So we’ve made it!  Our third country in what will be a line of many.  It’s funny to think of how much time we spent in Mexico, just over 6 months, and now how we will be crossing borders relatively quickly on our way down to South America.  I am anxious to hit the road today, leaving from the town of Flores situated on Lago Peten Itza, and head south on some dirt roads Kurt has dug up through consulting some National Geographic maps.

I will be sure to fill you all in more once we get a week or so under our belts, but for now I can say that… it is beautiful and the people are amazingly kind and friendly.  Like most things, we have been warned about traveling in Guatemala.  This may hold true for Guatemala City, though we will not be visiting there so we can’t say for sure.  As always, every warning we get and image placed in our head is noted, but is quickly dispelled within hours of being wherever we are.  It has been true for Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.  People’s ability to cast fear on what they may not necessarily have a firm grasp on never ceases to amaze me.

Here are a few photos of our first couple of days here.  I hope everyone has a nice weekend and can enjoy some outside time!

 

The obligatory border crossing photo...

Our camp sight buddies. The night we ended up camping near this pasture area, we had been getting dumped on by rain all day. We made a hasty tent set up above a graveyard at dusk and spent the evening defending our tent against leaf cutter ants...

The town of Flores, which sits on an island in the middle of Lago Peten Itza...

We found purchasing vegetables and bread from the markets in Santa Elena and picnicking by the lake was the cheapest way to go...

Not as colonial as some of the old Mexican cities, but there were some beautiful cobblestone streets to navigate...

The town of Flores is both colorful and accommodating. We found a room for $70 Quetzals (about $9 US). The room was nice and small, and included a fan and a bathroom, as well as free internet and a great rooftop to look out over the lake...

Flores is a popular spot for language students, as lessons are relatively cheap around the lake. There was no shortage of international travelers passing through the streets...

 

Kurt and I sipped a few beers in honor of St. Patty's day, now aptly dubbed Shane Patrick's Day, and watched the sun fade for the day...

 

 

 

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I’ve been listening to quite a lot of Bjork these days.  Dreamy music for these dreamy Belizean days.

At the end of the Hummingbird Highway, Kurt and I hit the Great Western Highway and made a big ol’ left.  We spent a good bit of time in the town of Belmopan, catching up on the internet and discussing reptiles and such with a man in the restaurant.  We also took some time and visited the hospital where Kurt caught up getting his Yellow Fever shot, something that will be essential for crossing into South America.  The shot was absolutely free and he was in and out in about 10 minutes.  Makes you really wonder why the US has to make it so difficult for all of us to get proper health care at an affordable rate.

It wasn’t long before we were scooped up by a loving family and offered not only their backyard to camp in, but also fed to the brim with sausage, beans and fry jack.  We watched the news all together, mulling over the catastrophe unraveling in Japan.  The next morning we had an early start which put us into the next town of San Ignacio in no time.

San Ignacio is a small but touristy town, used maily as a jumping off point for the nearby Guatemala border and the close ruins of Tikal.  We spent the evening out at some amazing waterfalls, Kurt doing backflips into the water while a local kid impressed us with his jumping in from fairly high tree limbs.  The next day it was a meander to the border and the exit was an easy one, costing us $37 BZ each , a tax we were well aware of before reaching the crossing.  And then it was goodbye Belize…. until next time!

 

Marie Sharp's, the Belizean hot sauce of choice. Made with the finest of ingredients, I was sure to pick up a bottle to bring along with us...

Kurt snapped this photo as we headed along the highway looking for a place to pull off and camp. I really do love the way it turned out...

We spent the night with Patti and her family, an extremely kind bunch of folks living alongside the Great Western Highway...

Like a good mother does, we were fed to the brim both in the evening and in the morning...

As excited as I am for Guatemala, I will be a bit sad to leave the Caribbean feel behind. I don't seem to ever tire of reggae music blasting at all hours, around every corner...

A good place to stock up on all the fresh fruits and vegetables Belize has to offer...

