Welcome To A Great Escape… Or A Long-Term Adventure
It’s a bright Saturday morning a few days before I leave for the States. I always enjoy this time of day before a trip to visit family… it’s the perfect opportunity to sit in a favorite diner, June’s Kitchen, for breakfast and reflect on experiences and adventures I’ve had in Belize. I take these memories back to my family to share some tidbits of my new, exciting life with them.
This breakfast spot, June’s, is a popular one, located just a few blocks off the main street of Corozal. Most mornings, expats and locals alike stop in here to greet, dine, and meet new people. The ambiance is serene… outside is a garden full of various tropical plants—it’s pleasing knowing that the fruits on your plate are fresh, growing right outside. Not once have I been disappointed by a meal served to me here. This day, in particular, I ordered pancakes and sausage—the breakfast was huge, accompanied by a whole banana and slices of papaya, cantaloupe, and watermelon. It may have been quite the plate, but I let none of it go to waste.
I have been living in Corozal for a year now, after residing for several months on the southern coast of Belize in Punta Gorda. As a single retiree living on a modest income, and having recently celebrated my 72nd birthday, I marvel at how I am living such a rich and adventurous life so far away from where I grew up.
I don’t feel any older now than when I moved to Belize two years ago. I feel younger, really, with no arthritic pain that I once felt almost daily while living in the northeastern United States. I pay the general practitioner here in Corozal such a low fee for general checkups that I used to feel guilty. The few medications that I do take, I get right from the pharmacy without prescription, and for much less than the price I paid in the States—I certainly do not feel guilty about that. The doctor says my vitals are good, which I could have told him myself… I feel so great here!
As I think back over just the past few weeks, I have to smile at the memories.
Three weeks ago, I traveled just nine miles across the border to Mexico. I told a friend of mine who joined me that I wanted to get the right pair of shoes to wear for my upcoming walk up the Mayan ruins at Santa Rita. This was the perfect excuse to get to the clean and neat little city called Chetumal, with its westernized stores—Sketchers was my spot for the day—and a vast selection of other shoe and clothing stores. I truly appreciate the ease of access to make these little, fun day trips. We passed a Home Depot, Office Depot, Walmart, Burger King, Applebee’s, and other familiar spots we know so well in the States. My friend speaks Spanish fluently, but the fact that there was at least one English-speaking bilingual employee in each store we visited was comforting to me.
It was two weeks ago on a pleasant sunny day, not uncommon in Belize, that I visited the Mayan archeological site at Santa Rita (right outside of Corozal) with my new shoes on foot. As I approached the ruin and looked up, I was hoping I still had the nerve to scale the magnificent sight. Well, climb I did, all the way to the top. When I reached there, I took a look at the view, realized how far up I was, and—froze. I couldn’t see myself going down the broad steps I had just come up. But, my guide was right there beside me. As he was telling me about the site’s rich history, I came down without a problem. A wonderful adventure… one I hope more experience for themselves.
When I returned home, I sat by Corozal Bay and mulled over the special moments I had spent at the Mayan ruins that day.
Last week, I was heavily involved in the Rotary’s Annual Garage Sale event. As a member of the fundraising committee, I made a commitment of time and energy to make this event a successful one.
Businesses helped promote the event by hanging flyers in their stores—both in English and Spanish—and a well-known TV station ran our advertisement as a community service, saving us a lot of money.
Many items large and small, valuables and recyclables, were donated. I spent a lot of time with other committee members sorting, pricing, and bagging the items in preparation for the sale. My social network has expanded in return… we are a great team.
Literally: You cannot travel on an empty stomach.
The weather and the community were splendid on the day of the sale—it was a huge success. The thousands of dollars made in proceeds will be used to fund many of the activities the club supports, from donating scholarships and computers to schools to refurbishing and providing wheelchairs, crutches, and other items to those who need them. This was a truly rewarding experience—the reason I volunteer with the club so often, to give back to the community that has welcomed me with open arms.
I miss this environment and the friends I have made in Belize during my trips to visit those back in Maryland—the place I once called home. Now, Corozal has become such an amazing part of my life, this is home.