Day 2: Around San Ignacio Town

We took it much easier on our second day in the Cayo area. First, a leisurely drive to nearby Benque, Belize’s western border town, along the lazy Mopan River…

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…and a photo op stop just past town at the Belize-Guatemala border just to say we were there.

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Saturday is Market Day in San Ignacio – the AM hotel clerk at Martha’s, an older Mestizo gentleman, was telling me about how everyone used to canoe into town with their wares back in the day. Back in town, we wandered around the bustling square and hunkered down under the market tents during a short rainstorm.

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These guys were playing for change. Notice the “drum” is a turtle shell.

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Ray’s gotta have his starfruit…

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And this made me think of Kayla…

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Everything is so fresh – so colorful…

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Our first southern Mennonite sighting…this group seems to favor plain-colored shirts (all the northern Mennonites wear plaid shirts) and beards seem to be a must (more on this topic later).

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market

We stopped for a beer and some mozzarella bites (served with a pepper jelly dipping sauce that numbed your lips, but it was delicious!) at Fuego, a restaurant on the square billing itself as “inspired Belizean cuisine.” The World Cup matches were going on, and a large screen had been set up at the central park. More fun people-watching.

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On the way back to the hotel, yet another guy asked us for money (which is a common occurrence in Belize – I hate to be heartless but gringos are the usual targets). We said sorry and kept going, and behind us (loudly) came the refrain of the Tracy Chapman song: “Sorry…is all that you can say…years gone by and still…words don’t come easily…” Okay, so this one gets points for creativity – and I wonder how often he’s able to guilt-trip a contribution out of it. Though with a voice like that, he should just put a tip jar in front of himself and sing  – he’d make more $…

Ray decided to hang out on the balcony and watch the world go by from there, while I laced up my tennis shoes and went out and about for a photo-shoot. On the way out of the hotel, I got hung up by the beautiful fuschia bougainvillea through the stairwell window, and then draping gracefully outside over the sidewalk.

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This guesthouse across the street probably isn’t confused too often with the Hyatt chain (gotta love its selling points, though)…

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Some random street scenes, including some beautiful mural artwork on the sides of buildings…

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I stumbled down a side street and found this really cool mural along the police station / town hall.

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It was right alongside the Hawkesworth bridge over the Macal river back to Santa Elena – the only suspension bridge in the country. At one time it was also the only bridge between the twin towns, and since it is one lane, whoever had reached mid-bridge before a vehicle coming from the opposite direction had the right of way, and the other had to back up. Now there are two bridges, each one way.

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There’s a pedestrian walkway across so I strolled to mid-bridge and took a few snapshots, too.

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Note the other bridge in the background, where we entered San Ignacio from Santa Elena.

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We actually went back to Fuego for dinner (and more of those delicious bites!) and watched many of the town’s children and parents hanging around the square as the sun went down. The cutest Belizean twins – toddler girls in yellow sundresses – and presumably their slightly older brother were running all over the place like little Energizer bunnies. I kept trying to get a photo of them (Ray said “stalking”) but it was impossible. I finally captured one of them with her mother, but this doesn’t do her justice. Just adorable.

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Nights in San Igancio were an experience we haven’t had yet in Belize, since we make a point of getting back to either property before dark. First, from our perch, we could look down into nearby residences – several didn’t even have windows, just openings in the cement block, so we could see right into a kitchen or two and watch (and smell!) dinner cooking. Also, there was much more noise: Occasional sirens, traffic (including frequent revving motorbikes), people’s voices drifting up from below…oh, and the nightclubs. There’s two of them in San Ignacio, and our hotel seemed to be situated right between them. The heavy bass thump started around 10pm and continued until the wee hours – actually kind of surprised it’s allowed, this close in. But we were tired enough that we mostly slept through it, and anyway, it just kind of added to the overall town vibe – hard to describe what that is, exactly, but it’s cool.

About the time the clubs closed, the birds started, and then the church bells (calling all those sinners from the night before, I guess). So wonderful to wake up in cool, open air and just lay in bed drowsing…Ah!

Love San Ignacio – probably our #2 favorite place in Belize (but holding off on a firm pronouncement until we give Placencia one more try).

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