This trip was something completely different for the both of us. First off, we’ve never been married before, so there was a lot of times when we just looked at each other and said “Is this real life?” Thankfully, it was. Secondly, it was way more relaxed than anything we’ve done in the past. We wanted something that we wouldn’t have to stress about, and it worked out perfectly.
We left from Fort Wayne International Airport, which is conveniently located a mile from my previous job so we parked for free and trekked to the airport and back to save some money. FWA is a tiny airport, but they are the most polite and efficient group of people in the business. I’ve never had a TSA agent be so considerate while going through my camera equipment. We had a layover in Atlanta before flying into Belize City. Our layover there was basically watching a lot of old people carry fishing poles around. The best part was our flight from Belize City to Dangriga on air equivalent of an Amish hauler. The plan sat 15 people, including the pilot. One of the passengers casually sat in the copilots seat like it was no big deal.
We booked our stay with Beaches and Dreams in Hopkins, Belize. It’s a beautiful little place on the beach just south of Hopkins, right at the end of the stretch of resorts. The owners have been down there for about decade and recently built a 6 room boutique hotel to compliment their minimalist cabanas. We took a cabana, of course. Our room walked right out to the beach, and there was a calming breeze that blew in our window that negated any need for air conditioning. With one of the owners being a gourmet chef, and the other a pastry chef, we were never disappointed when it came to meal time.
Our stay with them was almost all-inclusive. We opted out of including alcohol because there was no way we were going to drink enough to make up for the cost of including it. The three course dinners, however, were most definitely worth it. Aside from the day we arrived, I was never hungry. I literally gained 12 pounds on the trip and did not regret a single one of them. When we weren’t out on one of our many adventures, we spent our time relaxing on the beach, reading to pass the time. I roasted my entire body on the first day, so I spent a lot of time hiding in the shade of the palm trees. We were there on the edge of the off season for tourists, so were the only ones on the beach 99.5% of the time, and it felt like we owned the place. It was fantastic.
The town of Hopkins was not quite what we expected. I have never been to a tropical resort before, so I had slightly different expectations. Including the stretch of resorts, the town is about two miles long, with beach shacks and houses scattered throughout. Businesses are essentially huts with a door and the restaurants are not much more. The conversion rate is 2 Belize Dollars equal to 1 US Dollar, which made it extremely easy to keep track of how much we spent. In addition, every location we visited accepted both currencies. Most places accepted cards, which is always helpful when carrying a card with travel benefits. Beaches and Dreams provided us with bicycles to get back and forth around town. Unfortunately, the town is becoming a big destination for vacation homes and the amount of construction going on has destroyed the main road through town making for some bumpy rides.
The locals all know each other, and are just as friendly to tourists if you take the time to get to know them. Hitchhiking around the country is standard practice and most everyone in the southern districts is willing to take people north and west, but not so much coming back south due to higher crime rates in the northern districts. We stopped in at an herbal tea shop where the guy quite literally picked the ingredients off plants out back and whipped up his concoctions. Each item on the menu had a description of which ailments they were known to help treat. We went to a beachfront bar where they feature local Caribbean artists every Tuesday night. We even went bird watching with the owners of the resort and some Canadians new to the area who were trying to make some new friends. It was… interesting. Not sure I would go again, but it was a good, free experience and it was great to be invited.
Our trips around the country included Xunantunich Mayan ruins, Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, snorkeling in the barrier reef, horseback riding in the jungle, a bio-luminescent boat cruise, waterfall rappelling and jungle zip lining. It was a long trip and way too much to cover in one post, so be sure to check the articles about each of them! We have so many destinations on our list that I am not sure if we will ever make it back down to Belize, unless we decide to road trip through Central America like some others we bumped into. It was definitely an experience I recommend and certainly won’t forget.