Orange Walk, Belize
We left san ignacio on a football fueled high...Stopped at the first roadside stand we saw for some veggies and a bbq chicken. A few miles down the road we get gas and buy some habanero hot sauce off a guy out front. We can just feel ourselves getting back into the land of culinary bliss!! Twenty minutes before orange walk we pulled off the highway and drove the 3 slow rutted miles toward Crooked Tree. jen had read about this place and we were excited to sleep among the natural beauty but still have internet to plan our next few days. As it turns out the place is gorgeous. It feels remote and secluded and has to be among the quietest places we've ever stepped foot. It also happens to sit right at sea level, and its the rainy season...which adds up to make sloppy roads. We made our way past the tourist center, past the locals who came out to ask us what we were looking for and on towards the hotel.
We made our way through mud pits that should've stopped any normal vehicle and potholes that attempted (but barely failed) to remove our real axle. But then when we got within a few 100 feet of the hotel we realized we were done. I got out and walked the first third of the path thinking we could gun it and hope for the best, but the clay soil was sopping wet and you could easily sink in to your ankle on even the solid sections...the pits and puddles were nothing short of quicksand.
Begrudgingly, we backed our way through the first section of mudholes and turned around when we could. We headed back out over the potholes and muddy sections, choosing our paths a bit more wisely now as we tried to leave, but were stopped by the same locals that greeted us on the way in. "No, don't take the road with the sign on it...that one's bad. You'll never make it through that! You have to take the unmarked road just in front of it, the one without the signs". Clearly.
They were convincing (mostly due to our being ready to call it a night so we turned around and navigated the pitfalls yet a third time, this time passing a 40 year old land rover that explained he couldn't get through the marked road anymore. Guess its a good thing we opted not to try. This time we took the unmarked path..and it was (generally) better with only one last "gun it and hope" section. We did, and made it through fine.
The hotel was spectacular. Truly gorgeous in design and in setting. The host was tranquilo and i had already picked out the tree that we would camp under. But it turns out they haven't had internet for a few months and within a few minutes of our arrival, the pack of local dogs attacked karma in front of the bus.
That was enough indicator for us to decide to move on and we backtracked one last time over the offroad course that is crooked tree. This time we didn't slow down as we headed out of town, didn't give them a chance to convince us to try yet another road. We didn't want to risk it.
Oddly...i would still recommend this place. Especially if you're a bird lover, or if you plan your travel around pristine quiet or preserved nature. They were setting the table when we arrived for the dozen or so guests they were expecting and if the care taken in that was any example, the meal was likely decadent. I'm not in the habit of recommending places i've never actually stayed...but this seems like a safe bet. The town does have a slightly eerie (northern exposure meets twin peaks) vibe, but i've seen worse that weren't as far removed from the main traffic flow.
We opted to simply continue on to orange walk and return to the riverside spot we slept at last time. The owner welcomed us back, they made us an amazing jerk fish that was by far our best meal of the trip, and we slept along the water and listened to the crocodiles splash in and out of the river next to us. For some reason, when we slept here two years ago nobody bothered to mention the crocodiles...nor the fact we might want to keep our dog close to the vehicle...
In the morning we woke with the sun (and soon after, the rain), headed for the square to grab some tacos. 6 tacos and a juice for under $1.50, not to shabby. Bellies content, we pointed north for mexico!