ONE THING A DAY
Well the first week has probably defined the rest of our life down here …SLOW PACED……we arrived and stayed in a B&B. Remember it was so hot the day we crossed the border, well we have air con in our room but we have made a pact never to use it , so we have a drink and go to bed …oh boy it was hot and there was no fan in the room ….but we took a cold shower ( about 28 degrees water temp ) and toughed it out , got up in the morning and asked where we could buy a fan .. hotel owner said every room has a fan ..the lovely maid had taken it out of our room and used it to dry the floor elsewhere ……YEP THIS IS BELIZE 🙂 ( A guy has just ridden past it’s 7am in the morning shouting get your CHUNKY meat pies …everyone is in bed, the bay is dead calm and a parrot is sat on a telephone pole looking at him.. BIZARRE )
So we decide to open a bank account and have researched this before leaving the UK ….sounds like money laundering is a problem down here and you can only put £3300 in the bank a day ( there must be some fat matresses in Belize) it was too late for us – i had £5000 in my pocket and wanted to put it safe. We sit down and she asks me for 2 bank references but i only have one bank reference ..you need two she says ..i have banked with the same bank for 20 years… mmmmm you may be ok ( just may be ) so i hand over the money at a little desk, but don’t feel too concerned as the bank vault is wide open in the middle of the bank right infront of me ( two bank guards slouch against the wall in a half daze ON HIGH ALERT) She says there is too much money here you’ll have to pay some more in tomorrow ….or leave it here with me and i can pay it in for you ….now the pay slip she has written out has been corrected as she made a mistake (but is not clear) excuse me is that 5 or 3 thousand? i will make it right tomorrow ……mmmmm give me 2 back and i’ll pay the rest in tomorrow myself ..no sir it will be ok (SURE IT WILL) so the money is paid in then she says i need a reference from someone who has known me a year ..i said no problem – and the final thing is a utility bill from where you are staying …..but we are in a B&B ..well ask them for one ..or show me one from home …..if you don’t you can’t withdraw the money you just put in …i laughed ( now i have to buy a gun to go to the bank to take out the money i just put in…. SURELY NOT!!!!!)
Another day, another task – so we decide to pay the rest of the money in and go and find bikes well we trek around find some bikes but he asks us for 10 dollars more than what we have been told – this is known as “THE GRINGO PRICE” So we walk off have a look at the quite large daily market..a bit like Worksop market but without all the tatt and the crowd of walking stick wielding benefit claimers. Siesta …and the day is gone.
Another day, another task – so after some winding up and down streets we eventually find the phone place to get a sim card, we walk in…. it’s like a meat locker or the despatch at Solway Foods (as a matter of priciple do we ask them to turn it off whilst i do business). Now when we went to the bank there was a big row of chairs and i was asked to sit with everyone else and wait ,which we did. After half an hour the people never moved and other people were walking in off the street and getting served. So i took it that it was the same in the phone shop…..a guy got up and left so i went up and then was told to sit back down and wait ….the man was coming back, he only went to get something from his car…i have been told to smile sweetly and say ok ….which i did ( keep smiling i say to myself)….then our turn came and we got our UK phone out …it will be blocked she said ..( a ploy to get us to buy a new one) nope i had it unblocked before i left…mmmm she says we’ll see….now i have chosen the more mature lady as she looks like she’s has worked there donkeys years and must have done hundreds of different types of phones ..but i open the back and take the battery out and she quizzically looks at it shakes her head and puts a trial sim card in …..waits 2 minutes nope it’s blocked no signal …nope i say it’s unblocked..this goes on for another 10 minutes so i’m reaching over to look at the phone she says “HANG ON A MINUTE” the sim card is in upside down (how i didn’t piss myself laughing i’ll never know ) i smiled sweetly – easy mistake to make!!!! another half an hour connecting it to the system ..we could now contact the world again (yawn). Siesta time.
The average temp down here is about 30 degree’s celcius (yep come rain or shine) and walking has to be done slowly ( if you rushed you’d crash right in to next month) So, we need some transport….go look for bikes again….two hours of snail paced malingering and we return to the first bike shop we went in. I haggle hard with him for 1 hour in the sticky heat and get the best deal in town ..2 bikes ,with basket and mud guard for us$255 yep i managed after one hour to get £3.60 off ! Then he only wrote up half the bill so he wouldn’t have to pay the tax himself ( well things happen in cash businesses i was no Angel myself) i sat outside whilst they fitted the mud guards and was approached by one little drunk man drinking moon shine from a water bottle. You want ganja man? ..not today thanks! two minutes ….hey john want some smoke? another aged fellow showing me a man size bag of weed ..not today Joe ..he hobbles away not a care in the world. We hop on our bikes – automatic air con it’s lovely- the breeze, the bay….. The Freedom…we breeze around the bay call in at the hardware store buy two large six foot chains and padlocks… now lets see if we can hold on to them……TWOCing is common place all over the world and Belize is no exception ..so we hatch a plan to make them less desirable ..we buy a can of shitty black spray paint and remove all the shiny stickers saying 2011 model hurricaine special edition ..then pick up a rock and start scratching them to hell…. the maid comes out looks at us and gasps …brand new bikes what are you doing ..just making them fit in a little bit more ..i hand her the rock and she cowers away ..no i couldn’t do that to a new bike ..H says you know you want to ..a glint in the maids eye and she attacks the bikes scratching like crazy and laughing. We get the shitty paint out and spray anything thats MAGPIE SILVER to shitty black …..what story did she tell when she got home ” CRAZY GRINGO’S ” Siesta time.
Ok, so now we have 2 wheel transport we can now look for 4 wheel transport – a little pick up truck 4 cyclinder will do us just right ..Corozal town is jam packed with little pick ups just like we want , but there is not one for sale …now you have to remember that anyone will sell a fresh meat “GRINGO” their crappy pick up truck which is probably about to grind to a halt and die the minute money has exchanged hands. BUYER BEWARE!! so now the word is out we will see what comes our way …so we cruise around on our BELIZED BIKES looking to no avail.We call in at a bar to find a the Corozal county match play darts championship taking place (A Gringo social event) Brits, Americans, Canadians and a few inbetweeners..now the mosquitoes must be ferocious round here because the walls are full of holes ….on closer inspection the aged collection of darts players must be playing a points system where if you hit the darts board you lose!.. they are really good at this and the game lasts for ages…so we disappear from the melee’ Siesta time.
So our first week in Belize and the things we got done could be have been accomplished in a morning back in blighty! Manana! YEAH MAN!