Monday

Belize Survivor, part 62

"All right!" said Max, enthusiastically. "I want to see some elevation again, and some decent vegetation." And sure enough, within ten minutes the scene changed dramatically as an area of thick forest and giant cohune palms came into sight. After crossing a good-sized bridge, they found themselves at the first T-junction they'd seen in fifty miles, followed by a small village. The ramshackle houses were mostly unpainted; others sported uncomfortably gaudy color combinations.

"Do you realize we haven't seen a single road sign since we crossed the border? And whoever heard of a border guard that can't provide a map of his own country? Let's see if we can find a store. We could get something to drink and find out where the heck we are."

"Maybe this is Belmopan," said Max. "But it doesn't look like a capital. There should be government buildings. This just looks like a village."

The little wooden store was dingy on the outside, and even more dismal inside. A tall black-skinned man behind the counter watched them without much interest.

"Excuse me, sir, is this Belmopan?

"No, Miss, Belmopan is back south at de crossroads. Dis da Roarin' Creek Village."

"What do you think, Max?” said Alexis, shifting Jordan to her other hip. “Want to go there and check it out?"

“No. Let's head west first. We can always come back this way if we want."

"What kinds of juices do you have for sale please?" Alexis said, turning back to the owner.

"I no got juice. Only sof drink."

"With all these oranges around, you don't sell orange juice?"

"No Miss, but we got de o-ringe fruit if yu wan eat it right-so." Alexis noted that he accented orange on the second syllable, instead of the first. No wonder it was hard to understand their pidgin.

"Okay, we'll take three oranges,” she said gratefully. “We'd like to buy some cheese and crackers too. Also what kind of nuts do you have?"

"Well, we no got no cheese or noting like dat. Sometimes we got peanuts, but right now we no got. Only Coke, Red Fanta, and powda bun."

"Give us two Cokes, please," said Max.

"We're going to die of food carcinogens at this rate. Look at the shelves up there," Alexis whispered, pointing behind the man. "That's the selection? Nothing but canned goods and six different kinds of rum? What do these people eat? And what the heck is a powda bun anyway?"

"I don't know. But they sure don't have any snack foods available, at least not the kind we're used to. It's like Africa. People were healthy until the white man introduced them to Coca-Cola and white bread. Then they started getting diabetes, cancer, and rotten teeth. Obviously, the sooner we can cook for ourselves, the sooner we're going to eat properly again."

Max paid for the drinks with a red five-dollar bill, noting its oval portrait of Queen Elizabeth. There must still be a strong English influence, Alexis thought, as she saw the cracked and faded picture of the Royal Family, circa 1963, hanging crookedly on the far wall.

"Dere yu go,” the storekeeper said, giving them their change.“Tree dollahs an eighty cents. Tank yu ver much."

"What's up this way if we keep going west?" asked Max.

"Yu got small villages. Den yu get to Cayo. Dat bout twenty miles more up."

"Cayo? Is that near San Ignacio?"

"Dat ah de same ting. San Ignacio is de town; Cayo is de distric. But dey still call de town Cayo anyway."

"Thank you," Alexis said. "You've been very helpful."

"No problem, Miss," said the man politely.