clare-hill.com The story of Clare Hill's voluntary work adventure in Belize

04/12/2008

Endings

Filed under: Adventures in Belize,wildlife — Clare Hill @ 12:16 pm

On the Sunday (Nov 30), having decided to go for a final swim, Conor persuaded me that we should head for San Pedro rather than Caye Caulker. San Pedro is the main tourist resort in Belize, on Ambergris Caye, a peninsula hanging down from the Yucatan. I had been determined that it was too touristy, aznd expensive, and just not worth going to. Some of the other interns had said it was better than Caye Caulker because it was bigger, and that there was more going on. (I interpreted that as meaning more tourist attractions, and had been adamant that it was not the place for us.)

Anyway, on our last Sunday I gave in, and instead of alighting at Caye Caulker, we went on a wee bit further. San Pedro is a tourist resort on the eastern side of a pendulous promontory off the end of the Mexican Yucatan.  It is one of the main places that tourists head for, and was indeed a larger, more ‘with it’ version of Caye Caulker. I have to admit that it wasn’t as bad as I feared, and I began to understand what one of the interns said – there was more to do. One eco village overlooking the ocean and reef (one of the attractions is that the barrier reef is closer to the main land here in San Pedro than anywhere else along its length – gradually moving more to the east) had a substantial wooden jetty from which we could swim. It ended up being quite the best swim I had had in the whole six months – perfect for our last week end! We then found some good jazz being played on the beach beside a bar, and enjoyed the ambience enormously!

As the Caye Caulker Water Taxi firm sped us homeward, a perfect orange disc was setting slowly on the horizon, symbolising the end of our stay.

Monday was full of domesticity, various bits and pieces in preparation for our return. Tuesday, our last day, was all ours, and we had decided to have a last walk in the jungle. We caught an early bus to the edge of Belmopan, to Guanecasta National Park. It was on Roaring Creek, which we had been reading about in a novel set in Belize in the mid 1800s, and wanted to make its acquaintance. We quickly realised why it was called Roaring Creek. Walking round to a spot above the creek, near to where it flows into the Belize River, and ideal for observing birds, we could see the grey silt marks of the recent floods at least 30 feet up from the water level. The gorge is relatively narrow – perhaps 35 feet wide – and was obviously channelling a vast amount of water. The walk around the park was lovely, and with great excitement I could hear both a parrot and a motmot near the Belize River – but I was still no good lookin’! When we got back to the rangers’ office, they asked us what we had seen, and to write it in their log book. The guinea pig-like animal is a paca, and very common in Guanecasta. When I tried to copy the bird sounds I had heard, they told us very authoritatively that yes that was both a motmot and a green parakeet! Even more frustratingly, they said 2 motmots had been on a branch outside the rangers’ office, their tails ticking like a pendulum clock, about 4pm the previous evening. Oh well, near is closer than far away.

Being a lovely day, we did our usual return walk along the bus route until we felt ready to catch the bus back to BC. And lovely it was – warm sun, not too hot, very little traffic, another vermilion flycatcher accompanying us much as it had done in Crooked Tree on the start of our epic.

And thus we ended our journey. Lunch, packing, cleaning the apartment, handing some bits and pieces on (having a card stolen but fortunately realising it and able to stop it before any money was taken) purchasing some last minute Christmas books for grandchildren, and meeting up with the other volunteers and interns for a final drink at the Radisson.

Our journey in Belize was over. A beautiful country, interesting people, difficult politics, and a young country in many ways. Many thanks to all who made it possible. Our odyssey was over, and we were grateful for the opportunity.

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