These Are A Few of Our Favorite Things: Belize Edition

Going into Belize we didn’t know what to expect. Fellow Overlanders seemed to agree that Belize was a bit of a disappointment after Mexico and mostly drove through the country to Guatemala as quick as possible. We thought we’d give it a fair chance and planned to spend two of our allowed four weeks in the small country. After spending almost ALL of our allowed time, we can say that what we found was a country full of one of our favorite things to find when traveling: diversity. Diversity of landscape, of people, of culture, of wildlife, and of experience. We met people from all walks of life, with incredible stories, and wonderful spirits. There was such a mixture of culture and language that every day offered a different experience. We were thrilled with the time we had in Belize and hope to come back again soon!

Interesting Belize Statistics- 
Days in the country: 29
Miles Driven: 738
Scooters rented: 1 adorable baby blue Italika
Hours of S-Town listened to: All of them, duh! If you haven’t checked out this new podcast from Serial and This American Life, you definitely should, it’s great!
Books Read: 8 (5 for Taylor, 3 for KP)
Watts of Solar installed: 300W of roof-mounted solar on the roof now!
Flat tires: 1 (our first since leaving home)

Here's our map of the camps we stayed at in Belize. We saw a lot of this small country in our 29 days, but as always there was a lot of country we didn't see!

 

KP's Favorites:

1.     Favorite town- Copper Bank. One of the very first we visited, there wasn’t much going on but a quiet vibe, lots of shady areas, and an awesome kayak trip sealed it for me. I found that most of the best of Belize is found outside it’s cities.

2.     Favorite meal- Hot dogs with Taylor in 1000’ falls. It was really nice to just sit back in the quiet, stare at the fire, and roast our hotdogs in the cool mountain air together.

3.     Most unexpected thing- How much Belize felt like backwoods Missouri. Lots of farm fields, big diesel trucks, and AM radio playing classic country and gospel music.

4.     Favorite encounter- Definitely meeting with Lyndon and Israel in Pine Ridge. Their friendship and insight into their country were invaluable components to our trip. We’ll always remember their kindness and generosity as a peak experience from our time in Belize.

5.     Most useful local word/phrase- “Dis de fi wi chikin” I think it means the chicken is good. So it’s actually not that useful, but it strikes me as important and I saw it on tons of signs so I’m sticking with it.

6.     Favorite drive- Our scooter ride through the Cayo district countryside. We passed small farms, busy swimming holes, and dodged our fair share of pot holes in our quest for a couple refreshing scoops of ice cream on a 100° day.

7.     Best free experience- Camping in Pine Ridge, hands down. We actually found most of Belize to be pretty expensive and had difficulty finding free places to camp, so the week we spent in the mountains was a real treat.

8.     Most frustrating thing- Still not understanding the language, even though it’s English. I had a lot of trouble with the multitude of accents we found in Belize. It’s a very cosmopolitan country, where various forms of both English and Spanish are regularly spoken. Just when I’d get one figured out, we’d come across another.

9.     Favorite experience- Another free one! Kayaking the lagoon outside Copper bank with Taylor. Our camp host was kind enough to let us borrow a pair of well equipped kayaks for a day. We had a really good time just exploring the lagoon and the mangroves together, quietly paddling and chatting and eating our packed lunch on the water.

10.  Best thing about the country- The businesses and services we dealt with were very organized and professional. We received receipts for everything and any emails we sent to businesses were answered quickly and efficiently. We had our truck aligned and purchased a new solar setup, both moderately complex things that were handled competently and smoothly.

 

Favorite picture- This is the very first picture I took after entering Belize. I just really like the bright colors and the contrast they offer to the decaying boat.

Taylor's Favorites:

1.     Favorite town: Placencia! One of the more tourist-oriented coastal towns, but we found it to be lovely and inviting, and it had the most amazing Gelato that we’ve had in probably all of our travels. The lady brought all of her equipment over from Italy, so it’s the real deal!

2.     Favorite meal: All over Belize they serve a dish called “stewed chicken” that is usually served with rice and beans. The beans are whole beans cooked with the rice, not the refried beans like you’d get in Mexico. A Belizean told me that would be called beans and rice, and theirs is called rice and beans. Very Different! I loved eating this dish, but my favorite meal was actually when I tried to cook this myself while in Pine Ridge and we invited our two new Belizean friends to join us… My version turned out pretty ok, not perfect, but sharing this meal with friends in a beautiful setting was really what made it special!

3.     Most unexpected thing: How many Belizeans we talked to that had spent time in the states. From just a couple years to 30 years, most of the Belizeans we met had spent a lot of time in America and had only wonderful things to say about their time there.

4.     Favorite encounter: When we got to the Mayflower Bocawina National Park we saw some guys building a brand new palapa on the grounds. By the time we got done hiking and were ready to set up for the night the palapa was finished and the four men who built it were so excited for us to use it. They got pictures of our truck parked next to it, and us sitting in our chairs underneath. It was so cute how excited they were about their handiwork and that we were going to be the first to test it out.

5.     Most useful local word/phrase: Since Belize is an English speaking country, we got by with no need for local phrases, but during one particularly hot week, we and the locals used the phrase “stay cool” a lot!

6.     Favorite drive: The Hummingbird Highway is the most scenic part of Belize, twisting through beautiful jungle landscapes and over small rivers. KP even let me drive most of the way! : )

7.     Best free experience: Definitely Pine Ridge Reserve. We spent 5 nights camping for free and exploring, it was wonderful!

8.     Most frustrating thing: How expensive everything seemed after Mexico. The prices are pretty close to American prices, so most tours and activities were out of our budget. Besides the snorkeling and the trip to Lamanai in northern Belize, we skipped all the major attractions. We were still able to explore and visit a lot of the country, but had to be a lot more mindful of our expenses.

9.     Favorite experience: Snorkeling the 2nd largest reef in the world was something not to be forgotten!

10.  Best thing about the country: I would say the people that we met. Because there was no language barrier we were able to really connect with the people we met, which lead to some incredible exchanges! We made friends we will stay in touch with for life in this beautiful country!

 

Favorite Picture: Be still my heart! KP bonding with Joey before we said goodbye to Mark and Victoria in Crooked Tree. These guys are off on Central America adventures lead by this crazy 2-1/2 year old! :)