I miss it already.
July 19th made two weeks since I’ve been back home in the States, and I’m still mourning my vacation.
My suitcase is still sitting in the middle of my room, unpacked.
I’m still ugly crying while looking at beach pictures.
My point, lovely reader people? I loved Belize. I loved Belize more than I could’ve ever imagined and there was so much to sift through post-trip to make a comprehensible travel diary that I put it off.
But it’s time.
Ready to relive my trip with me? Let’s do it.
(I recorded most of my trip on my new GoPro and made a GoPro video to really, really, really relive it. It’s embedded at the bottom, be sure to watch it!)
We left for Newark International Airport at 3 in the morning, boarded our first flight at 6, landed in North Carolina at 7, boarded our second flight at 8, then landed in Belize City, Belize at 11:30 AM BZ time.
My Grandma Ter, Auntie Tamika and my little cousins who live in Belize met my family and I at the airport to officially welcome us to the motherland. (I mean, they didn’t say that, but that’s what they were doing.)
I traveled in Adidas track pants and a tank top layered under an oversized tee, and while we were waiting for my parents to pick up the van we rented, I felt like I was melting. It was SO. HOT.
But I mean, that’s the Caribbean for you.
Beautiful, vibrant, and hot like Satan’s nutsack.
After we finally got the van, we left the airport and followed my Aunt Sonia and Uncle Charles back to their house where we would be staying for the next four days. Aunt Sonia had food waiting for us when we got to the house, and thus, she began her mission to get me ridiculously fat (Red Recado chicken, rice and beans, fried plantain, meat pies… I was in my own version of heaven).
All of us were hopped up on travel adrenaline that masked our jet lag, so we changed out of our airport clothes and spent the rest of the day familiarizing ourselves with Belize City. We gone an’ buy some Belikin Beer, visit one ah mi auntie dem, and drive roun’ a bit. I spent my first night in Belize eating mangoes and chasing cows off of my uncle’s land and listening to the sound of flash thunderstorms. It was perfect.
We gone da market! We spent most of our morning there, drinking Fantas before noon.
My sister Ravin (who you may remember from The Sauce Bowl) declared it was her mission to souvenir shop, so we headed to Albert Street, which is basically the hub of downtown Belize City.
I bought more meat pies and the first of many, many t-shirts. After meeting up with more relatives on Albert Street, we drove down to Baron Bliss Lighthouse and the Belize sign that neighbors it. The rain didn’t want us to take this picture, but we did it, damnit!
We had plans to meet my Grandma Ter, Auntie Tamika and my little cousins again later that day, and killed some time by hanging out and exploring a waterfront neighborhood nearby my grandma’s house. Many, many, many pictures were taken. You really can’t take my family anywhere remotely picturesque and give us a camera and expect us to act right.
So, if I’ve learned anything from Caroline Calloway, it’s that the best way to tell stories is truthfully. I could sit here and recount Day 3 of my vacation to Belize as relaxing and absolutely perfect. But… it wasn’t absolutely perfect or stress-free. Because that’s just the way my life works.
We rose before the sun to be out of the house at 7 AM on that fateful Day 3, so we could catch the 8:00 water taxi to Caye Caulker and San Pedro. We thought an hour would give us PLENTY of time for the 30 minute drive, to buy the tickets for the water taxi and be on our merry way.
Buuuuuut like I said, that’s not how my life works.
We drove into the city. 30 minutes.
We encounter a massive traffic jam thanks to someone’s flat tire and Belize’s tiny bridges and lack of street officers. 10 more minutes.
At this point, everyone in the van is at their highest levels of tense and is snapping at each other like piranhas. Were we really gonna make this 8 AM water taxi?
After finally crossing the bridge, we take a wrong turn to enter the parking lot. 10 more minutes. Everyone’s PISSED. But… by the grace of God, somehow we managed to drop off my mom and Ravin at the corner so they could run inside and buy the tickets, correctly enter the parking lot, and run inside the water taxi dock with 5 minutes to 8.
All was well. Then we saw the size of the water taxi.
The jank water taxi company sold more tickets than the taxi could actually hold, so we ended up spending our ride smushed up against strangers in a hot boat for 45 minutes.
We all took the L and got off at Caye Caulker, then realized that we would have to spend 45 MORE minutes smushed up against strangers if we wanted to go to San Pedro too, which was the original plan.
Yeah, that was vetoed. Remember, high tension levels?
It took us absolutely forever to find the split on Caye Caulker, which everyone recommended, and when we did after basically walking the entire island, we realized that it was just a dock.
