Shortcomings

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


When I exited Belize Zoo I had more time on my hands than anticipated so I decided to diverge from my original itinerary. First, I stopped at Cheers, an open-air restaurante/bar, where signed T-shirts from colleges around the globe hung from the rafters.  Coincidentally, I happened to choose a table under a dingy white shirt from my alma mater.  Next, instead of  driving directly to San Ignacio as planned, I wanted to brave the infamous Chiquibul (pronounced "cheek-ee-bool") Road in search of Five Sisters Falls, Big Rock Falls & Rio On Pools -- connected rock, swimming holes.
As I drove into Cayo District, the horizon was broken up by dark green hilltops, though the land immediately surrounding the Western Highway was flat & clearly agricultural.  I read on a TripAdvisor forum that Chiquibul Road -- a ring road -- was in appalling condition as it curved south from Georgeville.  I turned left onto la carreterra a.k.a. country backroad & passed a few Mennonites in addition to small farmhouses with chickens in the yard.  Stray dogs & cattle roamed freely.  Soon the civilized town dissolved in my rear view mirror, as did the smooth road.  Now, walls of forest lined la carretera & it was transmogrified into a rutted, unpaved mess.  My hire car banged and flexed with every pothole, and swerving to avoid them became pointless because I would only veer into another, equally perilous crater.

Terrified of busting an axle & being stranded (not to mention the repair costs) on a remote road, I slowed the Hyundai Elantra to 15 miles per hour.  My boyfriend was more worried that guerillas were about to jump out of the jungle to ransack the car.  Unfortunately, I can't say he was being arbitrary because further south on Chiquibul Road, tour busses en route to the Mayan ruins at Caracol have been stopped by bandits.  At every bend I hoped to see just a small patch of la carretera that wasn't completely destroyed, but that never happened.

Over one, anxious hour later, near the village of San Antonio, I seriously debated abandoning the mission & turning around.  With the retarded progress, there was sadly no way I would ever make it to Five Sisters Falls, Big Rock Falls nor Rio On Pools before dusk.  Yet, having come this far I was not foregoing Green Hills Butterfly Farm.  Although there wasn't much to the "tour" (other than observing butterflies in each stage of their lives) it was quite exciting to see so many pretty animals and insects flitting around.

Each butterfly was beautifully patterned, such as the Tiger Heliconian.  The Mexican Bluewing's body equaled Belize's vivid blue waters.  The wings of Belize's iconic Blue Morpho were a metallic turquoise, but when closed, ameliorated into faux eyes which really made the "Halloween" butterfly named for its black body & orange pumpkin-line dots) stand out.  Instead of two, big eyes like the Blue Morpho, the Owl Butterfly had one, large eye with a dilated pupil.  An unidentified brown butterfly had a muted rainbow spread across its body & another's wings resembled the guiding lights on a runway.
The lepidoptera that weren't brilliantly colored had valuable camouflage.  A prime example was the Gray Cracker!  The green on the Malachite's wings almost perfectly matched the flora surrounding it.  The Swallowtail's wings had an atypical butterfly shape & looked more like an airplane's.  However, my favorite butterfly in Belize surprisingly lacked all color.  It was the unique Glass-wings that remained disguised thanks to their transparency.
The following morning, my boyfriend left for breakfast & returned to the hotel room declaring "I have bad news and I have bad news."  First, the moronic front desk employee at Casa Blanca who instructed me to "just park it on the street" neglected to realize and inform me that it was the eve of -- what I would call -- switch day.  One day, the businesses on the right side of Burns Avenue in San Ignacio complained that vehicles parking alongside the road deterred customers since their signs were obstructed.  Likewise, businesses on the left side of the road did not want to inherit this same problem.  In a compromise, the 15th & 30th of every month, car owners flipped which side of the street they parked on at midnight.  This would be a laudable solution except that it creates quite a fiasco for the visitors to [the tourist-packed city of] San Ignacio.  On the Elantra's windshield was a bright yellow ticket for $100 Belizean dollars a.k.a. $50 USD.  Although this did make for a hilarious retelling from a Canadian couple who sat outside Casa Blanca all morning & watched the debacle.  According to them, all the traffic moved fluidly until a single, silver car blocked everything, causing just about every driver to honk and/or yell.
The second -- and worse -- problem that arose overnight was the deluge that cancelled my excursion to Actun Tunichil Muknal a.k.a. Xibalba .  I was devastated that it could not be rescheduled since I only had one remaining day in Belize!  Actun Tunichil Muknal was the country's epitome of caves and a global highlight with its carved altars & many calcified, human skeletons. In the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre many Mayan sacrifices took place and archaeologists discovered a "monkey pot" -- only one of four ever unearthed in Central America.  Xibalba could only be accessed by furiously swimming across a swift river, clambering through its numerous chambers & eventually squeezing through the exit.  Per my tour company, the cave typically only closed five times a year from flooding, but, unfortunately, this happened to be one of those days.

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