On Monday, after breakfast, the guys went to check out a bookstore owned by one of the Mennonite men, and as our men found out, it was much more than a bookstore. Peter’s store carried a lot of books that Greg recognized both from our own bookshelves, and from home school catalogs (I think they were mostly CLP) and some of our favorite games like Uno and Dutch Blitz. Peter also carries clothing, boots, cloth, CDs, cassette tapes, Bibles, toys, craft supplies (stamping) and sewing supplies… The prices were a little more than here in the US, but not even 50% more.
About 11:30, the men left to drive to Dangriga (which is on the coast, south of Belize City), routing through the capital city of Belmopan. The Hummingbird Highway is rightly named – it is neither straight nor flat; it’s route resembles the random flight of a hummingbird. There are few (if any) of what we know as Highway Patrol officers – the road is made with large (annoying) speed bumps every so often that force you to slow down, though it seems that the nationals don’t notice them! And most bridges are one lane. ~pic. is of Stephen and Greg having lunch in Dangriga. Can’t remember the name of this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant(not sure if it even had one), but would love to eat there again!
The landscape changed quickly after leaving Spanish Lookout. After crossing the river outside of Spanish Lookout, there was very little farmland except for an occasional cornfield. There were, however, acres and acres of orange groves. The night before, John and Abe had told the men how oranges down there are green or yellow when ripe (not orange!).
Spanish Lookout is a clean, neat community where the Mennonites have a deal with the government – besides paying government taxes, they are allowed to pay taxes (I think they called them brotherhood payments) to themselves also and use this money to care for their community. This is evident in the area as the road are well taken care of, and the area portrays a feeling of prosperity compared to the rest of the country (at least that V & G visited). Once leaving S.L., it is obvious why Belize is considered a 3rd world country. The homes are (generally) small and run down, but the people seem incredibly content and happy.
Many homes had chickens and goats in the yards, and there were children everywhere. People are active, and friendly; sometimes you have to be the one to instigate the conversation, but once they see that you are friendly also, and interested, they are glad to shoot the breeze or share info. with you. One thing that really impressed my guys was the lack of prejudice of any kind down there.
Near Dangriga, they took a rough, dirt road out to the coast, and caught some larger fiddler crabs on the beach, and found oodles of little ones near the water. On their drive back in, a balisk lizard ran across the road in front of them – he stood up on his back legs, pumping his little front arms, running with all his speed; quite amusing.
The men ate lunch in Dangriga, Vaughn had coconut curry beef with fruit juice and an ice cream cone for $5.80US, and said it was very good. And they ate in Belmopan after checking out the Mexican and American embassies there. Back to home-base at the apartment in S.L.