We passed through Santa Elena and crossed the bridge over into San Ignacio. These are considered sister towns and they are the last big towns in Belize, resting about 12 or so miles from the Guatemala border...

As I've mentioned before, Belize's first language is English, but there is a Creole spin to most of it...

Some places in San Ignacio have a very Louisianan feel to them, with very polished clapboard houses and big swinging porch chairs...

I normally do not photograph people. It is not something I feel very comfortable with, the idea of sticking a camera in someone's face has never sat well with me. However, I do want to get better at sharing images of personalities I meet along the way. I decided I am going to suck it up and start asking more people if I can take their picture. After talking to this Rasta for a while, he said it was okay and let me snap this one...

 

Coconut ice cream, one of the many things made out of the abundance of cocoas in the area...

 

And if I didn't need to give you one more reason to love Belize, there you go. Belize does work hard at respecting and taking care of its female population...

 

 

 

Our whole reason for first heading south down the coastal road was to eventually hit up the Hummingbird Highway and ride the north westerly direction on it.  As it is fully paved now, we were rewarded with a good day and a half ride, through beautiful, hilly terrain.  Belize’s greenery casts dramatic views along the way and each curve and sweeping hill afforded our legs to work back into the shape we need them in for the Guatemala highlands.

 

Greenery at it's finest...

The whole place smells like citrus, with orange trees lining the roadside...

We were constantly passed and waved at by huge trucks carrying the fruit here and there. Shown here is one of the loading stations situated at the edge of an orchard...

Kurt waits while I dry off after a swim...

And just to keep it realistic... unfortunately, even in the most prettiest of places, there is never a shortage of human generated trash, waiting to be burned for disposal...

Wanting to ease our bodies back into the constant sun, we took many breaks throughout the day. At one place we found some checkers to occupy our time...

All that hard thinking prevailed, as Kurt's last double jump really did me in...

The whole town gathered round for this match, so naturally we stopped in the shade to catch a few minutes as well...

Those emerald hills and painted sky were there around every bend, making for an excellent day of riding...

 

Belize part deux…

March 18, 2011

Given the impending wet season, we really are on the scoot to get down to Panama.  We forewent the southern part of Belize this go round, promising in our hearts that we will return one day and spend some serious time exploring the lower half and it’s subsequent cayes.

When I first arrived in Belize, I started to think of how I would extend my visa to stay longer than the allowed 30 days (something I’ve heard is pretty easy to do.)  I’d quickly fallen quite in love with the country and it’s people.  On this second return, we knew we only would have but a few days, traversing south and then west, before venturing into Guatemala.  We enjoyed them just the same, and soaked in the country with every mile we rode.

 

Jessica, all ready for school. We hung out a bit, camping close to her family's home. She told me she swims in the Belize river behind her and the dolphins keep her away from the alligators...

We linked up with the coastal road, which went south. It was beautiful, but very sandy at parts and full of jarring washboard the whole time...

With the scorching sun on our winterized bodies...

...taking multiple dips were essential...

Savannah-like in parts...

...spiky in others...

Roadside haircuts...

We took a hop out to Gales Point, and rode the path through town. It is said that Gales Point's modern inhabitants are the descents of logwood cutters or escaped slaves from the 1700's. One of the world's most renowned drummers and drum makers, Emmeth Young, also lives here...

 

It felt great to be back on the bikes...

...with days ending like this again...

 

 

Touching back down…

March 18, 2011

What took us 6 months to ride our bikes toward, we flew into in a matter of hours.  We were right back in Cancun, landing in an airport we had only visited once in order to try to extend our Meixco visas in their immigration department.  We stepped off the plane, tanless, carrying backpacks and wearing clean clothes.  The reactions we got were funny.

“Hey, backpackers!  Wanna ride? Wanna ride”  Wanna taxi?  Wanna go to the hotels?”

“We’re cyclists” we grumbled.  And then we started our walk out to the highway where we planned to hitch as far down to the Belize border as we could.

