Back in Belize
I spent most of yesterday and today travelling, and am now back in Belize — a long way geographically and culturally from Antigua, Guatemala. I’m in Dangriga, on the coast, south of Belize City. It’s the cultural capital of the Garifuna people, an African-influenced culture.
I took a shuttle from Antigua to Guatemala City — a huge congestion of diesel smoke and traffic — and then took a pullman bus across the country to Puerto Barrios on the Caribbean coast. The bus ride was actually pleasant, with a comfortable seat and very nice hilly green scenery. (The only drawback was the action movie that is always played loudly on Latin American luxury buses).
Puerto Barrios is the asshole of Guatemala. Its major function has been as a port to ship bananas going back to the days of United Fruit Company, that ruled Guatemala like a fiefdom and even got the CIA to overthrow the Guatemalan government in the 1950s. Now the big Chiquita containers are owned by Del Monte, and they are trucked alongside the Dole containers with Bob the Banana. The place is otherwise grubby and rundown looking, with the typical rough looking people who hang around port towns.
My $9 room was very depressing, coffin-like, and just outside was the main road where loud trucks hauled containers all through the night. Added to that, I’m recovering from a cold, and not sleeping well.
This morning I took a one-hour ride from Puerto Barrios to Punta Gorda in Belize on a launch holding about 15 passengers, and was very impressed that they actually issued us life jackets — not something to take for granted in these parts. The water was relatively calm, but the waves picked up at the end, sending us lunging and crashing into the spray. Then a three-hour trip on a former school bus stopping everywhere, but at least in Belize they don’t put three people to a seat as in Guatemala.
Dangriga is not a touristy town, though seems interesting. I’m in a little caban next to the river, which is lined with banana trees and other tropical plants. I expect to stay here a few days before heading north.