Over the course of the last week, I had the opportunity to travel to the beautiful country of Belize for a mission trip with my church. Although the trip centered around mission and volunteer work at a local school, we still managed to explore the vast culture of the country while contributing to a great cause. I hope the experiences that i witnessed stay with me forever and I would like to share them and encourage others to look into traveling to Belize or to participate on mission work.
After arriving at the airport at 3:15 am, my group finally disembarked the plane at what seemed like a late hour (12:00 pm) to suffocating heat that instantaneously brought about extreme perspiration. Now I know that that does not sound like the most pleasant welcome from a country but it resulted in a greater appreciation for air-conditioning and we knew automatically that we would be experiencing tropical climate and weather at its finest. Once the initially shock of the heat died down, we made our way through customs and out of the airport to be greeted by a bus that would take us the lunch and the port. The first meal in Belize that we ate truly embodied the traditional Belizean cuisine with their staples substances of rice and beans. I will write more about the food in another post. After lunch, we boarded a boat and traveled to the island of Ambergris Caye and the town of San Pedro.
San Pedro is a lively but quant town, bustling with locals and tourists alike. The island is very narrow with
only 4 streets including the beach. Walking up and down the beach, you find it lined with restaurants and hotels along with more extensive resorts and small little shops. There are docks extending the town every 100ft or so that offer different water sports and snack stands. The sea itself is crystal clear. With the water being only a few feet deep, swimming and relaxing is easy. Everyday, after a long morning of work (starting at 5 am), we would all go and relax and swim in the waterfront right outside of our hotel. Strangely, or maybe not, the water is warm for the ocean but we weren’t going to complain. Any water felt good after being drench in sweat all morning long. As for the shops throughout town, there are many great places for souvenirs and artisan crafts. One of my favorites is called “12” and it sells all handmade gifts from Belize such as jewelry, spices and clothing. Another place that is fascinating was the artisan market where there are booths lining a square with all sorts of crafts and souvenirs. In addition to shopping, we also ate our way through the town by means of fruit and candy stands, ice-cream shops and smoothie shops and my particular favorite, the Belizean Chocolate Company, a local chocolate shop with all sorts of delicious delicacies. I’ll tell you now that the Belizean people have master the art of sweets but more on that later with my food post.
After 5 long days of work and play, in addition to a day filled with snorkeling, our group headed to another island called Caye Caulker. This particular island is smaller than Ambergris but still filled with culture and charm.
I highly recommend the boutique hotel called “Seaside Cabanas” since it offers great beachside views and comfortable accommodations. The rooms are decorated in Belizean style and the courtyard is gleaming with a beautiful pool and
lounge chairs, exactly what we needed after a long week of work. We spent that last weekend relaxing poolside and on a catamaran sailboat where we swam and snorkeled in the sky blue water. Caye Caulker didn’t offer as much shopping and recreation as Caye Ambergris did and I would recommend Ambergris over Caulker if you wanted to vacation on a Belize island.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience filled with memories of joy. Belize is a beautiful countries with a great culture. Through the work involved with the mission, I am proud to have hopefully made an impact on the kids of San Pedro and Holy Cross Anglican, the school that we worked at. I hope that the memories and experiences stay with me so I can cherish them forever and fuel my love of travel.