After an amazing four days inland in Belize, it was time to trade in our hiking boots for flip flops. We said goodbye to Maddy and all of her animal friends and hit the road back to Belize City. The drive back seemed shorter, but that usually happens when you know where you’re going. Budget let us drop the rental car off at their city location rather than at the airport, and then gave us a ride to the water taxi terminal. The employee who drove us was extremely friendly and pointed out different sites along the way, and answered my overabundance of questions – something he really didn’t have to do.
I was expecting Belize City to be much larger than it really is. Even though it is the largest city in the country, the population is only 57,169. It was immediately obvious which areas of town were “tourist” areas and which areas only saw local traffic. While the tourist areas were clean and upkept, the other areas in town were obviously run-down and it was very apparent that financial investment from the government was minimal.
We went through a police check station, but no cars seemed to be stopping. When we drove through, all of the police officers were lounging in the shade and didn’t attempt to stop us or even signal to our car what to do.Our driver told us that the police check points are used to make sure you have insurance and up-to-date paperwork, but they pick and choose when they actually make people stop. He was pretty adamant they were a waste of tax money and the government could be spending funds on things to improve the city instead of the check stations.
We drove by the Museum of Belize that is home to a variety of Mayan artifacts and exhibits along with other items of historical significance to the area. The museum was originally built as the Belize City prison, housing prisoners until 1993 when they were moved to the Hattieville Prison outside of town. It was renovated into a museum in 2002.
Belize City is also home to Travellers Liquors, a rum distillery. I wish we had time to stop and sample some of their liquors. We heard from several locals that they are very popular in the region, not only because of the quality of their liquors, but also because of the affordable price.
Belize City used to be the capital of the country until 1961 when Hurricane Hattie demolished 75 percent of the homes and businesses in the city. While those structures were being rebuilt, the government decided it would be better to move the capital inland, where it would be more protected from hurricanes and tropical storms. Belomopan, a city about 50 miles west of Belize City is now the capital of Belize. We did drive through Belomopan and grabbed dinner and drinks there one night. There is a lot of money invested in the roads and infrastructure in the capital. Everything looks brand new and the city stands out as far more advanced compared to the rest of the country.