On July 11th 2017, we landed in Belize City, Belize. Belize was the country I missed over a decade ago backpacking through all of Central America, so naturally, it’s the country I chose to begin our family’s adventure through Latin America.
As we wrapped up this short leg of our trip, I felt so grateful for the small towns we called home: San Ignacio (Inland) and Corozal (Bayside Caribbean).
These were two towns so uniquely their own and definitely not the tourist draws many think of when they think Belize. That’s reserved for the tourist island attractions: Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. We visited Ambergris Caye of course, but for a short turnaround trip. After all, it is one of those “1,000 places to see below you die” listings from the famous travel book. It was no doubt worth seeing and we will surely return. Our Ambergris Caye highlights were clearly documented on our ‘queventure.abroad’ Instragram page. Make sure you’re following to see those breathtaking pics.
San Ignacio, Belize is also featured on “1,000 places…” and after having been there I see why. It’s got it all… breathtaking nature, Mayan history (countless Mayan Ruins to visit), a vibrantly diverse population (i.e. Creole, Mayan, Mennonites), wildlife (visiting the Belize Zoo is a must), and a vibrant town nucleus. It’s centrally located to so many varied interests: horseback-riding, cave-tubing (we loved), waterfall excursions, high-end fine dinning (The Blancaneaux Lodge owned by Francis Ford Coppola was superb), and so much more.
We arrived in San Ignacio on a rainy Tuesday. We traversed the Western Highway to end up in the center of town. There we soon discovered our cabin community was on the city’s outskirts. We made our way down the bumpiest of dirt roads well into the countryside. Our little cabin and its surroundings was a jolt to everything our children had just left behind in Puerto Rico. This by no means was an Airbnb accommodation and proved to be exactly what we needed.
In San Ignacio, the five of us shared a small cabin and used an outhouse for showers and other private dealings, lol. It was simple and completely remote. Plopped down in the middle of a large property surrounded by trees, beautiful birds, and a starlit sky. It also entailed going without running water or electricity at times and showering without hot water. We embraced this and encouraged our children to find value in what was available without comparing to other places or experiences.
I won’t lie and say the husband and I didn’t feel a bit out of our element at first. Soon enough as we learned to navigate town we came to enjoy our routine in San Ignacio. Whether it was dancing with fireflies at night, basking in the sporadic thunderstorms, listening to the sprawling solitude while marveling at the miles from green, or simply making new friends among so many lovely people.
In the end, my favorite part of Belize was the people and in San Ignacio/Corozal they were especially insightful, hardworking, and kind.
– Thelma and James, the owners of our cabin community treated us so warmly with a thorough attention that made us feel at home. They operated their little community with so much heart and for two retirees I admire just how hard they continue to work while in service to others. The kids wrote them a sweet thank you note when we left and surely filled the place with love and laughter while we were there…
– The lovely couple/managers of the Rain Forest Haven Inn who invited us to a free tasting as a pre-grand opening of their Travellers Maya Juice tasting room. This place was amazing. Swings dangled from the ceilings to keep the kids entertained while the hubby and I tasted drink after drink including tropical mojitos, cosmos, and mai-tais. These people were so welcoming and kind. We experienced so much joy for an entire afternoon and all thanks to their generosity.
– The young woman who operated the in-the-middle-of-nowhere Coze Grill. She made the best saldutes and was truly patient with our hungry kids. Her brother even drove us back to our cabin after she shared her ideal business dreams with us and prepared an amazing meal for five.
– The military man we met on our usual $1.50 travels across the Mopan River. This gentleman gave us an impromptu tutorial on the Belizean military and let Diego carry the 50 lbs. pack he carries under the punishing sun every single day.
– Our Mayan guide who took us into the dark caves of Belize via tubes. This sweet man was clearly a pro who showed our children so many wonders throughout the jungle. He spoke Spanish, English, Mayan and Creole which led to a crash course in Creole and Mayan lingo.
– Our Mayan chocolate maker who was like a child-whisper quickly learning each of our children’s names and connecting with them through interactive chocolate making and tasting!
– Our conservationist pals including the gentleman at the butterfly sanctuary Green Hill Ranch or the young man at the Iguana Conservation Project. Their love for the animals they protected was clear and overflowed unto our children every step of the (educational) way.
– Rosita, the hotel owner of 37 years in Corozal who gave us a complete history of a Mayan Princess and Spanish conquistador that were loved in the region and still honored to this day.
I can go on and on and on about the people of Belize who each loved their country deeply and worked hard everyday to see it shine. Thank you to the people of San Ignacio and Corozal for welcoming us with your hearts even if only for a slither of time. The time you shared with us meant so much.