To say thank you for fourteen exciting years on the web... we bring you

Christmas presents from had a writing contest where folks won wonderful prizes!

Here are several of the entries.....

A Love Letter to Ambergris Caye

Love is an emotional response. It isn’t tangible and it can be fleeting at times but there is one thing for sure about love, you know it when it hits you. It is that certain something in the pit of your stomach that makes your heart beat faster and fills you with longing. That is exactly how I felt the first time I stepped off the little plane that brought me to you.

Often attractions are all about what you can see at first and certainly the flight over the mottled turquoise, green and deep blue water with stretches of mangrove and small, sparsely populated cayes surfacing along the way made me short of breath and light headed. I had only seen anything so heart stoppingly beautiful in pictures of far away, exotic places that I could only dream about during my dreary commute to work every day. Finally, the plane landed and I could barely stay in my seat with excitement.

I couldn’t get out of the door quickly enough and I distinctly remember the heat hitting my face, the lingering smell of fuel from the plane mingling with the salty tasting air as I took my first breath. A bird, I later learned was a grackle, let out a loud ‘woo ooooh’ and I couldn’t help but repeat the noise in a giddy reply. I was here – finally. I believe in love at first sight – but this was a love that hit every one of my five senses at once and possibly even an unknown sixth sense as well.

My driver greeted me as if he had always known me. He did that thing that the experienced taxi drivers do – he asked if I had been here before and when I said ‘no’, he grinned wisely as if he absolutely knew that cupid had shot an arrow straight into my heart. The dirt road to the resort was bumpy and dusty and as we drove along with the windows rolled down, taking in the sights, I got this sensation like I was coming home for the very first time.

This was when I knew it was love – true love, impulsive, straight from the gut, awe inspiring, impossible to ignore love. I spent a week with you, getting to know you and the people here, treasuring every moment but then the time came that I had to continue on my journey to other parts of Belize. Just like new lovers, I couldn’t bear to be parted from you for long and so I shortened my trip to the mainland and booked an extra few days in San Pedro just so we had those last days together.

The great thing about falling in love with you is that it is a two way relationship. You return love like no other. You embrace me, fill me with joy, cheer me up on gloomy days, heal me and inspire me. When one finds a love so perfect and deep, it has to be honoured. When I departed, I promised that I would return soon, I shed my tears and waved goodbye through the airplane windows vowing that I wouldn’t be gone for long. I wasn’t.

I rushed back to your glorious warmth and wonder within a year and decided that a relationship like this was a once in a life time opportunity. It was time to take it to the next level and so I agreed that I would live here with you for a while and see if we could make it work. So, we had an engagement of sorts, for a year. We had to see if the love would remain and whether we could truly live with each other long term and make each other happy – just like any new love.

The more I gave in the relationship with you, the more I received. I learned more about your very special magic. I adored island time, I was enamoured with my new friends, neighbours and the way the community functioned. I learned that I had to be very careful what I wished for as my wishes were so frequently granted, whether I wanted them to be or not. A perfect relationship is when you wake up and appreciate each other more every morning and see something new and fascinating in every day spent together. There was no doubt in my mind that this was true love and I finally knew it was time to make a real commitment and decided to stay.

We’ve settled down together now, I’ve planted roots, built a home with you and our love deepens daily. I am now looking forward to growing old with you. I love you Ambergris Caye and I don’t give a damn if the whole world knows!


My Belizean Daze!!!

My first ride in Belize was in the back of a pickup truck
Down the Burrel Boom road through the rain and the muck

On the Batty bus eating tamales next to a nursing mother
touching handcuffed prisoners standing chained to one another

took a taxi down to the Bellevue to drown my traveled sorrows
got accosted by a couple men a shilling they wanted to borrow

Stopped at Rauls Rose Garden met some deflowered Belizean beauties
Rode the Thunderbolt out to AC to the smiles of island cuties

Itched on the botlus bites and swatted swarming mossies all night
Woke up at the break of dawn to an awesome sight

5 shades of blue brought on my Belizean daze
the orange sky was shining like a rum and squash haze

Belikins by the case delivered by a small John Deere
some Cokes and Fantas and Caribbean rum somehow made it here

Jammin with Tim at Fidos until the midnight hour
grabbin a plate of Rosa's rice and beans in a late night shower

My story doesn’t sound to great but at it do not sneeze
every word of it as told is why I love Belize

Bearfoot Gibby

Ode to Caye Caulker

A narrow strip of ancient sand

Close to a legendary – Mayan land

The trade wind sweeps this pleasant isle,

The island’s motto makes you smile.

“Go Slow” it says when you disembark,

The pace of play from dawn to dark.

The blue sea beckons inside the reef,

Full of nature’s bounty, beyond belief.

With fins and snorkel it does amaze,

As you swim and dive with sharks and rays.

Whether, sailing, snorkeling or tying hooks,

Wining, dining or reading books.

Caye Caulker waits with quiet allure,

It gets in your blood, that’s for sure.

From friendly natives with quiet smiles,

Wish willies, iguanas, even crocodiles.

The days drift by it seems such a sin,

To sit drinking one Barrel and Belikin.

As the world speeds by at a frantic pace,

I sit here contented, with a smile on my face.

The palm trees rustle, with a seaside sound,

I’m enjoying my time in paradise found.

When I leave and walk the plank,

After visiting shops, and then the bank,

I’m sure I’ll stop and count the cost,

As I leave this place – Paradise Lost.

