Photographer Heals His Invisible Disability in Belize
If you ask anyone what their opinion on Belize healthcare is, most would likely start talking about doctors and various medical facilities in the country or lack of. There is a different aspect to consider, I have heard many say that the climate of Belize took away their pain and lessened symptoms in chronic ailments. I have also seen people reduce the amount of medication they take after living here for a while.
Today’s guest post and pictures by Ric Hornsby tells his story not only of the healing powers of Belize, but how the country and it’s people captured his heart on his 4 month sojourn.
Discovering a wonderful country by Ric Hornsby
Well tacogirl, it is time to take you up on your kind offer of posting a bit more of my photography. Yesterday, I reviewed a tiny portion of what I shot in Belize, during my tour of the country, last winter. I truly love Belize. But, finances aren’t great, so I’ll have to forego a return trip for this year. Still, I have over 14K shots from the months I spent rambling around, and I do get to enjoy the images that I captured. I’ll make do with that ability.
Speaking of ability, I’m disabled by a nerve disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). I had chosen to travel back to Belize because my previous trip there had shown me that the beautiful weather had a positive impact on my affliction. My first trip to Belize was a fast one, and only lasted a bit over a week in 2012. Quick though it was, I was able to hit a few highlights, and I was smitten!
So in late 2014, I decided to spend as much of the winter exploring Belize as was possible. I spent almost 4 months slowly discovering a wonderful country!
OK, a bit of background…
CRPS is one of those “Invisible Disabilities”. Traveling with CRPS presents a number of issues. I move slowly, carefully, and deliberately. If I walk too quickly, I’m down for a few days. If I overextend, I head for a few days of crappy non-existence through the miracle of contemporary pharmaceuticals. I don’t like to leave reality. That is my only option.
But, it was a challenge that I’d repeat in a heartbeat! I’m an experienced traveler, and I put a lot of planning into my walkabout of Belize. It was a loose itinerary, and often adapted to add recovery time.
I know, you don’t want/need to read about my health. But, for anyone with a similar condition, this can be a major impediment to travel. Therefore, just a tiny bit of information will be added.
I’m very sensitive to temperature, barometric pressure changes, wind, diet, any stressors, static electricity, and a plethora of other things. In short, I’d like to live in a bubble. I tend to stumble on uneven ground. I have one working hand, and I run cameras. Not that I mind a challenge, but this tends to wear on a person. In the wrong situation, I can head for my cache of medications, and hide from life until the lightning strikes end. I use my passion for photography to re-focus my mind, and I try to capture images that show peace; not the pain that I live with. In short, I deal with a few challenges, and I like to think that I deal with them well. I try not to show people the challenges that I face.
As well, I spent many years photographing people. I’ve photographed Kings, and Queens, politicians, and babies, and some things that need not be mentioned. I’ve had a good education in photography. Since acquiring my disability, I’ve chosen to not shoot people, but to record only nature. Otherwise, you’d be seeing so many smiles in my images. Now, I respect privacy, and legalities. The few “people” shots I do, I share only with the subjects. I do hope that my nature/scenic shots bring a smile to your face, or, at least, a pause to your stress. That is my intent.
To travel to Belize, I flew direct from Winnipeg, Canada, to Cancun. I then spent a few days recovering from the flight by lodging in Playa del Carmen. Then, I took a bus to Chetumal, and a taxi to Corozal. Within mere hours of landing in Cancun, I lost around 20% of my “normal” pain. I don’t think that it was any lowered stress level that caused the attenuation of pain, I believe, truly, it was the location. There is a magical, healing influence to the area. Then, when I hit Corozal, the lessening of my condition continued. Believe me, it was more than a breath of fresh air!
I spent the first month living in Corozal, and I was able to walk. I was able to carry a large camera bag. I was able to live! That, Dear Reader is why I was traveling. Yes, it sometimes rained a bit and there was some wind. It all felt good. Of note should be the quality, freshness, and price of food! I had opportunity to immerse into the local culture, and it did me very, very well.
I traveled the country by bus, taxi, friend’s vehicles, sailboats, and local airlines. I spent a few hours on local water-taxis, and a few small water craft. I urge you to try them all.
The second best part of the trip was the weather. It was warm, gentle, invigorating, and PERFECT! Waking each morning was an experience that must be enjoyed. The sunrises, and sunsets, bring thoughts of the oil paintings done by the Masters. Yes, it really is that good. Although I am careful of my exposure to the sun, I only had to use sunscreen during a 3-day cruise along the Cayes. Other times, just pull up a palm tree, and enjoy the shade!
I managed to ramble from Corozal, to Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Dangriga, and more than a few other places. I took private tours, so that my slow pace wouldn’t affect any larger groups. I managed to take a Raggamuffin Cruise. I walked the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. I worked my cameras, and I loved every moment of it!
I did it all on my own. I have trouble walking 2 blocks in Canada. Some days, I have trouble even standing.
Now, for the best part…
Many people I met offered me assistance, guidance, knowledge, and friendship! I’m still in touch with many of the people I met in Belize. I was invited into people’s homes, shared their meals, and their lives. I met fishermen, Garifuna, business owners, and a full range of Belizeans. The people truly are Belize’s greatest asset. To include the many non-Belizean travelers I met, I’d have to add another few pages.
You’ll have to learn for yourself. I don’t have words for what I found, and felt. My heart is still in Belize. No, it wasn’t a woman, it was an experience!
I’m a vastly richer person, because of that trip. I did it on my own, with a bit of help and a huge dollop of love from the people I met.
Belize is a very beautiful place. There is so much to see, taste, and experience! I’d like to share just a smidgeon of what I saw. Perhaps, these images may cause someone else to fall in love.
Blame Belize. It isn’t my fault…