Belize was a tender port as Grand Cayman had been. But, Carnival Miracle anchored considerably father offshore this time. The tender took about 10 minutes to travel from the ship to the dock in Belize City. Here, we connected with our tour to the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich. This turned out to be quite a wonderful tour and way to experience the country. It was not only an all-day tour to Xunantunich, but became a tour of Belize City and of the country itself.
The country is poor, but it is a democracy and seems to be trying to become self-sufficient. Who would have expected to find rustic Internet cafes in rural villages?
We had two guides. A woman told us about Belize and the countryside we were seeing as we traveled from Belize City to Xunantunich, near the border with Guatemala.
We learned about the peoples that make up the country, the culture, education, and the languages spoken (English, Creole, Spanish, and Mayan). English is the predominant language, as the country was once British Honduras. There were surprises. Who knew, for example, there was a significant Amish population in Belize? Their farms supply the country with its dairy products. (We saw several Amish in their buggies in the countryside.) Expatriates from Hong Kong have brought modern supermarkets to small towns. Significant agriculture and technical assistance is provided by Taiwan. I noted a Taiwan Agricultural Mission station near San Ignacio as one example of this interesting cooperation. A monument in a Belize City traffic circle acknowledges the assistance received from Taiwan.
But, before heading out to the countryside along the Western Highway, we drove around Belize City seeing Memorial Park, Marine Parade, Haulover Creek, the Prime Minister's residence, schools, and the cemetery with its above-ground plots. The capital has been relocated to Belmopan, but Belize City remains the commercial center of the country. A we traveled the Western Highway, frequent buses to Belize City passed and groups of people waited for them by the roadisde.