It took a flight first to Dallas, then to Belize City, then a Puddle Jumper over to Amergris Caye followed by a boat ride to the resort we were staying at, Matachica. For those who don’t like to travel, it sounds awful I suppose but the flights were a little under 3 hours, the Puddle Jumper was a few minutes and the boat ride was easy considering the view. Landing, and stepping off the airliner onto the tarmac was the first wake up call that this wasn’t the U.S. anymore. Security seemed optional- judging by the “laid back” customs, check ins, and baggage handling process we went through. Not to mention that for the Puddle Jumper, Blake was literally sitting co-pilot while 12 more of us sat in the cabin. For me, I know I’m not in the U.S. anymore when I base my actions on the ‘odds’ of something happening. As in, ‘What are the odds that the guy sitting co-pilot in the cockpit is crazy and will take the plane down?’ or ‘ What are the odds that the people who just picked us up in a golf cart aren’t really from the resort?’
We had a full week to play and as we golf-carted our way through the town of San Pedro from airstrip to boat dock I was a giddy puppy seeing all the shops, restaurants and street vendors to visit. No McDonald’s or Walmart in sight. But don’t get me wrong, it was still one big tourist trap in a sense as probably at least 98% of the economy is based on tourism. We would later find out that (after renting our own golf cart) on the outskirts of town near the ‘public housing’ is where you’ll find the legit Belize places and the unwelcoming attitude.
I’ll refrain from restaurant and Resort reviews because I know no one is really heading that way soon, or is going to hop on plane to check out something I rave about. but I will say in terms of food- when on an island do as the islanders do and indulge in seafood. Can’t go wrong and plantain-breaded calamari was by far my most favorite culinary experience there. The Resort lived up to its numerous awards, and I have not a single complaint.
In a conversation early in the week, Blake and I agreed that we could return back to California and feel completely satisfied with our time spent so long as we accomplished 2 things: Snorkeling (scuba diving for him) the Barrier Reef and visiting the Mayan Ruins. This is really what Belize is known for, and Central America is known really for the Mayan Culture.
The Barrier Reef is breath taking. It was like swimming into Nemo’s neighborhood. A Sea Turtle literally tapped his fin on my goggles, we swam with Nerf Sharks, sting rays, moray eels, barracudas, Nemos, Dories, and a whole bunch more. I’m just a little bothered that of the 5 different camera options we brought with us, none had an underwater option.
The mainland trip to check out the Ruins included cave tubing. This was probably our least favorite excursion not because of the caves or the ruins but because of the people that were on the trip with us. Just thinking of the 3 hour + van ride we endured is exhausting. We were packed in with 4 college spring-break party kids, and a red-neck yet liberal couple. Despite the obvious culture clash, the 6 of them managed to become BFF’s, agreeing on every issue from Dog Rescue efforts, the Rasta lifestyle, Jerry Springer episodes to ways tohelp the Belizean people out of poverty. Had we been the United Nations, Blake & I would have been Iran because like the Holocaust, the group believed Jerry Springer was all true life while we believe the shows are pretend. I faked sleep for about 2 of the 3 hour ride.
But the trip was everything we’d hoped for. The weather was perfectly sunny, slightly cloudy here and there with a perfect slow breeze to keep us cool. I got some great souvenirs- all local and created by Belizean people. Which I really value. I can’t stand when all the souvenir shops sell the exact same things no matter where in the world you are. Easy way of knowing this is just to scratch off the word “Belize” and then imagine it saying “Jamaica” or “Hawaii.” Friends, you do know that all those key chains, picture frames, photobooks, shot glasses, postcards and t-shirts are manufactured in Thailand and then sent out to everywhere else? All they do is change the name of the location to read where ever it is you are visiting…