Belize—Still For The Intrepid
Aug. 10, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Kathie returns to Belize, 30 years after her first adventures in the country.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
Returning to what has been one of my favorite places on earth for a long time for my first extended stay in years, I find Belize's Cayo hardly changed. Me? I'm a little harder to recognize.
I came to Cayo for the first time almost 30 years ago. I had seen little else of the rest of the world by that time, but I recognized something in this part of Belize that I appreciated immediately—a big-time potential for adventure and discovery.
"This is what's great about Cayo," I told my 14-year-old son Jackson as he, his father, and I drove around lost in the dark on the unpaved, unmarked, unlit jungle roads last night trying to find our lodge.
"You can always count on having an adventure."
On my first visit to this part of the world three decades ago, my first friend in Belize, Mick Fleming, wondered just how much adventure I was up for.
Sitting next to me at the wooden bar of his Chaa Creek jungle lodge my first night in the country, Mick turned and asked, "Do you want to go on a guided tour of the Mayan ruins...or would you be up for a real Belize experience?"
Being 22 years old, how could I resist an opportunity for a real Belize experience, even though I had no idea what that might mean.
Mick had one of his staff drive me deeper into the jungle, to the two-room thatched-roofed home of a Mayan family. Alongside their little house, Mick had helped them to build a second, smaller place, a single room that they rented out to tourists. I've always wondered if any other tourist actually ever stayed in the place. This tourist has remembered my night there ever since.
Mick's man dropped me off and said he'd be back for me the next morning. It was just past lunchtime.
The family consisted of a mother, a father, and three children. The oldest child, a 13-year-old boy, spoke a little English. He asked what I'd like to do and then suggested a hike to a nearby cave. I smiled agreement.
I followed the boy up the side of the nearby mountain, through the bush. When it began to rain, the trail became slick, but the boy continued on, so I did, too. He used his machete to cut branches and growth from the trail we followed. Finally, he pointed with his machete toward the ground. I followed the machete's point and saw a small hole in the muddy earth. "The cave," the boy said. "Do you want to go inside?"
The boy lay down on the ground, on his stomach, then reached into the hole with his two hands, then his arms, and then he pulled himself through the mud and was gone.
I stood on the side of the hill, in the rain, in the mud, and considered my options. Really, I had only one. I got down on the ground the way I'd seen the boy do and slithered hands and arms first through the hole.