If you’ve ever cycled toured, you can probably relate to the feeling of pride you have when you arrive somewhere by bike, having rode there all by your own power and gumption.  Being without bike, we did not feel very whole.  Luckily, it only took us two rides to get all the way down to the border.  We arrived about 3 kilometers from the checkpoint and settled our tentless selves into a cheap motel for the night.  The next day, we walked across into Belize (not getting charged an exit fee this time, thank you Mexico).  We happened to catch a bus right there from Customs all the way to Ladyville, where the airport is, for $8 Belize each (total $8 US for both of us).

By early afternoon, we were unlocking the door that had safely kept our bikes from view in the semi-abandoned hotel next to the Belize Airport.  John and Judy, the missionary proprietors of the place, had kindly kept our bikes secure for the almost two months we were gone.  We can not thank them enough for this help.

We did unfortunately find, to all of our surprise, the room had not received enough ventilation, and most of our stuff was  molded over and the bikes pretty rusty.  It was a bit of a sock to the gut.  Based on the way the outside of our frames look, we shudder to think of all the deterioration there must be on the insides.  These last few months definitely took off some serious life from the bikes.  But… what are you gonna do?  We cleaned and fixed them best we could and washed our stuff, including our sleeping bags, which were very overdue for a washing anyway.

By the second evening in Belize, we were whole again, setting off in a direction untraveled by us.

 

From the air, back to the blue...

We spent the afternoon after landing getting to the border. Within two rides, we were there. One trucker gave us a ride all the way to Chetumal. I happily sat in the back singing along to the 90's power dance jams he put on especially for us. There's nothing like a little Ace of Base to get out those plane ride cobwebs. Overall the journey went like this. We hitched...

...we walked...

...we took a bus...

...and one more breezy ride...

...and we were back where we had left off,. the Ladyville airport...

The picture I know you have all been waiting for. That is where our bikes were stored for the time being, thanks to John and Judy, the owners of the joint...

Hello mold. I'm taking my pants back now, thanks...

And rust!...

Sheesh. Had we had more time and the circumstances been different, we would have definitely done a bit more research on a dryer place to store our stuff...

Some comedy for the day. Given the total house cleaning of the bikes and panniers, I was able to find this huge (the picture doesn't do it justice) rusty bolt Kurt had hidden in one of my pockets months ago, apparently. Go ahead, you can laugh. I did. And to think, I'm already a pretty slow buffalo...

What it looks like when our bags explode...

Both of our chains needed to be replaced. Luckily, we do carry extras that di not get rusted over. Kurt's is actually a chain and a half, given his bike's length...

And some new goodies were added, such as this little frame bag Kurt had made for me while we were in New Jersey...

It's perfect for holding all of those little bits that normally get lost in my handlebar bag...

And this great recycled bike pin, thanks to my cousin Toni...

 

Farm life…

March 14, 2011

For those of you who also read Kurt’s blog (and have from the beginning) the dashing Irishman mentioned in the Harriman post and this next little bit may sound familiar.  Yes folks, that is our good ol’ buddy Hubert.  Hubert was a roommate of Kurt’s back in Oakland (by random chance) and then coincidently my neighbor (also by random chance, and the way Kurt and I met).  When Kurt initially left on this trip, him and Hubert left together and traveled as far as Wyoming together, where Kurt set off north for the Canadian border, and Hue continued east back to the Big Apple.  He’s been living and farming the land in New York State for well over a year now, growing the most delectable greens the people on the West Side of Manhattan have ever seen.

We spent a few days up with Hue at his farm and used it as a jumping off point to go visit another cousin of mine living in nearby New Paltz.  Again, the days were fantastic and filled with great rides, fresh air, family time and a lot of singing and dancing to Justin Beiber songs (my cousin’s kids Callie and Daphne, not Hubert… at least not while we were in his company).

 

No farm would be right without the farm fresh eggs...

The talk of the town greens...

 

One of the highlights of our home trip was meeting Hue's fantastic girlfriend, and deer butcher, Sarah...

 

Sarah shows me the ropes...

Focus and precision...

Draggin, one of the farm's resident cats. Draggin was the only one of five kittens to survive in a litter. They don't call her Draggin for nothing...

