Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 15 - Bacalar, Mexico to Corozal, Belize

RobT:  Took our time this morning.  The day couldn't have started out any better......

.... I was trying to put the damn thing on its center stand in the gravel parking lot to oil the chain and it started to go over.  I tried to hold it up but ... as you can tell ... I forgot to let go and went over the top. All good except for the fact that I had to repack the tank bag and re-adjust my right pannier in order to get to the gas cap. The fall had pushed the pannier in a tad.

The Belizan border was about 15 km away.  Had our coffee at a gas station, or at least I did.  RobC is not to keen on Nescafe ("no es café," he says :)  ).  I needed my fix.

We kept a keen eye on the local weather channel as Tropical Storm Richard was close to Hurricane status.  We hit the Belizan border around 10 am.  We were pestered by a guy trying to scam us into paying a 20 peso exit tax.  We read on the internet the night before that this was a typical scam.  This guy was really persistent, but we managed to ignore him and he left.  Crossed the bridge, paid our 29 USD for moto insurance then off to get fumigated, not us, the bikes.  2.50 USD each to spray the bike tires. Little run down road side shack with a large plastic tank beside it filled with pesticide against hoof and mouth disease.

Customs and Immigration were a breeze.  Poor girl at customs was worried about her mom who was recently widowed and was now stuck in Belize City facing a hurricane.  She was also concerned for us and tried to get us on our way as quickly as possible.  Extremely helpful people, and English is the national language.  The country has a population of about 350,000 people and it's 280 km from top to bottom and 100 km wide.  Very small, about the size of the Netherlands says Rob.  Everyone warned us about the Hurricane.  It was suppose to make landfall just south of Belize City and travel inland.  We thought we could outrun the storm and just head toward Guatemala but we would have to go toward Belize City and then head west.  We would have run right into it had we kept moving.  Hardly any restaurants were open, customs was on a skeleton crew, everyone was off seeing to their families, boarding up windows, getting supplies.  We were told by several officials at the border to find a place at the next town and stay put.  We left customs and  hit a downpour on the way.  I even had a truck pull up along side me with the guy in the passenger seat waving frantically about the impending storm we were riding into. 

We arrived at Corozal and found a hotel called Las Palmas.  A concrete fortress built by an ex-pat named Charles, from Alaska.  Turns out the milder climate was more agreeable.  We were told by Charles not to go any further.  Wait out the storm here.  The town of Corozal would wash away before the hotel would, he said.  So that's where we stayed.  At this point the tropical storm had reached hurricane status with sustained winds of 85 mph and they were expecting 3 - 5 inches of rain, 12 inches in some parts.  It was now forecast to hit 20km south of Belize City by mid afternoon and possibly reach category 2 status, 100km south of where we were.
Cab ride to a local restaurant.  The cabs are old Toyota vans with green licence plates and this one in particular would not have passed any safety inspections back home even if you were to pay off the mechanic.  It was packed with people going various places.  All very friendly. (RobC edit: Looks like Rob was entertaining the crowd and happy to be speaking English.)

Spent the afternoon updating the blog, e-mails, surfing the net, drinking beer and eating this wonderful invention that the owners wife had come up with.  Fried chicken nuggets, with bones, covered in tomatoes, onions, fresh cilantro and McCain fries.  Yummy!  She was of Mexican origin, speaking English with a Belizan accent. LOL

Storm clouds ....

Tried to get a cab back to our hotel but the whole town of 9,000 had rolled up the carpets for the night so the cook gave us a lift home.  Spent the evening lounging around waiting for the inevitable.  Internet access was extremely poor at the hotel.

RobC:  First heavy rain on our trip to date, and the motorcycle clothing behaved as it should. Sidi Discovery boots, Aerostich pants, TPG First Gear jacket, and Held gloves all remained dry on the inside. The Jessie side panniers and top case did not pass a drop of water. The Arai helmet did well also, but I may use goggles if we are going to run into a lot more rain. The BMW 1150GS is behaving like a pro: comfortable, powerful and reliable up to this point. And the Öhlins shocks are taking the "topes/speed bumps/Wilsons" very well. I think I am getting a bit more confidence in the equipment and the elements and am actually starting to believe that we might actually accomplish this big feat of ours.

It was nice to get to  our Las Palmas hotel (fortress)  for the sake of safety and security, but, my goodness, was it booooooring! The only places open in town were Chinese warehouses, all others were busing nailing plywood to their window frames. So, what were we going to do all day while waiting for the hurricane to pass? There were no local channels on TV, and we were watching the US Weather Channel, which is more like a dog and pony show.  :-)

Fortunately, we found this place on the beach, where we could do some internet work, watch the dark clouds moving toward us, eat a bit, and drink some fairly substantial Belizan beer. At one point I felt like taking a nap under the table and really missed having a hammock. I still have to buy a good string hammock, which may come in handy in a pinch.

Maybe the worst part of this hurricane bit is that we lost an entire day and nothing happened where we were. The storm passed us to the south and we did see the ramifications the next day, but that will be in the next blog posting.

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