the immigration procedure is straight forward and i was in belize in no time. the first kilometers i wasn’t that impressed by belize. like many developing countries there were not many places along the road which invited to stay or to take a closer look. the first place which did was orange walk. it was after my first night of wild camping and this was a good place for a late breakfast. i got some delicious sweat bread at a bakery and some cocoa butter to protect my lips against the sun before taking a rest at the central plaza.
this is the first time i saw a couple of mennonites, immediately recognizable by their way of dressing and their fair skin. i later learnt that they are highly respected in belize because of their craftsmanship and though living their own lives within their communities are integrated because of the work they do for and together with the other locals. apart from that, most agricultural produce come from these communities and many belizeans are happy that the laborious work on the fields is done by the mennonites these days.
after breakfast i went on to change my remaining pesos. no bank is willing to do so but i heard about a place which changed small amounts. when i asked around for it, i found out it was closed and replaced by the chinese store i just went to and was directed towards a mayan tortilla manufactory instead. this place is great. machinery that looks like out of a museum is humming away in this busy place even hotter then the outside and produces corn tortillas in different sizes which is packed right out of the machine into small packages before being weighed and sold for a small amount to the waiting customers. while making a purchase i could change my pesos and happily returned to the bearable heat outside.
making my way out of town by noon, i continued towards the crooked tree sanctuary. after the turn off and a bumpy three mile ride, the road just ended and where it once continued the lagoon had spread out, making the small village an island. i was about to turn back when i met a mason coming back from work in belize city. he told me the coast guard came in providing emergency relief and is running a boat shuttle that was to arrive soon and we made our way jpast the parked cars and school buses to a makeshift pier out of wooden pallets. to bring the school bus over from the village to the road not effected by the flooding was one of the first concerns of the people and now every morning between five and seven, school children, teachers and workers make their way across the lagoon before continuing by road and life just goes on. with one exception: the tourists stay away. it takes at least two weeks of dry weather before the lagoon will fall back to its normal level.