Daphne and Callie, getting together for the morning brush before heading out to school...

Another day of super riding. We ventured back from New Paltz, heading for Hue's farm. Hue and Sarah met us down the road a bit and we toured the nearby mountains. The cold fresh air was completely rejuvenating...

The 209 Diner, located on.... yup, the 209. THE best diner I have ever been to in my life. The ordering ran the normal diner gambit... eggplant parm sandwich, Ruben, eggs, bacon and pancakes, egg salad, and a whole lot of fries...

...but nowhere near as good as this meal we all sat down to at the farm. Venison, greens, cabbage and various root vegetables. (p.s.- tasted to good I didn't even put ketchup on it!)...

My cousin Toni and the man with the green thumb, Hubert...

 

Another highlight from home and one that was put on the top of Kurt’s “fun things done while being there for Kelly on the east coast” list was a day we spent riding around NYC with my cousin Mike.  The weekend began with an awesome dinner with Mike’s wife Christina, their most precious of a child, Franky Beans, Toni and Parker.  It wasn’t soon after we got a great night sleep and were spoiled again by a morning breakfast, leaving time for Kurt to fall absolutely headlong into a Lego project.  In the meantime, I got schooled in some photography knowledge thanks to Mike, an extremely skilled photographer.  Check out his work at Beneventophoto.com.

Around 11 or so Mike, Kurt and I set out to ride around the city.  Our route took us from Park Slope, Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Redhook, along the water out to the George Washington Bridge for a quick visit to the Little Red Lighthouse.  Then we climbed up to the bridge and crossed it half way to get a view, before heading into  Harlem and Central Park.  We proceeded further into Midtown Manhattan, with all the jazz and blinking lights and show stopping traffic and commotion, then around St. Mark’s area and Thompson Square Park, before our final zip back over the Manhattan Bridge, round Prospect Park and a return to the house.  What a fantastic day of riding.  The smile on my face caught the wind and had me dragging at some points.  It was that big!  We stopped to marvel at the folks on fancy road bikes racing around the park, we stopped for amazing pizza, we stopped to carry our bikes up and down some stairs, seeking out a better commute route for Mike.

I’m not really a city person.  Especially New York.  I like it, and I appreciate it for all it has to offer with it’s history and  diversity, but given the option, I have for the most part kept my distance.  The day of riding a bike around rather than driving or navigating public transportation gave me a whole new appreciation for the city.  Or maybe it was just the nice time spent with Mike and the family.  Probably that.  Either way, I’m proud to say we zipped through one of the busiest cities in the world and came away with an awesome day had.

 

The view from Park Slope, Brooklyn...

I spent the morning learning about photography and the actual working of a camera and its lenses, something I had no previous knowledge of. My cousin Mike is a fantastic photographer (not to mention adventurer, husband, brother, father, etc.)...

Kurt and Mike as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge...

Midtown Manhattan. Believe it or not, a very fun place to ride through, keeping you on your toes at all times...

The architect and photographer at work...

The sub arctic science station comes to life, complete with a spiral staircase and connecting walkway (Photo: Mike Benevento)...

...and the excitement Beans woke up to when he got to see it in its finished glory (Photo: Mike Benevento)...

 

Nascar was just one bit of our time spent down in the DC area visiting my brother Kevin and special friends Kate, Alison and Kate’s dog, Poofy Dufkins. We also got out for a good ride in rural Virginia one day and down to Roosevelt Island the next, which is a pretty nice place to stroll around and read memorials about nature preservation.

It was on Saturday afternoon, after some great coordination by my brother Kev, that many, many folks gathered together in a downtown Irish Pub to raise our glasses to Shane and spend the night hanging out.  It took some kids 7-plus hours to get down from the Long Island area, and they came anyway!  Super rad.  Getting to be with such a massive group of kids, all hurting but ready to party down, was truly a fantastic way to celebrate Shane’s life.  I think about that night a lot now, and all of the friends, old and new, that I got to see and spend a little time with.  You guys and girls, and all the strength and love you have, are with me on my travels.

