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.

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.