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Published: December 11th 2014
We keep trying and finally find a car for rent at Placencia Car Rentals near the neighbouring town of Siene Bight about 5 miles North. Interesting place, a car rental and animal shelter all in one, cats and dogs running around all over the place.
Ian calls our rental car 'the Banana' it's a Nissan Extera painted very bright yellow, this one won't be hard to spot. We start it up and it sounds like a bit of a clunker but the a/c works, at least intermittently. Our internet had been down for the past day so, we didn't get to google as much as we wanted to plan our drive but we decline on purchasing the map of Belize for $25 and head out towards our destination of Punta Gorda, the most southern city in Belize.
Along the penninsula we come to Maya Beach, we stop at the Bistro for lunch since we've heard it's the best restaurant in the area. Lovely atmosphere right on a perfectly manicured beach. White whicker with glass tables and chairs, wonderful food. After a quick bite we are back on the road.
Along the penninsula, it is populated with beach residences
on either side. Some completely finished, many still under construction. One very high end area called Residences at Placencia, look like mansions and castles at various stages of construction, some are finished although most look empty. There are speed bumps everywhere, we suspect it is cheaper to have those than police to patrol the road. We turn left onto the main highway following the signs directing us to Punta Gorda, we think it's about 1.5 hours but aren't really sure. We drive heading deeper into the Belizian jungle, every 10 or so minutes we come across small village. People are walking and riding bikes on the road. Many of the men walking are carrying machettes, we see two men carrying riffles openly. Homes are huts with clothes hanging on outdoor lines depicting a life very different from ours. Kids in school uniforms, some blue some green, it seems to depend on the area. There is no doubt that these people are poor - very poor.
There are very few vehicles on the road, a truck or bus here and there, sometimes we drive for 20 or 30 minutes without seeing another vehicle - it's almost eerie. We keep going
and going, certain we are going to hit Punta Gorda at any minute, or.. maybe we made a wrong turn? I'm starting to think maybe we should have bought that map. We see another sign with an arrow pointing to Punta Gorda so we turn. The signs give directions but no indication of distance so we keep going again, it starts to rain, then harder and harder, then stops. We see a sign pointing to Mayan Ruins, it seems like there is a lot of Mayan descendants around the area but we don't know how much further so we pass on taking a detour.
After 2 hours of driving through the jungle we finally arrive. It looks pretty nice as we drive in along the ocean. Right away though it is evident that this town is not a tourist destination, but rather a local environment, buildings that have seen their better days, litter lining the streets. We drive to the center of town to a small market going on. As far as I can see we are the only tourists in the area and as usual we stick out like sore thumbs, about 2 feet taller than the average Belizian. The market stands offer mostly clothing or small housewares - nothing that really interests us, we walk around briefly to see if there is anything else, then head back to the car.
We drive back towards the edge of town and stop in for a drink at a roadside Cantina, again nothing fancy. We finally see some other tourists but realize qucikly they are some type of missionaries, using their computers, likely taking advantage of the wi-fi. The waiter is friendly, but asks us what we are doing in the area. We tell him we are looking for the chocolate factory, he gives us directions and the topic for my blog tomorrow since this one is getting too long. See you again then!
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