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Published: February 17th 2007
I picked up this book called “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova in the Cancun airport without knowing what it was about. It ended up being this amazing book (so far) that is along the lines of “Da Vinci Code”. Instead of following the bloodline of Jesus through Western Europe, this book follows the history of Vlad the Impaler (the real-life Count that was the basis of Bram Stoker’s Dracula character) through Eastern Europe. About 100 pages into the book I came across this quote that pretty much sums up why I always have to go somewhere new every time I travel.
“…I have often known that peculiar legacy time brings to a traveler: the longing to seek out a place for a second time, to find deliberately what we stumbled on once before, to recapture the feeling of discovery. Sometimes we search out again even a place that was not remarkable in itself—we look for it simply because we remember it. If we do find it, of course, everything is different. The rough-hewn door is still there, but it’s much smaller; the day is cloudy instead of brilliant; it’s spring instead of autumn; we’re alone instead of with three friends.
Beach in front of Ramon's
Or, worse, with three friends instead of alone.”
I left Flores the other morning, still fighting my cold, and hoping that once I got to Belize it would magically go away because it knew how much I was anticipating a great dive in this country which is famous for such. (which didn't happen)
The 5-hour bus ride, which ended up taking about 7, was uneventful, which is the most you can hope for on bus rides crossing two developing countries. The border crossing was a breeze for the Americans; wish I could say the same for the Swiss and Brazilians. And the scenery was beautiful the whole way. Passing through the villages I couldn’t help wishing I had the time to stay and see what local life is all about. We passed many schools, and in one I saw a girl playing with the kids, she must have been with Peace Corps or some like organization. I was envious, but was determined to get myself into vacation-mode if it killed me. Talking with the others on the bus I realized that I couldn’t speak the traveler’s lingo anyway. They were all talking about towns in Honduras that I hadn’t
Beach in front of Ramon's
been to, beaches in Rotan, towns in Nicaragua, the bus ride from Mexico City…and none of them seemed very interested in stories about Cambodia or Tanzania…so I just listened enviously.
When we got to the crack house that they call Belize City, I knew immediately I wasn’t going to stay. No one I had spoken to had anything good to say about mainland Belize.* Some even went as far as to say not to go to Belize at all. It’s expensive, it’s dirty, the people aren’t friendly, it’s not safe…the stories went on and on. So as soon as I got off the bus, I got on the next boat to Ambergris Caye. Cayes (pronounced ‘keys’) are islands, and there are quite a few of them off the coast of Belize. Most backpackers go to Caye Caulker, but since I am evidently not in that category anymore, I came to the more luxurious Ambergris Caye.
San Pedro is the main town in Ambergris Caye, and when I got here I decide to join the vacation-people, as I like to call them. So I jumped in a taxi for the ¼ mile drive (because vacation-people don’t walk) to the nicest
View from where I'm staying
resort on the island, Ramon’s Village (Blue Tang was sold out Krischel :-(). I gave them a credit card, they gave me this amazing teak cabana, and the rest is history. I lie around on my private white-sand, turquoise water beach, swim in my private pool, dive with my private dive masters, drink at my private bar, eat at my private restaurant and worry about the bill later…you know…do as vacation-people do.
The one problem I have found with these vacation-people is that they are all OLD! I went from feeling like I was a little old hanging with the backpackers, to feeling like I am way too young to be hanging with these people who pay 3-digit prices for rooms, and high 3-digit tabs for meals. Luckily there are younger people out at the bars at night. I met a great group from New York last night and had an awesome dinner at Carambas with them, then a little air hockey at the ice cream store (don't ask). I'm meeting back up with them tonight. New Yorkers have such infectious personalities; my face hurts a little today from laughing all night.
The other problem, or maybe not a problem,
maybe a lesson, is that it is much easier to travel alone when there isn’t anything back home pulling your thoughts away. I mean, I have always missed my family, friends, etc…but this is the first time I have this feeling that I am missing something at home. I think it’s because I have a new person in my life, a new place of my own, new friends and a new city to explore, etc…I miss it all and I have only been gone 7 days!
But anyway, it’s all about the experience, and this is just another one for the books.
And so far Belize has been good to me. It is expensive, and I’m sure parts of it are dirty, but from where I’m sitting the people are great, the weather is amazing…and with a pina colada that tastes like a milk shake in my hand, I have no complaints (except for this damn cold!).
*Now that I've met more people who have traveled Belize, I have heard more good stories than bad. Turns out the mainland has some amazing spots too, it's just Belize City that is shady.
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