A Travelogue :Part One
Chronicles of my trip to Central America...
Hiya folks.Killing a few hours before we have to leave this part of the world for a similar one deeper inland,so I thought I'd take
advantage of this modern amenity and write What Happened So Far. Expect mad babble,business opportunities,snorkling and surgery!
Now on with the show...
Early Saturday Morning July 22:I arrived at my sisters around 9PM,and she was her usual strung out self:work had agitated her above and
beyond because her immediate bosses at work are enraged that she was going on vacation.As power corrupts,any chance to belittle and
harass another human being runs strong in some small minds,and a few of these dominate her existance.I've visited her at work and waited
as she was screamed at like a child in another room,so I am not exaggerating,and I've worked with truely evil people long enough to make
any story of hers plausable.So she is on the phone with work trying to resove situations between mouthfulls of dinner,and she informs me
she hasn't even packed yet either.Long story short,we arrive for our 5am flight a few minutes past 4,and manage to scramble through onto
the plane in time with much fluster.And off we go.
I'm seated between my sister and a 40-something spanish woman,and I was about to turn on an audiobook and drift away.No luck.My
sister has a few traits that may seem like faults at times,but she could never see as such because they are part of her stock and trade as a
Headhunter.She sells the services of registered nurses as temps to a variety of places,and before that it was legal temps and other
specialized folk.So,she is "chatty": as in,"Hello Complete Stranger,my name is Corinne and lets have a conversation because we
CAN."Ignoring the fact that said stranger may be reading, staring out into space, trying to puzzle out their own lives,or just picking their
metaphorical ass,they are now sucked into this woman's mad little world.People go along with it mostly out of politeness,sometimes out of
curiocity,and sometimes benefits for both can be achieved by such chance talk.So I was cught in the crossfire once again.But from this
ranom act something useful may be birthed.The lady ws from Guatamala,and cleaned houses as a maid,and my sister remarked how Park
Slope Brooklyn could benefit from good reliable help.So a mad plan was forged to start a cleaning service and employ friends of this
woman.It was interesting to see her in action,my sister,And any idea that will get her out of her current work situation can't be
ignored.Phone numbers were exchanged and destiny forged.I'll update as things develop.
We land at El Salvador,take a flight to Belize City(Bumped up to first class,but the flight was onlr a half hour.The seats were wider and
the Coca Cola was served in a superior plastic tumbler).That airport was quaint in its Bananna republican charms,and the one resterraunt
was straight out of the Bruces sketch from Monty Python.From there we met our third member of the party,Maria,who is one of the nurses
my sister employs and we board a tiny prop plane to Ambergris Ceye,a small island to the northeast.Its a one strip runway,and our
itinerary said to expect transport from the airport to the hotel.This turns out to be some 16 year old bellboy and the "transport" a short
walk to the hotel.tee huge 2-3000 lb sea beasts that spend their days either eating their 500lbs of sea grass a day or sleeping it off,and any
disturbance will stress them out and put them off their feed.So why keep all this sea grass where the humans are? Silly.Mad.We went to
see them and I took a picture of some grey shape in the water after an hour of waiting.More on that next,but back to the city.
So there are no real beaches,but pools to swim in and palm trees to hide from the blistering sun under.The food is good,more of a hybrid
spanish than the seafood extravaganza I was hoping for.We wandered about our first real day there on Saturday and my sister was talked
into seeing a seminar about a timeshare outfit further up the coast,and we wound up going there Sunday morning.The concept is you
purchase a weeks worth of time at a resort of your choice within their chain.Our "home" week would be based in Ambergris Ceye,and we
can trade that week in for 2 weeks at any other resort in their chain,and there were some impressive places,even one up in the Pochanoes
Pennsylvania that I checked out with Nova,Jacqueline.And since every hardcore diver wanted to get in here,we could trade up to get the
best vacations for our week here we can barter for.So we DID it,bought a week each,bargained hard for 15 grand cash per week of time.I
do plan on taking Real Vacations now,and 15 grand means never paying for accomidations at a 5 star resort ever again.You still have to
pay to get there,and the food was merely okay and horribly overpriced,but these units come with kitchens and are very nice,and I expect
to get flights paid for as part of my bargaining so in the long run it'll benefit me and whoever I take with me.Yvette eat your heart out!
