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Saturday, May 9, 2009

And The Wheels On The Bus Go Thump, Thump, Thump!!!

Yesterday was our monthly trip to Dangriga to update our passports. This time we talked our friend Pam into hopping on the bus and coming with us. We are always telling her, "Pam, you just gotta come with us, you never know who and what you are going to see on the bus. It is an adventure!!!!" She broke down and agreed. The arrangements were made. We girls had appointments for much deserved (and needed) pedicures. We decided it would be easiest if we phoned her when we got on the bus and she could go out and wait for us to pick her up. No problem.....

At this point I should probably give a little history on bus service on the Peninsula. Right now, we have three bus lines.

There is the Ritchie bus line that leaves Placencia (according to their new schedule) at 5:45 a.m., 7:00 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Leaving Dangriga for the return trips at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. In reality the bus is at the appointed line stop at 5:45 and leaves sometime around 6:00 give or take a few minutes. I will say that the bus leaves Dangriga at the appropriate times but depending on how many stops to pick up and drop off the rest of the day leaving Placencia is pretty much get there and turn around. Ritchie bus line also runs the Placencia shuttle that goes back and forth between the village and the turn around past Plantation. Then there is Martinez bus line. We haven't seen the buses running for awhile now and the only exception is that there appears to be one of them broken down and was parked across the street from David Perez's produce stand in Seine Bight. There are also some short buses running here and there for the road crews and workers. Enough of the history lesson, I am sure you see where I am going with this.

Friday morning arrives, we are up early, showered and on the road at the appropriate time. The first bus goes by empty but doesn't stop. The next bus comes by and although the sign "Dangriga" is in the window, it also keeps going. The third bus comes down the road and in the window there is a sign "CHARTER". What the heck is going on here? The fourth bus comes along and I phone Pam, "we are getting on the bus. Wait a minute, it kept going, nevermind I'll call you back." This bus kept going, sign in the window said "CHARTER". A woman leaned out the door and indicated that another bus was following. There was another bus following and it stopped so we jumped on before any minds were changed. Of course it was packed full. I phoned Pam to let her know we were on the bus, but I couldn't hear so I just waited a moment, then yelled into the phone "I can't hear you but we are on the bus, it is a dark blue one!" and hung up.

So here we are on the bus, a nice woman getting off at the Green Parrot held her seat for me so I could sit down. Bob was somewhere at the back of the bus. It takes awhile for the bus in the morning as it picks up and drops off people going to work along the peninsula. Evenutally we got to Pam's place and we were on our way. Pam worked her way down to me (about half way down the bus) and stood beside me (I did offer my seat, she declined).

We were talking away as only two friends that saw each other the day before can. Yak, yak, yak. All of a sudden the young man standing just in front of Pam started having a seizure. I give everyone kudos. The relatives took control and helped the young man into a more comfortable position, no one panicked, and the bus driver kept a watchful eye on the whole proceeding in his rearview mirror. The bus never even slowed down. Welcome to Belize buses, this was Pam's first time on a Belize bus. All this before we even reached the Southern Highway. We eventually got seats together at the back of the bus and finished the trip off in conversation.

Pam's first bus ride.

We arrived in Dangriga a little later than usual but not too bad. Pam had some errands to do and Bob and I had our Immigration stuff to do so we decided that Pam and I would meet up at Gerry's (Tangles) place to do the 'girlie stuff' as soon as we were ready. I was there for 9:00 a.m. I don't know about anyone else, but there is nothing so relaxing for me as someone pampering me. Pedicure, foot massage, beauty treatment..... I just melt.

Finished product.

Bob decided he would gather up some of our shopping and take the 11:00 bus home leaving the girls to put the 'dang' into Dangriga. After getting "beeuteaful" (now is that a Criole word, or did I just make it up?) we went for lunch.... bbq chicken and bbq pork done on the grill sitting on the sidewalk outside the restaurant.... mmmm it was good. That said, we wandered around town and hit the mall. The mall being the outdoor collection of tents and shacks (fresh air market) down where the river and the beach meet and where you can buy almost anything you are looking for in Belize with the exception of some large appliances. On our way to the mall, we came across some geese, yes geese!

A gaggle of geese.

They were fenced in a yard with a couple of guard dogs. One inside and one outside the fence. We moved on when the one outside came to check us out. He was friendly enough, but I have had my share of Belizean dog bites so I wasn't taking any chances.

After shopping I just had to introduce Pam to Bibi's, where you can have a drink (One Barrel Rum or beer), you can have a coke, sometimes with ice, sometimes not, you can just watch the dominoes players or you can just sit and rest.


Pam at Bibi's.

Bibi's place is very laid back.... drinks, dominoes, big screen television, music, sometimes there is punta dancing and almost always, there are chickens.

There had to be a total of seven or eight chickens and one rooster. The chickens were climbing on the speakers, the television and eventually went up to the rafters. The rooster followed.

This is Bibi's bicycle. I had to take the picture because the headlight is almost as large as the bicycle. I hope he doesn't use highbeams.

And then we got on the bus to come home. Everything was going fine until we turned the corner on to the Southern Highway. I don't think we had gone a mile when we heard a huge BANG!!! One of the tires had blown. Good thing this bus had dualies (large double wheels found on the rear of heavy duty pickup trucks and some buses) because the driver had to keep going. He slowed down to a crawl because there could be a potential for fire. We weren't sure we were even going to make it all the way home. It was almost embarrassing when a tanker truck that was passing, slowed down to tell the driver he had a flat. Like he didn't know. Whop! Whop Whop! Whop Whop Whop! Everyone on the bus knew.

Normally, it is an hour and a half by bus to get from Dangriga to Maya Beach, we were thinking we should double that. Then we realized we had no cellular coverage. We couldn't even let the guys know what had happened. We played a game. Let's just get across the Kendal Bridge. Then it was let's just get to the junction of Southern Highway and dirt peninsula road. Next it was, will we get to the shrimp farm? We knew once we could see the tower at Lost Reef, we could use the phones again. I think when the towers came into sight, everyone on the bus was phoning someone. We felt sorry for the driver, under the circumstances he did a great job.

So all is well that ends well? Dropped Pam off at home and I continued on. We finally lost the rest of the tire on the stretch of pavement at Coco Plum. Whop! Whop Whop! Whop Whop Whop! THUNK!!!! Then it was all quiet. You could have heard a pin drop on that bus. I saw the driver check his rear view mirror and the conductor leaned out the door. He gave the 'thumbs up' sign and we carried on. I got home a little late but none the worse for wear. What can I say, it was another day in Belize.


  1. What an entertaining day and story!! The bus schedule gave me a headache. Loved the whop, whop. Guess you can blame it on Pam ... sounds like she's an expert at flat tires.


  2. Too bad the driver didn't have a can of fix a flat...then we could have had a really good laugh!!!!