Sunday, August 10, 2008


It suddenly occurred to me today that I haven't yet spotted a church in Placencia. This is unusual because most Belizean towns possess several - in P.G. I had located three (Anglican, Methodist and Of the Nazarene) within ten minutes of my arrival. Maybe reggae does the trick here? Come to think of it, I can't recall one on Caye Caulker either.

Anyway, I've had a job and a half over the past few days avoiding the kind of 'fellow-travellers' whose every third word is "like" - the itinerary swapping, gift shop-dawdling Septics. And if they weren't bad enough tonight I sat at a table next to four young English girls whose tense discussion about their food and cigarette budget made me feel like a fly on the wall in the Big Brother house.

If V and I have one very significant character trait in common it is a loathing of doing anything in groups....especially groups comprising members of the above-mentioned sub-types. And yet I so want to go snorkeling tomorrow and that is one activity here where you just have to grin and bear it and clamber onto the boat with all the freaks.

Belize attracts a different calibre of gringo. Suffice to say that the ones that settle in Guatemala are less likely to open up a cafe called 'Ron and Deb's Place'. It's vaguely more family friendly and also pulls in a few of those bland vacationing couples. Guatemala on the other hand specialises in caitudos and the kind of penny-pinching retirement age yanks you tend to find trapped eating the gunk in Las Palmas.

Fortunately Guatemala is comparatively free of the worst of Central America's wandering tribes - the dive bores. What is it about sub-aqua that can turn a decent human being into a kind of honourary howdeedoody, who can't wait to establish just enough shared interest to set up one of those competitive conversations that typically runs "The shark was this big, the hole was that deep, the cost was so cheap etc."

I once found myself unexpectedly surrounded by around six scubores in the midst of such an exchange in a swimming pool at Tikal and had to clamber out fast before I ended up face down in the water and in need of one of them to perform CPR on me.

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