After a good nightís sleep we bade goodbye to the staff and headed North via the Manatee Road, aka the Coast Highway. The road is not as picturesque as the Hummingbird, but it winds through some nice karst terrain and is a very comfortable drive. When dry, it cuts about an hour off the time to Belize City. When wet, it can easily add more than an hour.
On the way to check out the last resort on our list, the Manatee Lodge, we came across a largish box turtle crossing the road. We stopped, both to take a picture and to ensure its safe crossing. It eyed us warily as it scrambled over the rocks on the side of the road and off into the brush.
Colonial-style Manatee Lodge is charming and located in a beautiful setting, at the tip of a small peninsula surrounded by water.. The charm comes from the small, unspoiled, Creole village of Gales Point, and the beauty from the Southern Lagoon, home to crocodiles, jabiru storks, and manatee. Alas, we failed to see any manatee, although we looked for them very carefully. The Manatee Lodge has also been added to our list of places to stay one day.
Finally, we clocked off the last few miles of Manatee Road, intercepted the Western Highway at the Belize Zoo, and headed for the Great House and the Smoky Mermaid for our final meal in Belize. Judy had a grilled shrimp salad which was pronounced quite good. Iíd let you guess what I had, but perhaps itís been too many pages since we were last at the Smoky Mermaid together. Lobster burger! Chunks of savory lobster, lightly grilled in a mild Cajun sauce. It was most spectacular and highly recommended. We jointly proclaim Belize to be a country of fine food.
The rest is pretty much the details of returning the car (and paying for the repair bill! Note most carefully that the deductible on car insurance in Belize is One Thousand American Dollars), checking in at the airport, changing planes again in El Salvador and returning home. The final adventure was when Judy, at my suggestion, identified herself as a pilot and asked to visit the flight deck. Near the end of the flight she was invited forward to the cockpit and spent almost an hour chatting with the flight crew and admiring a view quite a bit more spectacular than you get out the side. If it wasnít for someone already occupying the jumpseat, they would have let her stay up front for the landing. Perhaps next time.
Thank you all for your patience in reading this little story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!
Rick & Judy