As he turned to walk away, she turned to me and whispered in my ear.
"They have machine guns."
"It's OK," I whispered back, hiding my own unrest. "They work for the government."
As it turned out our unease was somewhat unwarranted (they did have machine guns), a sadly stereotypical symptom of a couple gringos operating outside their smartphone comfort bubble app. After only a few moments the ranger returned to the dock and handed me my change with a smile.
"Good fishin' guys, and 'av a nice day!"
So this is how a Belizean national park operates, I thought to myself as our guide pulled away from the dock and the boat tore off for the horizon ahead. He barely slowed as we reached the edge of the mangrove maze, zipping through this channel and skipping that one, zigging here and zagging there with nary a sign or signal to dictate where or why. I thought back to my visit to Holbox and took a moment to marvel again at the magician-like craft of a guide fully immersed in his element. Gus Orviston, perhaps my favorite fictional character of all time, described this phenomenon as "native intelligence" in David James Duncan's classic, The River Why. I am reminded of the passage: