Oh, Belize. You better belize I’ll remember Belize! Haven’t I always been a sucker for the beach? Belize has been absolutely gorgeous. It was the perfect break that I needed away from Antigua. I met some awesome people, saw some gorgeous water, and just chilled the heck out; stress-free living right here.
Monday was the day I left for Belize. I spent most of that day getting ready and then headed to Guatemala City with my Antigua family to figure out what’s been wrong with my phone all this time and why the internet would never work. Well, we ended up spending 3 hours in Tigo waiting to be waited on to find out that whoever sold me my SIM card in Antigua LIED to me and told me it would work with internet, but it was the wrong type of SIM card and was cut to fit my phone instead of being a proper fit. Well, what do you know? Another liar from Antigua. What a shame. I hate to talk so poorly of Antigua because it’s come to be like my home, but I can’t get over how many sad things I’ve witnessed there. Props to the people that can still live a positive life there. I think I’ll be better when I return now that I’ve had a lovely Belizian break, but to live there forever? I don’t think I could do it. But it is kind of my home now and I still love it through all it’s flaws. I actually came to miss it and all my friends a little when I came to Belize.
Anyways, my bus ride was Monday night. I took a night bus because I wanted to sleep instead of be bored out of my mind for the 8 hour ride to Flores. Well, the bus station was definitely interesting. Not anything like the states. I thought we were in the wrong place for sure because it looked so little and I didn’t see a fleet of buses lined up, just 2. But, it was right. So there I sat until they loaded us onto the bus. The bus was fairly luxurious and I was fortunate enough to get placed next to a nice man. We talked for a good bit of the bus ride and he helped me practice my Spanish. He also informed me that my old Chicken Bus route to my volunteer job (Antigua to San Lucas) is the most dangerous route in Guatemala!! HAHAHA. That’s good to know AFTER the fact. Someone upstairs is definitely watching out for me!
We arrived to Flores around 6:00 AM Tuesday and bid our farewells and there I waited for my connecting shuttle to Belize City. That was even sketchier feeling than the place in Guate City. It wasn’t sketchy, but it felt sketchy because it’s not what I’m used to. What happened was one guy came in and asked if I was for Belize and I said yes so they guy at my desk took my whole ticket (Whereas in Guate, they gave me back a stub) and another guy stuck me in a shuttle that took me to another travel agency instead of the bus station and I was the only person waiting there. I thought for sure that something was wrong, but I decided to ask instead and they kept assuring that I was in the right place. It’s amazing the difference in solo travel. You have to be brave enough to ask a lot more questions or well… you’ll get stuck somewhere wrong or you’ll at least feel like you’re in the wrong place. My shuttle was over a half an hour late as well so as the time crept on I felt more and more like I was missing my bus somewhere.
The ride from Flores to Belize was pretty. Who knows, maybe the ride to Flores was pretty as well, but I wouldn’t know since it was dark. We had to get out about halfway at the border to do the whole passport shindig and then we finally arrived in Belize City around 12:30 where I had to wait for a water taxi to take me out to Caye Caulker. An hour boat ride on the Caribbean? Yes please. It’s so beautiful!
I finally arrived in Caye Caulker around 2:30 where someone was offering a taxi ride. How much has Antigua ruined my trust? I almost refused the ride, but since he said he was with Dirty McNasty’s (my hostel), I decided to go for it. But I refused to let them help with my bags and refused to sit in the front of the golf cart. But they took me where I needed to go and upon arrival, I became blessed with endless blessings from the start.
My 3 roommates at the moment were from Ireland and were as outgoing as I decided to be. We’ve had some others since then that haven’t been so friendly, but from the minute I got there, I already felt a part of their group. We all went swimming a few hours after I arrived and biked out to a pier together. That night, they let me join their dinner that they cooked at the hostel. I heard them talking about couch surfing which lit me up like a candle because Lord knows I’ve fallen for couch surfing and love it when I hear there’s another surfer in the room. I came to find out that they had only been looking into it but were having trouble since they don’t have reviews yet and I said that I could review them after spending some more time together on the island. Yay! I get to be someone’s first review. It’s great to turn around a favor after getting so nicely treated from my first host. James Banicar and John McCarron, I will never forget you guys. Ya’ll are the best and I’m so thankful I have you in my life and I’m so thankful I came back to Charleston 6 more times and can’t wait to move there!
