Decided to explore more of our Northern Belize surroundings on Saturday. First planned stop was lunch and a beer or two at the Tradewinds Bar & Grill at Orchid Bay, a housing development on the next peninsula over.
To get to it, you have to cross Laguna Seca on the smaller auto ferry; like the New River ferry, it’s hand-cranked, but over a shorter distance. Since there was only one operator, Ray helped crank.
Orchid Bay was just a mile beyond the ferry, but at the gate, we were informed that it was “tour day” (presumably for potential new investors?) when non-residents like us aren’t allowed in. Well! Guess we’ll have to try that another day.
Since we were already across, we decided to head for Sarteneja instead, a fishing village at the eastern tip of the peninsula. We weren’t sure what to expect, but thought it would be very small – perhaps a dozen homes – and that it was going to be a fairly long drive (probably not so much in actual miles, as in road conditions).
Surprisingly, in most places their road is better than ours. Ray was still being cautious though – it wouldn’t have been a good place for a flat tire or a broken strut, since there was basically nothing along the way but an occasional dwelling and the Shipstern nature reserve. Oh yeah, and a horse-drawn carriage occupied by two Belizean men with a band of ragtag dogs trailing them, including one who decided he was going to “lead” our truck down the road, so it took us a while to pass. Also an iguana – the first one we’ve spotted – skittering across the road, too fast for a photo op.
Sarteneja is in fact quite large, has electricity (a surprise, since it’s at least as remote as where we are, and maybe even more so), and is very pretty. We drove along the beach road first and got some picturesque snapshots.
We were drawn (okay, I insisted Ray turn) by a colorful sign to this place – a small studio owned by a nice guy named Chuy (that’s him in the picture). I bought a small painting of purple palms for $7 US.
We asked a girl on a bike where we could get something to eat and she directed us a few blocks forward to Shivam’s, also known as the Peacock Lounge (because they actually have two peacocks on the property, as it turns out).
We met a really drunk guy at the bar who welcomed us to Belize and told us repeatedly how happy he was that we were here, also some nice gringos on vacation at the next table over, and had a really good lunch too. The two young waitresses were amused both at Ray’s reaction to the hot sauce (apparently it took a while to kick in, but then, watch out) and to both of us grooving to the ’80s and ’90’s American pop music they were playing (hey, kids – aren’t you glad you weren’t along?!). Fun place – notice the floor is sand (no sweeping!) and the walls are screened chicken wire up top and vertical boards at bottom, all tacked every few feet to sturdy tree trunk posts. And the outside area had a funky collection of tables and chairs, with the peacock pen.
Although it was tempting to hang out and indulge in a few more Belikins, we decided we better head back. A few more pics as we drove out of town.
I’ve been harping about wanting to make a fire pit on the beach since before we arrived, so I was finally able to convince Ray to stop and let me collect rocks on the way back. Fortunately, the road wasn’t busy so no worries about stopping whenever we saw a good collection of stones – although I joked that maybe we needed a bumper sticker on the truck that says I BRAKE FOR ROCKS. Hey, some girls ask for diamonds, but all this mama wanted was a set of stones (go ahead, readers, have fun with that one).
Once we had a truck bed full and were on our way again, I told Ray “see, we actually had two motives for the trip today” and he said “yep, we killed two birds with one truckload of stones.” Yuk yuk yuk – we crack each other up.
Sunday AM we unloaded the stones on the beach, decided that was enough work on the fire pit for the moment, and pulled out the raft to float in the bay for an hour or so. Hadn’t meant to stay that long but we were watching the jet contrails as a series of planes flew over into Belize City. I hadn’t used sunscreen or worn a hat – which I’m always ragging Ray about – so he was much more amused than sympathetic last night about my very sunburned face and neck. Not sure which hurts more – my skin or my pride. Such a newbie move! Well, I’m sure I’ll survive, but that fire pit’s going to have to wait a few more days, because I’m staying inside.