That was Sunday,and now onto Monday.Snorkling and surgery.WE booked a snorkling and Manatee watching trip for this day,and it was
pretty good,despite a few miscalculations and one literal misstep.We embarked with 3 Jamacian guides in a small boat loaded with beer
and water and food for a later barbeque.Our first stop was the Manatee grazing ground,which was devoid of life at our first visit,so after a
patient hour we moved on to a small deserted island perched on top of one section of the reef.This was picturesque:when I get home I'll
post a few of my pictures of it.Lovely white sand and crystal clear water,a few palm trees and a few huts and cooking pits for the
guests.Take only Pictures,Leave only Footprints.We disembarked and walked around the island for a bit,and then we began the snorkling
part.Since the winds were up and the currents were strong,we could only safely go into the inner reef,which was only 7 feet at its deepest
and mostly shallow enough to stand up in.The water was clear and there was a variety of fish,but this first venture was a nightmare.My
snorkle was faulty and let in water at the bottom at odd intervals,making me sputter and choke.And figuring out the mask I didn't master
until the second outing and THAT let water in.If things worked as they should then it would have been a lot more fun:scooting around at a
leisurely pace breathing deeply and steadily while watching the show beneath you and ahead.But having to stop every five minutes and fix
the problem while in swim fin/clown shoes was too much of a fun killer.And prying off those fins with on hand while trying to hold onto
the boat's ladder with the other so I wasn't dragged under was the bitter end of fun.We went back to the island and dinner was
served:noodle salad,mixed vegetables,chicken in an excellent jerk sauce,curry potatoes and a brownie for desert.We hung out for a bit
there afterwards and I took the bulk of my flicks and pics,including some movies of 4 birds just coasting on the wind just above the
trees.We saddled up and went back to look for the Manatees.They were there,and a few bulky bodies surfaced long enough to draw the
oos and ahhs,but by then I was feeling the HEAT.I put on sunblock before we left,but it was too little and WAY too weak.Very
burned,and very achey even as I write this. But then we went to our second destination:the Great Barrier Reef.A bit dissapointing,but I
had equipment that worked this time.The water was even shallower there,sometimes under 3 feet,and the landscape looked as brown and
grey as Quake 2.On this light tan floor mounds of coral were plopped in uneven groups like ice cream doled out by someone with an
epileptic fit.More interesting,but I guess the forests of kelp and exotic locals you see in aquariums are found elsewhere.Still it was fun.T
group of stingrays swooped underneath us and a guide manhandled one a bit,and a nurse shark cruised about us.I spent my time navigating
around the coral lumps,getting trapped in canyons and clearing the stuff by inches.We got back in the boat,and went to our final
destination,an even smaller island that had enough population on it for tourist trapping.We three were the last to get off the boat.I was
standing with one foot on the seat and one on the edge of the boat,and I went to put the foot on the seat on the dock.Then the boat lurched
away from it mid step.And I hit the dock,face first,hard.
It could have been WAY worse.I could have hit the dock with just my face,snapping my neck.It was the bulk of my chest and torso with
my legs stuck in the boat.I could have flattened my nose,but its just a bit sore.And I definitely could have smashed all this pretty porcelain
I called my front teeth into a million bits,and had to pay for getting it replaced with hard cash and intense suffering,but I was lucky.All
that DID happen was I chopped up a bit of my lower right lip on the inside and a tooth went through just below my lower lip.That I could
tell by blowing air through it.I was up and about after a few minutes,the Jamacan guides administering what first aid the could,a little
alcohol strip to clean it,a little seawater swished around to stop the bleeding(which worked),and I was weaving my way back to the group
with my two shocked companions.clutching a napkian wet with seawater to blot the hole.My nice white teeshirt was smeared with
blood,so I bought a random one in the tourist trap,and we made it home after visiting a seahorse park near the last stop.Maria is a
registered nurse,and she thought I can get away with just letting it close on its own,But after 2 hours of bleeding,I decided I needed a
doctor's help.And we went to the only medical facility in town.
It was a largish building,and not as run down as most here,but that meant nothing.It was "24 horas",but the nice lady at the pharmacy part
of this office complex said she needed to call him to come there."Probably at the bar" I said for a laugh.And it was later discovered he
was drinking at a bar we wound up at last night.A place called the Tackle Box on a pier,with live Reggae.Also livelier clientelle:Maria
was being constantly hit on by one Rasta who kept asking her if she wanted to dance "with a few friends of his at the same time".We
retreated and looked for another bar,only to be followed by a couple of the seedier Rastas.Nothing came of it and they skulked off when
we went back the way we came.Anyway,the doctor showed up after a few minutes,and he spoke some English,and maria chatted him up
to fill the gaps.She was determined to make sure everything was copasetic sanitary-wise,and she hungout as I was sown up.He must have
seen the expression on my face as I looked around the operating room:fans no air conditioning,examination table from the 50s,baby
incubator from the 40's(Corinne thought it was a toaster oven),and he just smiled and delivered this single golden line:
I use all modern types of sterile practices.This is Belize,not Africa!
He used a local on my hurt bits,and sewed me up with some skill,he charged me $175 cash,but brightened at the prospect that I had real
insurance.I filled out the form to send to my insurer when I get home so I can get reimbursed,and he will undoubtedly pad it somewhat for
his own gain.No problem on my end,he needs to be shrewd in this place and practical in his dealings.I will see him before we leave
tomorrow so he can check his handywork.And then we are off to.....somewhere else!
That's all for now.Its the rainforest next up I think,and the Ruins of Tikal.I'll write again soon if I can.Take car and I'm gone!