It almost looked like it would be a rainy travel day again, but thankfully the skies dried up just before Aaron and I headed out of our accommodations at Imperius Rex. We took a relatively short walk (thankfully, given our heavy loads) to the Hokey Pokey water taxi station, arriving around 9:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. boat.
I guess we may have been the last tickets before the trip was full, because by 9:40 we were loaded and zipping up the lagoon toward Independence/Mango Creek. The Hokey Pokey is the quickest way to get back to the mainland from the Placencia Peninsula, especially if you are heading south. Cost: $5 US per person.
We had planned to walk through Independence to the bus station. When we got there, though, a taxi driver gave us the irresistible price of $5 US to drive us, and with our loads, we accepted.
Waiting at the bus station, we munched on some snacks and watched the people come and go. There were a few Mennonites and more than a few Mayan people, most of whom in both groups were wearing traditional dress. Even with our unexpected early arrival, the 10:45 bus was at the station before we knew it.
This 2-hour ride took us through jungle, mountains, and several Mayan communities, with lots of large rectangular buildings sporting palm thatch roofs. Somewhere along the way, the Mennonite woman behind us tried to talk to me, and her English was some of the worst I've experienced in Belize. I felt bad, but it was rather hopeless. I do not speak Low German. She seemed nice, though.
At the town called Dump (no joke!), the bus hung a hard left and we were soon gazing at the Caribbean again. In a few more minutes, we were in Punta Gorda. The bus trip cost: $4.50 US per person.
A short hike and golf cart ride later, we were getting settled in at Mango Manor, our new abode. The house overlooks the Gulf of Honduras, and if you walk to the water's edge, you can see Guatemala across the waves.
Punta Gorda is the southernmost end of the paved highway in Belize, and it also appears to be the most inexpensive place we've been. I was able to book Mango Manor, inclusive of wifi and utilities, for just $500 for a month. More importantly, though, is what I'm going to term the "Banana Factor:" it costs $1 BZD (50 cents US) for 6 bananas in Hopkins, $1 BZD for 7 bananas in Placencia, and $1 BZD for 8 bananas in Punta Gorda. We will not develop a potassium deficiency here in Belize.
Having only been here a few days, I'm still taking in Punta Gorda. It's definitely vastly more authentic than Placencia, and even Hopkins. There might be a handful of tourists here at most. There is no beach to speak of, with the land dropping down to the sea, but that doesn't mean you can't dive off a dock if you feel the need to quench yourself with salt water. So far, the highlights have been visits to the Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory and the large outdoor produce market that operates four days a week (MWFSat).
I'm not sure if we'll stay here a full month, but it's nice to have the option. Although PG (as it's known) has four times the residents of Hopkins or Placencia, it's a pretty sleepy feeling place. We're also in the wettest region of Belize during the rainy season... probably a fantastic locale to crank out some artwork if nothing else.