Belize You Me

So I’m willing to admit I had to look at a map to confirm where exactly Belize was. I knew it was vaguely in the region but I didn’t realize it shared a border with Mexico. Formerly known as “British Honduras” until 1973, the laid-back Caribbean coastal people didn’t kick the Red Coats out until 1981.

The Belizean islands showing off some Caribbean colors

We crossed into the country by the northern Mexican border and the first night in town was a bizarre experience. The place has one of the most diverse populations in the world for such a small country: there are the original Mayans who were overtaken by the usual Spanish conquistador submission, the British who later came in and colonized and brought Chinese workers for their mahogany farms, as well as a large black population thanks to the slave trading days in the nearby islands. And to top it all off there’s a whole bunch of German Mennonites (think Amish) running around with straw hats and whisy beards.  So with English as the official language you’ve got Spanish, Chinese, German and Creole all over the place, spread out across the lowest population density in Central America.

The Belize Barrier Reef connects up the coast with the Yucatan reef making it the largest coral reef system in the world second to Australia’s. This protected park area in the south of San Pedro island is crazy: fish, sharks and rays everywhere (hence, snorkeling tourists everywhere as well)- and a little playful peak

We were meeting my extended family and had some complicated travel logistics so bringing a board was out of the question (although my fishing gear had to come). I was a little disappointed when our boat pulled up to the national park snorkel area and there was a glassy little reef pass peeling unnoticed. The laid back island-style boat captain was quick to discourage: “Beleeeeze me mon, der aint nah way chewwanna churf out der. You gonna git sliced up real nice on dee coral”. I didn’t bother arguing, but looked damn fun to me. Maybe I’ll make it back some day…

The nearby site of Tikal, just across the Guatemalan border, was one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. The ruins of the city are amazing

Another empty pass in the Belizean reef. Snorkeler in the foreground gives some size perspective

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