Monday, May 3, 2010

The Jesus Lizard, Part Six-A: On to Dangriga, Land of the Zombies

I walked with a zombie, sounds strange to say -- Besty Connell in I Walked With a Zombie

By the time we got to Dangriga in southern Belize I had quit taking my malaria pills. I decided that malaria would be far better than the side effects of the daily dose of psychedelic nightmares and lying on the cold floor of my cabana water closet with my knees to my chest wishing someone would kill me to make the gut cramps go away. So I threw caution to the wind and told myself all the romantic figures of literature battle malaria at some point in their travels, and I looked forward to being bedridden with the delirium and the fever that a lone mosquito had injected into me as I slept peacefully under my tattered diaphanous mosquito netting.

If I was going to contract malaria, or any tropical disease, Dangriga seemed like the most likely place for me to catch it. We had foregone the bus to travel to this dirty coastal city—a crisp white plane flown by a former drug smuggler and a river boat had brought us here. The river boat trip meandered along a waterway of thick mangroves -- we saw manatee and our bird list grew by leaps and bounds with the most exotic of birds just hanging out on the edges of the river as though they had been payed by the Minister of Tourism to be there. Of course, the river trip was not without some drama. Two of our gallery of old travelers got seasick, perhaps river sickness is a better term, and threw up over the side of the boat at various stages of the voyage—the blistering sun and the gentle river waves cast them down into miserable states. I produced various bromides from my first aid kit that now seemed to be my most important piece of baggage. I regretted that B.C. powders were not in the deepest recesses of that bag, a little B.C. would have cured just about everyone that day I think.

But the river opened up to a great lake where we passed black fisherman, so black that they seemed to have been burned beyond recognition by the tropic sun, and they smiled these broad boney smiles at us as we glided past, perhaps the Minister of Tourism had dropped them a dollar or two also to act as local color for us. Nigel told us the lake would eventually drain to the caribbean sea and it was just at that point that we made land fall and our voyage had brought us just to the edge of Dangriga, City of the Garifuna.

London met us at the dock. He looked refreshed and I imagined he had driven that bus with wild abandon for the past twelve hours to catch up with us in Dangriga. He had such a mellow smile that I wished I had been on that bus with him, drinking Belikin beer, the preferred ale of Mayan gods you know, says so on the label with that picture of the stepped temple, and London would have told me stories with a fantastic side to them while I let the all the luggage fly off the shelves over the seats and parts of the bus fell off. We teetered off the river boat and London gave me a soft low five as I passed him, “Welcome to Dangriga girl, this is my home town!” In the distance I heard drums and singing, it was the eve of Garifuna Day and the natives of Dangriga were restless.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Now I'm scared! Fever, natives, drums - Mr. Kurtz is in that jungle!