Go Slow, Belize
I can’t believe its been already more than a year since my trip to Belize. Time has passed by so quickly and yet the memories of that place continue to linger inside of me.
My first encounter with Belize was many years ago during one of my world explorations through Google Earth. (It still amazes me how all these wonderful places around the world are available to us by a click of the mouse.) As I was flying over Central America, I couldn’t help noticing the stunning color of the sea around that small country south of Mexico. Sure I had heard of Belize, but I didn’t know much about it at all.
See also: Living in Belize
And that sight on my computer screen was enough! I was hooked! I had to find a way to see that ocean up close. I kept the idea on my short list of places to visit for quite sometime, and when it came the perfect moment, here I was packing my bags and getting ready for one more adventure.
A flight Newark to Houston, Houston to Belize City, a short cab drive to the downtown water taxi and soon I was boarding a boat that would take me to Caye Caulker — a small limestone coral island off the main coast of Belize.
It was already late afternoon and the trip took about 1 hour long. During the boat ride, I could see the sun coming down and reflecting on the waves produced by the boat. Right there, I knew I had come to paradise.
I arrived at the island a little after sundown. It was a strange place for me and it took me a while to get situated. But as I was walking over the small pier, I looked down, and even with only the artificial lights, I could see the clarity of the water and the beauty that was just waiting for me.
As I usually do on my trips, I stayed on this small hostel which in this case was located right on the waterfront, a few steps away from where the boat had left me. I arrived and was graciously greeted by the owner of the place — a German woman who had moved to Belize a few years earlier, bought the business and never went back.
You have to understand, Caye Caulker is an island with no cars, no buses. The roads have no pavement and it is even the custom of the people to walk barefoot everywhere they go. The only other ways of transportation are bikes and golf carts.
The warm breeze of the Caribbean sea was constant (and at times a bit intense).Immediately I could feel my body relaxing, my muscles releasing and my breath getting deeper. Of course, before the day was over, I still took the time to venture around the town and get a sense of the place.
I stayed in the island for 5 days and everyday I met different people, different lives, different worlds. Besides the owner of the hostel and her son, I met an Australian woman, the owner of a small, but cute lunch place with a healthy menu. She also had moved to Belize after coming to vacation there. She told me of stories of hurricanes, pregnant woman having to be rushed to the city during labor, and friendships that grew out of the need for help and support. I met a Canadian men who comes to the island every winter to escape the harsh winter of Toronto. He told me of his trips to Europe and his adventure sailing through the Danube river and a bit of his career as a book publisher in Canada. I met two Australian girls who had taken the year after college to travel through the Americas. They had started in New York in January and were planning to celebrate the closing of the year on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I met a German boy who also was taking a long break traveling through Central America. We played a round of backgammon on the porch of the hotel one night.
Yes, that quiet energy of Caye Caulker had an impact on me right from the start, but it took a few days for me to begin to notice what was happening around me.
See also: Moving to Belize
It was perhaps on the third or fourth day of my stay, when after bathing on the small beach and soaking on the warm and clear water of that sea, I stopped at a small food stand right on the Main Street. I had noticed it before and wanted to try that home cooked, native food it offered. I guess it was rush hour as there were a couple of people in line. As I waited for my turn, the customer right in front of me asked the man serving us what time it was… A simple question that I would have never guessed it would bring me an experience I would never forget.
After listening to the question, the man put the serving spoon down, closed the lid of the steaming pot, looked at the customer and with all energy said:
–You are asking me what time it is? Oh my gosh! I don’t remember when was the last time I looked at a watch. I don’t know what time it is. I guess it is time for lunch, right? You are in Belize, Mr. We don’t know what time it is, except the time the sun tells us it is. When the sun rises, we get up and go to work. When the sun sets, we put our tools down and go spend time with our family and friends.He said all of this with a big smile on his face, almost like telling a joke. All of us in line kept looking at him, somewhat amused, but also stunned by such idea. I guess we were all thinking: How would it be to live in such a way? Could we, would we ever be able to adapt to such informality? Is this really possible? How come have we allowed our own lives to become so hectic and stressful? Could we ever reclaim back this sense of connection with nature and the requests of our own bodies?
Of course the question was dismissed immediately. We all got our food. We sat on the sand cross-legged and we ate in silence listening to the wind and savoring the deep turquoise color of the ocean.
See also: Buy Real Estate in Belize
Days later I was back in New Jersey. I took back my life of computers, internet, crazy co-workers and mortgages to pay, but the memory of that man, his way of life, his simple food, the gelatin texture of the water, the sensation of the sand against the sole of my feet, the strong wind greeting me on my face, the long walks across the island — those are and will be with me forever. And every time I recall those memories, I hear them saying:Go Slow, Belize! Go Slow!
Originally posted on blog.eliasscultori.com