Damnable borders crossings. This whole driving through Central and South America thing would be way easier if we didn't have to deal with the bureaucracy, but without an illegal stealthy entrance on a tiny dirt road, or forging a river, there's no way of getting around them. At least, this time we'll be in good company. We've met back up with a few overlanders we already had the pleasure of meeting in Baja; Sunny, Karin and Gracie of the Vagabroads, and Benjy of Cornwall to Capehorn.
Like giant metal ducks in a row we leave Mexico and drive into Belize. The immigration office is virtually empty. Everyone is warm, cordial and speaks English. We've thrown away all our fruits and vegetables, and because our friends had warned us how expensive it was in Belize, we stashed a few bottles of Tequila. Possibly daunted by the size of our vehicles and the amount of stuff we are carrying, no one searches us so it was all for naught. The entire process is mind bogglingly painless compared to our last border crossing.
A few miles into the country we notice the modest, brightly colored wooden homes built on stilts, a drastic difference from the concrete structures we were used to seeing in Mexico. The cultural diversity we've read so much about is immediately apparent as eyes situated on curious faces of every skin tone follow us as we make the short drive to our first camping destination, Corozal.
Referencing the always helpful iOverlander, we settle on a decently reviewed boondocking spot in a shoreline park in town. On a we-just-drove-into-a new-country! high we chat the night away watching the sun set and the town come alive as the sky turns from blue to violet and pale red. Families lounge on their front lawns and children splash in the water. Taking in my new surroundings, I feel myself quickly becoming enamored with Belize and its mellow Caribbean culture.
I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, and don't wake until 3 am to the purr of an idling engine feet from our camper. Looking out the window I'm partially blinded by the glaring headlights of a large truck driven by what seems to be a sizable man. I wake Pete and we watch as he backs up and over to Sunny and Karin's tent, and then back to us. He stares straight at us for what seems like an eternity, scratching his chin as if contemplating his next move. His behavior is so peculiar that I'm unnerved. For the first time on our trip I become increasingly aware that although we have a lockable door, the nylon that surrounds the upper part of our camper would not keep out a willful intruder. I find myself asking Pete if we have any weapons; another first. He settles on his Laotian machete and I dig out my deeply buried mace. We make a pact that if the driver approaches Sunny and Karin's more exposed roof top tent, we will get out and confront him. A few moments later he does just that; waking them as he approaches. Words are exchanged that we can't hear, and we find out the next morning that their exchange was strange and incoherent. Pete opens the door, steps out and I slink out behind him. The man quickly walks back to his truck, his unrevealed intentions thwarted more by a barking, growling Gracie than our presence.
The rest of the night, sleep is fitful and erratic as I find myself looking out the window every few minutes. Early in the morning we hear about another incident that, fortunately, we completely missed. A different man, after spending some time around Benjy's vehicle (and probably decided he was not the right candidate for his impending exhibition), decides to head over to the Vagabroads and masturbate directly under their tent. Not an image anyone wants to wake to.
Everyone's exhausted and on edge. After a speedy pack up and quick breakfast we get out of town fast. Knowing that two unpleasant experiences does not a bad county make, we'll keep our minds open to Belize and the good people we're sure to encounter. We're just hoping the rest of the country will be free of ominous late night visitors and the penises of strangers....at least until we've had our morning cup of coffee.