The Mexican Red Rump Tarantula (Brachypelma vagans) is quite harmless, despite its massive fangs and generally hairy nastiness. Or so says Vitalino, my Belizean guide to the Maya ruins at Cerros. “You want to put it on your face?” he asks, after I consent to him placing it on my shoulder. Um, not really. But then I think of the photo op and can’t resist.
The Cerros ruins themselves are less impressive than the bristly red rump above my mustache; though the view across the blustery bay at Corozal town is pleasant, and the thought of this ancient trading center bustling with shamans, priests, and royal mathematicians gets me excited for tomorrow’s trip to Lamanai.
But first, Corozal Town, Belize’s sleepy northern outpost near the Mexican border. I arrive via the Thunderbolt, a 45-foot vessel that makes the two-hour trip from San Pedro each day, pulling up to the town dock just as the sun is going down behind the mainland.
There at the dock to greet me are my friends, Judy and Jan Wilson, long-time Corozal expats and creators of several regional websites, including corozal.com and corozal.bz. After coconut curry shrimp at Patty’s Bistro (where my signature on the wall joins that of a hundred other tourists from around the world), Judy and Jan help me scour the town in my allotted 16 hours there. They are invaluable to helping me get my job done; then I’m off to the Orange Walk toll bridge to catch a boat on the New River â€” back into the jungle.