While everyone is able to search online for the Machakilha area or pull out their Google map to see just where PC Ical went missing, very few persons are familiar with the terrain and conditions of these remote areas. Ical was doing his third round of patrol but it seemed he too had difficulties finding his way back to the outpost. Wil Maheia heads the Belize Territorial Volunteer (BTV) and has been in and out of the remote parts monitoring the illegal harvesting of Xate leaves by the Guatemalans and the illegal logging. According to Maheia, the Machackilha area is like a maze with several trails, making it easy to get lost or disoriented.
Will Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteer: “Okay well you’re starting of at roughly around 500 feet which is around where San Jose is that from sea level and the minute you leave you begin to climb up hill so it’s like a steady climb. If you’ve ever been to Victoria Peak you’ll kind of know although they have trails you kind of know the terrain but it’s a constant hike and there are some places where the hills are very steep and you have to go over those hills up and down those hills before you get to the first resting area which would be Edward Central. Then after Edward Central I expect the guys who left this morning would be at Edward Central by this evening maybe around 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock and then they’ll rest there and then continue on to Sapodilla Hill which is even more steeper terrain before they get to Machakilha. I mean our guys we know because we go in there when we were doing a lot of the illegal monitoring for rose wood and illegal logging and we would go in there and camp and then come back and report out. It’s very confusing because the Guatemalan Xateros have a lot of trails in there so if you are not familiar with the area it’s easy to go off track. You know like if you were walking the streets of Belize City there are several different streets you could always make a mistake and get on the wrong street and probably we’re hoping that that’s what happened and nothing more dramatic happened to PC Ical.”
Perhaps one of the biggest fears was that Ical would have entered Guatemalan territory and sustained injuries or that he may have been faced with other dangers including wildlife encounters. According to Maheia, however, the area is survivable with the right knowledge.
Will Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteer: “I don’t think getting attacked by wildlife is a huge possibility because most wildlife will run away from you except for snakes so there’s a possibility it’s wet, it’s raining and snakes are always in a circle so if he would step on one and get bitten then that could be very dangerous so I would say snake would be the biggest threat right now but for me I would say the other big threat would be he got on one of the Xatero trails and could have ended up in Guatemala. Again this is just what I’m imagining like if you took one of those trails and ended up in a Guatemalan village he would probably recognize that he is not in Belize right away and maybe try to turn back while turning back maybe he could have gotten disoriented which is quite possible. So we’re hoping that I mean the positive side of this is that there’s always food around, there’s lots of plants in the forest that you could survive on, it’s not the dry season so there would be water so those are the positives.”
Police Commissioner Chester Williams will be meeting with the media tomorrow to give a briefing on PC Ical’s case.