…a popular slogan in Belize seen on many souvenirs and T-shirts. As Houston is the hub for flights to Belize, and we were in the general vicinity, and we were able to use points to get cheap flights, and we wanted a break from the unusually cold weather, and the week before Christmas week is quiet, and, and…well, we booked a “park and fly” at the Ramada Houston airport and had a quick week to introduce ourselves to this hidden gem in central America.
Well, we escaped the cold, but not the rains. And they were biblical! Every day except one.
Belize is a small country (population ~350,000) and a secret that is quickly being discovered by many Americans and Canadians, whether for a vacation or for retirement. It is quite undeveloped, especially in the south, and is a wonderful mix of cultures. English-speaking (previously British Honduras), politically stable, safe, and extremely friendly. We felt like we had discovered a small slice of a real, raw, Caribbean culture.
We’ve summed up our visit with 2 picture slideshows.
Hopkins: The first is from our 4 days in Hopkins which is very undeveloped except for a handful of small, fancier resorts. This grouping includes an exciting drive down the Ocean “highway” – actually a dirt road – that many of the locals laughed upon hearing that this was Google maps’ choice (the alternative is a paved highway that is longer in distance). There were also 2 houses being moved down this road on the backs of trucks, occasionally stopping to make sure they would not get stuck on narrow bridges or to clear foliage. We also cycled on the rutted, muddy road from one end of Hopkins to the other and back (~ 10 miles). There were also washed out sections on the road out of Hopkins that Stuart walked through to check for depth before driving our little rental car.
Saltwater Caye: scuba diving in the South Water Marine Preserve with a lunch stop on Saltwater Caye
Placencia: The second is from our 3 days in a small apartment in the heart of Placencia, which is an isthmus along the south coast. It is a little more developed than Hopkins, and a lot more lively! Residents of Hopkins believe their development will take off when the road gets paved. While in Placencia, we spent time visiting with friends Jim and Amanda, and seeing their development project in Maya Beach–truly a labour of love. There was also a holiday celebration involving a small Christmas boat parade and Amanda and Michaela joining in with the local Garifuna Drummers.
We recognize that in a week we only were able to enjoy a small portion of the country and look forward to a future trip (or maybe…an over-winter stay??) to take in the Mayan ruins, the jungles, the caverns, and more diving on a variety of cayes.
Merry Christmas Everyone!