After our seakayaking trip we headed west out of Dangriga, through Belmopan to San Ignacio, a town in West Belize 10 miles from the Guatemalan border.  The trip was pleasant, it is easy to get around Belize.  Their bus service has no rhyme or reason to it, you can´t find out times of buses in advance or book tickets, but when you arrive at the station you´ll always find the right bus within about 15 minutes.  Withing a couple of hours we reached San Ignacio. 

At this stage it was necessary to count our Belize dollars carefully – once out of Belize we would get a very poor exchange rate against other Central American currencies.  We are still working off one credit card – mine – since Cathal´s was skimmed at English Harbour in Antigua.  What bad luck he has had – his Dad had just brought his new one to Antigua, Cathal having lost his previous one in Canada!  So now we are ultra careful taking out money! 

San Ignacio, Cayo to some, is a nice little town, with some nice chill out cafes, and a cute cinema.  We decided to pay a visit to Barton Creek Outpost, a small place 25k outside San Ignacio that gets a cracking write up in the Lonely Planet.  Getting there was half the challenge – it took several hours of being referred from cafe to local to restaurant to finally leave a message at Eva´s Restaurant that we would like to take a lift wih the owner out to his establishment the next morning!

So, Saturday being market day, Jim from Barton Creek Outpost duly showed up and we piled into his 4x 4 for the rough journey out to the Outpost.  Americans Jim and his wife Jaclyn have a fantastically chilled set up at the creek.  Their elevated wooden bar and deck area overlooks a river, which has the most perfect swimming hole you could imagine. 

Jane´s Tarzan

Rope Bridge at Barton Creek

A swing rope to launch into the water and numerous hammocks made it a paradise.  The Outpost is surrounded by tropical flowers and orange orchards, the noise from all the birds and insects was amazing.  We enjoyed lots of rum with fresh orange juice! 

The Britts & us

We camped by the river for a night, and enjoyed the company of Jim & Jaclyn and their three children Katelyn, Logan and one year old Cyan.  There were a few other travellers working/staying there, so we had good company.  Cathal lost a fortune in poker..well just $2.50 in real terms! 

From the Outpost we went on a hike through some jungle and into the Mennonite Community.  There are 23 families living in the area, for the most part subsistence farmers.  Mennonites came to Belize in the ’50s and ’60s and, under an agreement with the Belizian government, pay no taxes, don’t vote, and can’t be conscripted into the army in return for which they grow crops for the country. They grow 60% of the crops consumed by Belizians.  Cathal and I were intrigued by their way of life.   They live entirely without modern conveniences.  LIving in large wooden houses, each family can have up to 18 children.  They have no electricity.  They get around by pony and trap, and use public buses for longer distances.  We met 3 young boys out exercising the horses, skilfully riding bareback in their bare feet.   They were smiley and shy, but happy to chat.  They spoke with a German accent – German is the mothertongue of all Mennonites.  Later we met a young couple, just married 4 weeks.    They had just set up house on some land cleared by the husband over the past 6 years, using just a machete.  They had a 5 chickens and a rooster, a traditional marriage gift in their community.  They were dressed like a couple out of the 19th century.

Mennonites in their trap

We returned to San Ignacio the following evening    (20 April)   to find a very quiet town!  We made onward travel plans to get to Tikal (Mayan ruin site ) in Guatemala and went to the tiny cinema to pass the evening.  

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