Captain Morgan's and Day Two
Off to Captain Morgan’s
Satiated by my bowl of grass soup, I departed Lily’s. I was also just a tad mellowed by two beers. Eric was right again. I like Belikin. They have a few different kinds of ale and a stout. The stout is damned good. It is the perfect middle ground between European beer and the carbonated water my sons drink, calling itself lite beer. Full disclosure: I prefer medium English Ales.
I navigated the 12 yards to the pier where the boats pull in. I asked for a ticket to Captain Morgan’s Resort. Their pier is a regular stop on the water taxi routes. My terribly cute ticket girl suggested a round trip ticket. It saves a few bucks and since I knew I’d be coming back this way several times, I bought a return trip. Visitors and expats alike should always do this until the last trip out of San Pedro.
The boat from Belize City was pleasant, but these little taxis are a blast. You clear the end of the pier, turn north, and BAM! Throttle to the firewall. Six minutes later we are idling up to my stop. Backpack, over the side, soft side, over the side. MJ, (pause for old guy sound) over the side and onto the pier. Here, I pause for a long time. It’s almost dark now. I look at the coconut trees in the fading light. There are lamps scattered about the grounds. Some of the apartments and casitas are lit. It is very quiet save the fading boat engine and the surf hitting the reef a few miles to my back. There is only a hint of a warm breeze crossing the pier.
When I read the accounts of the younger travel writers, I sometimes get the feeling that they are either unimpressed with moments like these or that they don’t want to appear too awed. I can say with complete confidence that standing on that pier as evening falls, you will feel wonderful. I was looking at my utopian Kokomo. There was no music playing but the velvety bling-ling-ling of a steel drum band was softly echoing in my mind’s ear. I have traveled all over the world. I spent two weeks in great manor houses in England. I have body surfed on Hawaii’s north shore. This place got to me… instantly…and in a way unique to other new places. And I’ll let you in on a little secret; there’s nothing inherently amazing about the place. But I enjoyed every moment I spent here. Morgan's has created a place incorporating all the tropical stereotypes without looking schmaltzy.
For Rocky, Grassy Surf Zones
There is a three-minute walk along the pier and across the beach to the resort’s office. Between light posts and strings of lights stretched through the trees, the grounds are dim and intimate but there is light enough to navigate anywhere you need to go. From the beach you take a few wide wooden steps up to the bar/lounge in an open-air pavilion. A wide-screen TV dominates one end of the lounge, a bar the other. (The bar tends to close early. especially when it is slow) The furnishings are very comfortable and allow for watching sports, curling up with your honey, or meeting with a group of fellow travelers. Under all is a heavy wooden deck with a wooden roof above.
You drop back down to ground level, walk around the pool and into the office. Check-in is very quick. The staff is very pleasant. They are friendly in a very relaxed, genuine way. Keys in hand, I reverse course back to the beach, go about 100 yards south and find my quarters. It’s sort of a two-story casita. I have the ground floor, a one room flat; very “beach-y” and comfortable. I also meet my roommate Fred. Fred is a gecko. That night and throughout the week, he’d climb up onto the screen in the side window to check that I am okay. Perhaps he was just waiting for bugs attracted to the light so he could eat them. Either way, we got along splendidly.
I always prefer bottled water while traveling. The water jug in my room was empty. Little tip: Unless you are traveling with a small army, ask for a small jug from the front desk. I didn't specify and ended up paying for a giant office-type jug.
It was time to text herself, tell her I was okay and talk a little cutsie crap. But, there are no land lines and no wifi in the rooms. I guess it’s all about that whole breaking-with-the-outside-world-and-relax kind of thing. The lounge and pool area have wifi so I decided that was where I’d do my writing and communicating. Tonight, I’d splurge on the foreign cell phone rate and send my love first-class.
Excellent for Touring or Hiking
A Late Morning Stroll
I woke the next morning to a torrential rain. It sounded great. I grabbed my laptop, camera and a slicker, told Fred to have a good day and headed for the restaurant. Anticipating a long rainy day, I ordered an omelet (very good!), bacon and oatmeal. By the time I finished that rib sticker the rain had let up and wouldn’t return for the rest of the day. No biggee, I’d skip lunch.
I make it a point to wander aimlessly at least once, through a new town. So, on a Sunday morning with no real travel plans, I put some notes about the previous day on paper, had an extra cup of coffee and took in Captain Morgan’s and the surrounding area in the sunlight.
The beaches are narrow and there’s no real surf to talk about; that stays out beyond the reef; second largest in the world you’ll be told several times a day. The sand was a pleasant surprise. It is very firm. While it is easy to dig up shells, as I would learn chatting with a fellow guest later in the week, you can stroll the small beach in regular shoes and not sink with each step. You don’t get a lot of sand in your shoes while strolling through Morgan’s decorative, but functional, coconut grove.
After walking about a mile north, back, and then another south, I decided to head down to San Pedro. Water taxis leave from the resort’s pier several times a day. The resort also has it’s own boat taking people on packaged tours and diving excursions. If you’re ready to go when they are (about 6:00 AM) you can catch a free ride into town.
If you want the exercise, you can walk the three miles into town. I recommend you not go alone. The beach is nice and once over the bridge just north of town, you’re in tourista territory. In between is a bit of a tough town. There are parts of Chicago that are a lot worse, but a little caution goes a long way when traveling.
San Pedro hasn’t quite hit its stride in terms of tourism. There are some great areas, lots of shopping and the joy of walking through a town where the primary means of transportation is the golf cart. Merchants range from pleasant to shy. I was never accosted by loud hey-joes or had flyers from local clubs thrust into my hand. From the boat landing, I strolled north. There are lots of small condo operations along the beach that run the gambit in price and quality. In between are private homes.
It is difficult to tell when you are looking at poverty. While poverty there surely is, some of it obvious, I learned that Belizeans have little vanity associated with their houses. You could be looking at a house in town that looks like nothing special and it might have a poor family or the owner of a successful restaurant living there.
I build furniture as a hobby, so the craft shops always draw my attention. This is another area of eclectic juxtaposition. In some of the shops you’ll find cute little trinkets next to some truly amazing carvings and paintings. The high-end examples of both are as nice as anything you’d find in the better galleries in Key West. Pick something that will look good at home and buy with confidence.
I strolled slowly through San Pedro, at one point witnessing what I assume was a major traffic jam on Ambergris. Five golf carts converged on a small intersection from three directions. No one knew who would turn first or pass through the intersection. The hellish chaos passed with shrugs and waves by all the drivers before I could get my camera out and capture the moment on video. It would have been funny on Youtube.
I found myself standing in front of Caroline’s and grabbed some chicken. It was pretty good. Some of the reviews I read would indicate that others like the place a great deal more. Anyway, I recommend it.
Exploring the south side of town can be difficult. West of the tourist district is a residential area. I tried to make my way to what looked like a boatyard but the mud around a hotel under renovation, was impassable. I satisfied myself to further exploring the neighborhoods.
On my way back to the beach to catch the 5:30 boat, I met Edmund and his magic “macheet”; more interesting crafts. But it was time to get to Captain Morgan’s for happy hour and dinner.
And here I will end this subjective life masterpiece. Next time, Corozal.