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Boats, Planes, and Chicken Buses: Getting Around in Belize   1 | 2 | 3 | 4 

4 Nov 2001

ALL OVER BELIZE — As Americans, we are all about cars. Everyone has one, sometimes two or three, and we use them to go anywhere, even it's just around the corner to get a cup of coffee, or, like Steve Martin in L.A. Story, to visit the next-door neighbor. And while most of the world relies on automobiles to a lesser extent, the same cannot be said for the country of Belize.

In all the time we were here, most of which was spent on the island of Ambergris Caye, we set foot in a car twice: from the airport to our hotel, and from our hotel to the airport. Everything else was more...novel.

The town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye has about 15 automobiles. Three of them are bottle trucks that haul goods back and forth to the bottling factory, and the other 12 are minivans that double as the town's taxi service. As far as I could tell, no residents own a car, and you couldn't rent one even if you tried. Once we heard a car alarm, but that was just a passenger ferry telling those who got off to buy lunch or use the bathroom that the boat was getting ready to leave.

Click to enlarge
Erin in Front of Hideaway Hotel

So how do the locals get around? What else on a town whose roads are all no more than flattened sand: golf carts. Every day, walking along the streets, dozens of these silent, electric demons would pass us — sometimes somebody hauling groceries, sometimes a small family on their way back from school, sometimes tourists going from resort to restaurant. Our hotel had planned to pick us up in one (but we didn't have time to call to say we were coming). Our dive instructors took us to their place and to their diving boat in theirs. Yet as funny as it may seem, these things are totally electric, so they're quiet, and don't pollute. I think these islanders deserve a point for that.

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Last updated: 08 Jan 2002 07:00:07