Belize, the Central America Paradise

Paradise on Earth? You Better Belize It

“We want you to feel at home in Belize”

"We can't go out and explore the world, so we want the world to come here"
“We can’t go out and explore the world, so we want the world to come here”

In what is said to be record rainfall this year in Belize, California is ready to declare a state of emergency from their driest year in recent history. Belize is a third world country, so yes, it’s going to have high theft areas of crime. Thankfully, there are just as many safe havens full of the nicest people of any high traffic tourist area. The people of Belize are limited in traveling only across near borders. Without a visa, the furthest they can go north is Mexico, and thus they depend on the tourism industry to meet people from around the world. Ambergris Caye is the place a lot of the mainland people move  because of the serenity of the island. It sure feels like paradise when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing off the shore. They may be seeing record rainfall, but the sun is still shining hard every day periodically between what I know from living on the west coast as pineapple express weather.

Most people know Belize through the hit television show Breaking Bad mentioning it as an analogy for murdering someone. Luckily, my trip to Belize didn’t have such a drastic ending. People either catch this reference, don’t have any idea what or where Belize is, or have been to Belize themselves and know of the paradise with a lack of infrastructure. This emerging getaway has seen many people including Harrison Ford and Madonna come and go. It’s undeveloped compared to that of the Myan Riviera, or Cancun, which is perfect for baby boomers looking for nostalgia. Beach bars blast Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones while people bet on horseshoes or eat at the adjacent barbeque. The amount of diversity is astounding and everyone is eager to mingle with each other tourists and locals alike.

Sunday beach party at the Crazy Canucks Bar
Sunday beach party at the Crazy Canucks Bar

This island was compared to paradise from all the locals I encountered, people from the mainland who saved for years to come to the emerging island get away, American Army vets looking for a place to retire. The Ambergris Caye is located off the east coast of the mainland of Belize, only a fifteen minute plane ride away.  This small island is only a mile wide, allowing you to see the sea on both the east and west coast simultaneously. The crystal blue waters include a river through the island resulting in a lagoon as well as the vast beautiful turquois ocean, the Caribbean Sea. The beach is composed of coral reef sediment sprouting from the second largest reef in the world just off the coast of the island, if you focus on the horizon you can see where the waves crash upon the summit of the reef to ease the waters heading into the Caye. Many citizens of San Pedros own boats and other aquatic craft to navigate the local area efficiently as well as go to the mainland for food, supplies, etc. Most bars are on the beach, some even featuring jet –ski access. The popular clubs of San Pedros are located in the high traffic tourist area, and the locals will be keep you partying there all night if you let them. The most popular club on the island is called “Jaguars” featuring an awesome entrance that’s intriguingly welcoming as you enter the mouth of a Jaguar next to the city center clock tower.

"Jaguars is the place to go" - Yaneli Young
“Jaguars is the place to go” – Yaneli Young

At home in Canada, a dollar doesn’t go very far anymore. In fact, unless you go to a dollar store or settle for subpar quality, you can’t even get a soda for a dollar anymore. Ironically enough, most dollar stores are even bumping their rates to $1.25. But in Belize, your dollar goes a bit further into the realm of minor refreshments and beyond. Your American dollar is worth double in Belize, and though this may sound appealing, there is a price we the tourists pay, then another price for the locals that can’t afford as much. In some cases locals will trade things with each other, such as fishermen trading for produce. This allows for some old fashioned bartering with the right establishments. In souvenir shops, for example, where cheesy shirts say “You Better Belize It!” or “UnBelizeable” which is eye candy to tourists, but not necessarily appealing if the price tag exceeds the novelty.

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014
Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014

In Mexico or Jamaica, you might come across people desperately trying to convince you to enter their establishment or buy some product in an attempt to make ends meet. While I always felt uncomfortable being led into random, sometimes sketchy places, you won’t encounter much of that in San Pedros. People here are not pushy. They may ask if you would like to have dinner at their restaurant but they leave you alone at no. If you show interest, they might show you the menu before directing you into the establishment, still allowing you to decide for yourself. Most of the time, people greet you in the streets and ask you how you are enjoying Belize. They don’t necessarily want your money, they’re genuinely glad to meet you and are always willing to strike up a conversation to a passerby.

