Belize, part 11. Placencia
So, we decided we need to have a holiday from our holiday. And here we are in Placenica. Goodness, now is the time to buy! Quite a lot of properties, ranging from shacks to gorgeous villas, to plots of beach-front land to village centre plots, are for sale. I prefer Hopkins by a long shot, but Placenica is very nice too.
We drove from Hopkins down to the little Hispanic town of Independence, had a coffee, admired a new-born baby (called Angelica apparently) and got the water-taxi – having agreed with a young man on the rate for keeping an eye on our car. The water taxis run every ten minutes, and a twenty-minutes ride along the river (look out for crocodiles, iguanas and parrots) brings you to the little port of Placencia.
Having clambered off the boat we were greeted by an elderly taxi driver with a relatively clean car – unusual. We asked him to take us to an hotel with a pool and on the beach, which he did. Just as he set off one of his mates jumped in with us. Oh well, this is Belize. He pulled up outside an hotel some two miles down the road. William, our elder son, hopped out to see if there were two rooms available and the taxi driver suddenly said:
“I jis gotta turn de car round,” and he drove off, leaving William in reception.
He turned round about half a mile later, his mate jumped out and ran in to a building (a Belizean running – yes, I know, I know…) and we waited.
“Are we waiting for your friend?” I asked.
“Das right, ma’am.”
“We don’t really want to wait for your friend …” I ventured after several minutes.
“He’ll be real quick ma’am,” came the reply.
A few more minutes ticked by.
A different man then emerged and hopped in to the car. The driver started to set off down a side road.
“Where are we going?” asked Bruce (husband).
“We jis gonna take dis man to his car,” explained the driver.
“NO YOU ARE NOT!” exclaimed Bruce. “You will take us back to where we left our son!”
“I jis gonna be one minute, real quick-time.”
Very beligerently the driver told his mate to get out and drove us back to where William had by now decided that we had been swallowed up by a mangrove swamp. The driver then tried to charge us a zillion dollars for the ride. I was tempted to tell him to wait while I went to the bank “real quick-time” but decided against it. After all, this sort of thing is an essential part of the colourful tapestry of life.
Originally a tiny fishing village, placenica is now a quaint little place on a peninsula with the impossibly warm ocean to one side and a lagoon on the other. There are a few shops to include a chemist and two banks, a doctor’s surgery, lots of cafes and restaurants both off and on the beach. The road is what the Americans call “paved”, ie tarmacked, and there is even an ex-British fire engine, and a police station. So, Placenica is really quite advanced compared to Hopkins. Once the road in to Hopkins is “paved” it will catch up, and overtake, Placencia in no time. There is no point in saying that we need to keep the “natural” in places like Hopkins – they need tourists. And the tourists will come. With them they bring trade and, it has to be said, the overall standard of many things has gone up thanks vastly more to tourism than to the Belizean goernment.
Placencia is a bit remote and has its own mini-airport with jungle-hopper flights to Dangriga and Belize City. Probably to Belmopan too. That is another advantage to Hopkins for you can drive in under half an hour (twenty minutes once the road is “paved”) in to Dangriga, and an hour brings you to Belmopan. You will have noticed that I haven’t done a blog about Belmopan, and that is because I have nothing to say about it. Truly nothing.
Anyway, back to Placencia. Individual words and phrases to describe it are: Caribbean sea, palm trees, yellow sand, good assortment of places to stay and/or eat, hot sunshine tempered by a sea breeze, safe, friendly, more expensive than anywhere else in Belize but still cheap compared to Europe, lovely for a short break but I couldn’t bear to live here. And asked “shall I take my holiday in Hopkins or Placencia?” by answer is an emphatic “Hopkins!”
Catherine Broughton is a novelist. Her books are on Amazon and Kindle, or can be ordered from most leading book shops and libraries. Her best sellers are “The Man with Green Fingers”, a novel set in Cyprus, and “A Call from France”, a true story set in France. Catherine Broughton is also a published poet and an artist. More about her and her work, to include her entertaining blogs and short stories, on http://turquoisemoon.co.uk