Alright, I am definitely due for a blog post! Is it weird that my heart just stopped a little when I realized I only have two weeks left in Belize? Time on the islands has this weird way of being slow and fast at the same time. Anyways, this blog post is really going to be a hodge-podge of thoughts because I’ve been writing it day by day.
Travelling to Belize was uneventful, but looking back I wish I had spent the extra dollars for a direct flight from Chicago to Belize instead of opting for a flight with a 10-hour layover in Houston. I ended up getting about 4 hours of sleep in the airport, which wasn’t bad. I lucked out because instead of spending the night in a completely deserted terminal, there was a full flight to Argentina that was delayed until 3am, so I stayed at that gate since there were plenty of people around.
Once I got to Belize City’s airport, I went through immigration and customs, grabbed my backpack, then headed to my connecting flight to San Pedro. It was the tiniest plane ever! Thankfully, I don’t get nervous on planes anymore. A colleague had told me how you can sit in the cockpit seat next to the pilot, and I was so excited to do this that I asked one of the flight attendants beforehand about it to make sure I could snag that seat! It was only a 15-minute flight, but it was my first view of Belize and I knew I had picked paradise.
After landing, I used my iPhone’s compass to figure out which way was north (RIP iPhone), and headed that way towards my hostel. I walked along the beach for 10-15 minutes before coming upon Sandbar Beach Hostel. At this point I was sweating through my t-shirt and eager to get into an air-conditioned room. Luckily, I couldn’t have picked a better hostel! It is right on the beach (I'm looking at the beach right now, with my feet propped up on a couch and my laptop in my lap). They have a restaurant and bar on the ground floor, then several dorm rooms and private rooms upstairs. It's only $15/night but still comes with a towel, good wifi, clean bathroom and beds, outlets at each bed (hugeee plus!), and social spots to hang out. I'll have to take some more pictures because this is definitely the best $15 I've spent on a hostel.
I think this is always the interesting part of traveling alone, because I woke up on my first full day in Belize and had no idea what I was going to do. I wandered along the beachfront to find a place to eat and picked a restaurant that had bagel sandwiches. I sat down by myself (something else I’m super used to at this point, I promise nobody cares that you’re eating alone) and was playing with my iPhone when a guy at the table next to me asked to use the hot sauce at my table. We started chatting (Where are you from? Who are you with? How long have you been here?), and when him and his friend realized I was travelling solo, they invited me to sit with them (it’s like the nice version of Mean Girls!). So that’s how I met Justin and Max, two friends who are spending a week in Belize. Both live in San Francisco and work in the tech industry. We spent the rest of the day swimming, drinking beers, playing in innertubes, and eating the best fish tacos we could find.
I had such a good day that I was only a little upset when I discovered my iPhone’s Lifeproof case definitely was not waterproof. My iPhone is currently sitting in a bag of rice, and even though I’m trying to be optimistic, I have a feeling I’m going to be out of a phone for the next 20 days. Granted, it is nice not be glued to a piece of technology while travelling (there are tons of articles out there about how technology is ruining the backpacker experience), but there are little things I miss already in the 48 hours I haven’t had a phone: using the flashlight to see in the dark, setting an alarm to wake up for diving, Instagram, using the camera, using the GPS maps to see if I’m going the right direction, and listening to music. I have my laptop and GoPro, so obviously all is not lost, but my iPhone was definitely like a third arm and I don’t know how to function without it.
I came back to my hostel and napped, but also quickly realized that I was very sunburned because of my constant negligence to ever put on sunscreen. So that’s been painful but plenty of people here have aloe vera so I’m recovering.
I wandered downstairs in the evening to the restaurant/bar portion of the hostel and caught up with a few girls in my dorm who had just started their scuba certification. Then a couple of people told me about a super cheap Chinese food spot, which was just what I needed ($4USD for an entire take-out box of fried rice and chicken fingers, yes!!!).
As for my impression of Belize, it’s absolutely stunning. The water is crystal clear, the breeze is warm, and the people are kind. Ambergris Caye is bit harder to get used to, as its beaches are all busy with piers that dive shops and restaurants sit on, so I haven’t actually found a strip of uninterrupted beach yet. It also doesn’t help that I am still so attached to my love for Koh Tao that no other island will ever really compare, anyways.
All the restaurants on the beach are very, very expensive and serve Western food. It’s harder to find affordable food unless you go back on the main street and keep an eye out for hole-in-the whole places. I’m working on that part. I’m probably going to stay on Ambergris til Monday or Tuesday, then take a ferry to the island of Caye Calker, then figure out transportation plans to Placencia. I’ve thought about doing some jungle treks, but I haven’t really looked into it and I like my little slice of heaven on these beaches.
I'm going to come back to this day - our adventure to Secret Beach is deserving of it's own blog post that doesn't include me complaining about my phone and sunburn.
Apparently travelling is the only thing that can get me to go to bed early and wake up early, because I’ve been waking up at 8am the past few days and it’s a little absurd...
I haven’t dived yet, which I’m disappointed about, but the weather hasn’t been ideal for diving. The weather on the island is beautiful; it’s a constant 80 degrees with a really warm breeze and no rain. But the sea has been choppy, especially beyond the reef, so a lot of dive shops have been pushing back dive times or not going at all. I was going to go this morning, but it seemed even more windy than previous days, and the dive shop told me they were going to try for a 1:30PM dive. Even though I am really eager to get some dives in, a part of me really wants to wait for those perfect diving conditions, when the sea is smooth and the visibility is incredible. I’ve dived in shitty conditions before and sometimes it’s not worth it. So I feel like I’m holding out for that perfect diving day.
I decided instead to spend the day catching up on things I’ve been ignoring, like my travel budget, travel plans and homework assignments. I am also so sunburnt that just looking at the sun makes me want to cry, so I’m happy to stay inside today just lounging around.
Alright, confession: I am annoyed now. I just tried to charge and turn on my iPhone anndddd nothing happened. The hostel owner gave me the name of a cell phone shop around the corner, so I may be coming back with an old school Samsung flip phone. BUT I just need to put it all in perspective. It's literally just a phone. I'll survive!