REPORT #642 May 2003

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

There are different things to be done in the Cayo District for infra-structure attention. I posted the government hospital as the number one priority.

But second on my list of things needing attention is the Western highway. Now I remember when it took a whole day, sometimes more to travel from Belize City to Cayo and went through the metamorphis of dusty trail, to track, to gravel road, to eventual paved highway. Doesn't seem that long ago either. Was kidding the youngsters at Meb Cutlacks, potluck barbecue on last Saturday about the good times when the Chicleros used to come back to town from the deep bush and blow their severance pay in a few days of wild drinking spree. The new generation kind of thought I was some sort of historical oddity talking nonsense.

Despite the speed you now can drive from border to coast in about 3 hours. The road is seriously underbuilt. It is way too narrow. Two Toyota pickups can pass, but you get a gravel truck, or a bus, or two American wide pickup trucks they have to ride the gravel shoulder. The asphalt not being wide enough.

Second on my list would be the widening of the Western highway by about 4 to 5 feet on each side. It is extremely dangerous to pass as it stands right now in broad daylight. At night nobody could see any of those faded lines on the edges or the center of the highway either. So probably the cheapest immediate thing would be to fresh paint those highway lines. The second thing would be to widen the shoulders and broaden the asphalt. I would also really widen the highway periodically for a mile and make a center passing lane. That narrow highway was built narrow to be cheap. At the time, probably paid for by England. But the time has come to widen that highway and change a death trap into a real service country paved asphalt road. You put two American pickup trucks and I doubt there is room for a razor blade between them when they pass, if their wheels stay within the lines. Extremely dangerous!

Again, that should and could be paid out of our own financial resources through good management of annual revenue flows, on a continuous basis, done for X number of miles per year. Events move on and population grows and traffic increases.

I was told in Salvador they are selling a whole lot of gasahol. That is gasoline and ten percent mix alcohol.

Girl watching in Cayo is not the fun it used to be from 45 years ago. I was sitting outside of Eva's Restaurant and some of the older expatriates and I were reminiscing. That is sure a homely bunch of girls in Cayo these days. I remember when San Ignacio had beautiful, beautiful olive skinned perfectly shaped Mayan girls with long black hair. The population has changed and we have more mongrels nowadays. Rarely saw a native Mayan Belizean anybody in San Ignacio this trip. The population is definitely ethnically diverse from outside the area.

Much of the burglary crime in the area is blamed verbally on the Rastafaran and Belize City Creole crowd camping out up there in the West. I can tell you the Ganja fumes from half way down the block of my house in Hillview are very strong on the morning breeze. Driving through Santa Elena there is a section on the east side of the town straddling the highway, that you literally can get a second hand high, if you drive slow and squint your eyes to peer through the ganga smoke cloud drifting across the highway. I'm not familiar enough with the areas yet, but the name Santa Clara came up frequently given by locals for the source of the burglary gangs. Wherever that is?

The local police probably should be shifted to other areas of the country. From many different sources, I heard complaints about the Police administration coming out of San Ignacio main station. Which is why I never bothered to report my own house burglary. I did talk to some nice cops riding in the airconditioned luxury of a big police SUV. When they rolled down the tinted windows there were four of them in there. Very friendly. They said they had no idea of who the burglary gang were. I noticed there were three Creole police men, big guys in comparison to the shorter size of the local majority mestizo population and one mestizo policeman in the vehicle. Obviously if you are going to know your police territory, you need bi-lingual cops in the area that can mix. You probably need some undercover mestizo cops too, to get the shifting gossip of who is doing the burglaries. So, the whole policing problem in the Cayo District needs much revision and reorganization. Especially if the population now rivals that of the Belize District. There is also apparently a big resident drug dealer population from Belize City residing in Santa Elena, but also operating in San Ignacio with less local population tolerance from local people. The local business people in San Ignacio seem to be well organized and well aware of working together in an organized fashion.

Some sort of more free parking areas need to be allocated within downtown San Ignacio. The vehicle congestion is bad. Those streets were made for pedestrian traffic, or a mule train. Consequently San Ignacio went to a ONE WAY street system. But there isn't a whole lot of room. I think if that hilltown is going to go tourist and develop further as a permanent destination for resident artists, jewelers and that sort of thing that comes with cafes, tour shops and so on as a tourist attraction in tourist season, they will have to block off the three streets or so in the downtown area to through traffic. Probably a widening and expansion of the several by-pass roads needs to be done and obviously a by-pass road for the Western highway east of Santa Elena and Central Farm to join the Benque Viejo road to the border should by pass both Santa Elena and San Ignacio. That would alleviate immediate problems and hopefully future tourism developments in the district with tourist developments.

But a by-pass road around the twin towns is a definite need for border traffic. A golf cart section only, in downtown business district of San Ignacio would also be a logical idea, taken from the Caye Caulker experience and bring not only relief to the traffic problem but provide a quaint ambience for tourism village development.

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