“Let’s go somewhere”. Three simple words that undeniably arouses any adventurer. It is these three words that ignite every physical sense. It was these three words that elicited a smirk with the response, “What about Belize?”
Well what about Belize? Maybe it was because I was attracted to the way the syllables rolled off my tongue… or perhaps because I lusted for the scent of jungle air. But even as I boarded the plane, my sleeves were still stained with trepidation. Should I have just stayed home? Sipped on hot cocoa, continued with my plebeian routine? Surely, it was the safer route: an insect-free, sweat-less winter. But there was something about my jitters that also forged an appetite for adventure and enticement.
When I arrived in Belize City that late December morning, I was welcomed by the mascara-smudging humidity and amiable locals. “Belize Navidad!” they cried. How they managed to crack a smile in the 90 degree weather still leaves me pondering.
My sojourn embodied four days in San Ignacio, where I explored the renowned Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, caressed baby iguanas, and held 2,000 year old artifacts. The next three days were well spent in Placencia, where I bid farewell to my final seconds of 2014 and leaped into 2015.
While exploring the No’ Och cave and Xunantunich ruins top my wildest experiences, the friendships I made during the excursions are most memorable. The backpackers came from as far as Munich, London, and Quebec and as close as Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara, and each one furthered passion for traveling through their own stories. They gave me memories cannot be captured in a photograph and laughter that cannot be relived.
My uncle inspired me to be curious about others. Halli cultivated a confidence in me I didn’t know was possible. Michelle helped me appreciate simplicity. Adam taught me to be opportunistic. Jeff helped me realize that materials cannot bring me any amount of happiness. I discovered how meaningful friendships can be. I found my inner shyness. And frankly, I realized that my body does not respond well to bug bites. These are the kinds of qualities you gain–the moments that help you grow, conquering your fears and conquering the world.
We are descendants of nomadic people. Moving and traveling have and will always be an essential part of our being. But traveling is more than the idea of being in a new environment–it’s the opportunity to grow. Because you’ll face challenges abroad that are incomparable to those encountered at home. Because you’ll test your limits by meeting non-English speaking Creoles. Because you’ll find yourself thinking Shit. as you climb the 30 feet boulders in slippery Tevas.
This is how Belize made me love travel.
Whether or not this illustrious country will make its way onto your bucket list, I have one recommendation to fulfill your life: travel. It will leave you speechless then transform you into a story teller.