During my stay in Maskall I explore the area. On one of my excursions I am scheduled for a boat ride with William, a fifteen year-old Belizean river guide. First I must take him a spark plug. His outboard motor won’t start.
We drive in our air conditioned four-wheel-drive down the dirt road between Bomba, William’s village, and Maskall. It is a series of cavernous ruts. Barely passable! We have two flats on our way. It takes two hours to drive five miles. Wild hysterical laughter resounds all around us. Look, up in the tree tops. Monkeys are laughing at us! Torrential rains during the rainy season sometimes cause severe road wash outs. Making boats a far easier mode of transportation.
William shows me his home, a waterfront hut on stilts. In Belize it’s not unusual for a teenage boy to build his own home with the help of family and friends. William’s family gave him the land. Property is inherited, typically never bought or sold among locals.
The Maya frown upon any material show of wealth. They believe it causes envy. The idea of Cargo, or community service, is especially dear to them. Cargo is an acceptable way for a person to spend excess wealth.
After replacing the spark plug William’s small motorboat starts easily. Leaving Bomba Village behind we cruise down the peaceful Northern River towards the Caribbean Sea. Water lilies float serenely in the brown waters of the river and silver beams of light occasionally break through the overhead canopy of verdant green. The air is sweet and softly caresses my bare arms.
After a two hour cruise down the Northern River we arrive at its mouth to the Caribbean Sea. Braving choppy waters for a short distance we are finally greeted by a little open faced hut by the sea. We relax, lounging on the crooked little pier that juts out into the sea and in the hammocks hung from the surrounding coconut trees, as we eat ripe and juicy mango fruit. It’s a delicious afternoon!
My day of adventure leaves me feeling hungry and tired. Back at Pretty See Jungle Ranch I enjoy a tasty Caribbean meal of grilled ocean bass, rice, beans and salad with a slice of Carla’s coconut pie for dessert. Carla is the Belizean cook at Pretty See Jungle Ranch. All day long Carla sings the songs of her village ancestors and shares with me many stories about her culture and way of life.
Every evening Pedro, the night watchman, walks by my hut, whistling. He’s letting me know it’s time for lights out. He’ll soon switch off the ranch generator. Pedro patrols the Pretty See Jungle Ranch grounds each night with his loaded shot gun and a head lamp, perched atop his head, for seeing into the shadows of the dark night. Pedro keeps us safe from wild animals like the jaguar. In the morning Pedro will whistle again as he passes by my thatch roofed hut, delivering a pot of freshly brewed Belizean coffee with a side of brown sugar and rich cream. A new day in paradise will have dawned at Pretty See Jungle Ranch.
Tonight the Belizean night breeze is softly scented. Off in the distance drums beat, rhythmically. I watch a giant zebra-striped, armor-plated bug as it crawls along, outside the gauze netting that surrounds my bed. I listen as a lullaby of night sounds in unison sings me to sleep.