Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trial and error

Today, my Mom and I decided that we would go out exploring Western Belize.  Our main goals were to see Spanish Lookout, see some Mayan ruins, and eat lunch at a lodge owned by Francis Ford Coppola, which was recommended by some friends.  Somehow we managed to accomplish none of these things, while still having a great day.

We first headed out on the Western Highway towards Spanish Lookout.  I have no idea where the name comes from.  Spanish Lookout is the home of some of Belize's large Mennonite population.  By some estimates that I've heard, Mennonites account for 10% of the population of Belize.  They are quite common to see around the area.  They hold much of the agricultural sector of the economy, especially poultry, dairy, and grains.  And Spanish Lookout is one of the areas where they live.  The land looks like mid-western farm land and the roads are well-paved.  Unfortunately, we did not stay on the paved roads and got lost in the gravel roads between the fields.  We took one road all the way until it literally ran into a river.  There was a boatman who may have been able to take us across, but we chickened out and turned around.  Eventually, we asked some guy how to get back to the Western highway and he took us back himself.

Once back on the highway, we stopped at a gift shop that was billed as the best in Belize.  It was quite nice, although a bit expensive.  We were in there for a half an hour and when we were leaving, we noticed I had a flat tire.  Some how we punctured the tire on the gravel.  Then, it turns out that my new car did not have a tire jack or the lug nut wrench.  Fortunately, the people at the gift shop had a jack and wrench to help us. Unfortunately, the lug nuts on the spare tire were very worn and we couldn't get the spare off.  They eventually had to chisel the last lug nut off.  But with a new tire, we headed off again.

We went to San Ignacio which is the biggest town in the area. We planned to go from there down the road to the Francis Ford Coppola resort.  Some friends had recommended it for lunch.  The road was absolutely awful.  It started off paved, then quickly broke down to gravel.  Turns out the gravel was the good road.  I kept thinking, "Hey, at least the road can't get any worse."  It would then proceed to get worse.  Parts were dirt, and gravel, and mud, but the worst was stone or formerly paved with such huge potholes.

We did get to see a few sites on our drive.  Our biggest attraction was the "Mayan" ruins we saw along the road.  Turns out the Mayan ruins were some sculptures that the people who lived there made.  It was still pretty neat to see the place, but it wasn't the Mayan temple we were hoping for.  We also never made it to the Coppola lodge.  We did have a good time.  Tomorrow, we are headed to Placencia to hit the beach.

1 comment:

  1. I saw your blog on the Weekly Roundups. If you're ever in the mood to go to San Ignacio again, I highly recommend taking a tour of the Actun Tunich Muknal caves (

    Essentially you hike through the jungle for an hour, trek across three rivers, swim through another river to get into the cave, walk/squeeze/crawl through the water filled cave for another hour to see the bones of a sacrificed Mayan child. It was one of the coolest things that I've ever done in my life.

    There are a couple companies in Cayo that do it. I went to one run by a British expat - I think his name was Bob(maybe?). Avoid the one run by the tourist company next to the bar Faya Wata. It's supposed to be badly run.