I met a guy from Israel that night who joined us to go sit by the beach that night and look at the stars. I can’t forget how incredibly clear it was. I’d do anything to have a photo of it. I’ve gotten to enjoy a lot of beautiful skies while I’ve been here. The perfect remedy for a stressed out mind. On top of that, what a treat it was to be able to walk home by myself at 11:00 at night! I’ve been in Antigua for so long that I’m in the habit of not walking home alone after 8:00 and it’s so exhausting having to wait on someone, sometimes til 2:00 AM to take me home.
Wednesday, my roommates and I went out to the pier again to swim for about 3 hours. They weren’t kidding when they said that Caribbean sun was HOT HOT HOT! I was actually good about putting on my sunscreen for once, but still got a bit pink on my back and chest. I headed back in after this because I didn’t want to make it worse and I was rather pooped from the heat. I ended up meeting the guy from Israel’s friend in the hammocks that day and we all went out for dinner that night. I enjoyed the conversation I had with him and thought we’d become friends (and I thought they were staying longer than my Irish roommates) but actually after that night, we never really spoke much again and the two of them left without even saying goodbye! Whatever. You win some, you lose some I suppose! I still had a great bunch of people to hang out with as you will come to read.
That night, I met Pops. The guy that runs the fishing/camping trips for Dirty McNasty’s. He invited me out to his private island to take a boat ride to drop a few things off and come back. Well of course, my initial thought was no way after being corrupted by Antigua (and maybe a little bit of common sense as a solo woman traveler), but he assured me that all would be safe and well as the whole work crew was coming (including some women) and well duh, if he works there and did something to me he’d lose his job. So off I went. How crazy that was! His boat didn’t have a light and he perfectly maneuvered it at 11:00 at night from one island to another! I was impressed. I was rather a shy one that night and didn’t do much talking to the other guys that came along (Partly because I have the hardest time understanding Creole. They’re speaking English but it sure ain’t any English I’ve ever heard before. I can’t understand them just as if they were speaking some kind of foreign language!), but I got to know them real well later on.
The stars that night were even better than the night before! God I love a good sky. Also, the water that was coming off the boat seemed to be glowing and for the longest time, I thought there was a light under the boat. But Pops informed me that it was something called “Phosphoricites” (I honestly don’t remember and couldn’t find it on google later!) that absorbs the sun during the day and when the water is disturbed at night, they emit the energy they absorbed and appear to make the water glow! How cool is that?
Thursday, I woke up to a rainstorm and thought it was going to rain all day. I was bummed at first, but then I thought it was for the better since I was still a bit burnt. It actually did clear up, but I still decided I should avoid the sun that day. I ended up going shopping with Laura (one of the Irish roommates) to look for a cake for Dek’s birthday (another of the Irish roommates- 3 came together). We made a cake in the microwave because there’s no oven! How cool is that? Kind of gross sounding, but super awesome because otherwise he would have been birthday-cake-less.
We went out for dinner that night for his birthday and had the restaurant bring us the cake. That was too fun. Laura enjoyed using me as a covert operation because if she had brought the cake in her bag, Dek would have questioned her, but since it was me and I’m the new girl, he didn’t even notice that I carried it as we walked to the restaurant or that the waiter pulled me aside to ask a question about it or anything ahhaha. Surprise, Dek!
The manager for the hostel is the guy that gave us the idea for the cake. We had to give him credit later. It’s funny to read my journal now because now I know him a lot better after this week but the night of Dek’s birthday, all I wrote was “Smooth (they go by funny names here) is the guy that manages the hostel and is sweet and funny. He’s the guy that gave us the idea for the cake.” I love reading stuff like this when someone like that ends up being my friend because now I could go on and on about him as I know him better. But we’ll get there.
That night, I walked home alone again by myself at 11:30 at night. No problems here!
