Yesterday we offered some friends a ride from the bus station to the border. As we're approaching the highway a caravan of police vehicles, lights and sirens, comes up from behind and pass us in a rush. They were rushing each other as well with one deciding he could pass one of his compadres on the right entering a turn. But he made it and off they went. A few kilometers later as we're entering the main road to the border, a State Police vehicle blocks the road and tell us there's a demonstration preventing access to the border.
This is a long-standing problem since a new border crossing was opened a few years ago. The new crossing, the primary crossing, has by-passed the local town of Santa Helena and the residents are not pleased with the disruption in their economy. A typical border town in the past, with restaurants, snack bars and various tiendas, they made their living off the tourists and business folk who cross everyday and often had to wait in line for brokers and custom's agents to do their job whilst the lorry drivers and passengers ate and drank and bought sundry items. Now, the only people passing through Santa Helena are almost all going to the Free Zone between Belize and Mexico either to work or purchase and they have neither the patience nor the desire to stop in the sleepy little town for anything.
So last night, not the first nor probably the last time, a few dozen residents blocked the access road. We returned to town along the Bahia and had a nice meal and a drink at Capital Pub, chatted for a while, then tried our luck again. When we arrived at the access road the State Police vehicle was gone and the road was open. That is, up to the blockade that was still in place. As the fifth or sixth vehicle in line, we were unable to turn around or backup so settled in while the protesters and the press got together and the police looked on. That's right, the police looked on - international travel and trade be damned. Fortunately, it started to rain (literally) on their parade and after about 45 minutes the crowd dispersed, we made our way to the border, dropped off our friends at the Belize side, and made our way home. No good deed goes unpunished as we spent 4 hours what would have been done in 45 minutes. None the worse for wear really, and we were back in Calderitas.