Better than front-row seats, this is our slice of beach feet away from the front door
Better than front-row seats, this is our slice of beach feet away from the front door

Belize has a struggling economy, due to the world economic struggle and their attempts and enticing more people to come to Belize thwarted by the fact that money is going into the wrong areas of town, funding seems to get lost in translation. Despite the rap that parts of the mainland have cases of crime, one thing is for certain, the people of Belize, at least the people of the Ambergris Caye, are welcoming people that are very kind. There is no stigma of keeping to yourself so as not to defend the wrong people like in North America. This spreads the feeling of community, a feeling that even just as a tourist that you’re a part of something bigger and better when you can just walk up to anyone on the street and strike up a conversation, provided you speak enough English or Spanish. That kind of thing doesn’t happen here without being branded as out of the ordinary, despite the fact that humans were made to be communal beings. That all got lost in translation in a lot of places it seems, but you better believe that it hasn’t happened here in Belize.

My best friend in Belize, a young lady I will never forget.
My best friend in Belize, a young lady I will never forget.
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Thank You, Bell

Another annual Bell Let’s Talk event has come and gone in 2014.

According to Bell, they set new records this year thanks to all the help on social media and through the natural art of texting. 109,451,718 tweets, texts, calls and shares on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2014 – Bell will donate a further $5,472,585.90 to Canadian mental health programs. Now you can feel good about any excessive texting you do, at least for one day. Parents of teens, don’t give your kids too much flack for their next bill, it’s going to a great cause!

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Since 2010, Bell has committed $62.5 million to mental health initiatives in Canada. Not only do they run a successful annual charity event, but even more importantly, they spread awareness of issues such as anxiety, depression, etc. Mental health awareness is an important thing to a society where teens kill themselves suffering from mental illness, but if people understood the issue more it might be prevented.

I have fallen prey to mental health issues, particularly the effects of heavy anxiety. It has been a long journey to where I am today, and it all started with my blog. I wrote two blogs about it, which you can find on my wordpress to those of you that aren’t aware, and I’ll be releasing more essay’s about the subject as time goes on, as it is a subject I like to study and learn as I cope with it, discovering ways to deal with it.

Our government has neglected the mental health sector in many ways, but it is thanks to charity events such as this that we can get money into these programs, into paying registered professionals to help those who need it. People who don’t have a mental illness have a hard time understanding what it means. When they hear you have one they think you’re crazy. That’s not a very healthy way of looking at it, in fact, looking at things from that angle is part of the problem. This year’s Bell Let’s Talk event successfully reached those people through their marketing and maybe by next years event, more people will understand what it means to have depression, anxiety,  bi-polar, or any one of the hundreds of other illnesses/disorders. Until then, Bell will be behind guiding the people toward conquering what plagues them.

My thoughts on Hurricane Sandy

My thoughts on Hurricane Sandy:

 

Well, first of all I would like to say RIP to the deceased, and for those people out there that lost homes, lost jobs, etc. because of it, I hope all the best to you.

But honestly, it we knew this was going to happen. Many scientists have been saying, even Al Gore, a previous vice president said that this would happen in his movie: An Inconvenient Truth. There were specials on CNN more frequently as time went on about the possibilities of hurricanes. So the people who are surprised by this really didn’t have their eyes open much. It’s kind of like the British Columbia “Big One” earthquake that we have been expecting all my life, and anyone who knows anything about Geology knows that it will happen in my life time for sure, yet so many people just blow it off like it’s an annoying joke. Stuff like this IS GOING TO HAPPEN, as much as it suck to believe and experience, and it will happen again. Prepare for the worst, and spend money on protecting citizens instead of Wall Street.