And then there was Nascar!   What a day it was!  Who knew getting together to watch race cars go around in a track could be so much fun?  My “guy” (Ryan Newman, based on a piece of paper I picked out of a hat) made it so far in the day, but got knocked out in a crash.  There also was a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’, pork pulling, chicken grilling, keg downing (though Lemery’s brew was the best J) and back patio chilling to be had.  A great way to spend a Sunday.  There will be no more eye-rolling at the mention of Nascar to this girl, that’s for sure.

 

Views from the saddle. A great day spent riding in rural Virginia...

...through quaint farmland...

We scoured the internet before we left, seeking out the biggest hills in the area. We got the rolling kind...

Preparation is the key...

Three of the finest individuals my lifetime has granted me with, dressed in their Nascar finest (Note: the photo stops where Perry's legs begin)...

Crowded around for the thunder of engines, we gathered to watch the race begin. Kevin was front and center...

Troy takes it all in. I'd like to think I wasn't the only one who learned a lot about the industry and downright lifestyle that is Nascar that day...

Another self portrait, as seen through Morgan's reflection...

That's how Kev and Kurt got it done...

 

Via Bicycles…

March 14, 2011

Right off South Street, at the corner of 9th, you’ll find THE greatest, neatest, nicest, funnest (not a word, I know), most perfect vintage bicycle store I have ever experienced.  I had heard a lot about Via Bicycles from Kurt, as he had worked here a few times while staying in Philadelphia in-between past adventures.  I had even peered in the window during another visit to Philly a few years ago.  This was the first time I got to enter the wonderland of a shop that is Via Bicycles.

I must note that as wonderful and inspiring and eye-opening as the shop is, my most favorite part was the owner Curtis, who is a good friend of Kurt’s.  Curtis is without a doubt one of the most down to earth, genuine dudes I’ve had the chance of meeting in a long time.  His love and care for the people and things around him emanates from his Super Mario-like stature.  Thanks to Curtis, we got to explore not only the many levels of his historic bike shop, but also got to experience some nice spots in Philly we might not have had we not been guests/friends of Curtis‘s.  Curtis let us crash on his futon couch and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to chat the evening and morning away with him before it was back to business as usual.

24 hours was way too short of a time to spend in Philly, but it was all we has on this merry-go-round of a trip.  Thanks to our time in the shop and our time spent with Curtis, my mind now dreams deeper when I dive into thinking about bikes and the lives they have and continue to foster through time.

 

Used bicycles, ready to find new partners, or for their new partners to find them...

I would argue there is no need for advertising, everyone in Philly knows where the best place to find a classic gem or bring their loved one in for a tune up or part...

Parts, parts, parts for the bikes, bikes, bikes...

A classic Columbia, the first mass producers of America bicycles...

Via definitely has the well stocked library feel to it...

The Penny Farthing. I'd like to add this is a true high wheel bicycle, not a replica...

Bicycle paraphernalia everywhere...

Some of my favorites were the bicycle themed old postcards...

...especially this one with the raised lettering...

Nothing bicycle related seems to get denied from the collection...

 

...like the embroidery...

 

Springy seats, a comfy suspension system for your rear...

Beautiful scrolly lugs...

A massive skip tooth chain ring, hearts and all...

A skirt guard so you don't get caught yours caught in the wheel...

The coolest, cutest bike in the world. Note: every rim captured in this photo is made of wood!

Old, old, old school...

Kurt with my favorite, most respected part of Via Bicycles, owner Curtis...

 

 

Harriman State Park…

March 14, 2011

About 30 miles north of my home town, just up a bit on the New York Thurway, is Harriman State Park.  This has been the outdoor stomping ground for the better part of my young life, and to me, it strongly rivals the beauty of all the spectacular places I have seen so far around the world.  Kurt and I drove up one Sunday with my Dad to visit his favorite market, Auntie El’s, and we took in a quick view as we passed along on the windy and picturesque road of Seven Lakes Drive.  Almost immediately we hatched a plan to get some winter camping in.

