My 14 favorite things about living in Belize?
That’d have to be:
#1: Tubing on the Mopan River around Bullet Tree Village. It’s a 90-minute float through two small rapids from one side of the village to the other. You finish just down the road from Remos Bar, the post-river inner-tubing watering hole.
#2: Driving down the Hummingbird Highway when it opens into the valley at Pomona. It’s the most spectacular view I have ever seen.
#3: The sandbar about a half-mile off St. George’s Caye. It’s shallow, up to just four feet deep, depending on the tide. On holidays, dozens of boats from the city come out and pull up, set up barbecues and bars, and float and drink and party all afternoon in the shallow water just offshore and very close to the reef. Everyone bags and takes their trash home too, of course.
#4: The tarpon shoals on the leeward side of Caye Caulker around the opening to the cave that runs under the island. The tarpon nearly swamp your boat as you cruise by.
#5: The eight-foot-long iguanas who do not care that it’s your porch. If that’s where they want to lie in the sun, that’s where they lie in the sun. If you have a problem with it, you can move out of their way. They’re like Komodo dragons.
#6: The 70-year-old grannies who come to a family gathering and get pressured into drinking a little blackberry wine then end up on a chair shaking it like Beyoncé wishes she could move it.
#7: Kriol kids riding their horses around San Ignacio town bareback with just a rope.
#8: The old vaqueros who tie their horses up outside the bar to wait for them while they drink inside. Hours later, their buddies throw them across their saddles, and their horses take them home faithfully. I’ve not known one to fall off yet.
#9: Cops don’t chase criminals. They stake out the bus stop for the bus that goes to the place where their moms live. This is how most all criminals are caught.
#10: Coconuts, mangos, and avocados grow in most backyards.
#11: Wedding ceremonies and receptions are often held in the middle of the road, even when community spaces are available. No chance of getting your car through, so you may as well join in.
#12: Sitting in a clear river on a hot day.
#13: Of the remaining 12,000 speakers of the Mopan Maya language, 8,000 live in Belize.
#14: There’s strong evidence that the famous battle of St. George’s Caye, one of the most important events in Belize history and a point of serious national pride, never took place. Still it’s celebrated as the third biggest holiday of the year. Why waste a good excuse for a party?