I found out that night that my 3 roommates are interested in Antigua! They haven’t done Guatemala yet (They all quit their jobs and have been road tripping their way from Mexico down through Central and South America. Belize was country #2). I was so excited to find this out! Now I may get to see them again and be a “couch host” in Antigua (not literally since it’s not my house, but a couch surfing host in the sense that I get to show someone around instead of the other way around!)
Friday I just kind of took it easy as well. I suppose I took it easy pretty much every day in Caye Caulker. It was a perfect break for my mind. Just hanging out in hammocks meeting other travelers and meeting the hostel staff or chilling by myself by the beach or walking around or looking at the stars…. All of this just gives your mind the freedom to think and think and think and process everything that’s happened and is happening and get over things and let things go. Perfect.
Smooth had started bugging me at some point (I don’t remember what day this all began) but we got to know each other better each day because he’d always pull up a chair to my hammock. Friday, he invited me to join in on the staff lunch that Moms cooked for everybody. For reals? I got a free trip out to Pops Island (Where most people have to pay because this is where he takes them to camp and fish) and then I got invited to a free lunch? How sweet are these guys? And how special am I? No other tourist was getting the pleasure of their company that I’ve seen! Just me! J
And was I ever grateful for a good meal. Most everything I’ve had on the island in restaurants or from the grocery store has been not-so-good. Everything is imported here so I chalk it up to the fact that they can’t have much of anything fresh here (aside from fish, which I don’t like). On top of that, it’s INSANELY expensive. The guys in Antigua warned me, but I thought they just thought that because Antigua is so cheap. I thought for sure if a Belizean dollar was only worth 50 cents US that there’s no way things could be a rip off here. But I paid $7 US for a pair of Old Navy flip flops when mine broke ($2.50 in the states) and $3 for a can of Pringles. It’s rough. I spent close to $300 US in the week that I’ve been in Belize and have only eaten out 4-5 times (one of which, I was paid for!). Some of my money unfortunately had to go to medical things as I’ve been bitten to death by sand flies (I lost count at 80) that itch to hell. They’re worse than mosquitos!
So thank God for Smooth. He saved my butt this trip. I would have spent a lot more money if it wasn’t for him and I’m very grateful to have met him. He seems to have rather the crush on me. It’s kind of precious. He’s been cracking me up this whole trip with all this mumbo jumbo about how different I am and how he likes me and he’s going to make me his girl and I’m going to come back for him in Belize and marr y him and then we’re going to travel the world together. Haha. The great thing about him is he’s been treating me right this whole trip instead of just groping for me like a lot of men have in Antigua. I suppose it’s partially the culture and language barrier that doesn’t translate well for me there, but it’s just partly the rude men as well (NOT ALL OF THEM!).
I was actually told Belizean’s were worse than Guatemalans when it comes to men being inappropriate. That sent me for a scare before I left, but whoever told me that was quite wrong. At least on the island of Caye Caulker, no one’s been as creepy as some Guatemalans are. Yes, I’ve gotten hit on right and left, but not a single person has tried to touch me inappropriately or follow me. Smooth informed me that if that happens here and I don’t like it, whoever bothered me will get beaten up by all the other guys. It took me a few days to stop ignoring people here because in Guatemala, we’re taught to ignore cat calls and the like, but here it’s nice to say hi back and just keep walking. I still am not very friendly. It’s been hard to change back in just a short time. Even speaking English here upon arrival was very weird for me hahaha.
That night I got to know Smooth even better. He told me a lot about his past and he had a really rough childhood and ended up being kicked out at 16 where he built himself a house out of palm tree leaves and such like that. He became a drug dealer at some point in his life as well and was one of the biggest ones in Belize. He’s resigned that title now but I still met someone else here who is still a drug dealer and wow will that teach you something about judging people. When the hell in my life did I ever think I’d be friends with a drug dealer or ex-drug dealer? Both of these guys are so nice!
I’ve learned that people are just people ya know? We have to learn to stop judging people and just love. Just love others! Because we really can’t know anything about a person without having lived every moment of their life. And just cuz someone’s been into illegal activity doesn’t mean they are an awful person either. This guy took care of me the most out of anyone in my entire trip to Belize! God I’ve learned so much traveling, I don’t even feel like I can explain it well (Especially when my mind is rushed to get this finished and posted before I wrack up a hefty internet-usage fee!). Maybe I’ll go into greater detail later, as this post is already a book-long and I haven’t even finished catching up on my what-i-did-in-belize part.
