I didn’t expect to fall in love with Belize
By Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman
Before I scheduled a Western Caribbean cruise in 2003, I had never even heard of Belize. That’s a stunning admission today since I can’t get the country off my mind. I was only there for a day, but in the years since
I’ve become a Belize-information junkie. I hope to return for a week this year and, maybe – if the puzzle pieces fall together right, again in 2012 … potentially for good.
When people ask me why I feel so connected to Belize, I talk about the warm people, the fact that nearly half of the country’s land is conserved and, of course, the Mayan ruins. In my mind, the pace there is slower than the near frantic pace I keep in the States as a busy freelance journalist. I love that the country’s landscape includes both mountains and beaches. I love that so many nationalities and cultures are represented in the people’s faces. I love the focus on eco-tourism.
What I don’t say is that I long for the sounds of the jungle and daydream about wandering the ruins and eating beans and rice – things that probably seem silly to those who’ve grown used to the finer details of daily life in Belize.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m fooling myself if all of my daydreamings have turned the country I know most on paper into some unattainable magical paradise. And, every once and awhile I’ll run into someone who has also visited, someone who definitely doesn’t feel the same pull I do. All I can respond with is, “It felt like home and I’ve got to go back.”
That’s the truth. I’m compelled to return and won’t be satisfied until I do. At the same time, I’m giving myself a chance to change my mind. When I return for a week later this year I plan to take in as much of the country as I can, to stay off the beaten path and to visit with as many locals as possible. I want to learn about the real Belize, not the PR-spin version. And, I want every detail – good and bad.
In my gut, though, I know I won’t be dissuaded from my plans to move there, whether in 2012 or later because I already know deep in my soul that Belize is my home.