there’s johnny: belize pt. 2

August 22, 2017

Day two.  I’m sitting on the beach drinking my Belikin, (National Beer of Belize!) starring at the waves crashing in. It’s Wednesday night in Belize, at the close of my first full day here. I’m at Barefoot Bar. A homeless dog sleeping at my feet, strange thoughts attack my brain. The pain creeps in. The sadness I can’t always escape. I’m pissed this is happening here, now. Since I arrived yesterday there’s been little of the the peace I came searching for. I’m getting emotional on this beach chair. Not here, not now. This isn’t why I’m here, I think. Maybe this is why I am here, I think. Sitting alone on the beach in Central America with a stray dog, watching the moon reflecting in the water and thinking. Calypso plays in the background.

I was a wreck before zip lining this morning until I took my first sail through the tops of jungle trees. Instant junkie. I could not get enough. Before I stepped off that perch, I didn’t know what to expect. IMG_0909My stomach was uneasy all morning. I was in the company of strangers who were all nice, but seem to view me as curiosity since I am at the resort alone. I guess I am. “So you really came here by yourself?” was asked three times already. It was hot in the jungle as we geared up and followed a trail of wooden steps and rope bridges. I can’t help thinking I’ll see Ewoks. Meanwhile bugs, snakes, and birds are all around. Our guides today can’t be older then 22. Before I stepped off and into the air, there was some trepidation. Gone the instant I am zipping over trees.  Fastest line you say? Let’s put that to the test. Flying through the jungle on a zip line checks off the adventure button. It was hard to stop myself from letting out a yell as I soar, so I didn’t.

Zip lining did the trick but in the afternoon I was back to the same restless mind and energy. Read…swim…drink….swim….sunbathe….paddle board in successive order. Paddle boarding was fun: turns out I’m a natural.  Who knew? But after I couldn’t sit still in my hotel room, so I grabbed a cab to town, looking for trouble. Laina, my Honduran cab driver spoke as much English as me Spanish. Made it all the more intriguing that we chatted the whole ride. She exploded with praise when I magically reached back to Middle School Spanish to say “25 minutes drive to town?”. Sadly that was as high as my Spanish flew. What to say about Placencia? The main village of Placencia can’t be more the 1/2 mile long. And, for most of the Peninsula you literally can look one way and see the ocean and look in one direction and see lagoon. The Peninsula is 600-800 feet wide at parts? It’s unmistakably third world. The village is unpaved, mostly shacks, mostly run down, interspersed with tourist restaurants, tour guides, gift shops and other novelties. Laundry hangs everywhere. The National cologne is bug spray. There’s visions of paradise sprinkled in. Laine drops me by the pier, the tip of the Peninsula. Vibrant colors  explode off the water, the cabanas and ships, floating and sunk. I wander and weave my way through all of the town in about thirty minutes.

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Walking through back streets in the town of Placencia, an old woman calls to me from the porch. We chat. She used to work at a hotel on Wilshire. She lived in Brooklyn before that. I tell her she’s following me and she replies, “Child, I’m three times your age, you’re following me”. She instructs me to go to Barefoot Bar. Says that’s where all the white tourists hang out. I ask where the locals hang out, she tells me no place that’s open. It’s Wednesday night.

That’s how I get to Barefoot Bar. That’s how I sit here. Still unsure what this journey will be. On the beach, thinking too deeply about myself. Thinking too deeply about the past; the future. I tell myself Belize, and what happens here will always be mine. I’m constructing a new past that is mine alone.

Still restless I take to wandering the town again, Maybe there is something I missed. I’m in search of what, I am not sure. A lot of the town has already closed. I walk through shadows. I’m hungry. I end up at a place called Rum Fish. It’s located on the second floor, a real estate office below. I sit outside on the terrace. Boys play soccer under lights across the street as I sip my watermelon caipirinha and eat coffee crusted snapper.  The drink and the fish are sublime. I try to misplace my thoughts in the hot night.

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