Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Honeymoon

(Photos from top: View from the lodge during a rainstorm; Guatemalan fast food; a plant outside our hut; Toucan Sam; a Guatemalan lake we saw passing by from the road; Mayan ruins at Tikal; a view spelunking that reminded me of something out of Goonies.)

Chickens and pigs played in the dirt road. A woman stood at the edge of a nearby river, doing the family laundry. Soldiers stood at the border with machine guns, but seemed more interested in playing dominoes than rooting out crime.

We waited on line behind an Amish couple that was entering Guatemala carrying baskets for produce. When they were done, we paid our $21 U.S. dollars per person to leave Belize, a tourist racket if there was ever one. Belizians didn't have to pay to depart. Only foreigners.

A sign warned us of consequences for bringing books, literature or other propoganda into the country. I wondered if the Time I had brought along for reading material on the trip qualified, but I kept that thought to myself and the magazine in my backpack.

The border building was open air, kind of like an airplane hangar. We walked in one side, and out the other. Large ceiling fans spun above us. It looked like it had been built in the 1950s. It was the most modern structure we would see for some time.

No, nothing to declare. After leaving the line to depart Belize, we moved to the line to enter Guatemala. We were called to the desk, and a processor started stamping our papers.

And that is when it happened.

He started examining Mrs. VFR's passport with a high level of interest. He paused. Something was amiss. I got worried. With a crooked smile on his face and in a thick Spanish accent, he looked at her and said, "So ... is your brother ... Deuce?"

Even in one of the most remote spots on this planet, we cannot escape that horrible fucking movie.

That was one of the many highlights from our honeymoon, belatedly completed at the beginning of this month. We spent a week in Belize, one day of which was spent on a jaunt to Guatemala to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal.

We did not spend the other six days lounging on a beach. No, we stayed at an incredible adventure lodge in the middle of the Central American jungle. No electricity. We used oil lamps for light. Screens on our hut protected us from the monkeys at night. They didn't prevent the occasional frog or big, hairy, brown spider from visiting, though.

It was amazing how quickly that we didn't care that we had no TV, no lights or any of our other stuff from home.

During the days, we did expeditions. We hiked through the rainforest and rappeled off a 300-foot cliff. We spelunked in a cave. When we were about a mile in, we started swimming from room to room with our headlamps, helmets, boots and pants on. Then we jumped off waterfalls into deep pools inside the cave.

(OK, and there was one day when we went to a beach resort and lounged, but that was only because the Carribean was too rough for snorkeling). We also visited the tremendous Belize Zoo and Blue Hole National Park.

Oh, and we ate live termites one day in the jungle. They taste like minty carrots.

At night, they served huge buffets at the lodge, and we'd sit around with our fellow travelers, recount our expeditions and plot more for the next day while drinking Belikin Beer. Great times, and good people.

Belize is a wonderful country. It has a bizarre mix of native Belizians, Guatemalans, Amish, Mennonites, Chinese and Taiwanese among its population of about 275,000 residents.

It was humbling to see the poverty people live with. We thought Belize looked poor with its three main paved roads and tiny dilapidated bungaloes dotting the side of the road. Then we went to Guatemala.

It makes Belize look like Dubai.

All in all, it was all a fantastic experience. There's nowhere else on Earth like this place. We cannot wait to return.

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At 12:40 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

After I was married it was refreshing to be able to introduce myself and not hear any obnoxious "Deuce Bigelow" comments. I can't believe that even in Belize there's no escape from it. Sorry, Ericka, that was the first of many times you'll hear it!
It sounds like it was a great honeymoon for the adventurous couple you are!

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm getting used to it, Rachel.

What this story left out was the follow-up of the husband's passport. When looking at VFR's passport, the fine man behind the counter said, "ha, your are xx bigelow, that's even funnier." insert real name, turn it into a weiner joke and you have central american humor down!


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