Saturday we got 2 new girls in our room from Canada. They were not as friendly. But I suppose you’ll run into that when you travel. In all honesty, I didn’t expect to be friends with any of my roommates- just thought we’d be sharing a room. So how blessed was I to get landed with great roommates and a welcoming staff? I never had to feel alone my whole trip and this is usually one of the biggest travel fears that anyone has. But the fact is, you’re never going to be alone. Just gotta be a friend to make a friend. Again, more on that another day.
I’d been missing my Spanish a lot this trip and was dying to practice with somebody, but I hadn’t met anyone yet that spoke in Spanish long enough to really practice. One of the guys in the hostel office speaks Spanish, but we couldn’t get too far in a conversation. But as I was walking home that day from somewhere, someone said “Good morning!” (It was 5:00 in the afternoon). I, lost in my thinking, naturally just said “Good morning!” back and kept walking as I was still a bit stuck in the half-ignore people that call out to me mindset. I got about 10 feet before I corrected them and said “Afternoon” when they started laughing and saying “we were waiting to see how long it’d take you to realize!” and I turned around and saw a Guatemalan. I don’t remember how he figured out I speak some Spanish but we started talking in Spanish and I talked to him for a good hour plus. That was a treat. I needed a refresher. When I was talking to the guy in the office, I could already tell my Spanish speaking had slowed down. I’m not okay with that. This guy’s name was Javier and it’s likely I won’t see him again, but it was a pleasure to meet and practice with him for the time that we did.
After dinner that night, I chilled in the hammocks with Smooth again. I ended up telling him how I started traveling and in great detail starting all the way back at my Savannah, GA stories. I haven’t given that much detail in quite some time and it sent me into thinking about all the blessings I’ve had in the last 2 years. It made me think of so many things that I desperately need to talk about here, but again my post is getting too long so I’ll have to make another post one day to talk about all these deeper things. Dang it, I should have just brought my computer!
Sunday, I got invited to a yacht. More points for my friend, Smooth! A yacht in the Caribbean, people? When did I ever think this would happen to me? I have been so blessed this whole trip by Smooth and the staff at Dirty McNasty’s. I’ve been treated like a princess! For no reason! I did nothing special that I know of, but they all say that I’m different and special so here I’ve been included on all the local activities. I can’t imagine how much it would cost to pay to be on a yacht here for tourism. We also went out to the area where all the tour companies take people snorkeling and I got to go for free AGAIN! And got fed AGAIN! Actually, there’s a guy that patrols the water and if there’s an American in this boat that we took to take out to the yacht, they charge because they are tourists. But they told him I was Belizean hahaha. I’m a Belezean princess!! Smooth was going to take me snorkeling too, but we couldn’t because all the kids took the masks, but heck if I care! I saw sharks and stingrays right by our boat! (I’m afraid I don’t have pictures since the water kind of ruins the focus)
Crazy. I never thought I’d be meeting locals in Belize nor riding on a yacht in the middle of the Caribbean. Smooth told me he was going to be the reason I come back to Belize and made sure to try to prove that to me. He definitely did a good job and I definitely won’t forget him for all the sweet things he did for me to make my trip awesome. I may not remember him in the romantic way that I think he’s hoping for, but I definitely made me a good friend and definitely would love to come back and visit this beautiful place again.
Today I got to do more thinking because I made myself get up for the sunrise so I could go explore the island in good lighting to take some photos. I walked alone for a good 2 hours starting at 6AM and got some good shots and great alone time. Unfortunately, it’s been a bit cloudy today so I don’t know if I’ll get in my final tan or not, but I sure am hoping for it.
I will try to make a deeper post later on that goes into more of my thoughts and discoveries, but I know this post is already exhaustingly long and I’m throwing away my money using this computer so I’ll have to get back to you guys later!
Time to go enjoy my last day with my new friends and this beautiful Island!! Tomorrow- back to Flores to stay and visit Tikal!