Right on the Dump Road to Mud Hole

Giving directions to our house is easy. There is only one paved road on the island, connecting the East to West Ends. Since we live on the North shore at Palmetto Bay Plantation, there are two possible dirt-and-gravel routes off the main road. One is called the Ridge Road, from French Harbor over the mountainous rainforests.

The other is called the Dump Road, taking you right past the island's mountainous piles of garbage. Not pretty, but over the last six months a wall out of pink concrete block has been built to shield thru-traffic. Still, the smells and sights of burning trash are all around you. (A bargain can be had if you'd like to build your house on the hills overlooking the Dump, which would have marvelous views of the sea.)

From Mud Hole, the road winds down through Man o' War Cay and then through Corozal. Both villages have small schoolhouses, a church, and a road-side snack stand with hammocks. Between the two towns, opposite a soccer field, is a charming thatched-roof, open air building. This is the Pool Hall, which seems to only be open after soccer games.

The final village before Palmetto is Hottest Sparrow, perched on a knoll overlooking the water. Hottest Sparrow is a collection of aluminum-sided or wood homes on stilts. An electric light pole stands proudly in the middle; some homes are connected to it but most rely on lanterns past sunset at 6:30pm. Our first housekeeper, Jerlyne, lives in Hottest Sparrow. But she's another story.

The journey on either the Dump or Ridge Road to Palmetto takes about 20 minutes, depending on when the roads were last graded. Huge ruts and gullies from the rain force you to drive s-l-o-w-l-y, pretty much in second gear all the way. But you'd want to do that anyway, to avoid hitting the cows, horses, chickens and of course, iguanas and giant land crabs, that are traveling alongside you.

When they were infants, Delaney and Hayden snuggled in head bumpers in their car seats. Now they bounce along with the rest of us (still in car seats, just no bumpers). Bounce. Bounce. BOUNCE. Poor things, they won't know what's happening when they ever make it to a highway.

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