So, late one Saturday afternoon, accompanied by my cousin Morgan, we headed up into the snow and icicles.  The Appalachian Trail runs right through the most precious parts of the park, so huts are in place for all the thru hikers.  One of these cozy and well-built 3 walled structures was to serve as our spot for the night.  Though we arrived late in the day, our timing was perfect, with the sun was going down the glorious way I remember it being in those woods.  And the best part of all… our great friend Hubert came meandering through the snow, having taken the longer half-a-day hike in, just as Kurt was working his way into what would later become the wood for our not one, but two raging fires.  The night was awesome and merry, roasting pork and duck and donning our best beer jackets.

I was happy to add this experience to my list of fond memories of the times I have spent in Harriman State Park.

 

Heading up to the shelter...

 

And the beauty that resides in the park. I rest my case...

 

These woods are a home to me, this kind of moss on these trees more familiar than most things...

 

 

Morgan, Kurt and Hubert make their way through the dead wood. This process alone brings some good heat to the body...

New York state of mind. Kids sleeping in on a Sunday morning...

We spent the evening wrestling like 9 year olds and sliding down these snowy hills, and the night cozy and settled in the warm hut. Everything was about as perfect as it could be...

 

Back on track…

March 10, 2011

A big breezy hello from Belize!  Wanted to let you all know Kurt and I have made it back to some seriously rusted bikes and molded belongings.  But that’s the worst of it!  We made it down to the Embassy Hotel, just outside the Belize Airport, within a day of arriving at the Cancun Airport… a hitchhiking feat we are most proud of.  I will be back tracking a bit with the postings of some of the things we got into while home in New Jersey, but I will try to get up to date in no time with our current progress south.  Remember… you can always check our Spot page (follow the link on the Spot page at the top of this blog) to find out our daily locations via GPS.

I will tell you that my heart has gotten lighter and lighter with each passing moment.  Getting back to it has not been an easy task, there has been a lot of heavy thoughts and feelings accompanied with traveling again and being away from my family.  But, as I said, each day’s morning brings me happiness and excitement as to what might be up around the bend.

Looking forward to sharing it with you…

Gettin' back at it!...

Currently I sit in the Ft. Lauderdale airport, stretching my legs between connecting flights.  Yes, indeedy… Kurt and I are making our way back towards our bikes, which have been waiting patiently in a hotel just outside the Belize Airport.  Our New Jersey time has totaled just around 7 weeks, making it a longer than normal home stay.  Speaking honestly, there are no two ways to cut the pain we all had to experience together as we gathered to lay my brother Shane to rest, the reason for the emergency trip home.  I will tell you that the healing has begun, but there is a long road ahead all of us.  That’s all I’ve got on that topic at the moment.

The rest of the time was certainly filled with beautiful and fun distractions.  Below is a smattering of photos taken while home.  When the dust settled, it felt good to get out my camera and capture images and feelings from a place that is so familiar, yet seemed totally new in its own way this time.  This was also Kurt’s first true experience with New Jersey and getting to meet my whole BIG family.  Just his presence was my sanity for the most part.

When we first arrived, the earth was buried in snow and frozen over.  We stayed long enough to see the effects of a harsh winter melt away.  We were able to share in the first little glimpses of spring, seeing the grass again and hearing chirpy birds in the mornings.

I look forward to sharing the other photos and stories I have with you in a bit.

 

The crust, showing off winter's hard work. Shoveling out a driveway is no longer an action accomplished with just a plastic snow shovel. We had to employ some serious gardening trowels to break through the icy layers...

One excellent morning routine. Kurt watching Animal Planet with Amber...

Kurt goes to work on the borrowed Pfaff. A fine german sewing machine, the master sewer of our group worked out some repairs and made some useful bags and pouches for our bikes...

We attended the first Lehigh lacrosse game of the season. The men have dedicated their season to my late brother Shane, who was a captain of the team during his time at Lehigh. Before the start, we shared in a moment of silence with the players, the fans, my family and many of Shane's friends and teammates who came out to show their support...

