Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
Trip End Mar 10, 2009

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Flag of Belize  , Belize District,
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I woke at 5am with a rumble in my tum. "Hmm," I thought, "that feels like hunger".
A tentative nibble at an apple and a bread roll produced no ill effects after half an hour.
We were on the second tender across from our mooring to Belize City :)

The Former British Crown Colony of British Honduras is about the size of Wales, but has a population of only 300,000 or so. It was renamed to Belize in 1973 and finally gained complete independence as a country in 1981. There were no hard feelings. Indeed, our guide, Javier Perez ("JP") welcomed us happily, remarking it was a nice change to get Real British People (despite us carrying US dollars exclusively!). He explained that Belizians recognised that Good Ol' Blighty* had done a great deal for them through the ages, (although see note about a certain political bloke, down there a bit), from the first British colonists using it as a base for raiding parties on Galleons owned by the much-despised Spanish to stationing a garrison of British troops immediately after Independence to fight off incursions of Guatemalans who thought they could take advantage of the fledgling nation and try to claim it as their own. Fat chance.

Sure, there was unrest which brought about the demand for independence in the first place, but they see it as their teenage years, rebelling against a rather stuffy parent before finally learning enough to leave their protection. Mostly.
There's still a lot of British influence in Belize (they call football "football", not "soccer", as they have no truck with that other game those oiks in the North play, and would still drive on the left were it not for the inconvenience it would have caused to drivers on the Pan-American Highway, prompting them to switch... only to be excluded from the Highway after all in the end).
There's also a lot of investment. Lord Ashcroft (who is Belizian-born) used to own the national telco (BTL - Belize Telemedia Limited, aka "Better Try Later") and still holds a significant stake; there have been major ructions and claims of corruption between BTL and the government. He has many other fingers in the Belize Batter, not least of which is a little operation by the name of Belize Bank... Nuff said.  Not the most popular of chaps at the mo, Lord A.

We got all of this history - and a lot of other stuff - as JP took the 5 of us westwards past the new capital, Belmopan. Oh yes - the capital used to be Belize City, on the coast, but that was flattened by a bad-tempered young lady called Hurricane Hattie in 1961 (we passed through Hattieville en route, a settlement founded by the government to re-house displaced people after the Hurricane). JP only needed to be told our names once, and often directed comments to one or other of us as he tried to gauge our individual interests. A true professional. And very, very entertaining.

And so we arrived at the ferry to take us across the Mopan river, for the last leg of the journey to Xunantunich... but that'll have to wait until next time, cuz it's past midnight and I needs ma byooty sleep.

* I admit these were not his exact words
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