There's No Place Like Here

Published: May 3rd 2009
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I sit here at my six month anniversary of expatriation and wonder where the days have gone! I came to Belize hoping to accomplish many goals and finish numerous projects - all of them still patiently listed on the back of a Suduko puzzle. Somehow, when making that list, I forgot to factor in the People of Placencia!

I recently read a captivating story called “There’s No Place Like Here” by Cecilia Ahern. It’s a tale of a girl who finds herself in a town called Here, This town is home to everything that’s ever gone missing - that ring you dropped somewhere, the sock that the dryer ate for lunch, and even that neighbor that went missing and was never seen again. They are all living harmoniously in a far away land….and I’m pretty sure it’s called Placencia!

I am so lucky to have recently celebrated my 30th birthday Here (in conjunction with Zach’s 33rd one week later!) and subsequently was lucky to host my first party Here! I couldn’t have done it without my adopted family of Placencia, Jim and Cindy. They are the kindest couple I have ever met, and they recently retired here from Pennsylvania to build their dream house on the lagoon. We always feel at home with them, and their commitment to service in the community has inspired all of us. These are also the couple that entrust me to housesit for them from time to time, and they were thrilled to lend their home for our birthday party!
It was an amazing gathering of people from Walyon, age 6 to Steve and Jim, age 68! Two of three of those guys were wearing fake tattoos and glow stick headbands by the end of the night…and Steve was home early, or he would’ve been in on that too! I would love to share a little bit with you about my weekly activities, and the awesome people I am falling in love with in this small drinking village with a fishing problem!

As you can see from the pictures, I have been hanging out with young and old alike, and here, we ALL have something in common! The beauty and serenity of this place is evident in every activity we do and every smile on our faces! At least once a week I find myself on a boat going out to the neon blue sea - my favorite! The boats range from a 54 foot wooden cabin cruiser, a 42 foot catamaran, or my self-propelled pink kayak! I haven’t been seasick since I got here, a proud feat since I would like to spend more time on the water! This town of course attracts sailors from all over the world, and I love listening to their stories in awe…and envy! There is a sailor here with a tiny catamaran that he built himself, then sailed around the world! It’s so small it has no actual cabin, the two hulls are just large enough to sleep one adult man! In fact, rumor says it is the smallest catamaran to ever make the trip! WHOA! There is also an amazing family of five from Kansas City who sailed here from KC a few years ago. Imagine three kids aged 3 to 8 who grew up on a TINY sailboat for years while they and their parents sailed the Caribbean and Central America looking for the coolest place to settle! We have become great friends, and I was lucky to be crew on their boat in the sailing regatta last week. They are such fun to be around and I even learned a little more about sailing! I’m so glad they choose Here…

Each day the sea surprises me with a new shade of blue that is both captivating and inviting! We are all snorkel maniacs, except Erin who wears her orange life preserver with pride! In February I acquired my new waterproof camera, and that changed my snorkeling life and underwater passion forever! It’s amazing how you start to view the seascape differently from behind a lens. First, there is the challenge of capturing a clear shot of an always moving target, when the quality of the picture is directly affected by the light direction and reflection of the scales colors! Next, there is the infinite detail of the hard and soft corals….fans, bommies, columns, barrels, whips, each in a variety of colors and patterns! Zooming in on this detail with a modern camera reveals the chaotic yet ordered structure of these creatures. Finally, I must always remember to keep looking around me - you never know what’s going to sneak up from behind! I’ve been stalked by barracudas, schools of jack fish, and most recently a 3 foot remora (shark-sucker!) And I wouldn’t want to miss an awesome shot of any of those! 😊

When back on dry land, I turn to that which I know best, Karaoke! It’s so popular in this village, each night Karl the karaoke KJ is at a different bar with people lined up to perform. The most popular night is Thursday nights at the Tipsy Tuna, and it is Here that Aly and Zach discovered their true callings. Yes, it’s true that neither of them had ever picked up a microphone before Here, but now each of them are first in line behind Karl to rap, preach, call out the crowd! Between the three of us, we are singing half of the night, duets with each other, with others, with Karl. Solos and anthems…you name it, we’ll sing it! I’ve actually had multiple people in the village call themselves my fans and also tell us that we are the only reason they go out on Thursday nights! HA! We love you too Placencia!! And Karl is my personal hero - someone who started with a small CD player/karaoke machine and saw a niche and stole the market! He is an awesome singer himself, singing George Michael, Gnarls Barkley, and many smooth R&B hits that make us swoon for his dreaminess! He just opened his own bar, and we are making Wednesday’s at his place THE place for Performance!

In addition to the usual shenanigans at the local beach bars, we are always celebrating a visitor’s last night or a local’s birthday at a cabana, on a huge porch with water views, or at the beach! We are lucky to have many long term visitors - people on one to three month sabbaticals for an amazing assortment of reasons! Whether it’s between jobs, between homes, between cities, or a stop on a long meandering path with no destination….the people living and passing through Here are unique! A chef for the Seattle Sonics and then the executive chef at the Beijing Olympics last year, but he’s come Here to become a dive instructor and see the world…A rock star whose U2 tribute band has played in 12 countries - I got to whistle the beginning of Patience for his performances Here….A researcher of primates in Uganda and Belize for Banff University…The guy on his way home after travelling around the world for 2 years over land - which means driving EVERYWHERE - a trip that was documented and sponsored by Toyota…..A sweet as pie corrections officer, just granted money to go with an old professor on an archeological dig in Cyprus, Here seeing the world with money from selling her first house….A pretty lady who saved money as an electronics manufacture project manager to come Here to write a novel just because it’s something she’s always wanted to do….The artist from London painting amazing Belizean flower and animal prints on Belizean women and photographing them in the jungles and on the cayes who just returned home for her first private opening…..A television personality on kid’s programming who didn’t love the public life trying to redirect her creative energies….I could go on and on and on! Each new story is so inspiring, because it opens another door in the world! I mean, who knew that all of these types of jobs and international opportunities were out there! And Here, every day, I hear of another unique pathway and start to dream of the limitless ways to live my life! 😊

Right before I left for Guatemala (next blog! sorry I'm so far behind!) I was soooo excited to have a bunch of my long lost engineeering buddies from Marquette sail into town! They spent the week sailing down the Belizean Cayes, and ended with a night Here! I didn't know what time to expect them, so I was sitting down at the Barefoot beach bar talking with a friend, Bobby. I found out he was sailing to Guatemala the next day, and I worked myself out a hitch down there with him! Awesome! Then I said I was just waiting for my friends Skella, Jason, Adrianne, Chris, and Dan to arrive from up north and Bobby said, Oh yeah, they just go here, I was chatting with their captain on the dock! Sure enough I started walking down the sidewalk and ran into them within 5 minutes - how bizarre to see all these old friends Here - and then later in my living room! 😊 It's a small planet! And isn't that something that's confirmed almost every day Here....

I look forward to sharing many more stories with you through Guatemala and many Belize island adventures from the last couple months! I love hearing from all of you too, keep in touch...i hope everyone is happy and healthy and ready for an awesome summer! xxx

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Our neighbor Ryan Our neighbor Ryan
Our neighbor Ryan

doing that move dad always does "Now you listen, woman!"

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