In my last post, Do you Travel Like a Tortoise or a Hare? I explored different travel styles, and my readers learned that I am definitely a travel hare. This style has brought about some great adventures, often involving my dad, who also travels like a hare. Although this trip brought a bit of danger, traveling this way has created some enjoyable experiences and has given us many excellent memories.
My parents have a timeshare in Cancun, Mexico, so it is a place that we have returned to for over 20 years. About 15 years ago, before it was feasible to do internet research while abroad, my dad and I had enough of lying on the beach and wanted some adventure. We considered Cuba but didn’t want to break the law, and the next closest interesting place was Belize. I had seen beautiful pictures in travel magazines, so we went in search of seeing those pics in real life. Fortunately, in our time in Mexico, we have come to know a local, Daniel, who serves as our driver if we want to leave the Cancun area. Daniel’s life doesn’t take him far from the Cancun area, and he did not know anything about Belize. The only city he had heard of was Belize City, so that is where we headed. My whole family at the time, my mom and dad, my husband and myself, my brother and his 2-year old son, set off in a van with Daniel and headed off to what we thought looked like this…
If only we would have had the internet, we could have seen this before we set off-
Belize City does not exactly top the list of tourist destinations in Belize. In fact, many visitors choose to bypass the country’s only major urban area. This may be because the country’s main attractions are natural and nautical, rendering superfluous a prolonged visit to its only metropolis. An additional explanation is that the city has a bad reputation for poverty and crime. …
from Lonely Planet
The drive to the border was about four hours through the Mexican countryside. Since my nephew’s mother was not with us, we were detained at the Belize border. We were told that we had to wait for el jefe (the boss) to return the next day, so spent the night in Chetumal, where I ate some of the best carne asada in my memory. In the morning, my father had to give the man well over the usual amount of money so that we would be allowed into Belize. When we arrived in Belize City, this is what we got…
In reality, it was a unique city to visit in part due to its British colonial history. It is full of European ex-pats and Creole people who contribute to its unique food and architecture. But it has nothing in common with the Belize Peninsula, which is where people travel to visit the coral reefs. At Belize City, the Belize River dumps muddy water into the ocean, darkening and browning it so that it does not resemble the clear water that we anticipated. It is jam-packed and bustling. We found the people friendly and happy to talk to us.
On our way back to Mexico, on a back road, we were forced to pull over by six men with machine guns. They were not police officers, but Daniel informed us later, were drug dealers who were expecting a drop off from a similar van to the one we were driving in. We were lucky that it ended well, and we drove on.
I still love an excellent adventure, but now I am sure that I research before I go. But, I am so happy to have this memory of parts of countries where one doesn’t plan to travel.
What is your craziest travel story? Would you do it again? What have you learned from it? You can read on about my friend’s experience being delayed for her flight on What SSSS on a Boarding Pass Means.
8 thoughts on “A Hare (Raising) Experience: My Crazy Adventure to Belize”
Woah! That’s insane!! Good thing you were with a local, I would have been terrified! It’s funny the things that we used to do before everything was so accessible on the Internet, right? I am a pretty cautious traveler (definitely a tortoise if there ever was one!) so I can’t say I’ve gotten into anything too crazy. The closest was probably in Costa Rica where I got into a van with a guy who was taking me (by myself) to a volcano where I thought there would be a tour to catch! Luckily, nothing bad happened and even though there wasn’t a tour, I met two German girls and we hiked the whole thing together!
Eva, What volcano did you hike? I went to Arenal a couple of years ago and seeing the lava popping out of the top of it in the dark was one of my traveling highlights. Do you still stay in touch with the German girls?
Yes this was quite the trip – while adventurous it did end up costing quite the penny to get into Belize and then to get back into Mexico. Blessed that we still have Daniel every year that still takes us on extordinary side adventures away from Cancun????????????????☀️???? to beautiful cenotes, rivers, areas that only locals know about.
Mexico is really a beautiful country and I am blessed that you have exposed me to it.
Wow, you got lucky. My cousin had a similar experience biking in Mexico. They sort of “invited” them to have a meal with them, then they sent them on their way.
In case any of you are traveling to Cancun Daniel, our friend & driver can be contacted via [email protected]. He will show you the real Yucatan and its friendly Mayan people
I hope you make it back to the cayes and the bright blue water…Belize City is, indeed, low on “the list”.
I hope to. Diving the Big Blue Hole is on my bucket list.