A beautiful dock, yes, but no sand. No typical beach entry point into the water. There was a restaurant on the dock that had a staircase set up… but it wasn’t what anyone was picturing.
So we took that L, too. But then we all brushed it off and made the best of it.
…I did end up cutting my foot on a beam from the dock almost 2 minutes after getting in the water, BUT I took it like a woman.
…And then I fell up the staircase on the dock when trying to exit the water and got an array of bruises on my leg and my ribs, BUT I took that like a woman too!
I WAS DETERMINED TO HAVE FUN, DAMNIT.
We swam in the crystal water, we ate like kings for lunch, we walked into the shopping area and bought souvenirs, and while I was purchasing an anklet, we saw an area behind the anklet guy’s hut that was exactly the kind of beach we were looking for.
We relocated and swam and blasted music and took pictures and it. was. awesome.
When it was time to leave to head back to Belize City, we learned that there was another water taxi company on Caye Caulker that looked significantly better than the one we used to get there. We bought our tickets and hung out in their waiting dock and actually relaxed. Everyone was content. All was well.
And then it was time to leave. The dock had gotten crowded once the departure time had neared and everyone got up in a hurry and a clusterfuck when the taxi arrived and a line had to be made.
So much of a clusterfuck, that when we sat down in the boat and were about to pull off, Ravin asked if anyone had her phone. Nobody had it. The taxi revved up and began to pull away from the dock. She started emptying her backpack and turned it upside down and inside out, but nothing. And then we and the taxi shot off towards Belize City.
So we took that L, too.
But really, it was all okay. Ravin called Verizon when we got back to Aunt Sonia and Uncle Charles’ house, set up arrangements to wipe her lost phone and get a new one once we got back to the States, and we had fry fish, stew beans and rice, fried plantain, and fryjack for dinner, so really – all was well.
And as if Day 3 wasn’t a little rough, I woke up on Day 4 with a rash covering the entire left side of my face. I joked that I looked like Harvey Dent from Batman, but on the inside, I was bawling. It didn’t hurt, it barely itched, it was just there, making me look as if someone had put a cheese grater to my cheek.
We were leaving for Placencia that day, which is a peninsula on Belize that has become tourist-driven and resort-y in the past few years. I took some Aloe leaves from the plant under Aunt Sonia and Uncle Charles’ house to go in a little Tupperware container and also tried to fit my second L of the trip in there, too.
On the way to Placencia, we stopped at the Belize Zoo and St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, which was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life. It’s a jungle pool that intertwines with two cave systems and is around 25 feet deep.
We got to Placencia after a three hour drive and crossing seven “one-man bridges” that could fit, literally, one car. Our condo that we would be staying in for the next four days was on Sunset Pointe, the picturesque point of the peninsula (say that three times fast) and had the coolest features like two verandas overlooking the lagoon, a rooftop hut, a 24-hour pool, and a dock nestled away between a thicket of trees.
My rash was getting better and our house was awesome and I had more fry fish that night so this time, all was really well.
We went to breakfast first thing in the morning and I had my first ever Stuffed Jack. That’s right – a fry jack stuffed with eggs, beans, and bacon (When I tell you Stuffed Jacks made an impression on my family, my grandma even made her own when we got back to the States). It was heaven.
With a food baby in my stomach and my rash almost gone, I declared that it would be a great day. And it was.
A beach day, a proper beach day, with no craziness or stress, ensued on Day 5. We swam in the rain, we played Ocean Speedball, my brother and my dad climbed trees for coconuts, we got insane tans, and we jumped off of docks. Now that was absolutely perfect.
Later that night, we met more family – cousin Doyle – at Barefoot Beach Bar, which is supposedly our claimed family hangout spot of Placencia, whenever the rest of our relatives come down to Belize. Doyle even has a burger named after him on the menu.
When will your cousin ever?
Our chill day. We met Doyle and his wife for breakfast (I had another Stuffed Jack) and then afterwards took a family nap.
We slept in, we lounged about the pool, and we walked into town to get ice cream from an Italian gelato/ice cream shop named Tutti Frutti that I swear on everything, you MUST go to if you visit Placencia, Belize.
It was the best thing I’ve ever had in my life. Tutti Frutti’s Pineapple gelato changed me forever.
My grandma had THREE back to back cones at Tutti Frutti, but we tried not to judge. She was living her best life on vacation. That’s her version of a turn up, and I respect it.
We were waterbugs that day.
