Day 3 in Belize turned out fantastic, starting with a 1.5 hour ride from San Antonio Rio Hondo to Lamanai ruins. Every road we’ve taken is dirt because that is all there is – no pavement to speak of so far. They’re hard packed dirt with good size potholes and our BMW GS’s are lovin’ the action! Between dodging whoop di dos, sugar cane haul trucks piled 3 times higher than they should be, bicyclists and people, it makes for an adventurous ride indeed.
The ruins were amazing, just like every ruin we’ve seen. They are simply mind boggling when you think about what ancient civilizations have left behind. The precision engineers, astrologers, laborers and general population of villages of to 60K+strong – what happened to them? Where did they go and why did they leave these amazing places? We hiked to the top of most of the temples with the High temple being the highest. Incredible height, beyond steep stairs, beautiful architecture and tremendous views; but it was the Jaguar Temple that stands out.
Tad and I were the only people siting peacefully high atop this Temple minding our own business when a young woman hikes up and asks “would you mind hiding behind the blocks there so I can have my Mom take a picture of me?” We both felt like likes saying … Uh, hello, would you mind shutting the fuck up? But we were far to gracious and considering she was on a ‘vacation’ of her lifetime, and we are traveling on a journey of a lifetime, it was no skin off our nose to just walk down and let have her “I am woman hear me roar” moment with the temple. Wishing now we would have hidden behind the blocks and photo-bombed her by popping our heads up at the last minute!
The jungles are dense, shaded and smell of earth and moisture. In between wiping the sweat away from my head for the umpteenth time and slapping away the army of mosquitos that make me a meal every day – I appreciate the culture and still pinch myself that after 8 months of traveling I’m still seeing new and astonishing places on this planet every day. We’ve seen some terrific wildlife including a cool encounter with Howler monkeys; they make a blood curdling vulgar sound for such small monkeys. So loud that if we didn’t know what they were and it was night, we’d be scrambling outta there lickety split (aka run like hell!)
Belize has a large population of Mennonite’s in the Orange Walk District since the 1950’s. So of course we had to go check it out. Leaving Lamanai and heading toward the village of Ship Yard, we start seeing tons of horse buggies trotting along. We saw more horse buggies in this area than we saw cars for two days! Every time we passed their heads would crank around in wonder. We passed families riding together and some just men or just women in the buggies. The men would smile and wave; the women would not have any eye contact, wave, smile or even acknowledge us.
Taking pics from the side of the road wasn’t enough. We needed to dig into the culture a bit more; so we pulled into a general store and parked the bikes in the buggie parking. By the look on their faces, you’d think we just stepped off an alien vessel from Mars. Kids stopped playing, women stopped talking and they gathered near the edge of the store to have a good gawk as us (just like they do when Clint Eastwood rides into a desert town!) Our hello’s and waves went unreciprocated as they just stood there staring in bewilderment. They didn’t know what to think of us. I’m sure they were horrified at me being a woman, all sweaty and dusty, wearing man like riding gear and driving a motorcycle. Certainly not very lady like.
A few of the young boys gathered with intrigue; Tad motioned them to sit on the bike, which they did, but when it came time to take photos they either didn’t understand or were skittish about it, so we didn’t (directly). They spoke a German like language and a little Spanish, zero English. We bought soda and snacks and hung around a bit enjoying the reaction we were getting They just mulled around staring, with every horse/carriage passing by twisting their heads to get a good look as well.
We were their circus show today and likely the talk at the dinner table tonight, which I think is pretty damn cool….