Naval Station Sarstoon Marines Until Death
“Where are you going?“ I asked with concern as small wooden houses on stilts take shape along the southern shoreline. I had no desire to interact with our neighbor to the west and south.
“We have to check in with the Guatemalan Military“ the captain replied.
What? We have to check in with Guatemala authorities to enter a Belizean River? Granted, half the river was Guatemala, but we were visiting the Belizean shoreline. Unfortunately, Guatemala takes liberty with most of the southern Belize borderlands - from the Chiquibul forests to the “Old Sarstoon“. We would see evidence of illegal logging, illegal fishing, illegal hunting and even homesteading on the Sarstoon‘s northern river banks - Belize national territory - all by Guatemalans. The only evidence that we were in Belize was a partially hidden, tilted, weathered sign declaring the Sarstoon Temash National Park with “No Hunting, Fishing, Logging Allowed“ - in English and Spanish. Right. Without any sign or protection of the Belizean Government, we had no choice but to obey the Guatemalan demands. It was either that or deal with boarding, searches, and young soldiers with automatic weapons. Besides, the Guatemalan military post was anything but professional; according to the Belizean captain, better to acquiesce then stir up unknown reactions.
Photograph by Tony Rath, from "To Boldly Go Where No One Wants To"
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