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?