A slightly sprained ankle earned me an extra day off this week. Instead of relaxing by my hotel pool, I spent the first one catching up on writing and on processing photos. Plus, it was pouring and despite the gorgeous view from Cahal Pech Village Resort and the equally gorgeous swimming pool, I didn’t get to take advantage of it.
Today is my bonus second day off and I decided to spend half of my day in downtown San Ignacio. I ventured there earlier this week, but the roads were shut down, there were big trucks everywhere repaving the roads. This morning everything is back to normal and San Ignacio is its bustling little self again. Walking around town, seeing new things, observing the way of life and shooting; it’s my way of relaxing.
Here’s what I did this morning.
1. I had a Belizean breakfast at Pop’s
I loved Pop’s. My guide Anastasio from Pacz Tours tipped me off on it yesterday. Located on West Street, the street parallel to Main Street, it’s a super cute little diner-type restaurant and a real mom and pop restaurant.
There are only 6 booths that seat four people each, and only one main server but the place somehow runs very smoothly. The kitchen is open and you can watch the ladies making your breakfast, all fresh. Even Pop is back there, helping out.
There are other Belizean options, besides the one I chose above. I watch a few having a plate of bacon or sausage, avocado slices and fried jacks.
Major plus at Pop’s: bottomless coffee cup – the coffee is not only delicious, you get unlimited free refills with breakfast. I decided to try their fresh-squeezed orange juice too, and it rocks. Only US$1 for a tall glass!
By 9:30am, the place is completely full and almost everyone here is Belizean.
What did this breakfast cost? $14 Belizean dollars. That’s right, 7 bucks. The coffee was only US$1.
2. I browsed through a consignment store
There are lots of discount stores downtown. From Lebanese-owned department stores to Chinese ones for groceries, to Belizean owned for used clothes.
I have a penchant for clothes, as some of you know :-), so I decided to check out a consignment store. At Delia’s Classified American Clothing, you can get a dress for $5. That’s five Belizean dollars or US $2.50. The fancier ones are $10, the sales lady tells me. Everything is in good condition. And looks like it’s kind of popular with the locals because by 10AM, I’m leaving and more women enter the store to sift through the racks.
3. I talked to some Belizeans at Flayva’s, a restaurant and Internet cafe
I can never miss the sounds of Bob Marley anywhere I go. And I heard it passing by this colorful building. Okay, the “free internet” sign caught my eye as well. There’s a nice back garden patio as well and the staff is friendly. I could definitely return here.
4. I listened to some Punta music at Venus Records
I love African music. I grew up listening to it, from “makossa” to “soukous” and the list goes on.
Punta is one of the most popular sounds coming out of Belize. I discovered it myself last year. It’s the music of the Garifuna – African descendants who came to Belize and have their own music. If you’ve never listened to Punta or Punta Rock (the “modern” twist on Punta), you must. Check out Andy Palacio (rest his soul) on i-Tunes – he was Belize’s most famous artist. There’s also Paul Nabor, and the Garifuna Womens Collective (who I really, really hope to meet while here, somehow, before I leave! Hint to the powers-that-be who plan my days.
5. I relaxed by the Macal River
From the Police Station, walk down Main Street (also called Burns Avenue), and when you reach the intersection, take a right. Keep walking down and you hit the San Ignacio Market. Behind it, is the river. You can sit in the shade and take in the view of the water. You can swim too, as the locals do. The water is fresh and cool. No crocodiles here!
6. I stood on the street corner for a few minutes and people-watched Belizean-style
In the shade, of course. :-)
Some of the ladies were eating their breakfast outside their place of work, just watching the world go by and chatting away.
7. I burned my breakfast walking back up the hill to the San Ignacio Hotel
It must be 100 degrees today. It’s tempting to answer “yes” to one of the numerous taxi ride offers, but really, it’s so close there’s no reason to, even with my ankle because it’s gotten much better.
I have to say though, walking down that hill from the San Ignacio Hotel to town is way easier than going back up! In less than two minutes, my face looks like I just stepped out of the shower and my tank top is sticking to my back. A young Belizean girl in skinny jeans passes me, briskly and without effort. Have I lost my heat tolerance living in the US? Or is it just hotter in Belize than in the Caribbean?
I see the rooftop of my hotel in the distance. On second thought, after I am done with today’s writing, I think I’ll go enjoy the pool, cool off and relax that foot.