Thailand, Norway, Brazil, Iceland…the travel section of my Bucket List is as eclectic as, well, me. And, it’s long. So why would I ever go back to the same place twice…let alone three, four, or more times? I abandoned this travel philosophy in 2006, after wandering to a tiny Central American country with a split personality (read about this wander in “The Rainforest & The Reef”). I’m writing this just a few weeks after returning from my fourth visit to Belize. And, my plan is to return every other year for the remainder of my traveling life.
Back in 2006, my guard compromised by beauty (and a couple piña colada), I fell for the puppy lure strategically placed on San Pedro’s main beach. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in front of a fast talking gay Irish man and signing on the dotted line of a timeshare contract. Today I’m happy to say I have yet to suffer from buyer’s remorse and I’m fairly certain I’m well past the point of infection. In fact, I count the days in between my bi-annual visits to Captain Morgen’s Resort in Ambergris Caye.
One of Belize’s personalities is lush rain forest filled with exotic wildlife, crumbling Mayan ruins, rivers sneaking through caves, and Mennonite farms. The other has glowing turquoise reefs, quiet resorts and rainbow colored houses, tangled mangroves, sun-bathing black iguanas, and pristine white sand beaches. The former calls for bug spray, binoculars and 20/20 “rainforest eyes,” the latter for snorkeling gear, a stack of reading material and a thirst for tropical drinks. It’s really un-Belizable (sorry…couldn’t stop myself) that both of these personalities thrive in just 8,867 square miles!
Formerly known as British Honduras until given its independence in 1981, Belize’s official language is English. The people are as vibrant as the surroundings…a mix of native Mayans, Latin Americans from neighboring countries, the Creole descendants of African slaves, Mennonite and Amish farmers, Anglos, and countless exotic blends of all of the above.
My stomping grounds are primarily San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Getting to the cayes is not for the faint of heart. Don’t be fooled that you’ve arrived when you touch ground at Phillip Goldson International Airport in Belize City. You’re only part way there. Both options for the next leg require an adventurous spirit…either 20 minutes in the air in a vintage plane the size of a New York cab or a 1-1/2 hour ride in a boat crammed far beyond capacity. Now you’re in San Pedro. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker require one more boat and 10 to 30 more minutes.
Ahhhhh, but once you’re there, the real world is shoved aside by the dramatic scenery, water that beckons you to come for a swim, strategically placed hammocks and accommodating bartenders.