Monday, January 31, 2005

Belize: Day 2, Part 4 - The Western Highway to San Ignacio

We thought we might stay in the small town of San Ignacio near Belize's border with Guatemala. So, after leaving the zoo, we headed west on the highway. It was hot. The jungle foliage was fascinating, and we kept thinking, "There have to be tapirs out there somewhere." It boggled the senses to see (below) people steadfastly riding bikes along the highway between towns, between the small hovels of houses that lined the road. The heat from the asphalt must have been excruciating, or so I imagined. I am not a hot-weather person. I used to be, but something changed internally in my late 30s. As a child growing up in Southern California, I had not minded the 100-plus degree days at all.

Buildings with any degree of variety, shape, color, construction, texture, or artful design interest me immensely. As an artist, one would think I'd read art history, but didn't. I read about architecture through the ages (actually, that was the name of a book I liked). Pretty much the only buildings I don't enjoy looking at are the ugly institutional-looking things and the ranch style tract houses built in California (and other places) in the 1950s or so. In my youth I saw too many. I had found them hateful and boring, and they wasted land that had been havens for plants and small animals I had played among. I was intolerant, and I still find the style depressing. Anything else seems to be fair game for the camera, I've noticed. The concrete boxes looming into the skyline (below) in Belize were at least different from construction I was used to. I took a photo.

Many, many of the dwellings we passed were nothing more than board shacks. The poverty, mile after hot mile, was astonishing.

Brahma cattle in the distance, lovely green grass and blue sky.

We passed through the microscopic town of Santa Elena, where we had hoped to find lunch. Everything was closed except for the counter at the gas station selling chips and things of that sort. A little further along was San Ignacio (above). Based on the map, we thought it might be our evening destination, but here we were in the middle of the day, I was hot, there was no air conditioning in sight, and instead we looked for lunch.

The mayor's office, San Ignacio.

This lunch spot seemed an oasis. While not exactly cool, a huge fan kept it tolerable for me. The people were nice, and there were birds and flowers to look at. And ice, and ice cream. We had a tasty lunch. I had discovered that capsules of bovine colostrum (Symbiotics brand seems to work best if you're planning to try it) can almost tame the heat for at least short periods of time. Although it's supposed to boost the immune system, it could sometimes produce near miracles for me. I have no idea how hot weather can do what it does to me, but in the wrong circumstances, it has been devastating. So I have no idea why colostrum could help. In any event, I've been able to go places I'd never imagined and do much more than I could have thought. But the conditions and my reactions are unpredictable. Sadly, I'd had to leave the zoo when the sun got too hot, although I would have enjoyed staying longer. The good news for me is that, as I write this in 2008, the symptoms are improving on their own. At any rate, on that day in Belize, colostrum aside, after a relaxing lunch we decided to move on down the road and head for the beach. You can get an idea of the size of the country when you realize that meant leaving the ocean (east) in the morning, driving southwest nearly to the western border, and then driving southeast back to the ocean quite far south of Belize City to find a place for the night.

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