The jungle road goes on and on and on, but we finally departed the western district of Belize and made our way to the coast. Belize is a small country, with an a
|Our Home in the Jungle|
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS, also simply known as the Mesoamerican reef and often abbreviated MAR) stretches over 1000 km from Isla Contoy at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula down to theBay Islands of Honduras. The reef system includes various protected areas and parks including the Belize Barrier Reef, Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve, and the Cayos Cochinos Marine Park. This reef structure is the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest barrier reef in the world."
We stepped into a transitional world for our 45 minute wait. It was air conditioned, not just cooled by spinning ceiling fans. There were television sets attached to the walls (showing the tumultuous fall of the American stock market....) And there was Cheetos and Snickers. Are we in America??? No.. Not quite. The box of toilet paper packs that one must pick up as one enters the bathroom (not afterward as some of our group found out,) proved. But it was a step. I don't know if it was a step in the right direction, but it was a step.
Onto the water taxi to Caye Caulker. A 45 minute speedboat trip to the outer barrier reef. Actually the reef is about 1 mile off the coast of Caulker, but it is considered "on the reef." That brings up another interesting thing about Belize. It was still on the Standard System of measurement until December 8. 2010. The Standard system is what we use the US. The only other countries that use this system are Liberia, Myanmar (Burma) and in a limited sense Canada because of U.S. commerce. Though the SI system is legal, most signs are still in the traditional English Standard units--miles, feet, etc.
We are finally on the Caye, (pronounced 'key'. ) A Caye is an island. Basically a sandbar. It is 5 miles long, but 1/2 half of it is north of the 'split' that formed and cut the island in half during Hurricane Hattie in 1961. The same hurricane devastated Belize City. (There is that entropy again.) It is only 1 mile wide at its widest. A 200 minute walk basically takes you from one end to the other. But the motto of the island tells about the culture on the island--"Go Slow". I did not see anyone in three days disobeying this 'law'. It is a very relaxing place to "run away to." In fact that is what many of the residents look like they did. Some with shoes, many without. Some with shirts, many without. The tourists wear hats and typically are red. Those that ran away are tanned brown and most are smiling.
The last three days on Caye Caulker were slow, relaxing and yet still adventuresome. The story of sharks and rays and moray eels will continue soon.