Waking up at a specific time without an alarm clock is something I have practiced for years, but still four bells I thought might be pushing it. However, I awoke without a hitch and was on the road by 5:00, on my way to Crooked Tree Village.
Crooked Tree is an island village, about 80 miles northeast of San Ignacio, but just over two hours behind the wheel...Belize time. It is surrounded by lakes and rivers, and only accessible by boat until recently, when a causeway was built connecting it to the Northern Highway.
I wanted to arrive early while the birds were still active, searching for their morning meal. Crooked Tree Village is renowned for its birding along with their Annual Cashew Festival in May.
Driving in Belize is never, shall I say...dull. And driving in Belize while it's dark presents more challenges. But my early morning drive before the sun was up wasn't bad at all. There were not many cars on the road and the normal groups of people usually waiting at speed bumps hitching rides were absent. About one hour in I did get flagged down by two incoming pickup trucks and thought, "Here we go. Another roadblock like in the Yucatan where money would be extorted," but I was simply told to pull over because a bicycle race was coming through.
I made it to the dirt causeway just after 7am, crossed and parked my Jeep in the Belize Audubon Society lot. The heat hadn't hit yet and I praised my brain's mental alarm for its early rise.
I deal with the heat down here in one of two ways: I either pound my fists on the table and scream, "THIS HEAT IS OPPRESSIVE!" or I ask people if I can borrow a sweater because I'm a little chilly.
Crooked Tree is quite small and the B.A.S. has trails set up complete with winding boardwalks that meander over wetlands and through the forests. I first chose the Limpkin Trail to the South and, not seeing too much wildlife, got a little discouraged. Before heading off on the Hummingbird Trail to the North, I stopped into the B.A.S. office, since it was now open for the day.
Inside I met Whilhelm Gillette, "Like the razor," he said to me. Whilhelm was the self-proclaimed baby at this branch of the Audubon Society, and was in his fifties I guessed. Even though he had only worked at the B.A.S. for five years, Will was very knowledgable of all the wildlife, and we chatted awhile about it as well as life growing up in this small village.
The Hummingbird Trail proved to be where all the wildlife was, and I spent the rest of my day wandering on and off it, snapping pictures as I strolled.
"There is no salvation in time. You cannot be free in the future. Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now."