds of mussed up :-)

And/but ... I've been battling a sinus infection since leaving Tela, Honduras.

If it doesn't relent by Friday, I'll either see Dr. Alex (Placencia's one and only doctor) or just mosey into the one and only pharmacy, and see if I can just get the antibiotic that I know I need.

A couple of weeks of sinus/bronchitis, in Guatemala, in April.  Ending off may with a sinus infection. Pretty much right on schedule, when you have a Primary Immune Deficiency.

Can't dive or snorkel with glasses.  Can't dive with my prescription swim goggles.  Can't really snorkel with them, either, so ... I may splash around a bit in the Caribbean -- about 30 steps from my door.  Been walking in the waves a bit, mostly to cool off.

Meanwhile, I've still been walking a few hours a day.  Today's walk had me surrounded by what looked like blue crabs (but were, in any case, crabs).  Menacing looking little buggers :-)

There are also lots of pet parrots, and a pet African Gray at private homes, and a few of the hotels, so ... I haven't been lacking in company.  I speak bird, and the whistled theme song from "Andy Griffith" is always an aviary crowd pleaser.

Eating well, though not very much.  Last night was a fabulous dinner at the Secret Garden.  The food (wonderful salad, shrimp linguine) was good enough that I didn't want the ride to end, and ordered one of those "Death by Chocolate" type desserts.

Which was equally good.

Sleeping okay.

Drinking tons of fluids.  Laying low for a few hours in the afternoon, to rest and cool off.

Using Sudafed, Afrin, and aspirin to keep the congestion at bay, and the fever down.

Flying (on a puddle jumper that will probably only be 500' over the land) to Dangriga, on Saturday.  Dangriga doesn't look particularly interesting, but ... you never know.

I AM a SCUBA diver, though I can't really dive, now.  Belize is largely a dive destination.  The fun is off the Cayes and islands, near the reefs, and the resorts/trips are ridiculously pricey -- okay if that's what you're doing, and your vacation is only two weeks, but ... not in budget for this ol' backpacker


I met a Spanish-only speaking (most Belizeans speak English, too) woodworker, as I stopped to take pics of his shop.  He tells me that -- in the humidity of the Caribbean -- the battle against rusting tools is never-ending.  On a positive note, though, the power rarely goes out.

I'm torn about the rest of my agenda in Belize.  Largely, it's because I'm not feeling well, but I've considered making a beeline to Belize City, and catching a flight out of the country.  I'm not into the "Never see one" Jaguar tours (also very pricey) or the "Never see one" Manatee tours, or the Zip-line thing, so ... much of the eco-tourism stuff that might BE affordable ... just doesn't hold much appeal.

May go to Caye Caulker, though.  It's just a chill little place to hang out for a week.  You take a water taxi from Belize City to get there.  May be a nice way to end off this country.

Interestingly, the Placencia Peninsula has very drinkable water, piped in from an Artesian Well -- the happy accident of somebody allegedly trying to drill for oil.  The water is quite good.  I just have to NOT get in the HABIT of drinking tap water, or brushing my teeth with it.  After Placencia ... I'll be back in Parasite City.

So that's the update.  There are some pics of this and that.  I'll get to them ... you know ... when I get to them :-)

Ciao for now, then, from the Tropically Parboiled Offices of ... The Gulag.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm finally getting traction

Okay.  I'll admit it.  I've been a little miffed.

My arms, my feet, my face, and my neck are REALLY tan.  But the locals still look at me and somehow know I'm not one of them.

It's a puzzler.

Not today, though.

This morning, I got up early, showered rather quickly, and then -- determined to beat the heat (not possible during the daytime, incidentally) headed out.  On the road by 7am.

Nope.  No camera.  Aforementioned reasons.  It can scream "Wealthy Gringo !!!" to the wrong crowd -- the "wrong crowd" being my intended audience, of course :-)

Decided I'd go West, largely ON the beach, but entirely along the beach, wandering through the back roads/alleys, seeing how the less affluent locals live, and trying to revive the spirit of my (not so) long lost blister.

Maybe an hour and a half West, I wound up in Garifuna territory.  Very quickly, the ladies started hissing (a good thing), whistling, and shouting things like "Hola, Guapo !" (Hey, Handsome !).

I belonged.  My tan was paying off !!!

Oddly, though, I was wearing long sleeves.  Granted, it's a black shirt, so maybe that made the difference, but ... long sleeves, nonetheless.

The Garifuna communities look strikingly like other small villages -- little convenience stores, bicycle repair places, butcher shops, and people just hanging out.  Only the people look different, and -- as a city boy myself -- they really don't look different to me.  They simply ARE different than their neighbors to the East.

But they're poor.  Tijuana, corrugated tin-hut poor.  The beaches near their towns are dotted with what must be vacation homes for wealthy Hondurans -- replete with all kinds of security, and roll-down metal shutters.  Oh, yeah.  Those folks own the beach.  The Garifuna get to be about 100 yards away.

But there were no magnificent handicrafts stores or endearing ceremonial dances going on (that's just not how most people live, day-to-day).

Just people ... going about their business.

And any time I greeted them, they gave me big smiles.  The only thing to worry about in this area would have been the water :-)

Eventually, I headed South from the beach communities, and wound up in Tornabe -- another Garifuna community.  I stopped at a stand to buy water (in smaller communities, it's sold in 1/4 liter bags, and not bottles).  The lady asked me where I was going.

I told her Tela.

She asked me if I wanted her to call a cab.  When I told her I was out for a walk, she cried, "Oh, Dios Mio !" (Oh, my God !).  In this heat ?  With this sun ???

I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd already walked there (wherever we were) from Tela.

The walk back was road -- a painfully long, flat, dead-nothing (but a good sized coconut grove on both sides of the street) road.  Hard to mark distance.  You just ... keep going.

And sweating.  It needs to be said.

The walk ended in right about six hours.  My Teva whatever-model-they-are sandals acquitted themselves quite well, though ... my feet are sore.

I climbed the -- what -- seven flights of stairs from the street to the restaurant at my hotel, and immediately ordered big: a shrimp salad, a side of fries, and coffee.

The kindly waitress advised me that fries were unnecessary, as the salad comes with a basket of bread.

We've been here before ;-)

"YeahhhhhhBut ... I really need the french fries."

And there was that look again: "Oh, you're THAT kind of idiot."

Yes.  That would be me.  Have we met ??

It was nothing but a blur of forks and teeth.  I've seen piranha take down a carcass, so I know of what I speak when I say ... they had nothing on me, today :-)

But I hadn't eaten since last night's dinner at (Spanish for) The Northern Lights ... which was also just excellent, and was also shrimp.  I might like shrimp :-)

I'm going to have to shower again.

The black, long-sleeve shirt is that weird polypropylene-ish stuff, and wicks sweat really well.  It's dry, already.  But I have road grime on me, and -- while it went over well in the Garifuna villages -- they're looking at me funny, back in town.

So ... it's rest time ... in the well-walked, well-fed, well-traveled, finally-appreciated-for-what-I-currently-am depths of ... The Gulag.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pics from La Ceiba and Tela

Leftover Trujillo furniture maker shop shot

Leftover Trujillo new/future cruise ship terminal shots (2)

La Ceiba - Hotel rooftop views

La Ceiba - the rooftop terrace restaurant

Tela - dining terrace views

Pool @ La Ensenada Resort

Beach @ La Ensenada

View of MY hotel (Vista Maya) from La Ensenada dock

View from Vista Maya mirador (lookout)

Unintentional cleavage shot ... from the mirador