My first impression of Belize from the air was overwhelmingly green and wet. Wild, bright green trees reached above a thick carpet of darker ones. Shallow swamps spotted the land everywhere, making me uneasy about mosquitoes and sea-level rise.((Sure enough, Belize is the most vulnerable country in Central America regarding rising oceans. http://amandala.com.bz/news/belize-vulnerable-central-america-sea-level-rise/))
My first impression of Belize from the ground was “hot as balls” and just as moist. I immediately commenced sweating, and I don’t foresee myself stopping for the next couple months. There are also a lot of Mormons here- maybe they’re following me? The flight attendant even asked me if I was on mission.
Without bothering to convert currency (Belize’s dollar is pegged 2:1 to the US’s and both are used interchangeably) I caught a taxi to the docks in Belize city, passing a surprising number of Belizean-Chinese restaurants on the way.
I purchased a ferry ticket to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye just in time to watch said ferry leave without me. But no matter- I’m told I’m now on “island time.” Literally whenever I break into a jog, several Rasta-types call after me to say, “Slow down, man. You’re on island time.”
I sat down for some fried “fish-fingers” and macaroni salad. Before eating, I dutifully gave thanks to Instagram for the meal I was about to receive and liberally applied some kind of powerful local hot sauce.
After taking on coconut water and rum, I boarded the ferry for San Pedro and once underway spotted a dolphin 50m starboard. I drank some rum + coconut water to celebrate the good omen.
The Caribbean Sea near Belize varies from the Atlantic near Boston. The water around Boston is a wicked dark, “I-can-drown-you-anytime-I-feel-like” blue and green that is as cold and threatening as the locals. The water here in Belize is much clearer, so that the shallows are either transparent or a bright aquamarine (which may explain that color’s etymology?)
Ambergris Caye – San Pedro Town
After a two hour ride in a merciful breeze, the boat slowed and the sticky heat resumed. I watched the two young missionaries disembark and meet their hosts, who were identifiable as the only other people in Belize wearing pants. The proliferation of Bible verse bumper stickers on golf carts and speed boats indicates they’re doing alright.
San Pedro is a chill island-town only three blocks wide in most places. The beach itself is the main thoroughfare, bordered by bars/restaurants/hotels on land and docks holding dive shops, boat slips, and more bars on the water. As a white person walking around, I am greeted in the local manner of “Hey man, wanna buy some weed?” at least once per block. Golf carts and girls are also on offer, but I’m here to escape the fast paced life of weed, wheels, and women. I instead walked into a sand-floored bar with a thatched roof and ordered a “dirty banana” from an American ex-pat.
Two dirty bananas((it’s a frozen banana with lots of rum, coffee liqueur, and other chocolatey goodness)) later I headed to the Rum Coffee & Cigar shop for eponymous reasons. There I was pleased to find two dear college friends, and we celebrated our reunion with the help of three Cubans. I’d been traveling since 11pm the previous night, so I was happy to then retire to our beachfront Airbnb.
In the best tradition of Airbnbs, our accommodations appeared sketchy, dangerous, and dilapidated from the outside…
…yet the inside was fit for a honeymoon, and the balcony seemed like the sort of place a villainous mastermind would invite James Bond to for refreshments and threats.
After enjoying a nightcap of absurdly cheap yet pretty decent Belizean rum, I fell asleep to the lullaby of gentle waves and strong air conditioning.