Global warming is not even worth arguing about anymore. If you don’t see it for yourself, you’re an idiot. Storms like this are happening way more frequently, ice caps are melting, and seasons are getting way more intense respectively. Personally, I suggested avoiding affected areas, but in the event of Sandy, that leaves out way too many states, however, you can avoid places like New Orleans or countries like Haiti if you wish to avoid the stress of dealing with situations like this, and hey, I’ve never experience a hurricane in Beautiful British Columbia, maybe after the “Big One” you could move here. 😉

Many people don’t know or understand the Gaia Hypothesis, it is Mother Nature’s way of cleansing itself, no matter what. Perhaps the abundance of deadly storms is Her way of trying to cleanse herself of man. She will one day I believe. Global warming is just a theory as to how.

 

After this sort of thing I ponder how evolution may have devolved some of our senses. Query, what sense is it to continue living in an area that is constantly affected by natural disasters? I believe our ancestors would have sought shelter elsewhere probably after the second natural disaster to hit them, maybe even the first. Yet, people repeatedly just take the abuse from mother nature. Indeed, it is probably a money issue, but ultimately you would still end up saving it if you moved away. You wouldn’t have to constantly rebuild every year. Perhaps it’s emotional attachment. This wouldn’t have even been considered by ancestors, to them, their lives were more important than memories.

 

Right now people are debating whether or not the New York City Marathon should take place, this is a strange notion to me. On one hand I think the people who want to run should be able to run. Why not make a flash group or something and do it anyways even if the mayor calls it off? On the other hand, lots of the city is destroyed, without power, and without basic supplies, so we need to focus on helping those people. But just because they are in turmoil doesn’t mean people should be prohibited to run. Do what you want people, but still focus on helping your fellow man.  Personally, if I lived in New York and was unaffected by this, I would still donate money, clothes, whatever others in my city who were less fortunate than I had been needs to get back on track. But the world doesn’t work like that. People are thrown out of their homes, and people are bankrupted for political gain.  It’s too bad good people are so few and far between, when stuff like this happens, there’s just enough of them to get by.

 

I wish everyone in New York and other affected areas the best. You’re in my thoughts, and prayers.

The Nation WE Built

This is something I believe President Obama would endorse, and agree with.

I am proud to be part of a nation that doesn`t discriminate. Whether you are of different race, religion, or even what your sexual preference is. I am glad we have gone so far as to prosecute politicians that speak out against gays. Let`s keep this going towards the future. We are the future, we can make it end all together.

I am proud to be living in a nation that we created. A nation that the media could not prevent the growth of, that church could not defeat, not even got himself could stop it. This is a nation that support the homosexual community.

Many people tried to prevent this revolution. It took so many years to open up our minds into accepting the homosexual community, and so many wrong punishments towards it have now been abolished. NO LONGER can a man running for power in his country (Canada or America as I live in North America) say anything that belittles the homosexual community. If a politician or corporate, or banker say things like this now, they get in trouble.

The church has been against homosexuals for years. Long have they prosecuted men and women wrongly, but no longer. The majority of people in the world today are completely against this form of intolerance, and even better, most churches have homosexual members. And if any church was notorious for being against homosexuality, it would be on the hot seat as well and would soon change, or fall by the way side.

This has been a long movement towards the future. I believe as we move forward we will gain much more acceptance of each other as a united human race one day. They call it gay pride, well I may not be gay, but I am damn proud to live in a nation that is accepting and supportive of the homosexual community. It has been a step in the right direction, now let’s keep going people!

Education Proclamation

People often talk about how hard school is, or how hard learning is. Well, I’d like to respectfully disagree. Not only for the obvious point that if you do what you like, anything is fun and easy, but I will delve more into what it makes easier, and how the only thing is doesn’t help, particularly in British Columbia, is the wallet.

Post Secondary leads to a better life. This is a broad statement, but what I refer to is the fact that it opens up opportunities, MANY opportunities just by having a diploma. It shows employers that you are more trainable than others in that you can pick up a skill quickly after being briefly taught. This is a skill many don’t have, even some that DO have post secondary education, however, it does significantly help with applying places. Not just jobs either, careers. Never again will you have to work a 9 to 5 if you chose not to. School allows you freedom to chose a field that better suits your sleeping patterns, work preferences, etc. again, simply by having that little magical slip of paper.

