Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recalling Manatee Lodge at Gale's Point, 2004

The next morning at breakfast, we asked Nicole and the manager (sorry, I can’t remember her name at the moment) if they knew the person who had property for sale on the Northern Lagoon. We had found an ad on our internet search for 40 acres. They didn’t know the owner, but we were able to call him and arrange for a young local man familiar with the area to take us to see it. In the meantime, we made plans for a trip out to the cayes to snorkel and got our bearings for Gale’s Point. Gale’s Point has some international fame for its Garifuna drumming school. We walked south on the narrow road; in places the lagoon water was only feet away from either side of the road. We passed the drumming school and Gentle’s Cool Spot. We stopped in for coffee at Nicole’s friend’s place. This tiny enterprise, only ~10x15 feet, was also a dressmaker’s place and a tattoo parlor.

The weather was atrocious the entire time we were there, but we made the best of it. We made the attempt to get to the cayes. What a mistake! The first part was fine even though it was little drizzly as we made our way north across the Southern Lagoon to the Bar River. At the mouth of the Bar River is a protected area for sea turtle nesting and turtle count activities. But the force of the wind and the waves raised by the wind hit us when we got to open sea. We optimistically hoped the weather would clear and continued going. This was our first encounter with a Norther, and this one didn’t quit for a good week. We endured almost an hour of spine-breaking, air-born travel over high waves before we called it quits and headed back. Of course that meant another hour of return travel. Makes my butt hurt just to recall the pounding that we endured.

The next day, we set out with George to see the property on the Northern Lagoon. Again, the day was wet, but the wind was not as bad and the air was warm. It was an enjoyable trip. Very little of the shore of the Southern or Northern Lagoons was inhabited; the few structures that were present were primitive fish shacks nailed together from miscellaneous assortments of wood. We did see a fine dock and house/office that George thought was the beginnings of a development at the southern shore of the Northern Lagoon. We got to the property, which was very lovely. There was a dry weather “track” to the property from a dirt road which led to another dirt road and then a paved road. All-in-all not very accessible by land and several hours of serious travel away from supplies. Gorgeous, but not very practical. We did see jaguar prints (see slide show) and a couple of snakes that I wouldn’t let George kill. It would be a terrific location for a jungle lodge, provided you had enough money to put in a road. We just weren’t ready for that kind of undertaking. After exploring the area, we headed back to Manatee Lodge.

One reason we had chosen to stay at Manatee Lodge was its proximity to an underwater spring of warm water that attracts manatees. We took the canoe out a couple of times and saw quite a few manatees. We also explored the bit of land that separates the Southern Lagoon from the ocean and found a couple of abandoned houses and garden plants gone feral. What we didn’t see was other people, and that suited us. There was very little boat activity on either lagoon; maybe because the weather was not fine. We paid a visit to Gentle’s Cool Spot early one evening with some of the other guests from Manatee Lodge. Mr. Gentle makes wine from cashews, blackberry, and other fruits. Mixed with sprite, they were not bad. It was a real treat to sit on the veranda at Mr. Gentle’s Cool Spot (as I learned “cool spot” is another name for a place that serves alcohol). It was actually his home, as are most of the places of business along Gale’s Point. Manatee Lodge has a very nice library, which was another place we spent rainy days.

From Gale’s Point we went to Black Rock Lodge near San Ignacio. But that will be in the next blog.

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