From Playa del Carmen to Belize, through 2 Police roadblocks, over 550 km’s, backtracking included, and a total of about 12 hours on the road, you would expect, being as tired as we were, we would have slept like corpses. Not the case.
The first day, in technical terms, went according to plan considering we left point A and arrived in point B. Everything in between however, had caused some stress and even though, laying down in that hotel in San Ignacio, I had never been more physically comfortable in my life, I could not relax, let alone sleep. The original plan had been to spend the night in San Ignacio, and head towards the Guatemala border the next day, however with it being the weekend, and with Day 1 abruptly teaching us that insurance is very important, we decided not to risk the drive to the border, even if it was only 10 minutes.
Also, judging by Day 1, the cost may be considerably higher than we expected. Putting aside the fact that we had to grease the cops hands with a couple hundred bucks, we still had to pay unknown, and probably fabricated “fees” for Winston, the pitbull, even though he has all his shots and papers. Insurance, gas, border fees, other made up costs and accommodation that is open to housing a dog, tends to be more expensive, was proving to add up quite fast.
We would spend the next couple days in San Ignacio, and evaluate our situation and make some adjustments if necessary.
What is San Ignacio? Well, when you arrive at night, it doesn’t seem like much. When the sun comes up, it still doesn’t seem like much, but the crawling, relaxed way of life very quickly grew on us. Coming from Playa del Carmen, which exists because of tourism and resorts, a place like San Ignacio, with a grungy sort of charm to it, felt very real and was a very welcomed change. Sitting along the Macal River, most of the things to do in San Ignacio, revolve around the river itself. We grabbed breakfast and a coffee at the main eatery in town called Eva’s (get the stuffed Jacks!) and as Winston sat under the table, we chatted about the first day, and looked to find the humour in it, and at the same time, forget it happened. A very nice gentleman from The States, cruised past and struck up a conversation with us, and mentioned about exploring the river bank, and being that it was already getting towards the afternoon, on a lazy Sunday, I opted to take Winston for a stroll and check it out.
Leaving the town, you walk past the market on your right, and continue straight until you pass Midas Hotel on Branch Mouth Road. Within minutes, you will be in the fields and feel miles away from civilization. The Macal River running along your right side, the Mopan River appears on your left, and as the muddy path comes to an end, a beautiful spot of where the two tributaries have split and made their own paths, from the Belize River.
In terrific company, Winston and I sat and watched two locals try and maneuver a small boat across the slow moving river, by standing in it and pulling themselves across with some rope strung between two trees. With a couple failed attempts close to shore, and getting their rolled up pant legs wet, we decided to turn back, head towards the town, meet back up with Steve to put together a new game plan as to how this trip was to proceed.
Unbeknownst to me, Steve had met a couple locals, received some news from back in Playa, and had already put together a rough game plan that would keep us in San Ignacio for a couple more days.