What to do on National Election Day in Belize? That was the burning question for me as Wednesday 4 November drew ever closer.
Well I’d obviously – as a member of the British Commonwealth – be voting. I’m proud to have the priviledge of being able to vote in this wonderful country that has allowed us to call it our home and I was damned sure that I would be exercising it. But that would only take 15 to 20 minutes. What else would I fill the day with?
Estel’s Dine By the Sea, with its decision not to open on National Election Day, had deprived me (I forgive you though Charles) of one of my ‘look forward to’ sections of the day.
So, after casting my vote I could of course return home, have breakfast and then resume battle with the weeds in our garden. That could easily see me through until the kick-off time of the away leg of Arsenal’s Champions League game against Bayern Munich. Actually it could probably see me through until the end of the football season!
But would cheering Arsenal on in such an important game (less than a draw could have dire consequences ) not at a bar with a beer in my hand be the same? Would the mojo be there?
Why no Belikin you’re wondering, aren’t you? Well there’s a very simple answer. No alcohol sales are permitted on Election Days in Belize until the Polling Stations have closed. The game, with its 13.45 hours kick-off time, would be over (and so might Arsenal’s chances of qualifying) long before then.
What a dilemma. Perhaps the biggest I’ve faced since moving to Belize (well not really but I’m trying to create some melodrama. Some excitement). And then the solution presented itself!
“Would we like to join a group of friends on a day trip to Mahahual?” we were asked. Quick as a flash I made an executive decision and without looking at Rose to see if she assented ( stupid I know) I replied “We’d love to.”
So yesterday morning even though I was up before 04.00 hours I curtailed my ‘me time’ on the veranda (the western, lagoon facing one) to one mug of black, unsweetened instant coffee. I glanced -as opposed to my normal leisurely read – at The Times online, showered, shaved and dressed and then threw a towel, swimming trunks and my passport in to a bag. I’d awoken Rose before I ‘hit’ my bathroom and (amazingly-yes I’m still shocked when this occurs) she was ready around the same time as me.
We had time for a coffee (Rose takes hers with milk by the way) and set off from home at 06.30 hours and drove to the Polling Station at San Pedro High School where I parked the ‘cart, left Rose (she’s Irish so doesn’t qualify to vote) and found ‘my’ polling area
Fifth in line. Not bad!
Looking to my right I could see that Mayor Daniel Guerrero had also decided to cast his vote early. Great minds think alike!
A poor photo but look hard and you can make out the Mayor’s distinctive silhouette.
With my vote cast Rose and I headed to the Holiday Hotel to await the arrival of our friends, some of whom we had seen at the Polling Station. They arrived in dribs and drabs with those whose surname begins with G (think of how many people on Ambergris Caye you know named Guerrero, Gonzalez, Gutierrez – got the picture!) arriving last of all.
Around 08.00 hours the last of our fellow travellers arrived and it was time to board our vessel for the day and head north to Xcalak.
I don’t know why (so please don’t ask) but Modesto,aka “Junior”, decided to bring along his own seat.
Rene Lima was our Captain for the day and it became obvious very quickly that he’d travelled this route many, many times before as he demonstrated as we cut through the waves expertly
Captain Rene at the helm.
so that we avoided the fate of this recent seafarer!
Boat ‘stapled’ to the reef.
Around forty-five minutes after we had set off we saw the shoreline of Xcalak ahead of us
and Chris dropped anchor and Rene ‘beached’ the boat so that we could clamber ashore and board the motorised transport awaiting us for the next leg of our journey.
“Hello” and “Goodbye” Xcalak!
The women and wimps (they know who they are) grabbed the air-conditioned luxury of the mini-bus and the cabs of the trucks leaving the real men amongst us (that included me by the way) to sit in the bed areas of the trucks. No worries because the first stop we made was to buy some beer. Mexican beer!
Around one hour later of a beer (Mexican) fuelled ride we pulled in to our destination. We’d arrived at Mahahual! What to do, what to do? Form an orderly queue to use the toilets, that’s what. Well I did tell you it was a beer (Mexican) fuelled trip didn’t I!
Suitably relieved we made our way to the beach to take in the view.
Breathtaking isn’t it. Yes, my Mexican beer!
We hadn’t been there too long (perhaps three Mexican beer’s worth) when the bright blue sky turned a dirty grey. Light raindrops started to fall. Time to move. The guys (sensibly if I might add) retreated to the dry (well at least on the outside) of the bar. The girls? Well inexplicably (to me that is) decided that it was the right time to go shopping.!
Once in the bar we did what we had to do. We drank some beer (Mexican of course) and watched Arsenal (lose heavily to Bayern Munich by the way).
“A Sol for me guys”.
The girls returned so it was time for lunch. Hogfish and Red Snapper.
The nearly devoured hogfish.
Rose relieving the red snapper of its cheeks!
Well someone had to do it!
With lunch over us guys resumed our love affair with the beer (Mexican beer that is) and the girls? Well they had a massage!
By this time the rain had stopped so it was back to the beach for -yep, you’ve guessed it- a few more (Mexican) beers!
We enjoyed a couple of hours on the beach and then it was time to load (or do I mean pour) ourselves back in to the vehicles for the trip back to Xcalak – not before stopping for – yes, you’ve guessed it – some beers (Mexican of course) for the journey.
After just under an hour we clamoured back on to the boat, put on our safety vests and Captain Rene upped anchor and pointed the boat south
approaching Ambergris Caye from its western side so as to benefit from the calmer water.
We rejoined the Caribbean Sea via the Boca del Rio channel and moored up on the Hoilday Hotel pier at 18.30 hours. Our day trip to Mexico with a great bunch of people had come to an end.
The headline for today’s edition is based on the opening track of James Taylor’s Gorilla album which was released in 1975. The song was subsequently released as a single and reached number forty-nine on the US Billboard Hot 100.