Vast ocean, cloudy but blue sky and 2 islands in the distance

Backpacking Belize: A Love-Note

This might really be more of a love letter rather than a travel guide. Belize turned out to be my favorite country in the world and I want to tell you why.

So, we came to Belize overland from Mexico with an ADO bus. We left Bacalar at 3:00 am and crossed the border early in the morning. We had a great start. Even at the border – usually those are rather grim places – we were welcomed with smiles and jokes. The Belizean border agents were just chillin, welcoming us, telling us to enjoy their beautiful country.

We stepped back into the ADO bus, slept a little more and then we woke up while we were driving through Belize City. It was soooo beautiful, palm trees and colorful houses everywhere, just like I would imagine the Carribbean. Of course, it’s a poor country and people live in poverty in Belize City and all over the country. Still, we read and were told that this is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. We were told that there is violence everywhere, that you have to be extremely careful to not get robbed. Also, to always take a taxi and never walk and best travel somewhere else entirely.

In our case, those words just sparked our interest…

We thought if everyone believes it’s so dangerous, maybe it’s exactly the right destination for us. Those kind of countires are our favorites because you won’t find a lot of tourists there. Having a quiet time, relaxing and getting to know the locals is what you get in those places.

And I can tell you, what we saw was simply beautiful. You can imagine, we had our own image in mind after the info we had. What we saw though, were school children walking to school, singing and laughing. There were no bad gangsters to be seen (more on that here). The streets looked like any other streets in a big city, not worse than Bangkok or Yangon for example.

Picture shows the front end of a boat, vast ocean and 2 islands in the distance.
On our way through the Carribbean Sea to the Caye Caulker.

We got out of the bus and even at the bus station, people were extremely friendly. They weren’t trying to sell us anything, they just genuinely asked us if we need any help. Once we got out, we had to get past all the taxi drivers because after what we’ve seen from the bus, we wanted to give it a try and walk to the ferry station.

Unexpected small things make our experience memorable

So, in our usual manner we put our heads down, didn’t make eye contact and walked out the door towards the taxi drivers. But you know what? Making people ride taxis is not Belizean, that’s not what those people are about.

We quickly realized that the taxi drivers were also just asking us where we’re going to help us with directions. They were yelling ‘aah they walk, they walk, yesss, they walk’. Apparently, because of the bad reputation Belize has, not many ‘white’ people or tourists walk through the city. So, 3 taxi drivers jumped up to tell us the best way to the ferry. And so we walked. I shit you not, people were greeting us, staring at us, almost celebrating us because we dared to walk.

Ridding ourselves of the stereotypes
Part of a map of Belize City. It manly shows the tourist area with the bus terminal on the left and the ferry terminal on the right. It also shows the route how to walk from the bus to the ferry. A cricle highlights the area where we had breakfast, it's on regent street. The screenshot was taken from maps.me, an offline map app.
The map shows how we walked from the bus terminal to the ferry. The arrow in the green circle shows where we had breakfast. Screenshot is taken from maps.me, THE most important app when traveling.

In the beginning I didn’t even take out my phone because I had in mind that I would get robbed. Within 5 minutes I felt so safe in this country, I took out my phone and no one gave a shit about it (pardon me but I lack better words to describe it). There was this one, older guy who followed us around and maybe thought he could get money from us or rob us. But he was on drugs and couldn’t even move fast, he looked really weak and not at all dangerous. Also, coming from Amsterdam at the time, there are a lot more weird drug addicts on the streets there than there were in Belize City. And, the locals are so kind, they helped us and always told the weirdo to fuck off.

Then we walked towards the major ferry terminal and as soon as we stepped foot on the bridge, a guy came to us like ‘hey, you goin to the ferry, I have better and cheaper ferries,…’ initially we tried to ignore him but he was just too funny to ignore.

Surprises around every corner

So, we were laughing and started to talk. He didn’t put any pressure on us, he just told us to look at the ferry and the prices and if we want then we take this one and if not, we walk back but he’ll not help us carry our luggage back to the major ferry terminal haha.

So, we told him we would want to have breakfast before we take the ferry. Since we travel for food and we believe that getting to know a culture is best done by eating their food, we told him we want real Belizean breakfast. He told us he would show us a place once we store our luggage at the ferry terminal he was working for. It was all very well organized. Just like in Europe we got a ticket for our luggage and they told us to just pick it up when we are ready to take the ferry.

The most amazing breakfast conversation I ever had in my life

We walked the way back to the bridge, crossed the bridge to the left and then walked the first street into the right. Our new friend told us to not worry, with him we would always be save. People were staring at us, he told us that’s because they can’t believe that white tourists are walking this street. Then we walked in to a little restaurant which had a terrass above the river. He told the people there they should treat us well, told us to eat fry jacks and then he told us he would come back soon to pick us up and walk back to the ferry.

When he came back, we staid there, talking for almost 2 hours. We couldn’t believe with whom we are having breakfast and couldn’t be happier to have met him. It was an incredible conversation and I fell in love with Belize right then and there.

How about you, what was your most amazing conversation while traveling?

Part 2 is in the making, I’ll tell you more about the conversation with our new friend, where we went next and ecofriendlyness in Belize.

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