We met Les and Michelle (the original property owners, who will heading back to the States at the end of the month) in a restaurant on the outskirts of town. We’d already been communicating for a few weeks, and our meeting in person seemed to flow as easily as everything else has up to this point.
After lunch, we hopped into their truck for a quick tour of Corozal Town proper. We drove downtown past the park and farmer’s market, which seemed charming (though not as bustling as they typically would be earlier in the day, so we probably didn’t get the full effect). Les and Michelle also pointed out many businesses and other points of interest that will be useful to know. Corozal looks like it will be a fun place to explore, and a great resource to have close by.
We didn’t take as many pictures this trip as I suspect we will once we return, so for now I cheated with this aerial image of Corozal from Wikipedia to give some idea of its size.
Then it was back to our rental car to follow Les off the beaten trail toward the property, which involved a ride down a fairly wide dirt road usually bordered by vegetation, broken up by two stops: the New River ferry crossing and Copper Bank, a fishing village along the way.
I think everybody’s way home should include this ferry crossing. I guess if you’re in hurry, you might be annoyed at the interruption in your travel – but then again, if you’re in a hurry, you’re probably not in the right country anyway.
There’s two guys who operate the boat, hand-cranking a chain stretched across the river from one side of the road to the other. If the ferry’s on the other side when you arrive, you can get out of your vehicle for an informal social stop with other drivers while you wait. And if you’re on the side of the river with the snack shop, you can help yourself to a drink or a hot dog too – and/or buy one for the ferry guys. If you really want to ingratiate yourself, you can even offer to help out with the handcrank.
You’re responsible for driving your vehicle onto the ferry – which can carry between 3-5 vehicles at a time, depending upon their size – but the ferry guys help you get positioned where they want you to balance the load. Also, any problems with the ferry usually get reported through the local grapevine – FB pages and other resources – so you can hopefully anticipate any delays coming or going.
Once underway, you can get out of your vehicle for a few minutes for a look over the railing, like Michelle and I did. On this trip, someone noticed what appeared to be a lifeless body floating in the mangroves. On closer inspection, it turned out to be “Scuba Steve” (no, not really – movie reference only), apparently alive and breathing through a snorkel while floating motionless in an effort to catch fish. The discussion on the boat was that this was probably not a good idea, since there are crocodiles in the river. But to each his own.
As the ferry closes in on the opposite bank, you have to get back in your vehicle to shift your car or truck backward a few feet, to raise the front end of the ferry to meet land properly. The ferry guys again give direction.
To watch video of another traveler’s experience on the ferry, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of06XclIMsM
Another place we’ll want to be exploring, but for now, we only stopped briefly in Copper Bank to pick up a few things at the Chinese grocery store before continuing. I’m sure we’ll take pics there later, but suffice it to say that it’s one of those places where you can give directions like “turn left at the purple house with the chickens” and get someone where they need to be – that’s the way I like to navigate anyway.
We’d seen many pictures of Les and Michelle’s property (more accurately, Tea’s property – she is the new owner who will be arriving in Belize later this year; in the meantime, we’re the gap tenants for at least the next six months, and who knows, maybe longer if we’re lucky). But driving in through the manicured front entryway, things looked even better than we’d thought.