Post secondary helps you meet new people. I can’t tell you how many new people I have met through school, many being new friends, friend I am sure I will keep for the rest of my life. Friends that will go on to do great things as well. Friends I will work with in the future. Friends that can introduce me to even more friends that strive towards the same distant, yet, attainable goal. A wise man once said life is like a box of chocolates, and what is a box of chocolates with only one chocolate in it?

LEARNING in general increases intellect if you’re doing it right. Chances are if you’re reading my blog and keeping up to date with it your intellect has improved (haha). But if you’re watching Jersey Shore and reading Snooki’s book while following tabloids on the side, chances are you are REDUCING your intellect.

 

Personally through my experience in advancing my English skills, I have gained a broad sense of our language, and have adapted an outstanding vocabulary. Friends of mine are often shocked at my ability to use words, and that I don’t always use big words when they find out just how extensive my vocabulary is. However, I don’t type like it often because I do not speak like it. In today’s day and age, most people have a very minute knowledge base of their own language, and that’s okay (well not really, but whatever). It’s my job as a writer to acknowledge this fact and bend my own words so everyone understands. However, my point can be summed up easily. I don’t know how many times I’ve avoided sounding like a jerk by saying someone lacks intellect, rather than saying they are stupid. This is because if I say someone lacks intellect, most people won’t know what it means, and the ones that do will still take a few moments to think about it, giving me enough time to run for the hills in case they throw the first punch.

All in all, education is the best thing we can do for ourselves, or if we are lucky, the best gift our parents can give us. I consider myself lucky to live in a country that allows such educational opportunities and a world of freedom once my eyes fully open. And ultimately, the tuition and textbooks can be next to nothing in the grand scheme of things. To end things off, I will quote another movie, my favorite movie, in saying: You know, if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.

So go out, get educated, avoid tabloids, and have fun. You only get one chance to prove you’ve got IT.

What I remember on 9/11

This is a hard time of year for me, as I am sure it is a hard time of year for everyone. We all remember 9/11 and what we were doing that day. Where we were that day. We remember the second the first tower got hit, we remember the second the second tower got hit, and we remember when it all came crashing down. New York wept, as did the world. And today is the day we remember it whether we want to or not.

I was fortunate enough to not have anyone I know and love in New York at the time. Nobody in my family was in the towers when they fell. But that doesn’t mean I am not affected. For a millennial, this event was the single most traumatizing news event in the world. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that picture of the towers smoking, burning, and crumbling says even more to me. I never thought I would watch lives end on national television, but that day, the smoke and dust was eerily reminiscent of a spirit ascending to the heavens.

Take a moment, and watch some footage in a moment of silence with me. (Approx. 10 minutes.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVhhu5OjMf8

 

As a kid when this happened I must admit, I didn’t take it seriously. My first thought when I got home and flipped on the television after a day of school was “Where are my cartoons?”. I was easily bored of the repetitious footage, and didn’t understand what it all meant. Oh, the innocence of a child. But then I learnt more about the events and who was affected directly, people in my own town, firefighters that rushed out to help in New York Cities time of need. I learnt that all air traffic was halted, and that people who thought they knew what they were doing admitted to complete failure that day. And I also heard stories about a potential government conspiracy.

 

So, believe what you want about 9/11, whether you be a conspiracy theorist, or you believe in the terrorist activity that lead to the towers collapsing. No matter what race you are, no matter where you are from, and no matter who you are, remember today, even if you don’t want to. The only way to move to the future is to acknowledge the past. We need to prevent against things like this happening in the future, but we shouldn’t give up our fundamental freedoms to do it. RIP all those lives that were lost Eleven years ago today, we will never forget the tragic, untimely end to your lives. And we will never forget those twin towers.

 

Share this article if you made it to the end, share it if you had a tear in your eye, but ultimately, share it to remember.