on October 21, 2006
Rain torrents beat down around us, dry under the open-air shelter. A goofy, bright-eyed stray dog circled, rib cage protruding through his skin. Outside, Lamanai guides Arturo and George paid no attention to our upstart game of charades, intent on transferring suitcases from the bus to the speedboat as dry as possible. They strode through the afternoon downpour as though the rain would slide off them, even if their clothes, hair, and skin were soaked. Finally, Arturo conceded that we might have to make our final arrival at Lamanai Outpost Lodge by bus instead of boat. But there was another option: take the bus to a midway point and board the boat there. Hopefully, the rain would prove to be of the fast-moving topical variety—and it did.After gliding over river channels, spotting Belizean bird life along the way, we arrived at a broad, open lagoon. Arturo asked if we could the top of the Jaguar Temple at the Lamanai site. No one could at first, but soon everyone was nodding their head. In an act of group submission, I followed, even though all I saw were endless rows of trees. I did see staff awaiting us on the hotel dock, and when we stepped onto the swaying wooden planks, they handed us cold towels and a short glass of punch. It’s the friendly Belizean way.Pebbles crunched under our feet during our walk to the open-air dining area, topped by a bar and small dining area. Off to the side, you could browse their gift shop (hot sauce, anyone?) or instant-message friends on their sole computer, breaking conversation to swat a pesky mosquito. For lunch I chose a succulent beef dish with green peppers and onions. The usual rice and beans (and oddly, creamy potato salad) accompanied the meat chunks.When leaving the restaurant at night, staff lights the path to your room with a flashlight, but under the radiant Central American sun, we just needed their guidance for now. Lamanai is a luxury eco-tourism resort that supports a sustainable environment, aka air-conditioning is not included. But even in the end days of the Belizean summer, the whirling fan above the beds ensured comfortable days and cool nights. Within the wooden bathroom of a tree-house motif, I indulged romanticized Robinson Crusoe images of surviving shipwrecked, albeit with plush towels, ProTerra bath products, and the shower-and-toilet modern conveniences. The pseudo-Mayan sculptures, mock machete wall hanging, and lamps shaped as kerosene lanterns extended my fantasies outside bathroom confines, while extra pillows, umbrellas, and a discrete mini fridge solidified my bearings in reality. Nature doesn’t always let one rest easy, though: before bed, Deborah shrieked from the next cabin—two tiny frogs had found their way into bed before her.
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