Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Caesar’s Place" near San Ignacio, Belize

A young Toucan at the Belize Zoo.

I passed this interesting little place on my way into San Ignacio. The large "Internet" sign caught my attention. Still, I continued several miles to the border town. But I quickly determined San Ignacio was a little too rough to be looking around for accommodations at this hour.

It was nearly dark as I returned to inquire at "Caesar's". Julian, Caesar's son greeted me and said he had both rooms and campsites. A campsite was less than $3.00 for the night, and included a cold shower. I couldn't pass that up! He led me out to the back of their property, past the wood shops and several dwellings. (They produce hardwood panels and furnishings.) The campsite was just a relatively flat area in which they had poured some gravel. It was now overgrown with deep, wet grass. But I was committed to camping!

After putting up the tent, returned to the patio bar to spend a little time with the other guests. I met Caesar, his friend John, Julian's kids and the restaurant staff. Other guests were sitting together at a separate table. Caesar is from South Africa originally, his wife Belizean. (Caesar crafted the beautiful bar top, laminating together several types of exotic woods.)

Over a couple of beers, Julian, John and I got into a discussion of metaphysics, the Mayan and Aztec cultures (of which those two seem to know a lot, and I know virtually nothing), Rosicrucians (John was brought up in a Rosicrucian household and has been one most of his life!), Mennonites (there are several communities in the area) and George Price (Belize's founding father) among other topics. Both men are remarkably literate, especially Julian for his less-than-thirty years. He recommends reading The Lamb and Stolen Nations, two books he found particularly powerful.


Starting the day, I worked on the blog until 11:00, packed up and checked out, then worked some more, sitting in the lobby, keeping an eye on the thunderstorms coming in across the bay. Very hot and humid. Often times, I'm torn between writing and riding. And between taking side trips and the cost of such deviations (e.g. Placentia , a peninsula to the south, where Francis Ford Coppola owns property and a hotel, is supposed to be quite an interesting town, but it's a long drive off the highway to Guatemala.)

There is amazing interest in my motorcycle here. Lots of waves and thumbs up as I pass by. In the gas station, several people in cars stopped to inquire about my trip, wishing me good luck. Even at intersections, people roll down their windows and ask me where I'm going, and where I've been.

Throughout Mexico and here in Belize, it's common to see a family on a motorcycle. And helmets are relatively rare.

West of Belize City, I see the first hills since Palenque. In the air, I occasionally catch the fragrance of sweet roast coffee (like coffee candy). I don't know what foliage it is - it's not coffee trees – but it's intoxicating.

Belize Zoo is a very unconventional place, with a healthy dose of social and environmental responsibility.

Several locals recommended the Belize Zoo, and I'm glad they did! It's a remarkably unconventional zoo. I figured I would see here the animals I had little chance of seeing from the highway. Apparently Harrison Ford and Dolly Parton, among other celebrities, are supporters of this tiny zoo. I took a number of photos, which are better at conveying the amazing animals than writing about them.

Just inside the Belize Zoo

The coatimuundi is a creature I recognize from the Yucatan. It's about the only wild mammal I've seen south of Texas! (I saw them alive and dead along the highway.) A small room contained a reptile exhibit, and the incredible sound of an agitated tropical rattlesnake could be heard from quite a distance. That's one sound I don't want to hear while I'm out camping. They also have a "Fer de Lance", an even more deadly snake.

American Crocodile

Educating in a playful way...

Red Tiger, Puma or Mountain Lion; whatever you call it, I wouldn't want to meet her in the jungle.

These jaguars would sporadically burst into a wrestling match.

Black jaguar

"Nice kitty..."

After spending all the time I wanted at the zoo, it was an easy decision to pass on the ride to Placentia. An American couple I had met at the zoo recommended “Amigo’s” for lunch. A few miles west, it's an American-owned "shit-kicker bar", one wall covered with endearing bumper stickers (example: “I brake for animals. I eat them and wear their skins.”) This was my chance to try the Belizean "rice and beans" with stewed beef. The staff speak a musical mix of Spanish and Creole, along with the mandatory English. The food was simple but delicious, especially with their own killer hot sauce.

After lunch, a brash young lady, a friend of the manager asks "Are you going to give me a ride?” When I said there wasn't any room, she said told me to unload everything.

"You haven't seen me drive."

"That's my loss," she said and smiled.

I waved good-bye and headed for the hills.

Approaching San Ignacio, I pass the Taiwan Technical Mission, an agricultural project. And then the Cayo Deaf Institute. Unusual projects set out here in the jungle.

1 comment:

babycondor said...

I love this! Great color, and a beautiful subject.