Lief and I have been in Paris since December. We came for the holidays then were caught in the lockdown.
We’re not complaining. The City of Light is one of our favorite places on Earth and not a bad place to hang out for an extended time, even under quarantine.
Still, seven months is the longest either of us can remember spending in one place in a long while. We’re ready for a change of scenery. Maybe you feel the same way.
I’ve been feeding my wanderlust these past many weeks of confinement by day-dreaming about other places in the world I most like to be… including and especially Cayo, Belize.
Whenever I’ve been able to organize my schedule to allow time in this beautiful, welcoming, and quirky little corner of the world, the reward has been a sensation of freedom that I’ve known nowhere else.
In Cayo, the burdens and concerns of the rest of the world feel far away and unimportant.
As friend and longtime Belize expat Mick Fleming put it when I spoke with him, “We watch the news here each evening, and we know what’s going on out there.
“It’s not that we’ve got our heads stuck in the sand. It’s that we choose a different reality. This life, here in the Cayo of Belize, this is the reality we choose to make.”
In Cayo, it doesn’t take long for any other reality you’ve brought with you to fade.
In this frontier land of rivers and rain forest, your mind and your body are occupied with challenge and discovery from sunup until you fall exhausted into your bed each evening.
Belize’s Cayo District remains a place where a man (or a woman) can stake a claim and carve out a simple but rich and rewarding life. The older I get… and the crazier the world seems to get… the more I like the sound of that.
To reach Cayo, you travel the Western Highway from Belize City. The view all around is of fields and pastures, trees and jungle, rivers and livestock…
Here and there a small house of concrete block or timber, in the distance the outline of the Maya Mountains. The land in Cayo is fertile. This is Belize’s breadbasket. Farmers grow corn and sugarcane, watermelons and citrus.
You share the road with Mennonites driving horse-drawn carts and children walking home from school. Everyone going about his or her business…
Here, in this land of escape, life revolves around the land and values independence above all else.
To be truly independent in today’s world, you need to be energy-independent.
That’s part of what Cayo offers, too—a chance to take yourself off the grid. This doesn’t have to mean living a backward or burdened existence. Thanks to 21st-century technology, the self-sufficient life can also be comfortable, even fully appointed.
And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You could establish a fully off-grid homestead with rain catchment and a stable of animals… or you could plant a kitchen garden… even on the wall of your kitchen.
That is to say, you don’t have to be a mountain man or a pioneer to start. You don’t even need much space to achieve a real level of independence.
And, while Cayo, Belize, resonates with me as a top choice for where to think about embracing a self-sufficient lifestyle, you can pursue these strategies anywhere in the world that sparks your imagination.