Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Travel Tuesdays...Belize

Have you ever been somewhere that you loved and hated all at the same time?  Belize is like that for me.  We've visited twice, and both times I had this underlying sense of being a very privileged white girl that didn't really get how blessed she is, but also fell in love with the country and the people.  It's a love/hate thing.  Who really wants to look in the face of their seriously blessed life and realize that you didn't realize just how good you have it?  Yeah.  No one.  And on the other hand, that same blessed white girl had the opportunity to talk to people who make me see the world differently.  That's how Belize affected me and probably why I haven't written about it sooner.

The main temple and worship courtyard.
Anyway, if you want to see some COOL Mayan ruins,  cruise the River Wallace, or see some majorly large cashew farms in Central America...Belize is the place!  Oh yeah, it's in the Caribbean, so they have pretty water and beaches, too.  As a bonus on those beaches, the second largest barrier reef in the world runs along the Belize coast.  National Geographic can NOT do it justice.  You really have to see it.  (the largest is, of course, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia)  Belize is essentially a scuba freaks small heaven.  Can I tell you that being underwater creeps me out? I like being at the top of the food chain, so when I'm potentially not, like in the ocean, I get postal.  Seriously.

There's rum in the Caribbean.  Yeah, I know. You're shocked.  Belize carries that tradition by having their 1st annual Sugar City Rum Festival in October of this year.  So, if you're looking to have a Mardi Gras in the Caribbean, here's your chance, people. 

The only warning about Belize, which is more likely overkill if you know anything about this region:  it's poor.  I mean, really poor.  The people don't have fancy anything and some of them do beg for your dollars.  For the most part, we found Belizeans to be our cup of tea. They are SO friendly and welcoming.  You're their largest income as a tourist, so get out there and meet them.  They WANT to please you and they WANT to talk to you.  Frankly, we enjoyed Belizean people as much as we enjoyed Belize.  We talked to some other privileged white folks and you'd think that anyone who isn't American is going to shoot you in the head.  Don't believe it.  They're just people who live in a 3rd world country.  It's not a disease, people.  It's just their circumstances.

We loved their joy, their beauty and their very unique culture that's a combination of Creole (I think they spell it Kriole), African, Spanish and European.  Queen Elizabeth is actually the "Queen of Belize", but the Prime Minister of Belize is the executive authority.  (there's your little history lesson for the day!!)

The pics:

The opening of the River Wallace. This tour is about 2 hours long, but ends at a restaurant called the Black Orchid. The BEST jerk chicken and beans and rice...EVER. 

Look at those root systems on those trees!!  Life will always find a way, huh?!

Altun Ha Mayan ruins

Altun Ha means "Water of the Rock". 

Possibly a sacrifice alter across from the King's home in the middle of the ruins.  Could also be a tribute to his dead wife.  The irony wasn't lost on me.

See those people on top of the alter?  Those are my people waving down at me!! It was 93 degrees in the middle of the jungle with 100% humidity...in JANUARY.  I was a total weenie and sat it out.  No regrets.  My kids thought it was the coolest thing ever that they could climb on these ruins, though.  It is, literally, surrounded by nothing but jungle.  It takes over an hour from the coast to reach this location.  It's worth it.

We plan to revisit Belize to see more historical sites, Caulker's Caye, cashew farms (did you know that the cashew is surrounded by a plant so poisonous that the fumes kill you?!), go cave tubing(this is on my bucket list!!) and their Amish. (yeah, they have Amish there, too!)  This is a place that pulls at your heart and affects you.  Belize has culture, history, political strife and people who are open and willing to really talk to you.  We love Belize and appreciate it deeply.  Go with an open heart and an open mind and you'll find that the world is huge and small...all at the same time.  Go live, people!! 

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