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San Ignacio

Written on: Thursday July 30th, 2009

A journal entry from: Cycle Mexico - Panama

July 24th -31st

The 40.5km cycle to San Ignacio from Belmopan was relatively easy compared to the Hummingbird Highway as the hills were not so steep or long. The only stop that we made was for a torrential downpour, that soaked us in seconds. We dried off in a cafe for an hour, before continuing.

The rain can pour down at any time, with little warning and often for longer periods at night. Bridges get flooded and some roads become impassible. You can really feel that it is the rainy season, not only because of the rain but because of the heat and humidity in the air. The second day in San Ignacio it rained hard all night and all the next day. The bridge that we had ridden across to get to the town was flooded for several days afterwards.

We are staying in a lovely cabana, not far from the river. The place is called Midas Resort. There is a beautiful tame toucan who lives here, who likes to be fed fruit. He especially likes melon. It is great to see a toucan up close, as so far we have only seen them from a distance in the trees.

San Ignacio seems like a nice and lively town, with lots of restaurants and shops. We managed to buy a new phone (same number) which works ok. On our second evening we went to a Sri Lankan restaurant which was nice for a change. Otherwise Chinese restaurants are the most ubiquitous (in all of Belize that we have visited) except for local, smaller eateries.

We have been in San Ignacio for a bit longer than planned, as Yasmin has been feeling ill (fever, stomach pains). It is a bit better now thankfully, the fever has abated and hopefully we can leave in a couple of days. Luckily we have been staying in a nice place with a tv to pass the time. We have also had plenty of time to think and discuss our experiences here in Belize.

We have realised that although Belize is a very ethnically diverse country in a positive sense, where race or background seems to matter very little, there are other sources of conflicts. Although it seems peaceful in many of the places that we have been there is an undercurrent of unstability. We talked to young people who told us that they were happy to have reached the age of 20, but fear they will not last 20 more. At first we thought this may be a bit dramatic, but the same night there was a fatal stabbing in a nightclub here in San Ignacio. From watching and reading the news it seems that this type of incident is not too uncommon. For being such a tiny country with only about 300 000 people, the level of violence seems extremely high.

After having talked to these kids for a while they told us that there is a rivalry between gangs from San Ignacio and Santa Elena across the river. We later learned that the stabbing was part of this conflict.

Education is beyond the financial means of most people. We were told by several sources that it is necessary to pay for education, and it can cost $100 per term. 2 school girls approached us in Belmopan asking for money for their schooling. It is inevitable that many kids lead their lives on the streets instead of being in schools. It is very poor country and not surprising that kids feel that have nothing. Gangs are something to live, and die, for. With a government with these sorts of policies and priorities how can anything hope to improve ?

We have loved our time in Belize, but feel there is so much going on past the lovely Carribean islands and beautiful jungle. It is easy to feel impotent as a tourist when hearing these stories. People seem extremely friendly and happy even though their lives are often more complicated than it seems to us.

Total km = 576.6


From Jean on Jul 31st, 2009

I am enjoying reading all your adventures and seeing all the beautiful photos. Yasmin I do hope you are feeling ok now. Lots of love for you both.

From Corissa on Aug 1st, 2009

It looks like the two of you are having a lovely time. I enjoyed the pictures of the very tame toucan. Almost looks as though it is a stuffed animal... Take care and continue to have a wonderful time on your bicycle journey!

From Andy & Yasmin on Aug 6th, 2009

Hi Corissa, thanks for the comments. Yes, the toucan was wonderful -we wanted to take him with us!