It’s true—it’s never too late to learn. I’ve been fortunate to reach my threescore-and-ten, and Belize is still showing me that I have much to explore.
I’m a single female senior citizen who made a life-changing decision in 2014 to live in a place completely different to anywhere I’d lived before.
In Northeast United States, winters are bitterly cold, while Belize’s climate is tropical. In Maryland, various cultures live in the same area, but experiencing multiculturalism was a choice. On the gridlocked expressway in and around the Washington, D.C. area, I had to surpass the speed limit while driving just to keep up with the flow of traffic. In Belize, because of rough roads, going a little fast can be dangerous. In the States, I had to stretch my dollars. Yet beautiful Belize is so affordable I have money left over.
While living in Belize for the first two years, I visited each of its six districts and some of their resorts. I enjoyed the beaches, saw how foreigners lived when they visited the Jewel, and listened to personal testimonies from people who had enjoyed other lodges. Each district has its own tourist attractions:
- The Lodge at Big Falls in the Toledo District is a beautiful natural resort in a secluded quiet area.
- Placencia in the Stann Creek District is a beach resort town on the Caribbean coast, home to manatees and saltwater crocodiles as well as offshore dive sites in the Belize Barrier Reef.
- The Cayo District boasts the Maya Mountain Lodge and Wellness Center—a lodging paradise with organic produce.
- In Caye Caulker in the Belize District, the second largest of Belizean cayes, the pace of life is as slow as the waves.
- Orange Walk District draws people in for eco adventures at the Lamanai Maya Ruins.
- In the Corozal District, the Cerros Beach Resort displays natural beauty surrounding Corozal Bay for total relaxation.
And these are just a few of the attractions this small English-speaking country in Central America offers…
But lodges and resorts aren’t the true Belize. When I first landed in Belize, I stayed in Punta Gorda and met the townspeople… Cities and towns are too small to contain all of the population.
Where was the rest of the people?
The key is how and where people live. It’s like another world out there…
I was born and bred in a big city and rarely traveled the countryside unless I was transiting through it.
However, most Belizeans live in villages outside of town. Just as each of the districts offer a wide variety of wonderful adventures, each of the villages I visited had its own personality. Some were home to a majority Maya population, some Garifuna, while others had more bilingual Spanish-speakers. All were Belizean with their own special brand of hospitality and love for nature and community.
People grow all kinds of plants, fruits, and vegetables, and raise animals for food or to sell. (At one time, I thought this was unique to the people of Punta Gorda… I later learned this wasn’t the case.)
Each village has its own governing hierarchy (including the village council), their own jail, and some even have their own clinics. Community centers hold events both large and small.
As I traveled around Belize, I began to understand that, no matter how many people I saw, there were many more right down the road or a few miles away living in villages. They were to be discovered, to meet and befriend, their wares to be bought, and to have new adventures with…
And I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Last year, I met a young lady who came to Belize from New York as a member of a Peace Corps team.
She was 25 years old and was away from home for the first real time after obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree in community health with a focus on maternal and child health. I invited her for breakfast to learn how she is sharing her skills in Belize. She was also interested in becoming a midwife, so I referred her to an international midwife living in the Corozal area who has assisted in hundreds of births the world over.
I was glad to expand her world even further during her tour in Belize.
This Peace Corps volunteer lives in a small village of 900 people, too small to have its own medical facility. Her skills have been greatly appreciated.
I gave her a ride home with my driver. All along the rocky road to her village we were met with smiles and hospitality gestures that increased when we arrived in the village itself. I saw the house where she lives with her host family. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she was bringing another part of the world here.
I regularly see teams of people visiting from around the globe bringing messages of hope, supplies to help, and skills to share to towns and villages alike.
Up close and personal, I saw how it does take a village to raise a child… and to increase my own awareness of the wonderful people who populate and help them.
Thank you, Belize!