Life In Corozal: A Rustic Caribbean Paradise
“It sure can get windy here sometimes!” a gentleman walking his dog shouts at me while clenching a straw hat as I bike past him. Admittedly, tropical weather is evanescent, though invariably beautiful: Windy or rainy in flares from time to time, as a baby who fluctuates in a flash from placid to tantrum. The warm, tropical weather is my rationale not to own a car in Belize, though, a decision I’ve never regretted. The regular exercise I get living in Corozal—combined with my diet of fresh, local foods and the oxygen-loaded breeze, have forged an improved, healthier me… I’m now in better shape than I was even in my younger years.
With an annual mean temperature of 79°F and comforting sea breezes year-round, sunny Belize is earthly paradise, and countless expats like me call this lovely country our home.
For the bunch of us who sought a long-gone haven—one where time stands still and life drifts peacefully by without hassles—Corozal province is true nirvana. Here dwells a dreamy, quintessentially Caribbean way of life where the ocean’s whisper lulls you to sleep and the tropical birds wake you at dawn.
Located in northern Belize, the town and surrounding villages feature all the country’s wonderful qualities, but at unrivaled low prices. Plus, the area’s proximity to Chetumal in southern Mexico allows for easy access to U.S.-style shopping with all its amenities and conveniences. This actually may be one of the primary reasons many expats choose Northern Belize, at all. This fledgling country, which only recently achieved independence, lacks sophisticated services and infrastructure—as well as bureaucracy and clout—so being able to drive to a department store or Costco is a real boon for residents.
At approximately 3 miles from the Mexican border, the development of Consejo Shores, where I presently live, is home to expats from the United States, Canada, and Europe. The project offers attractive, newly built homes set on meandering roads and surrounded by luscious trees and flawless yards. Sizable lots ready for construction can be found aplenty, running anywhere from US$25,000 to US$130,000. The hardest choice to make is whether to go right to the waterfront or stay a few blocks from the shore. The sea views and locale in general, which is also the site of the nation’s one-time first and only hotel, are some of the best in the country. Catering to those who decide to build their homes away from the shoreline, you’ll find shore access that’s made public to residents and their visitors equipped with excellent beaches and boat ramps. Other development amenities include a community center brimming with activities, a nature trail, and a public library—which many consider better stocked than the town’s own.
A typical day for me might feature kayaking, fishing, swimming, reading, among other things… or perhaps just swinging in a hammock with a cold beer or a rum cocktail in hand. Come nighttime I meet with neighbors for dinner and drinks or a game of cards. If the water and all its diversions don’t keep you busy, our community center is open daily for numerous games and activities. The project and its nature-trails are a pleasure to walk or bike through.
Belize It Or Not…
For shopping, I have the choice of either the adjacent Consejo Village, with its grocery store and restaurants, or, for weekly shopping, a bike ride to Corozal town. Radiating from its central square—the town’s business section—this simple burg has one significant artery: the Northern Highway. Roughly a half-mile walk from the center sits Santa Rita archaeological site with its Mayan temple ruin, where locals recreate ancient events to pay homage to their legacy. Likewise, the town celebrates “Art in the Park,” a cultural exhibition and market for native paintings and crafts.
Bounding the bulk of the province at the shore, Corozal Bay effectively encloses the area, harboring it from any ocean damage. Thanks to the second largest coral reef barrier in the world, which hedges the Belizean coastline in its entirety, this is an incredibly tranquil bay. Diving and snorkeling here—as everywhere in the country’s coast—are some of the best in the world on account of the reef. Although I’m not a diver, I do snorkel at least once a week (including in “winter”) and have stumbled upon a few marine “relics.” For art or nature lovers, the underwater world here is a treasure trove.
You could think of all these pluses as extra though… The weather is enough to entice most people to stay, its occasional outbursts of fury notwithstanding. I couldn’t be happier here in Corozal, even with the gusty wind. After all, occasional surprises complement the spice of life. In the words of Marcel Proust, “A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.”