January…

It’s January in Colorado, and one thing you can always count on is geese. Canada Geese, to be precise. They are always here, of course, but in January they become very active, flying across the sky in their familiar V formations. Sometimes, you’ll see them in small groups, like this. Other times, though, they fill the sky by the thousands, honking and flapping; wave after wave of them stretching to the horizons. Whether you like them or not (and a lot of people dont), they are awe inspiring if for no other reason than their sheer numbers.

So, the past week was productive. Having this blog set up, I decided to do the YouTube channel, and uploaded the first video.. That was a little bit challenging, but it’s up and running. I’ll put a link at the bottom of the page. I also got Twitter (@vagabondstew) and Instagram (vagabond.don) going.  So, there are several ways for you to follow.

I did some work to get the Stew Wagon more organized. I’m anxious to take it on an overnighter, but the main drawback is heat. It’s still cold up here on these winter nights, and colder in the mountains. So, I’m considering some kind of portable heater. There are a lot of options, but it’s an Explorer, not an RV or a tent. In any case, I have to solve that issue soon.

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Then, there was this surprising find, yesterday. I’d gone to meet a friend at Loftea, a local coffee shop, and on the way back to the Stew Wagon, I saw this little pouch lying in the street. At first, I thought it was just street trash, but when I got closer, it became obvious that it was something valuable. The nearest business was a hotel, so I figured I’d take it to the desk and leave it, in case someone came looking for it. Well, you can see, I didnt do that, but the reason isnt because I liked the knife so much.

Before I took it into the hotel, I decided it would be good to know what was inside. SURPRISE!! Along with this fancy knife was a not so fancy mini-straw, a bag of crack and a bag of vintage style refined cocaine. (I thought about posting photos, but didnt want to post “evidence” online.) How cool would it have been, if I hadnt checked first. Imagine, when the desk clerk unzipped it and all that junk fell out. There I’d be, on camera, asking them to deliver drugs to some “unknown” person, who might show up later. Right!

So, I flushed the dope and repurposed the knife and pouch. They are now parts of a tiny Emergency Pouch, which includes the knife, an Emergency Charger for electronic devices, and a full size plastic grocery bag. That’s all that will fit into the thing, and I may swap the knife for a lighter.

That’s it for today. Dont forget to visit the YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbwEzLeOj2jorbSsZti07yw

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The Thinnest Horse in the World

Banana Bank Lodge is an inland resort, a little over an hour’s drive down the Western Highway, to the south and east of Belize City. It’s also just a little north of the capital city, Belmopan. It’s a beautiful place, sitting right inside the rain forest.

In the summer of 2004, I had gone down to Belize City to help a little church with some summer ministries. I was the guitar player.

There is an artist in Belize, named Caroline Carr, whose work I was familiar with, and I wanted to see it. She and her husband/partner (I dont know which) own a resort about an hour from the city, named Banana Bank. So, a bunch of us piled into a rattle-trap Ford Econoline van and headed out to see the place. The pastor was familiar with it, as they had held some retreats there.

The country is incredibly poor, and all along the way were houses where people lived, but they looked like they should have been torn down. On our left, which would have been roughly northwest, was a line of hills that resembled a man, lying on his back, with his head pointed southward.

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Yes. Someone lives here.
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Sleeping Man Mountain

After some time, we passed one of those ramshackle houses, and out front was a horse that I can only describe as a walking skeleton. It was brown, and the skin of it hung on its frame like canvas over an old lawn mower. Switching its tail at flies, you would imagine the thing would fall over from its own breeze. It was almost awe inspiring, to imagine that this animal kept itself alive by strength of will alone. I honestly dont know why it would be so thin. Tall grass stood all around, but there it was, like Don Quixote’s pitiable mount, ready to tilt at windmills as they rose up in the air. (My camera was turned off, or I’d have a photo.)

I felt bad for the poor thing. Standing out in the hot tropical sun all day. There was no shade, and no water, as far as I could tell. Perhaps, that’s why it was so thin. Maybe it was thirsting to death.

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Pastor Curt at the landing.

Continuing on, we came to the dirt road that leads to the lodge. Sort of. The truth of it is that you have to cross the Belize River to get there. This is a bit of an adventure in itself. On the south side of the river, you must climb down a steep flight of stairs to a flat place on the bank. Once there, you’ll find a boat, and a rope strung across the river, which you use, hand over hand, to pull the boat across. There is also a piece of sheet metal and a hammer, think “gong”. You clang on the metal, which signals the people from the lodge to come meet you.

The Belize River is not extremely wide, but it is deep. In order to pull the boat across, you have to stand up in the boat to reach the rope. This is not an easy feat, if you arent accustomed to standing up in a boat. Once on the other side, you tie up the boat and cross the mud flat to another set of stairs that take you to the top of the bank. It should be noted that, stepping out of the boat and onto the bank, I noticed an alligator footprint a little larger than my hand. Not large by alligator standards, but enough to send a little tingle down my spine.

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Alligator Print

The resort itself is lovely, laid out on a broad plane of Bermuda grass, surrounded by the tall trees of the rainforest. The first structure that you notice is a tremendous pink house, with a broad porch resting atop several wide, white steps. It’s like something transplanted from Disneyland. Scattered about the place are also smaller huts, which one can rent out by the night or the week.

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The Pink House

Among the attractions there, are a jaguar and a small monkey. The jaguar is in a cage, and the monkey is kept on a long leash, which is attached to a very long wire, stretched between two of the trees. He’s friendly to most, and will shake hands, or even let you hold him, if he likes you a lot. If he doesnt like you, when you reach to shake, he’ll spit in his hand, then hold it out to you.

There is also an aviary, filled with beautiful birds. Cockatoos and parrots, along with some others. It’s easy to imagine that these were captured or rescued from the nearby forest, but surprisingly, that isnt the case. As it turns out, the lodge imports the birds from Colorado. Imagine my surprise to think that I traveled a thousand miles to find birds that were raised, basically, in my own back yard.

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In any case, we did get to see Caroline’s studio, and her work. It was a nice as I’d thought it would be. At length, we scrabbled back down the stairs to the boat and back up the other, glad that we’d come, but anxious to get back to the hotel and out of the Belizian July heat.

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The Belize River

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Friendly Monkey
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Contrast of old and new.

Geronimo!

Welcome to VagabondSTEW. This blog will be where you can follow the travels and adventures of Don Barnes – Writer, Musician, Artist, Photographer, and bona fide Vagabond.

As time passes, the things you’ll find here will expand quite a bit. Along with photographs and articles about my experiences,  I’ll share interviews with the people who run BnBs, restaurants, pubs. I’ll talk with local artists and musicians, along with people who live in the different towns, and other travelers I meet along the way.

I’m excited to finally get this little shin-dig rolling. If you’re interested, keep coming back. There’s no telling what you might discover.

db