Our Rental Vehicle Route
This map shows where we went in Belize during our 3-days of rental driving. After taking a taxi from Belize City to the International airport at Ladyville, we picked up our Honda Passport SUV at about noon. We initially struck out north toward Crooked Tree but soon branched off to the west, as we headed for the wild Black Howler Monkeys in their Community Baboon Sanctuary along the Belize River at Bermudian Landing. We then doubled back to the main highway (a good one) and continued south to Hattieville, where we turned onto the Western Highway toward Belmopan.
However, we soon pulled up short at La Democracia, near which the Belize Zoo is located in the forests of the countryside. We had two amazing tours of the Zoo, thanks to overnight accommodations located just a mile or so away. The next day, we were off heading west again, with a first stop at the impressive Guanacaste National Park, located just outside Belmopan where the Hummingbird Highway meets the Western Highway. A lunch time stop-over in Belmopan found us trying, unsuccessfully, to find accommodations in Hopkins, but we went ahead anyway - barrelling down the beautiful Hummingbird toward the coast.
Luck was with us, as we bypassed Dangriga, and were successful in finding some scenic beachside huts in Hopkins once we turned up in person. Two nights there, with a day-trip to Dangriga thrown in, and we then back-tracked on this route (with only a short stop in Belmopan) in order to have the rental back in Ladyville by noon. It was a fun trip on excellent roads!
Telephone Calling Card
Since I don't bother with owning a cellular phone, I find that it is always handy to have a local phone card to avoid the hassles of having the correct change on hand should you need to make a call for some reason. Not knowing how often we would use the card, while on Caye Caulker, I bought the lowest denomination possible (BZ$5 or US$2.50) and, in the end, we actually used it up and bought another one which ended being half-used. They are the typical scratch the back strip and use the PIN on the card in conjunction with an '800' number. The cards can be purchased at various convenient places anywhere in Belize and, since the whole country is in the same area code, there are no long distance charges. This was very useful the morning we left Ambergris Cay because I used it to phone from there looking for accommodations at the Belize Zoo for that evening and on another day made calls from Belmopan to Hopkins for the same reason.
BENQUE VIEJO del CARMEN...
BENQUE VIEJO del CARMEN http://www.belizenownetwork.com/Maps/CayoD/delCarmen/content1.htm Green parrots squawked in a neighbor's tree by the landing. I thought the closest one was a pet tied to a perch but not so. He was wild and lively.
The big church in town is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church http://www.solt3.org/solt/belize.htm but many smaller churches are fundamentalist.
As darkness fell, we walked the streets stopping at the supermarket run by Asians. Art bought candy to give out to local kids.
Art was like Pied Piper to kids with his candy. Joan and I photographed the kids. When I showed them their digital pictures they laughed excitedly and called other kids over.
Orange Tree Harvest
After travelling just over half-way along the Hummingbird Highway toward the east coast, it became evident that this Stann Creek District part of the country was home to numerous large citrus groves. Along both sides of the highway, orange (mostly) and grapefruit trees stretched off on both sides of the highway, partially climbing the slopes of the nearby Maya Mountains.
We saw many large truck loads of fruit trundling down the highway to the two juice concentrator plants that are located in this part of Belize. It turns out that this industry was introduced to the country in 1926 and has grown significantly since then. Although the production (80% oranges and 20% grapefruit) is small in terms of world output, these locally owned and managed groves and concentrators provide a major source of income for the country, worth about US$50 million.
Every so often along the highway, you will pass large ramps where the oranges are deposited before they are then loaded onto the trailers that drive up beside them. The strange thing about the orange juice is that so much of it is transformed into frozen concentrate for export, we had very little in the way of fresh orange juice served to us in our entire 3 weeks in Belize!
The smaller the better for ease in traveling. Teva's, tennis shoes, hiking boats, rain gear, nylon or easily dried clothes. Humidity is high and cotton takes days to dry. Mopan River Resort will do a large mesh bag of laundry the same day for US $10.--a real bargain. REI Jungle Juice or DEET containing bug repellant. Not many mosquitoes at the Mopan Resort but there are in the jungle.