The first time I ever visited Belize was by the generous invitation of an old high school friend and her family, in 2005. I'd just finished 6 months of chemotherapy and it was the perfect way to jump back into life. Boy, did I need it.
I loved San Pedro as if it were my own home. Most of all, I loved that it hadn't been tainted by tourism yet and I truly felt like a local. That vacation ignited a fire in me that would never cease to burn, even a decade later. There, I encountered locals who confidently argued that I was Belizean, analyzing my hair and bronzed skin. No, I'd playfully reply, I am Puer-to Ri-can; mimicking their strong Belizean Creole accents.
I'm always entertained by the variety of races and ethnicities I've been mistaken for -- oh, the joys of being brown. But this time, they were right. I returned home from Belize to learn my paternal great-grandfather was in fact Belizean. And there, my journey of self-exploration began.
When my friend Nikki told me she was heading to Belize, I begged her to give me an update on the area. My nostalgia was in full force and I knew her sense of adventure wouldn't disappoint. So here you go, enjoy Nikki's piece on Belize and join me in falling in love with the country over and over again.
By Nikki Star
Belize was never a destination that was on my immediate to-go list but a few months ago a small murmur “go to Belize, go to Belize…” kept nagging me. I’m so glad I listened to that voice! From the jungles, the Mayan history, beaches and friendly people, it is one of my favorite countries I’ve been to. If you’re thinking of going to Belize or haven’t ever thought about it before, put Belize on your list and fall in love with these gems:
The Mayan Ruins
From Xunantunich (pictured here), Lamanai, Altun Ha, Caracol and Tikal, there are ruins you can visit in just about every part of the country. I chose Xunantunich as it’s the most easily accessible from San Ignacio and also has one of the biggest pyramids. Definitely go with a tour guide so you can get the full history and meaning of each carving and stone.
The Jungles in San Ignacio
Make your way to San Ignacio and stay in one of the many Eco-lodges in the jungles. You can find tons of activities including canoeing, cave tubing, bird watching, and jungle hikes. Or just relax in the hammocks and listen to the many howler monkeys that roar like lions!
Caye Caulker Island
“Go Slow” is this tiny island’s motto and slow, it is. This 4-mile paradise's lack of automobiles is replaced with golf carts and bicycles. It is also home to one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen! The water is warm with transparent turquoise green, aqua blue colors that seem almost unreal. The clear waters provide the perfect opportunity to spot some large starfish and a maybe even a dolphin. Cool off with coconut juice, rum punch and shrimp ceviche and just. take. it. slow.
See a Mayan Shaman
In San Ignacio, I met with Rosario Panti: the country’s last Mayan shaman. Her grandfather was a shaman who passed down his gift of spiritual healing to her. Whether you are seeking answers, healing, or just looking for a new experience, why not meet with a shaman? If you are looking, drop me an email and I will send along her cell number. :)
Snorkeling or diving in the Blue Hole!