We all woke up early for no reason and were in the pool by 8:00 AM, and then headed for the beach again by 10. The beach crew consisted of myself, my mom and dad, my brother Shiloh, and Jasmine, and we stayed at the beach for five hours while my grandma stayed back at the condo to relax and Ravin and her girlfriend Kathy went out to lunch and to shop. We reunited later that night to go to dinner at Tipsy Tuna, the bar/restaurant next door to Barefoot.
At Tipsy Tuna, my mom and grandma somehow got roped onto the dance floor to the sound of Dancing Queen by ABBA with a family of very friendly, very enthusiastic, very energetic white people from Indiana.
I loved them.
And just like that, it was time to leave Placencia.
I had gotten so used to the little village in four days that I didn’t want to leave. Maybe that was because I knew leaving Placencia meant only one more day in Belize, and only one more day adventuring and not worrying about anything other than even tan lines.
It was bittersweet packing up everything and leaving Sunset Pointe – vacation wasn’t over yet, but it was ending.
Jasmine and I had gotten attached to the Sunset Pointe manager’s dog Star, and we gave her the belly rub of the decade, one close to the rubdown I would be giving my own dogs when we got back home.
On the way back to Belize City and Aunt Sonia and Uncle Charles’ house, we stopped at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park again, but this time, not for the Blue Hole, but for cave tubing. That’s right. CAVE TUBING.
Y’all, it was so lit.
Hands down, the coolest thing I have EVER done in my 18 years of living. We hiked into the rainforest and then entered the mouth of a cave that has been around since the Mayans, some of my freaking ancestors, were alive. They made pottery in the cave, as some of their creations were found and used as evidence that they were really there.
Our cave guide Orlin, an El Salvadorian/Belizean guy who was adorable as hell, gave us mini-science and history lessons as we went deeper and deeper underground.
I’m not gonna lie. It was fucking scary at first.
Have you ever seen the movie The Cave?
What about The Descent?
Yeah. It looked exactly like that.
But once I pushed past my fear of the fact that the cave was huge, ancient, dark, and was swallowing us – I enjoyed the hell out of myself. The cave was breathtaking. I’m having trouble describing it and my entire experience because it was just so… cool. How often does one get to go underground and basically spelunk and wade in crystal clear waters and touch walls that were 200,000 years in the making?
Once we got in the water, there was a current throughout St. Herman’s cave that would take us in a loop throughout the system. Orlin had already been doing this for six months, and we all knew we were in safe hands, but when we were drifting along in our tubes and he asked us to turn off our headlamps? Everyone hesitated.
I started laughing hysterically, because, ya know… he couldn’t be fucking serious. Everyone? Turn off our only sources of light in an ancient cave God knows how deep underground?
But then my dad did it. And then my brother did. And so did Kathy. And then Orlin. And slowly, light started to disappear around me and I told myself for the hundredth time on this trip: woman up. So I turned it off. And it was pitch black, as if I had closed my eyes completely. Nothing. Not a hand in front of my face. NADA.
“This is to appreciate the darkness.” Orlin, you’re crazy… but I love you anyway. I did appreciate the darkness, and I listened to the natural sounds of the cave, and the echoes of bats and the drips of water from stalactites and it was extraordinary.
When our two hour escapade was over, I didn’t want to leave the cave.
Like I said, it was the coolest thing I have ever done, ever.
We drove back to Belize City, stopping through Belmopan to pick up snacks and more red Fanta, and slept like babies back at Aunt Sonia and Uncle Charles’ house.
Yes, that is me in the picture above. Hold on, let me explain.
We left Aunt Sonia and Uncle Charles’ house for the airport at 1 PM, boarded our first flight at 4:30, then landed in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at 9:00 PM TX time. Our second flight back home to New Jersey wasn’t until 7:20 the next morning.
Have you ever seen the movie The Terminal with Tom Hanks?
Yeah, it wasn’t like that.
So back to the picture above. We spent our night eating Popeyes chicken tenders because they ran out of ACTUAL chicken and sleeping on uncomfortable terminal chairs and the lovely terminal floor, which I chose as my bed for the night.
But on the flight back home, I watched The Jungle Book and ate barbecue chips and airplane Biscoff cookies and drank ginger ale and, honestly, I was content.
I love traveling more than anything in the world, but it always feels great to go back home, even to dirty Jersey. *insert heart eye emoji here*
Belize was unforgettable and every other synonym out there for amazingawesomefunashell.
I’m still mourning, guys.
But here’s the great news: we’re already planning our next trip back to the motherland. 😉
See you soon, Belize.
Thank you for reading my travel diary, and as promised, here is my GoPro video!