January 31 -February 2, 2004
After Orange Walk we went on south to Belize City, the commercial center of the country and the capital until a hurricane convinced the British Colonial government to relocate the capital inland. We'd heard nothing exciting about the place but still wanted to see it. Our information was right on: it is a sleepy, dusty, port city with a population no bigger than Darlington, England, or Middletown, NJ. Hardly a metropolis. We stayed only two nights and learned that it is hard to find an open restaurant at three o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. We ended up at the bakery of the Radisson, the fanciest place in town, where we lunched on ham and cheese croissants and ice-cold sodas.
Many people do go to Belize City because it is the jumping-off place for Caye Cauker and Caye Ambergris, two beach resort islands about 10 and 20 miles away by boat. We decided to give them a miss because we felt we had spent enough time on Mexican beaches and because we didn't know what to do with our car and all of the valuable things in it. Later we talked to people who had been there, and to the snorkeling areas farther off; their reports said it is nice but didn't make us regret missing it.
North and south Belize city are separated by Haulover Creek; near the waterfront is Swing Bridge, kind of a meeting point for the whole town and the departure point for the Cayes (US$6 to Caye Cauker and US$11 to Caye Ambergis). We'd heard that it was the only operating bridge of its kind in the world, swinging open by means of a hand crank. Apparently that should be "was" rather than "is" because when we went it didn't open. And what would be the point? Haulover Creek is blocked downstream by a fleet of anchored boats.