We got up early and hurried down to the Swiss bakery in Placencia before we had to meet our flight out at 9:10 local time. Placencia was very nice, extremely laid back. We were offered pot more than once, met a lot of great Garifuna locals and had a really relaxing time. The Seaspray Hotel was adequate with hot water and fans in the rooms, but possibly the lumpiest pillows on earth. They felt like bags of hard styrofoam peanuts. But for $25/night we can’t complain.
Our flight turned out to be on a little 12-seat Cessna. The 20-minute flight followed the coastline over mangroves with distant mountains visible. Ian, the British owner of Hickatee Cottages met us upon our arrival here in Punta Gorda (or PG as it’s known locally). PG is the end of the road in Belize, no roads lead south from here. A 20-mile trek through the jungle would lead to the Guatemalan border. Ian informed us that it was only at the beginning of this year that PG became connected by highway to the rest of the country.
A TropicAir boarding pass
That's a paying customer in the co-pilot seat
Placencia from the air
Ian and Kate travelled for 11 months around Central America in the mid-90s before settling here in PG around 5 years ago. Hickatee Cottages is set in the jungles two miles down a dirt road outside the town of PG. Cottages surround a beautiful garden and two loop trails lead out into the rainforest for easy wildlife spotting (we’ve had no luck though). Ian reports multiple sightings of jaguars, several kinds of monkeys, toucans, boa constrictors and other exotic creatures. Upon our arrival, we were handed forms to fill out and note our observations of howler monkeys while we’re here. These observations will help a team of scientists sponsored by the Smithsonian who will be traveling here in the near future to make the initial studies of howler monkeys in this region.
A cool tree
Ian is particularly passionate about insects, birds and wildlife in general, and just a few minutes ago showed us a moth he had captured in a net that hasn’t even been named yet. Earlier today we asked him about tarantulas in the area and he brought us outside to find one. Within a few seconds he had found a tarantula burrow in the grass on the grounds here. He was unsuccessful in coaxing it out, but we did get a glimpse. We were just impressed that he found one so quickly.
Amanda’s research into mosquito species has continued here with much success. It seems like DEET, when combined with Amanda’s skin, can attract all sorts of annoying insects. After emerging from our short jungle trek, Clif noticed mosquito perched on Amanda’s forehead and slapped it, killing the mosquito and spilling its contents onto everyone involved. Amanda screamed and ran back into our room to clean it off.
Also today, we got the chance to explore the town of Punta Gorda for a few hours. Ian pointed out an old Confederate graveyard. It turns out that after the Civil War, many Confederate soldiers left the USA and moved to places like Mexico, Brazil and Belize. Some returned to the States after a few years, but many stayed and died in this part of the world. We’ll post pictures as soon as we get the chance.
Old Confederate graveyard in Punta Gorda, Belize
Till then, we’ll be dutifully listening for the howler monkeys for the betterment of science and knowledge (they come out at night). Good night.