It helps to remember that Belize is a small country, only three or four hundred miles in any given direction. It could fit in a corner of Montana. Yet it takes all day to get from one end to the other. This is mostly because of the speed bumps.
I kid you not. This country puts speed bumps in the middle of their highways fairly often. Worse yet is the odd “cross walk” which is where pedestrians are supposed to cross. They are as wide as a sidewalk and raised anywhere from three inches to a foot above the road surface. Some of them are more rounded than others. Hit them at 60 mps and everyone goes “Ooofff”. The kids in the back seat literally touch the roof of the car, or in our case Jeep. These guarantee that you will slow down for the odd sign of habitation. Sometimes the cross walks appear in places where there are no houses.
But there might be a bus stop. Most of the bus stops were low concrete walls painted bright colors like mint green or peach with some sort of roof for shade, often thatch. They appeared everywhere, even places where there could be seen little more than jungle. They were often filled with people whom I thought at first were there to party. It wasn’t until the second day of passing these places that I saw the glum faces of commuters and realized that the structure was for.
It helps that about that time I also saw one of the buses. These are not Greyhounds. These are not tour buses. They are barely a step up from school buses. And they travel the countryside like Madison Metro travels city streets. You aren’t supposed to go around them, according to a sign on the back, but that never seemed to stop anyone.
Other things about the highways that will slow you down is that they are narrow, the shoulders tend to be crumbly, and there is often no center line. Some of the bridges are a single lane wide so that you have to take turns crossing with oncoming traffic. You’re more likely to find four lanes in a city like Belize City than the countryside, and they are choked with traffic that includes everything from sports cars to bicycles with bicycles taking the lion’s share.
Oh yeah, and sometimes the highways are made of dirt.
Although we never saw any accidents, I kept expecting to end up in one. On the highway out of Belize City we saw a billboard warning people to obey traffic laws and to slow down. A burned out wreck was mounted above it.
Along said highways you can find a lot of greenery. Orange groves meld into hill sides full of jungle. Banana orchards and teak plantations alternate with palm trees and tall grass. And people. People sitting, people standing around, talking, laughing, I even saw one woman nursing her baby as she walked along the highway. Yes, both at the same time.
Too bad my camera turned everything into a speed blur, even at 40 kilometers per hour.