I was also under pressure from the localrnimmigration authorities to leave therncountry. As they explained it, “Touristsrneventually go home”; I had been askingrnthem to renew my tourist visa every 30rndays for far too long. If I left Honduras,rnthey said—even if just for a few days—rnthey would feel better about my “tourist”rnstatus. It was then that I hatched thernidea of going to Belize for the holidays.rnYes, I would leave Spanish Honduras behindrnand head across the gulf to BritishrnBelize. I would spend Christmas andrnNew Year’s Day in a country where Irncould actually speak the language fluently.rnI make some inquiries in PuertornCortes, and I’m told to go down to a littlernlagoon where the local fishermenrnhold court. They direct me to a littlernshack that has a “Viajes a Belice” sign onrnthe door, but the shack is permanentlyrnboarded up. What gives? The womanrnat the nearby fruit stand explains—thernboat sank during a storm some time ago.rnSeveral people drowned, and the boatrncaptain is now in prison. Hmmm. Butrnshe directs me to another shack thatrndoubles as a pawn shop, and here I findrnmy boat to Belize.rnI am told to appear the next morningrnat 6:00 A.M., to bring 150 lempiras forrnthe fare (a steep $22 U.S.), and to get anrnexit visa stamped in my passport at thernlocal immigration office. I follow theserninstructions, and the following morning,rnI, along with ten other passengers, amrndutifully waiting. The man we hadrnspoken with the day before rolls up on hisrnbicycle at about 7:00. We pay him. Wernalso must give him our passports so thatrnhe can make a passenger list and get itrnapproved by the local navy office. Hernthen tells us the boat will leave at 10:00rnA.M. and disappears.rnI have a leisurely breakfast and strugglernthrough the morning’s Spanish languagernnewspaper. After picking up somernlast-minute snacks, I’m waiting by thernbridge as I was directed. And surernenough, a little boat comes putt-puttingrnup at 10:00 exactly. It initially appears asrnthough there’s a problem. The tide isrntoo high for the boat to fit under thernbridge. But after the boat is filled withrnwater, it sits low enough to pass through.rnThen they bail it out on the other side.rnInteresting.rnWe climb in, ready to go. The boat—rnknown locally as a goleta—is an openrnrowboat, about 25 feet long and fourrnfeet at its widest point. It has a 30 horsepowerrnEvinrude outboard motor on thernback. El capitan is a guy of perhaps 25rnyears of age wearing a grubby baseballrncap, a torn pair of pants, no shoes, andrnno shirt. Hey—no shoes, no shirt, nornproblem. An officer from the local navalrnbase comes down to check things out.rnHe tells us to put on lifcjackets, andrnwe’re off.rnWe head directly north from PuertornCortes across the Gulf of Honduras.rnWhen Columbus visited here back inrn1502, his ships were nearly wrecked inrnthe gulf. The water is tremendouslyrndeep, and this results in gigantic swellsrnand unpredictable choppiness. Afterrnreaching more shallow and navigable waters,rnhe reportedly exclaimed, “ThankrnGod we arc out of those depths.” Thernword “depths” in Spanish, by the way, isrnLIBERAL ARTSrnT i n , BUSH I . i : G i J 1′,rn”NiflioiiLiI Sportint; C.ooiJs C^.’irtcr SfTiiin;ir-—Wiio shoiikl :ittciul7 IVofessioiiiilirnseckiiii:;;! i;ircrrchaiiijc. eutri;preiifiir^ sL-L-kiiii;biLsiiic>.s<)|)porhiililies, |;iiull L()llei;crnf;i;K]uatc>i (Mitcriiit; tlii- work foia.-. . . . .Meet :iiicl iiilwork vitli (ii;v I.TOH spfiitiii<;rnptjods iii;niMl;iihiicis ;iinl K;t.iilcrs. . . . Clcovm- Bii>li— kcuioti- >.])Lakcr.”‘rn-/rfjiii ((June 2~ Mhi’rli^ciriL’nl in llic (Iliu.Mi;i) I rifjiiiu-.rnhonduras. The tiny boat rocks up andrndown with the huge swells. We puttputtrnever forward at a speed of ten milesrnper hour. Four persons who forgot torntake their tabletas de Dramamina are upchuckingrnoverboard. After about fourrnhours of this we spot a bunch of little islands,rnor “cays.”rnThe trip across the gulf was a bitrntense, and I think everyone, the laidbackrncapitan included, says a silentrn”thank God we are out of those depths”rnas we reach the shallower waters surroundingrnthe cays. We stop on one for arnleg-stretch. It’s a lovely little place aboutrnhalf the size of a football field and isrncovered with palm trees. There are hugernpiles of conch shells left by fishermenrnwho frequent the place.rnThe rest of the journey is grand. Wernputt-putt past hundreds of beautiful littlerncays. Some are deserted. Othersrnhave lovely little vacation homes onrnthem. The water is so blue and clearrnthat we can see down for a hundred feetrnor more. We cross and recross the barrierrnreef a dozen or more times. It’s thernbiggest and best reef outside of the GreatrnBarrier Reef of Australia. Soon therndense, jungle-covered shore comes intornview with thousands of exotic birds flyingrnabout. We experience several morernhours of this until we reach Dangriga,rnknown as Stann Creek Town when Belizernwas known as British Honduras.rnWe putt-putt a hundred yards uprnStann Creek and tie up at a little dock. Arnguy from the police station comes downrnon a bicycle to check out our papers. Hernspeaks both Spanish and English butrnseems to have some difficulty communicatingrnwith one passenger from Brazil.rnHaving once studied Portuguese in college,rnI was able to communicate freelyrnwith this guy and had conversed withrnhim during the entire journey (exceptrnwhen he was throwing up overboard).rnThe Spanish-speaking passengers suggestrnto the policeman that I translate.rnThis is all rather silly as Spanish speakersrncan usually understand Portuguese. Butrnthe cop is a native English, not Spanishrnspeaker, so I oblige. The problem is thatrnthe Brazilian doesn’t have a lot ofrnmoney with him. I tell his story. Thernguy got a slot on a professional soccerrnteam in Guadalajara, Mexico, and hasrnspent the past month traveling overlandrnfrom Brazil. When the cop learns thernBrazilian is a futebolista, he just aboutrngoes nuts. We promptly walk to the policernstation and get our passportsrn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn