12-26-2012, 08:41 AM
Joined: Jun 2012
Location: Winston-Salem NC
Lonely Planet says Belize City is fairly safe, with the most dangerous part being near the river. The hostel I chose for the night is next to the river. It is a dump, but at $12 a night, it is the cheapest option. Everywhere else was at least $30. It is dark now and I am hungry. The semi-slow French Canadian running the show suggests I eat at "Peoples". I can eat there or bring it back, but whatever I do, the hotel gate will be locked at 10 pm with no one entering or exiting until the morning.
I did not like the two-block walk to "Peoples" restaurant. This is the sketchiest area I have been in so far. The locals hanging out in the street stare me down as I walk by. I wonít be taking photos here. I just try to walk confidently and mind my own business. I spit on the road a few times to look tougher.
Once inside Peoples I don't feel much safer. The menu is on the wall and thick bars separate me from the man working behind the counter. In Belize everyone speaks English so it is easy to communicate, but they are all business here. Not too much chitchat. I get my shrimp curry to go and make my way back to the hostel.
For being a dump the hostel is set-up pretty well. You just have to get past the questionable wiring in the rooms and the giant spider that likes to hangout in the bathroom. The rooms are on the second floor and there is a locked gate coming up the stairs that protects a balcony over looking the road. This is a safe place to hangout, but you feel connected to what is going on outside at the same time. I eat here with three other travelers who are also on a tight budget and we swap stories for the next few hours. One man's life has been completely twisted and turned upside down in the last few months. He and his wife moved down here from Canada to retire, but were arrested for not registering their guns at the border. They went to prison where is wife got hepatitis from the poor conditions and passed away. Their camper burned down and all he was left with was his dog M&M. It is a wake-up call for me about the dangers of traveling. He is an example of how things can go from good to bad to unexplainably horrible in a matter of weeks. A man below on the street begs for my food. I am full and hand down what I have left. The Canadian worker locks the front gate and we all go to bed.
Two nights laterÖ
I wake up a few hours after going to bed to dogs barking in the street. Then I hear men arguing. Something about it feels odd. It is not a comfortable feeling. The yelling reaches a climax and then I hear it.
POP POP POP POP!
The dogs stop barking. A moment goes by with dead silence for the first time since I have arrived at this place. There is some shuffling and someone says the world "police". Then nothing again. Eerie silence. I pull back the curtain in my room, but the driveway gate blocks the view. Hmm...I think I just heard someone get shot! The rest of the night, dogs bark on and off, but I hear no more people. In the morning, I pack my bags to leave. The street is buzzing with normal activity. If someone did get shot, there are no signs of it now. Iím out of here. The crazy Canadian opens the gate for me and I ride towards Guatemala.
This story by Luke Swabb was originally posted on the RoadRUNNER blog. I thought you guys would enjoy it.
Seeking adventure and working for RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel