Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Real Hot Day Trip

Life is moving along slowly here in South Englishtown.  On Tuesday, Dennis and I made a trip to Belmopan, the capitol of Belize.  We had unknowingly picked what was to be a day of record setting heat across all of Belize, indeed across the entire Yucatan Peninsula, for our excursion.  It was Real Hot in the Shade; click here to chill out to the music of Third World Reggae - one of my favorite reggae bands - as you read the rest of this post.

We needed to arrange for phase 2 of the solar power installation in May or June and to pick up some hardware supplies and food items that we can't find more locally.  The trip takes about 3 hours each way, so we made an early start in order to get back home before dark.  
We drove along the Monkey River Road (red) to the Southern Highway (yellow) to the Hummingbird Highway (purple) to get to Belmopan, about 100 miles there and another 100 back. Plus what ever driving around for the errands.  The thin grey lines are the boundaries between the 6 districts in Belize.  We live in the Toledo District and Belmopan is in the Cayo District.
We were on the Monkey River Road (dirt road through jungle and orange orchard) by 7:30.  Although the road was quite dusty, it was in very good shape - it only took about 30 minutes to travel the 12 miles to the Southern Highway. The Southern Highway takes you through the low coastal flats of orange groves, banana farms, and other agricultural endeavors surrounded by jungle and open savannah.  We made our usual stop at the Shell Service Station at the beginning of the Hummingbird Highway to buy a chicken and bean johnnycake (for me) and chicken torta and coffee (for Dennis).  

The Hummingbird Highway is breathtakingly beautiful.  It passes through the jungle-covered Maya Mountains which rise up steeply from the coastal flats; the scenery and vistas are stunning.  Equally breathtaking, in a very scary way, are the 7 just barely single-lane bridges that cross over creeks and rivers cascading down the mountains.  In theory, you take turns with oncoming traffic to cross over the bridges.  In theory.  Click here to see what happens when somebody isn't paying attention.  It is not as grizzly a scene as it could have been.  Of course the big tanker trucks carrying crude oil from the oil fields in the town of Spanish Lookout get the first turn every time.  The tanks clear the bridge rails by mere inches on either side. Major chunks of concrete have been knocked off the guard rails where drivers have mis-judged the clearance.  We don't drive this road after dark.  I'm sure you can understand.

We did our business with ProSolar to get on their installation schedule, did some window shopping for a new gas generator in the event ours needs to be replaced, took a quick look at Hummingbird Furniture (nice, but too expensive for what you get), and got all our shopping done at Builders' Hardware all before lunch.  For lunch we split a warm brown rice salad and fajitas del mar at Blue Moon restaurant; both were excellent.  I had a tamarind juice to drink, which was quite refreshing.  The day had gotten hotter and hotter; it was up to 104F (40C) by the time we had finished lunch.

With the AC blasting, we drove to our next stops - a new-for-us hardware store called Gallardos, a Chinese grocery store, Brodie's Supermarket (it actually is a supermarket, although on the small side by US standards), and a produce stand. We were back on the road by 2:00 and back to Monkey River by 5:00.  Elan picked us up at the river's edge in his brother's boat and helped us get our various purchases over to our seaside dock at Englishtown.  Fortunately, it doesn't get as hot here on the coast as it does in the interior of the country - the high was only(!) around 96F, but it was still real hot in the shade and it stayed real hot well after sunset.  Lucky for us, it did cool down some during the night and while the next day was hot, it was not real hot.  

I will close with a handful of photos that I took  when it wasn't too hot to take a slow stroll around.

Crinum lilies with a visiting bee of some sort.
Moon flower.  They are open at night for one night only; I caught this one early in the morning before it closed.
Orange flowers on an unidentified tree.  The color is so intense that the camera can't quite cope with it.
Weed with yellow flowers.
Small butterfly, not phased by the heat.
Orange spiny caterpillar.  I believe this will be a Gulf Fritillary butterfly,  Agraulis vanillae.
The heat has broken several days ago.  Didn't even need to use a fan last night.  


  1. You really do live in paradise but 40C would be too hot for me, in fact I've never experienced temperatures at that level.

  2. It's too hot for me too, David! Fortunately it has never been above 98F (37C) where we actually live in Belize. But in all the places that I have lived previously (Texas, Okinawa, Georgia, and even Minnesota), it was not unheard of to have at least a few days each summer with temps in the low 100s. So I have experienced temps like this on occasion. It is never pleasant, but I would rather have the heat than snow.

  3. Well, even though I'm a hot weather person those temps. would be too hot for me as well, although as you say, better than the snow.
    Here in the southern UK today we're experiencing gales normally expected only in winter, our summer really hasn't got started this year, but we did have one day, don't laugh, when it was 24 degrees.
    Loved driving to the capital town with you, it was a good read and rounded off nicely with the lovely flowers.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the trip, Derek. :-) I have read numerous recent UK blogs referring to the windy and cool weather. Today was nice, although we did our best to find the shady spots. I was foolish enough to venture out for a walk during the heat of the day and was rewarded by finding a lovely boa constrictor sunning itself in a palm tree stump. I even got some photos of it, which may show up in a future blog posting. Hope you get some spring before summer descends.

  4. The trip was awesome! Really interesting experience! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Harriet. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  5. The photos are lovely! When I go on trips like this I also have my camera with me and while moving, I take many many pictures! Thank you for sharing! Greetings! :)

    1. Thank you, Julia! Glad you liked the trip and photos. Cheers.


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