10 days ago, despite the polar vortex that had descended upon the U.S. I was able to make my way to Miami and then Belize without incident and on time! Once I passed through immigration and customs without real issue, I gathered up my bags and headed toward Orange Walk, my first destination point. I read that rather than going all the way to Belize City I could just hop on a northbound bus from the highway outside the airport. I thought about just walking the mile to the bus stop, but thought better of it once I had my bags on. Instead, I paid a cab to drop me of across the street from the bus stop and waited. In 20 minutes or so an old Blue Bird bus came around the corner, I picked up my bags, made sure it was heading my way, and hopped on. I think this was the moment I realized I was here and I was really doing it!
With a little direction from my bus seat mate Angel, who lived in Orange Walk, I found a hotel (no hostels here) for 35 Belizean dollars (17.5 US) a night that had a double bed, fan, cable TV, shared bathroom and hot water showers. I paid for two nights, got situated and booked into a tour of Lamanai ruins for the next morning. Feeling accomplished for having made it this far, I went in search of food, showered, and called it a night.
In the morning I was picked up at my hotel by Reyes brothers tours around 9 am Belizean time and by ten we were headed down the New River in a motor boat on the way to the Mayan city of Lamanai. The river is pretty narrow and winds and bends in one direction and then the other making the hour and a half ride itself lots of fun. Along the way we slowed several times to check out the local plants and animals and to see Shipyard, the Mennonite community of 4,000 that calls northern Belize home.
Once we finally arrived at Lamanai, or Submerged Crocodile as the Mayans called it, our guide showed us around the city. We saw pyramids of different shapes and sizes that were used for various municipal and status related purposes and even got to climb one; the tallest, steepest, and safest one, thanks to the yellow rope running down the middle. I laughed at this definition of safe, then went to the top to take in the view.
After a delicious lunch of spicy baked chicken, rice and beans, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and pineapple for dessert, we got back in the boat and headed down the river to Orange Walk. I had planned to stay here for a whole additional day, but decided to pack it in and head to Corozal, closer to the Mexican border, instead.