“Home is where the heart is”… a phrase I have heard so many times. As a youngster, I thought it was nice to hear, but I didn’t really know what it meant. I had a feeling it had something to do with being happy in some place.
I knew I couldn’t just take my heart out of my body and leave it in my favorite playground or at the home of my best friend. And, although I really enjoyed some of my classes at school, which seemed to be my second home, I didn’t think I could leave my heart there, either.
The house I lived and grew up in was in the northeastern United States, and I was pretty happy there most of the time. So, growing up, I began to think that a house in Maryland as where my heart was supposed to be.
Years passed, and, as I started traveling—be it an overnight stay or for much longer—I was mindful of another phrase… “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” I was always happy to go back to wherever I called home because, I made sure that it was lovely and peaceful—be it ever so humble. I’ve lived in many different houses and called each of them “home.”
Then, a few years ago, I was invited to go on a weeklong mission trip to a place called Belize. I didn’t know much about this place, so I did some research. I learned that it is an English-speaking country in Central America where the weather was tropical and one of its borders was the Caribbean Sea.
I was so eager to find out more about this area, which used to be called British Honduras, that I visited the Belize Embassy in Washington, D.C. The First Secretary at the embassy was kind and informative about her native land. I was impressed and even more excited.
I was warned that the weather in Belize would be very warm and, at times, very humid. Still, I looked forward to the trip, knowing that I would be returning home to Maryland, which is only hot during a few summer months.
Off I went to the Cayo District of Belize where, yes, I found both the temperature and humidity to be rather high, even in spite of the occasional warm and delightful breezes. There was little relief because it hardly rained while I were there—a heavy downpour would have been much appreciated, especially on some of the dusty and rocky roads we traveled.
But the tropical weather wasn’t the focal point of my visit…
At the time, I thought the immense pleasure I experienced in Belize came from the tremendous amount of peace that reigned the entire time I was there… It didn’t matter if I was at the base of the famous Xunantunich Mayan ruin, near the butterfly garden, or even in the clear blue waters of Caye Caulker. By the end of the week, I felt so good I was ready to leave my bags unpacked and stay there.
Had my heart found a new home?
Nevertheless, I did pack up and return to my house in the States. That is, until one year later, when I returned again to the Baltimore Washington International Airport in
Belize It Or Not…
At 300 meters across in diameter, Belize’s Great Blue Hole is said to boast the largest entrance of any blue hole in the world. Located in the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 100 kms (62 miles) east from the mainland of Belize City, the Great Blue Hole is 125 meters (410 feet) deep and is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Great Blue Hole’s origin dates to the last ice age, when rising sea levels flooded a limestone cave system, collapsing the cave opening from the weight of the water. Today, the network of submarine passages are a popular draw for divers who come from far and wide to explore the crystal-clear waters teeming with spectacular coral formations and sea life.
The Great Blue Hole was first made famous by French marine biologist and explorer Jacques Cousteau in 1971, when he brought his ship, the Calypso, to chart its depths, declaring it one of the top 10 scuba diving sites in the world.
Proverb: Fishaman neba seh e fish stink.
Translation: A fisherman never says his fish stinks.
Meaning: Self-criticism is rare.
Maryland. This time, I had two suitcases and a one-way ticket to the place that had captured my heart with its overwhelming peace and tranquility: Belize. This time, I landed in Punta Gorda on the southern coast.
This was just the beginning of a lifesaving story at the age of 70…
I have now been living in Belize for two and a half years. I have visited my family in the States since then. But whenever I had spoken of going back there to visit, I could never bring myself to say that I was going back “home.” Now I understand why.
I visited Maryland recently during their spring season. After being there for just two nights, I had an experience that I will not soon forget. I was horribly awakened in the middle of the night by some things very near and dear to me—my knees!
They were aching so badly that I was near tears. The chilly springtime temperatures swept straight through me to my joints and caused me pain that I hadn’t felt since I had left the States a couple of years ago.
During this unfortunate episode I remembered that, before I was to relocate to Belize, I had visited an orthopedic surgeon. I had pleaded with him for a double knee replacement due to the intense pain I had been experiencing. This wise man refused, stating that the X-rays did not show that much damage to my knees. Instead, he only approved a sticker for my car to permit me to park closer to places I needed to get to.
Shortly thereafter, I made the move to Belize, instantly forgetting that I even had knees! I was delighted to be able to enjoy walking even the rockiest of roads.
The climate that at first may have seemed like a potential downside made all the world of difference.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed being with family, friends, and other loved ones during my recent trip to the States, I told someone that I could not wait to get back “home”—to Belize…
I now know that home is not only where my heart is, it’s also where my health is. Would that be the best of health? You’d better Belize it!