We only slept about as well as one would expect when in a new place and a new bed. The room was comfy and the A/C was nice and quiet, a welcome contrast to the crashing sounds going on all night at the previous resort. It was also nice to wake up without a bunch of new bites all over my lower legs and feet. We rose and readied ourselves for the early communal breakfast that was served in the big house. As we approached the house, Smokey the cat kept pace with us and then, to our amazement, opened the house's sliding screen door with his paw and sauntered inside. We followed him into the house without knocking and when Anna greeted us we explained that Smokey had invited us in. An elderly couple stood at the drink table considering their options. The wife said to her husband, "Sírvame" (Serve me). This was a phrase we heard her say to him multiple times after that. As he complied, she began to complain to him in Spanish that the mosquitos had been "biting her ass" all night. I smirked, and she looked at me suspiciously, probably trying to figure out whether I had understood what she had just said. They soon joined us at the table, and we learned that they were Honduran and were in town to attend the Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School's 50th Anniversary Conference. Our only other table mate that morning was a young woman who was a doctoral candidate in school psychology. We drank coffee and ate potatoes and breakfast sandwiches while getting to know one another in a bilingual fashion.
We returned to our quarters intending to take a mid-morning nap, but then decided to swim instead.
Applying sunscreen is serious business
Cha approaching the pool, guesthouse in the background
Brightly colored flowers where numerous hummingbirds flitted around to feed surrounded the pool. Gentle butterflies fluttered by while menacing insects buzzed my head every time I surfaced for air. New birdsongs I had never heard filled the air. Geckos skittered around on the rocks lining the flowerbeds and climbed the building walls, feasting on bugs.
Charlie doing his muscleman pose
Skillfully standing on one foot
The owners' home next to the pool
Charlie's daily activities
After our swim we did manage a short nap, and then consulted Anna on the details of our planned excursion to town. She informed us that a baptism would be taking place in the pool that afternoon and apologized for it being temporarily unavailable. We told her it was no problem; we were certainly more fascinated than put out. We strolled into town at a leisurely pace, meeting the stares of the occupants of each passing car. At one point we passed two tiny, barefoot Mayans, standing well shy of five feet tall and bearing heavy loads on their backs. We quietly marveled at their slightness; next to them we were giants. Then we stopped into a Chinese-owned grocery store, the back aisle of which literally smelled like dog shit. There we gathered soda, chips, hotdogs, ramen, tortillas, and cheese, and then paid the woman behind the counter, who acted like she didn't want us there. In fact, she talked on the phone during the entire transaction, collected our money without thanks, placed a plastic bag on the counter for us to carry out victuals, and nonchalantly walked away.
This, along with the previous day's interactions with locals, led us into a discussion about how people in Belmopan seemed to regard us with either apathy or suspicion. In contrast with the people we had encountered on Ambergris Caye, these folks had better things to do that worry about whether rich tourists were having a good time. Their every move did not depend on the tips they might earn for it. We couldn't even get a smile or a greeting from anyone the way we had during the previous days, when people bent over backward to make sure we had what we wanted. It didn't really bother us though, and we chocked it up to cultural differences, although it didn't actually differ much from our day-to-day experiences in frigid Seattle. Charlie and I are both fairly introverted, so I can't say we enjoyed constantly being hit up by all the enthusiastic vendors of one thing or another (rides, trinkets, weed). We generally liked to be left alone and the residents of Belmopan were all too happy to oblige.
When we reached the town center, almost everything was closed. An open-air market stood smack in the middle of the big central plaza, where a few stalls were still open. We found one food stall still serving a couple of patrons. I inquired as to whether they were still serving food and an angry-looking young woman informed me that all they had left was beans, rice, and chicken. We accepted this fact and sat at a table while she and a few other women busied themselves in what appeared to be a reasonably clean kitchen. The angry young woman brought us two large plates of food and water, and we ate very quickly and quietly, not wanting to enrage her further. The food was good, but I envisioned myself becoming violently ill later on, hearing the voice of the knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as he matter-of-factly states, "He chose... poorly."
We stood to leave and I addressed the angry woman to inquire about how much we owed. I handed her the equivalent of $10 USD and we awkwardly took our leave, wanting to get out of the eerily quiet town center as soon as possible. As we walked back to Twin Palms, no one except potential cab drivers paid us any mind. At one point we passed a skinny man, who was clearly a career substance user, scolding by way of gesture a younger man for being covered in tattoos. Either the older man was deaf and/or mute, or they didn't speak the same language because the only words uttered in the exchange were the younger man demanding, "Why, why, why?!" In turn, he gestured a reprimand toward the older man, criticizing him for sniffing glue. It was a fascinating exchange.
The humidity that day was so severe that, even though I didn't feel particularly hot, I sweated so profusely that it was if I were standing under a drizzling faucet. By the time we reached the B&B, my shirt front and hair were soaked. As we walked down the private drive to Twin Palms, two wild green parrots flew overhead. I had never seen parrots that weren't someone's house pet so this was pretty exciting. We paused uncertainly as we entered the property, having arrived right in the middle of a pre-baptismal prayer at the pool. We could see a small group of people gathered around, heads bowed, along with a recently baptized individual sitting at the pool's edge in wet clothes. We waited for the sound of a quiet "Amen," the splash of another baptismal candidate being dunked, and the subsequent applause before proceeding across the patio into our room.
I immediately stripped off my damp clothes and lay down on the bed under the cool breeze of the A/C. We waited a while for the religious folk to clear out and then I donned my swimming gear again. Cha marveled at the fact that I wanted to swim again so soon. "I just got dry," he said. He reluctantly waited at the poolside in his trunks, insisting that he didn't want to get in, and then surprised me by suddenly tipping into the water, head first, from a sitting position. To be fair, it was kind of cold. We swam a short while and then went in to shower. We compared tans, and then Cha drenched himself in bug spray and went out to smoke a cigar while I stayed in and placed FreeCell. After a while I went outside again and found Charlie chatting with Anna and her husband, Tim, who were sweetly cuddled up together in the patio swing with Smokey the cat lying at their feet. I sat down with Cha and saw a little frog jump out into the light of the garden lamp to hunt bugs. Suddenly, its gummy tongue launched outward and snagged a tiny winged created. I was super excited because it was the first time I had seen a frog tongue in action in real life.