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Arrivals in  Belize

As I was about to embark on my journey to Belize, both anticipation and dread added to the surplus of weight I carried on my shoulders. Although I had been sceptical about my arrival at Philip Goldson; the possibly of a lost bag, reluctant customs officer or an absent transfer, arriving on Caye Caulker was as much a breeze as the one that greeted me at the airport exit.

Making our way through the rural areas of Belize gave me a better insight to the contrast of basic local living and tourist luxury, a matter not to have any effect on how well received tourists are to the renowned charm of laidback Belizean culture. Following a short journey from the airport to Belize City, myself and Dagny were accompanied by two familiar faces that she had previously met on the island, a comforting reminder of just how easy it is to make new friends out here. I loaded my bags onto the ferry and all previous scepticism had completely subsided.

I still had another stretch of boat rides to reach camp on the north side, but stepping out in the midday heat of January and across onto the first boat was the point to which I knew I’d made a great decision. For every wave further from the stresses of the city was one closer to nature and its glorious expanse of living beings, a once untouched world contributing to the neighbouring ecosystems and communities. We weren’t completely out of the docks in spite of my optimism, as I struggled to place my luggage amongst a barrage of bags and scuba gear, it finally appeared in plain sight. All that was left for me to do was take my first step into the white sand and bury with them, a disposition of what I know to be the obliviousness of tourism and the impact that is has on the surrounding areas.

Arriving on the South side of the island was as surreal as stepping out of one person’s life and into another, a contrast to which I am certainly not going to be prepared for when my time is up.  The ‘Go Slow’ mantra was one that I had come to witness as I paced on the spot during the many interactions with locals, one I now fully adopt as part of my daily routine. Everyone seems to know one another, especially the Frontier staff who seem to receive an even warmer welcome than the backpackers that litter the docks and hostels.

For an outsider, the cost of living here has surpassed that of which I am used to back home; the luxury of cosmetics and branded products seem to be sat gathering dust on the shelves of supermarkets and are extortionate to the point of absurdity. This matter is one that encourages tourists to appreciate the little things in life and experience just how fickle we are about life’s pleasures and experiences.

By Jake Darcy - Belize Journalism Volunteer

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