Story and photos by John Lamkin
A long time ago I started travel writing thinking it would provide me with a little independence, I could live wherever there was a mailbox (a mailbox is an archaic receptacle for hard copies of email, I think) and I loved to travel. But, before I had published my second article a divorce, the crazy 60's (I didn't inhale!) and life interrupted that career. Now, much later, I have resumed travel writing and I have that little bit of independence (and social security, and Internet).
Ambergris Caye (pronounced key), an island off the coast of Belize, Central America, was a place I had thought about going to for a long time. It can be a very exiting place. But, I'm not going to tell you how I went sailing, diving in the Blue Hole, snorkeling at the barrier reef (second largest in the world), fishing, para sailing, nor kite boarding. My island odyssey was a laid back one—hanging out on the beach in the tropical sun sipping something with a tiny umbrella in the glass. Maybe then taking the little golf cart—the main mode of transportation on the island--into the lively Caribbean town of San Pedro with its reggae sounds and many fine shops and restaurants, and for real Belize and real people, visiting Maria's Fruits & Vegetables. And, a stay in Ambergris wouldn't be complete without a visit to Jo and Chris (the very passionate chocolate lovers) Beaumont's small, artisan, Belize Chocolate Company where they make every batch by hand in a place where the Maya arguably created “chocolate”. In the evenings we had quiet dinners outside by the resort's pool.
In the mornings my honey and I enjoyed eating a simple breakfast (including fresh squeezed orange juice and ginger bread from Maria's) outside, on the palapa-roofed porch of the villa. It was our luck that it happened to be the only vacancy they had at this luxurious resort—normally it would be $750 USD a night. It was way more space than we needed, but, all the same, it was perfect for easy, laid back island living. English is the official language of Belize having formally been British Honduras, a colony of the Crown. Most of the resort's staff also spoke Spanish and a few were Mayan speaking. A gardener walked by as I was enjoying my breakfast. “Hola, Buenos dias,” I said. “Buen Dia,” he replied with a smile. I didn't try Mayan, but he would probably have understood...or English.
The ads I see now for travel writing classes and workshops read something like, “Travel the World for Free! Earn Six Figures!” The reality is the six figures probably includes the dollar sign, the USD and the two zeros after the decimal point. This gig will pay me about $50 USD. That will put me way short of the six figures.
But, it's a beautiful, sunny day here on the island, a breeze is coming off the Caribbean, I had a cushy night's sleep in an über luxe bed, the gourmet food was delicious. The Belezian people are very friendly. Life is good. Isn't that worth six figures?
PS, I didn't believe the ads anyway.
IF YOU GO
Both United and American Airways have flights from the U.S. to Belize, Central America.
By air one can travel from Belize City or Corozal (near the Mexican Border):
From Belize mainland or Chetumal, Mexico one may go by water taxi:
San Pedro Water Taxi
While on the island, a golf cart is the preferred means of transportation:
San Pedro Golf Cart Rental
Where to stay in luxury:
John Lamkin is a born-again travel journalist and photographer based in Taos, New Mexico and in Mexico. He writes (and photographs) about travel, food, wine, luxury, budget, gear, tech. and more. He is Global Membership Chair of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. He travels the world in search of something new in culture, cuisine and drink.
NOTE: Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of John Lamkin and have not been influenced in any way.