No trip home would be complete without a visiting Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the home of my friend Melissa and her family. Besides being a fantastic friend, Mel is also an extremely talented yoga instructor, artist and graphic designer. Here is one of her latest works. You can find more work of hers at her website, Mesa Enterprises...

Mel's attention to detail and love for all things oceanic never goes unnoticed...

Yes, that is a crumb cake that casts its own shadow. There was certainly no shortage of food being dropped off at the house at all times. Kurt and I did our best to keep up with it all...

Gahhhh! At one point we took a trip down to Philly and DC and were kindly lent my cousin's car. My hope is that more people will get the same itchy feeling I do from numbers like these. There's no time like the present when it comes to trying to make moves independent of the oil industry ...

 

We took some time with my mom's middle school class, talking about the trip and answering questions. It was great fun. The kids are extremely astute and shared their own great stories of traveling, bikes, animals, etc. These bright kids even joked around with Kurt as he took a sip from the water fountain outside the class, saying "don't worry, you can drink this. no problem"...

 

 

A little self portrait while hanging out and having some coffee and tea after a quick morning ride...

And Carina, who braved the commute between Brooklyn and Jersey more in the last 3 weeks than she had in the last 3 years. As can be imagined, the time spent with family and friends was the most special of it all...

 

 

 

Our gang of five spent a few blissful days traversing the eastern side of Belize, making our way towards Belize City and further on to Caye Caulker.  The days were spent chugging along on flat dirt roads and the nights spent swatting at the mosquitoes and diving into our respective tents for relief.

As with our earlier experience with the folks of Belize, every interaction we had proved to be better than the last.  We met several road bikers along the way, all of which offered us places to stay or friends to contact along the way.  We enjoyed longer mornings with coffee and tea chatter and midday dips in tiny rivers.  After a failed attempt at visiting the Belikin Brewery together (too expensive for our tastes) we sat together making plans and tracing routes before splitting from Evan and Sarah, who were both headed to language school in Guatemala.

From there, Kurt, Silke and I put some pepper on it in order to get through Belize City and onto the last water taxi of the day. We’d been warned several times by many locals that Belize City is not really a place to hang out these days.  We take a lot of advice in stride, but this was one bit we did respect and chose to adhere to.  I did not feel uneasy as we rode through the streets toward the marina, the place reminded me actually of certain parts of East Oakland.  Either way, we did manage to grab the last water taxi to Caye Caulker and set off in the setting sun.  Kurt and I had plans to work with a school on the island, helping to teach basic bike maintenance.

Beautiful days...

...spent riding with new friends through the cane fields...

An impromptu break. The roads were quaint and quiet, perfect for allowing 5 cyclists to stop in the middle when the feeling presented itself...

How Belize does the mobile home...

Things tend to get a bit dusty from time to time (and a shout out to the Bikework's gang in Silver City, NM!)...

Nifty bike gate along the way...

Our scoot through Belize City at day's end had us looking backwards at the city's docks in no time...

Silke and I sat below on the water taxi heading while Kurt got to ride on top in order to keep an eye on his "over sized" bike...

Traversing the water we caught this view...

...and I expressed a heart-felt goodbye to the day's warmth...

Fruit of the tropics…

March 4, 2011

Cocoas…

Eye pleasing. A coconut tree can produce up to 75 coconuts per year. The sturdy, hard shells are used to make such things as bowls or buttons..

To begin the devouring process, first Jaime chops off one side with his machete. He gets as close as he can with a few whacks without demolishing the coco. The idea to chop at it enough to expose one small opening to sip the water through...

Jamie has mastered the art of getting into them and we were all handed coconuts with perfect sipping holes. Coconut water contains proteins, fiber, sugar, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and works as an excellent isotonic electrolyte, making it an ideal beverage for any body working on a hot day...

Once you finish drinking the water (there's not all that much in there) the coco is chopped in half to allow for the eating of the meat. We used other broken parts of the coconut shell as our scraping spoons...

Coconut meat, super fatty and relatively tasty...

Silke approves...