Part of our summer was spent in Belize this year. What a gorgeous country! As usual with us, it was an adventure getting there. After 2 flights we arrived at Belize City where we had to retrieve our luggage to go through customs before proceeding on with our next flight. We, of course had a pile of bags. Mostly Mark's-seriously! He had 4 bags-3 of which had fishing 'stuff'. The girls and I each packed one small duffel and one carry on. We knew we'd end up having to carry his stuff too. LOL! Out of all of those bags...mine didn't make it to Belize!!! This is the 4th time this has happened to me. From now on all of my stuff is going in a carry on! Finally we get all the paperwork filled out and are able to proceed through customs and onto our next flight. All my anger at my missing bag melted away as I saw our plane:
I was ROTFLOL!!! The girls couldn't stop giggling. I wasn't even sure if they'd be able to fit our luggage on that tiny plane! The flight was very nice just hot. Obviously the AC wasn't working. We made 2 stops on little gravel runways right beside the water. The views from the air were breathtaking! This first week of our trip was spent in south Belize in Placencia. We loved our lodge and enjoyed getting to know the locals who worked there. Our time was spent by the pool, on the beach, sailing, picking up shells and fishing. We went into the little village a couple of times for dinner and once for a soccer game.
Our next stop (back on the little plane) was in the northern part of Belize at Ambergris Caye. We stayed in the small town of San Pedro. We had to board a panga boat to get to our lodge. We soon found out the water taxi was the only way into town besides a 5 mile walk or bike ride (which we only did once). The main difference between this lodge and the first was this one seated everyone together at one long table for dinner. We met several families from the states-TX, TN, AL, CA, NY etc and 2 from England. Mark did lots of fishing here. In fact, he fished in a tournament. Although he didn't win, he did catch the 3 fish-tarpon, bone fish and permit. His dream was to fly fish and catch a permit. Check that one off the dream list. The girls and I enjoyed exploring the little town, meeting the people and just 'hanging out'. One of our days there we went on a boat trip. After an hour ride we stopped at a private island where we were able to snorkel in the Caribbean. It was unbelievable! Not only did we get to swim/snorkel over the barrier reef (the world's second largest), we saw all sorts of coral-red, fan, brain-and tons of fish whose colors seemed to almost glow. It was like another world. Emma barely picked her head up out of the water. After doing this for an hour we came back on the beach where our guide had prepared lunch (always my favorite). Next we were back in the boat for another ride to a reserve where we saw several manatee. These animals are so beautiful-definitely my favorites. We stopped at another island. This one had literally been split by a hurricane a few years ago. From here we moved on to the 'aquarium'. This is just a spot in the Caribbean, near the barrier reef where the water is shallow (about 5-6 feet). Here we were able to snorkel with huge sting rays! There were tons of them, along with all kinds of fish. Emma was scared at first but overcame her fears and jumped in.
Belize was so very different than any other country we've visited. Beautiful scenery but unfortunately such harsh poverty. The thing is, that doesn't seem to break their spirit. Everyone we came in contact with was smiling and friendly. One little 6 year old, Jasmine, befriended Emma. She walked around the beach with us, holding my hand and even wrapping her arm around me at times. When it was time for us to board the boat and go back to the lodge, she hugged me and begged me to take her with us. When she was 3 weeks old her mother abandoned her. A lady named Mary and her husband are raising her-their own children are grown. If I could have figured out a way to bring her back at that moment, I would have.
My memories of Belize are mixed. There was the plush lifestyle at the lodges where we stayed then the poverty in the nearby towns. Such a beautiful, beautiful country. I'm so thankful we got to visit and that God opened our eyes to what these sweet people are going through. For now, we'll pray for them. In the future, who knows, maybe God can use us in another way there.