Whenever I travel somewhere new or old, my favorite thing to do upon my arrival back home is reflect.
From the city next door to the country across the world, if you pay attention, you'll notice themes and lessons unique to every place you visit. I guess that's why they say, "travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer." I stand by it.
For whatever reason, Belize has been on my radar since I was in second grade. For a research project, I had the entire atlas to choose from and I chose Belize. I couldn't tell you why. No one in my family had ever been to Belize or even mentioned it, which is exactly why I believe that sometimes, things just show up because you're meant to find them.
Years later, at 22 years old, I ended up in Belize by invitation of a dear friend. A perfect fusion of the jungle, the Caribbean, roots of Africa, a twinge of neighboring Mexico, and rich Central-American-Mayan culture. Oh, and the scent of orange, plantain chips, the best hot sauce I've ever had and the local botanical staple that does all things coconut oil does, Cohune nut oil.
A breezy, mellow melting-pot paradise.
A beautiful drive on the magical Hummingbird Highway leads you to a small beach town called, Hopkins to find beach Reggae bars, mellow vibes and colorful hammocks. I missed the local Garifuna drum circle, but I've heard powerful, transformational things.
From Hopkins, we drove back up the Hummingbird Highway to Belize City where we ferried out to Caye Caulker, a sweet and vibrant little island about 30 minutes out into the Caribbean. Don't go here for beaches, as the island is primarily docks and ocean, but do go here for relaxed feels, bumping reggae and reggaeton music, balmy weather, clear blue waters and bright sea-life. There are no cars on the island, so get ready to be on-foot or on bike. If you're me, you're barefoot. It's small enough to cover end to end both ways and the concern of safety didn't even cross my mind.
My favorite part of the entire trip (besides losing a phone in the jungle - and finding it in the dirt hours later!!) was walking with my friend who was on a quest to find this traditional Mayan Abdominal massage therapist she'd had the pleasure of receiving a massage from a while back. On our search by bike, we ended up in a small cafe full of medicinal herbs and handmade truffles. Sure enough, she met someone who knew this woman - and just like that, she found this mystical lady. That, I believe, is the magic of islands. The community.
What's even more magical? I started this year off with the resolution to "go slow."
The slogan in Caye Caulker, Belize?
You guessed it: Go Slow.
Funny how the universe works. Word is that people here will even call you out for walking too fast - and as an Aries, I deserve it every time.
The feeling in Belize is warm, slow, vibrant and open. From Rastafarians to descendants of the Maya, to expats and adventurous tourists, everyone is living in harmony and bringing their own zeitgeist to this Central American country. I haven't been anywhere like it.
In Belize, I learned to go slow, be kind and to further open my heart.