01 Jan T2T-I Visits Belize
by Charlotte McGlone
Belize is very different from the other Central American countries I’ve visited. The Belizeans have traded sprawling cities for small jungle towns, large commercialized malls for intimate local restaurants, luxury homes and hotels for huts roofed with palm trees and natural outdoor showers. It is a country that values the beauty of the land, living in harmony with it. You can see this in the way they build around the lush rainforests, deep caves, and shallow mountains. The people let their livestock run free, naturally weeding and fertilizing their properties.
The way they value their natural spaces is mirrored in how they value each other. I have never before been among a community of friendlier, more helpful people. Belize is a country where you can sit at a meal for hours, sharing life stories with a dread-locked, herbal alchemist. It’s a place where the TSA agents ask you if you’d like a good-luck hug before your flight, and a horse-drawn cart stops by your lodging every day to offer free watermelon.
These are some of the experiences I had in Belize while on a recent T2T-I introductory visit. Following in the footsteps of my dad’s and my exploratory trip, T2T-I participants will spend a week in Punta Gorda this March. Punta Gorda borders the Atlantic Ocean and has the feel of a resort town. For being one of the top five largest “cities” in the nation, it is surprisingly intimate. I’d estimate that there are only about 1,000 residents. There is a park in the town-centre, which doubles as both a playground and a market place. Just beyond the main street, Punta Gorda disperses into a collection of small farms, separated by wide expanses of jungle. We made a new friend in Lee, the manager of Tranquility Lodge, where our team will be staying. He came down from Canada for a visit over a decade ago and never left. I can see why!