Just when I thought that maybe the travel bug was finally lying peacefully dormant under a mound of domestic and professional happiness, I went on a trip.
And not just any trip.
A super, dope, tight, sick, awesome, memorable, fun, wicked, adventourous, educational, epic, life changing, trip….to two new countries…in a new part ofthe world…with my Elisabeth…
I honestly don’t know why traveling is like crack to me (not that I actually know what craving crack is like, I’m a pretty good kid overall, and find crack to be both a scary idea, and very damaging to my vain nature) but it is. Each and every time.
It starts with the packing (what can be worn over and over, but look new and cute and fresh each time – passport, money pouch, flip flops, zip lock baggies), moves to the gear (my pack – “the savage”, trusty ball cap, scarf, rain gear), and ends in the airport getting your passport stamped (TWO NEW STAMPS! BOOM!)
The excitement that lives in the same home as the traveling gets me so riled up. Meeting new people, going to new places, interacting with locals, meeting fellow travelers, trying the foods you shouldn’t, and avoiding the drinks you should. There is no other sensation like stepping off the plane in a new location and watching one come alive with the momentousness of it all.
What I find funny is that I almost didn’t make this trip. I almost tried to avoid going.
HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!?!?
Yah, I asked myself the same thing. But when my BFF proposed we take a trip to Belize and Guatemala, I just thought about money, PTO, and my work load.
So, lame. So damned lame.
But lucky for me, my person asked me twice and demanded the third time, so I had no excuse because there’s NO way I can say no to her.
So we booked it.
And from that moment on, the thrill came rushing back like a rollarcoasting. Holding a ticket to an international destination in your hand is like getting to eat all the candy in the world and NOT get sick. One feels so “rich”. And landing in a new locale, exiting the plane from the back exit, directly onto the tarmack, where the heat hits you like heavy mud, and the pressure from the haze in the sky is enough to make you want to lay down right there.
Getting to our hotel, an old colonial structure which looked like it had seen better days, but not better inhabitants, was the setting for our first day in Belize City, which we were told was super dangerous and rough, but looked to me like an underdeveloped college town with half built buildings no larger than one story, and make shifts homes on stilts of every color under the sun. I could have been in Fiji or Mexico, minus the English language everyone spoke and the difference in dress. The weather gave us both sad hearts as we knew it was the rainy season, and it looked like we would be suffering through it heartily for the next 9 days.
Waking up the next morning, we go the surprise of our lives.
BRIGHT SUN, BLUE OCEAN, SOFT BREEZE, shit, it was paradise for real!
We headed off to the town of San Ignacio in the middle of the country, with 10 other travelers from all reaches of the world. At every stop, with every conversation, we began to fall in love with the gentle nature and kind demeanor that seemed to be the Belizian way. Towns were small and clean, kids playing in parks covered in graffiti with meaning and design, shops filled with lazy dogs and men all trying to avoid the swealtering heat. We stopped for a few hours on a river where families played together in the cool water, and felt completely safe and homey amongst their day trippings. We threw rocks, dipped our feet into the water, and bonded with each other and with our surroundings.
In San Ignacio, we had the pleasure of visiting caves with the ancient Mayans used as sacrificial prayer chambers, trekking out into the thick jungle, clambering over massive rocks, wading through water up to our chins, looking at hundreds of years of copper and crystal deposits which gave the caves an ethereal glow through the light of our head lamps. Lis, of course, had to look at every single thing until she was called to the front of the line because our tour guide thought he would lose her. But there was really that much to see.
We managed to fit in crap shopping in between our long bus journeys into Guatemala, where we bought traditional blankets and friendship bracelets for our people. Not too much to purchase, but our blankets are AMAZING, and I do love my crap so.
Guatemala was seemingly even more authentic and magical than Belize. It had a natural feel to it which made interacting with the surrounding environment that much more precious. While in Guate, we visited Tikkal, is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centres of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. IT WAS AMAZING. Miles and freaking miles of stone structures (most were still buried under years and years of growth, decidedly never to be uncovered to keep them naturally preserved) that laid out the concept of a civilization which was mind blowing. One temple was built so high that we literally could see the storm clouds cultivating from miles out.
Unfortunately, it was only 2 days in Guate, causing us to be back in Belize too soon but headed to a GORGEOUS location, so the hurt was smoothed over. Let’s talk about the islands…
There is NOTHING better for me than being on an island.
Fiji, Thailand, Hawaii, Catalina…no matter big or small, Island life is the life for me.
And with no automotive traffic to cloud the streets or stir up noise, all that’s left is sandy streets lined with guest houses and restaurants, where tourists meander on foot or bicycle trying to find the freshest shrimp salad or coldest, frosty cocktail. Lis and I decided that we had to fork over the cash (everything costs, costs, costs in Belize) for a day trip out on the water for snorkeling and swimming. Now, this wasn’t just any kind of day out. This was, maybe, THE BEST water experience I’ve ever had. Crystal, blue, warm water, with a gentle lull which was perfect for spying on nurse sharks, sea cows, turtles, sting rays, and fish of all colors and sizes. Even though we BOTH got burnt to a crisp (you know when Lis, the goddess of sunblock gets burnt, it’s bad), it was one of the most memorable days I’ve had in many years. And of course, revived my love of the beach, especially those internationally.
The entire trip was 10 days, and gave me the opportunities to see myself in a light that I had long forgotten, where the people and culture of a new destination spark within me, a side of human connection that touches me to my deepest core. I learn about others, but mostly, I learn about myself. I don’t know when the next big adventure will be due to the fact that I’m all knocked up now, but I do have visions of going to far off lands with a tiny baby strapped to my husband’s chest. Now that sounds epic.
Enjoy the pictures and try to travel a bit if time/money or neither allows.