Well, I had to take a day off from diving and today was it. Sigh. I walked over to the Book Center Plus for a bottle of water. When I asked the owner where there was a place to rent a bike, he said,
"Just around the corner."
Sure enough, just around the corner there was a place renting bikes. I rode around town a little and also around the lagoon before heading to the North end of the island. There is a mangrove tree lined river that divides Ambergris Caye. The only way to cross to the North side is to get on this ancient rusty platform. Then a man PULLS everyone across using a rope that is attached to both sides of the river!
I rode down a sandy road, which was only about six feet across, and past a swamp with lots of birds and mangrove patches. The difference between the houses in San Pedro town and on the North side is enormous. This must be where the people with lots of money live. It almost made me wish I cared more about making money, if it might be possible for me to live in a place like this some day. It was just so beautiful. The gardens were filled with flowers, trees and shrubs.
There was a tiny path leading off the main lane and I decided to ride down it a little ways. As soon as I turned off, the air became thick and a wild buzzing sound surrounded me. Suddenly I was covered from head to foot with a billion hungry mosquitoes! Needless to say I turned around and high tailed it out of there. But the mosquitoes were not going to give up that easily. They chased me out of the jungle and down the sandy path. I was pumping my bike so fast that I felt like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. Yet still this titanic swarm of mosquitoes was on my tail. I raced down the path, bumping in holes and splashing in puddles. I tore around a corner, throwing sand up into the air. Then, I donít know why, but the mosquitoes decided to return to their jungle home.
I stopped the bike, got a drink of water, applied some of my 100% deet bug repellant and went straight back to the tiny jungle path. Slowly I rode down the path until I was completely surrounded by the lush jungle plants. I listened to the scurrying sound of unseen jungle creatures, the twitting of birds and of course, the buzzing of the mosquitoes. There is so much beauty on this island. A beauty that fills me with such extreme emotion that my body simply does not know how to process it. Fearing I might spontaneously combust, I leave the little jungle trail.
Next, I journeyed down to the seaside. But I couldnít travel two feet before I had to stop and take a picture. Again and again. At one point, as I was merrily riding along, a coconut fell out of a tree not ten feet in front of me. You see, I donít always have bad luck.
I decided to take a little rest under a palapa at the end of a pier where I met these two crazy pelicans. They soared through the sky then suddenly nose-dived straight into the water, over and over again. Then, they also took a little rest on the pier where they relieved themselves and promptly flew away.
On my return trip, it began to rain so I hide under another palapa at the end of a pier. The rain seemed to let up so I continued. But it rapidly returned, stronger, harder. In all the rain, I couldnít see but a few feet in front of me. I lost the trail and ended up trying to peddle along the sand covered with seaweed and pieces of driftwood. I must admit, I didnít like this part too much. I turned around and found the trail again.
The rain continued to pour. Thankfully, it wasnít cold, but I was worried about my camera getting wet. So when I saw the Palapa Bar, I was relieved.
I parked my bike and ran onto the patio. There were three men sitting at the bar and two men bartenders. Everyone stared at me and Iím sure I was quite a sight. I was completely soaked. Wet, stringy hair hanging down. Sand from head to toe. Everyone continued to stare. It was such an unfriendly reception, which is unusual for San Pedro, that I thought for a moment I had blundered into someoneís private backyard. Finally I asked, "Is this a restaurant?"
"Itís a bar."
Sigh of relief. "Then Iíll have a beer."
For a moment, no one moved. I sat down with a big smile and still, no one moved. I just sat this with a silly grin on my face and finally Juan gave me a beer. The men who had been sitting at the bar, jumped up and were now hiding behind a wall. As I sat and stared at the pouring rain I heard one of them say, "Mis Dios! Itís a WOman!"
Every once in a while, Iíd glance in the direction of the men just in time to see a smiling face disappear behind the wall. And the rain continued to pour.
After awhile, the sun came out and another woman arrived. She worked there and was relieving the two other bartenders for lunch. Before they left however, she had one of them cut down two coconuts. He whacked off the top of one, stuck a straw into the hole and handed it to me. I drank the sweet coconut juice and listen to this lady and another man who had also just arrived. It was interesting to hear them talk because, for the most part, I could not understand what they were saying. But they were talking English as I understood about every third word.
Anyway when I decided it was time to move on, I asked how much I owed. I said, "I had two beers, two chocolate chip cookies and a coconut juice drink."
She laughed and said, "Iím not charging you for the coconut!"
"But why not? It was really good."
"No, No. I canít charge you for the coconut. That would be ripping you off."
"Iíve never drank coconut juice out of a coconut before."
She said something I couldnít understand to the other gentleman. Then she charged me for two beers and two chocolate chip cookies.
Which proves that the best things in San Pedro are free.