Guatemala Diaries, Part V
The boat from Livingston, Guatemala to Punta Gorda, Belize, took about an hour and a half. I thought the ride was fun. M. and Alexis had a miserable ride but rebounded fast. They’re not complainers, those two. I was having such a good time on this trip and I hoped they were, too. I may never know.
We waited two hours for our bus to Independence, sitting on benches on the bus station porch. I read a book about dams and politics that I will never finish because I already know why people build so many dams — it’s because people are jerks!
I walked around for a bit. Belize is silly with these orange flowering trees called Mayflowers that are beautiful against the sea. I went into a small public library. Their collection was haphazard and expected, lots of Sidney Sheldon and encyclopedias, The Bluest Eye, and a brand-new hardback of Amy Poehler’s book. I picked up some novel I have never heard of that looked good. No one had taken it out for years.
“Can I buy this?” I asked.
“No,” the librarian said.
The trip from Punta Gorda to Independence was two hours, on a school bus. Then came a short taxi ride and then another boat, twenty minutes through an alley of mangroves, to Placencia.
There was some anxiety when we arrived because it was a low season and there did not seem to be a lot of choice where to stay. We went to one hotel but it was kind of expensive. So M. sat on the beach and Alexis and I went off in search of an alternative.
Stuff seemed closed, or semi-closed. We saw four white guys in board shorts throwing a football on the beach. Alexis and I looked at each other warily — I doubt either of us had ever voluntarily approached four white guys throwing a football. But we headed up the sandy walkway. It was a cheery establishment: bright yellow cabins with blue trim, a small pool, a bar, and in front, the water.
When we asked if there was someone we could talk to, they laughed and said they had not seen anyone for days. One of them took us across the street to a big orange house where they said the lady in charge lived. He had spiky dark hair and a sunburn entirely confined to the front panel of his thin body. “I’m Cody,” he said, stating the obvious.
We knocked on the front door, and no one answered. “I guess she’s not here,” I said. But Cody, drinking a Belikin (“The Beer of Belize”) that was certainly not his first of the day, wasn’t ready to give up. He held a hand up to his mouth and shouted “Yo! Is anyone there? Hello?” After a minute or so he nodded, and took a confident swig from his beer. “She’s coming.”
A sweet woman who was only semi in charge and only spoke Spanish appeared. She wanted $160 a night for the place, a small cottage with three beds, nice, but not too nice. I made a face — not because I thought it was too much, but because it was the same as the last place. She said $140, and I said we could do $120. She said fine.
Then Cody offered me a beer. Alexis said she didn’t want one, but I was sure M. did. Cody gave me two beers, drawing an end to what was by far the most gangster five minutes of my life.
Not a lot happened during our three days in Belize. We sat on a beach. We speculated as to whether the hot 5oish Belizean owner of our hotel actually liked her way older extremely dorky American boyfriend, who thought San Diego was the greatest place on earth. Cody and his buddies left and gave us all their booze. I worked on my stories and argued with people on Facebook about whether Elena Ferrante was boring or not. M. and Alexis read the books sitting around the rental. M.’s was a spy novel; Alexis’s, I, Alex Cross, a detective novel by paperback king James Patterson.
James Patterson’s author photo takes up the entire back cover of his book. We stared at him for a while and decided that he was the kind of guy a woman meets and plots to marry and then slowly poisons or just fucks to death, for his money of course. Belize was beautiful, relaxing, and full of men being put into the James Patterzone. Based on my short visit, there’s not much else to say.