We set our alarm for 4 am to catch the 5 am bus yesterday to Belize City. We mainly wanted to check out a couple of little towns in southern Belize called Placencia and Hopkins. Three buses (with happily no wait time) and 7 hours later we were in Hopkins. About ten minutes after that Jim and I both came to the same conclusion – it was RIGHT ON THE BEACH, laid back and cheap – but very dirty, no high school and too many ganga smokin’ unemployed hustlers. Not good for Max. We saw a couple of places anyway. Seven buses and seventeen hours after we walked the six blocks from our hotel to the bus terminal in Corozol we arrived back at our our hotel tired but having learned more about the user friendly bus system, seen the mountainous rainforest jungles (beautiful even from the bum-sore seat of a bus) of Belize and none the worse for wear. We will see Placencia another day. Funny story – the old buses can get VERY crowded, often a seat will hold two women and four small children with the aisles packed as well. I offered to hold a little three year old behind me, two minutes later his twin brother wanted my lap as well and they were happy to stay there. The very ample woman sitting beside me had a big tray of nuts for sale. It was a bumpy ride and a long leg of the journey.
We had an awesome early morning bike ride to some Mayan ruins dating back to 2000 B.C. There was no gate, fence, visitor’s center, or even information plaque. Just a mound of ruins on the side of the road. With its wide steps leading up to it I imagined it to be some kind of temple. The dark cave-like rooms within the ruins were guarded by the ultra-poisonous (even more than rattle snakes) recluse spiders that were almost the size of my fist. Showing ontext in the picture would have been nice but getting that close didnt appeal to me. We returned to our small hotel for a Belizean breakfast of beans, warm fresh tortilla’s, cheese, avocado and scrambled eggs.
After attending a talk on the disappearance of the Mayans, the rest of the day was spent riding around (after Jim fixed my flat tire) exploring and looking for rentals. Tomorrow we are taking the 5am bus to Belize City and then on to Placencia in southern Belize to check it out. While Corozol is incredibly friendly, we are keeping our options open for now. I turned 51 today and I’m happily homeless. (except I cant figure out how to get the blasted pictures on. Will figure it out another day. I need to sleep)
It’s starting to hit me as I sit here in the bus terminal in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. We are on our way to Belize. Other than some fitful dozing on the plane to Cancun this morning there has been no sleep since Sunday night. It’s now 2:30 pm and the bus to Corozol leaves at 11:40 pm and arrives at 4:15 am so tonight doesn’t bode well either but rest is on the horizon. And what a horizon it will be. No argument that it has been a grueling journey lugging our two huge bike boxes stuffed with bikes and cargo, our 50 pound back packs and additional carry-ons as we navigate our way off planes, onto buses, and into taxi’s, back onto buses etc. It is warm and humid outside. When we finally get to the hotel tomorrow Gwyn (the good proprietor) will be able to smell us before he sees us.
The digestive cookie from Westjet didn’t take us far and we demolished a couple of tacos from the corner stand. Note to self – test the green stuff in the little baggie before slathering it on. I still can’t feel my lips or my nose for that matter. For now, we people watch in the Mexican bus terminal; the eager little man who rushes to help everybody with their luggage as he struggles to make a living; the Uzi toting cop sitting outside; the comings and goings of people going about their life. Beautiful children in their mother’s arms are everywhere
7:00 am Belizean time Wed. morning. After leaving home Monday about 2 am we have arrived. Halleluiah!! The taxi driver named Junior that took us from the bus terminal to the Sea Breeze Hotel here in Corozol stopped at a small outdoor stand en route and we had some fresh tortillas with beans and cheese for breakfast. Welcome to Belize!!! I will try to figure out how to post some pictures without Sabrina’s help. if I get into trouble Jim will be able to figurwe it out but he is sleeping right now as he got significantly less sleep than I did.
WE DID IT. After months of training, the Rhode Island Half Ironman is behind me. A 2 k swim, a 90 k bike ride, and a 21 k run in that order. My goal was to crawl in as an official finisher (no later than 8 1/2 hours after starting) but my fervent hope was to do it in under eight. Jim was convinced I could. I wasnt so sure. But 7 hours and 53 minutes after I ran into the water I staggered across the finish line. Jim was an awesome coach. He did it in 6:40 and Sabrina did it in 7.
My eyes were already wide open when the alarm went off at 3:30 am. After quickly getting ready we drove off to the convention center downtown to catch our 4:15 shuttle to the race site. The walk to the T-zone felt surreal. High performance athletes were carrying their bikes while we carried a blanket and leftover pasta from supper the night before – like we were going on a picnic. It was still dark outside but as we walked up out of the tunnel we suddenly could hear the loadspeakers and saw the T-zone with the floodlights blazing down on all the bikes stabled there. My heart started to race.
Waiting by the water I was surprisingly calm. I had put in a lot of hours and all I could do was my best. But still, those buoys were a long way out. The gun fired and I jumped into the fray. (Sabrina was in my wave of “over 50 and below 29” but Jim’s wave started half an hour later). I felt ok pacing myself. By half way through the bike I couldnt feel my feet anymore and I also knew I had oozing welts on my sit bones. (I will know for next time that I need some kind of lube oil). There were no calamities. The worst that happened was I went into a guard rail trying to avoid broken glass and my chain came off. At one point I hit 60 k an hour going down a big hill and that was terrifying. All those bikes flying down the hill. If one person went down it was going to be a train wreck. When I started the run, all I could think of was: how was I going to do 21 kilometers. It was 31 degrees outside. Thank goodness for the great nutrition and water stations every mile. I used them all. Ahhh….its over.
It is the night before our half ironman, which to me is the springboard of our adventure for the next several months. I can’t believe it is actually here. Jim, Sabrina and I spent the day here in Providence, Rhode Island picking up our race kits, sorting and filling our various swim, bike, and run bags and depositing them in the transition zones, checking in our bikes, and other must do’s. It is all rather intimidating. I swear there is more money in bikes here than the Wall Street coffers. I was pretty tickled with all the free samples of gels, bars and water bottles. Hmmm. I just realized the contrast of that. Anyway, we are off to bed. Nerves are high and 3:30 am will come soon.