Posted on behalf of Michael E. Maddison

Caye Maker

why I love Belize!!

Open doors, and hardwood floors
sipping coconuts I know I won't be bored
snorkle snorkle, walk on the beach
if I can't find a peach I'll just haveta' reach
into a tree for natures canteen, a little coconut or pipa

I just have to reach ya' by boat or plane or in my brain
buyin' books and pictures to see you again
thinkin' mayan oh my I could go for some pie
if it's not in december it will be in july

got to get away from snow and slush
from ceo's and the business rush
gonna' eat some fish maybe fish for my dinner
anyway it works I'll be a winner!

Belizeans beware I'm headed there
for the trip of a lifetime it does compare
Condo or hostel, lease or rent
If i can't get in the water I'll be bereft and rent

nine degrees and I'm in a deep freeze
Washington Coast isn't belize
Frozen rivers and colder seas
I can't wait to skinny dip in belize!

Getting wet with my snorkle on
I can't wait to snack on a prawn
Shrimp or seafood of any kind
Please be ceviche or boiled or brined

Lobster Season is a highlight
eating bugs in the moonlight
charter fishing to my hearts content
living the good life, paying my rent.

i could go on and on and on and on
but I've got to book a flight for my delight
Gonna bring some music to dance all night
singing along and getting along with all the locals in the nightlife!

if I find myself in a bit of a vex
I'll step atside and relive the stress
I'll dance the rusho all through the night
if I win the prize and get on the flight

Island time is due for a rhyme
If you can't be punctual then you can still be functional
Getting along just fine,
in island time

Beanz and rise, Rise and beanz
good for lunch, dinner and inbetweenz

Even if you can't catch fish you can eat all you wish
Living near the high sea's you'll be immune to disease
sleeping on a hammock gonna go out and have some fonna!

Jon Davies

A Heartbeat Wave

For this reason, I love Belize

A heartbeat wave rolls to shore.

My ancestors were nomadic. From our fathers east, they trekked across frozen straits into the Americas slush long before it was so known. Over generations, they wandered along coastlines, hunting and breeding. Bravely they left their tribal families sown on the inland plains. The light of the sun led them to the lowlands of the Yucatan Peninsula.

They evolved through mortal traditions of hunting and foraging. Time progressed them into an enlightenment of communal agriculture. Basic foods in this area today derive from the crops of beans, corn and squash they domesticated in their 2500 B.C. world.

The labor of my lineage farmed and irrigated to feed their community of life. Priests and merchants seeding life. Wives and queens giving birth in the marshes washing aside a Mayan civilization. My family made clay and paints under the watch of the sun. Father observed the stars and planets and cycles of time. He recorded events, led us in worship, oh night divine.

Our relatives built dwellings of home, alongside neighbors, around a plaza and traded with visitors from lands unknown to them. Carvings and paintings of animals, gods and people, whispers telling us they lived. They were here.

Links of history and family fade as one civilization breathes out and the next breathes in. The family records etched on clay tablets crumble away. As time crumbles, we are nomads still. Our ancestors' children told their children the family legends before the memories were shadows of once before. A flutter of breeze drifts the salt and fog back to sea.

I have a heartbeat of family in Belize. My brothers and sisters swim in the sun, resting on the eternal sand. Forever we laugh, dream under the same sky, and wish upon the same stars.

A princess I know has traveled to this land of Belize in recent times. She swims in the reef. Splashing in the sea as before this time, she visits her family with love. Spirits and faces smile a welcome home.

Dan McDevitt

Feeling the LOVE!

I am a woman obsessed...obsessed with everything Belize...I read Amandala on-line and check out the Belize photo of the day each and every day. I look up Garifuna recipes like hudutu and practice punta dancing in my kitchen to the rhythms of Andy Palacio. Sometimes I beat on my Dangriga drum and when the weather is warm I swing in my Placencia hammock in my back yard in Maine! So why this obsession you might ask? I'm quite certain I cannot even put my passion for Belize into words. My very soul has been deeply touched in so many different and powerful ways...I am in love with the way the air smells, the giggles of Mayan children, the hub bub of market day in PG, the warm and friendly greetings on any street, the sounds of roosters crowing and dogs barking, the many shades of blues and greens in land & sea & sky. I am in love with the joyful Garifuna Settlement Day celebrations, the steady wind off the reef, the exquisite taste of One Barrel, the way my friend Elvira laughs while making me fry jacks over her fire. I am in love with the rolling hills along the Hummingbird Highway, the hidden mysteries of the ancient Maya ruins, the "Go Slow" lifestyle of Caye Caulker, the tribal rhythms of the drums...I am in love with the way every day is magic when I am in Belize.

This love affair all started during my first visit to Belize and the Toledo District in 2007 where I met Elvira, a Kekchi woman and mother to four delightful children. The connection was instantaneous and since then we have considered each other as family. I now visit them every year and stay the week in their home in the village where Elvira's mom and dad, brother and sister-in-law and many more kids also live. I have raised money back home to help them replace leaky thatched roofs, have brought down school supplies, clothing, shoes, sewing machines and chocolate! When I'm not there I think of them constantly and pray that this extended family of mine has enough to eat. They are a joyful bunch and have taught me a great deal. I now know that I can fit seven adults, nine children and two pigs into a 5 passenger SUV!! I can't imagine my life without them in it. I never expected to fall so hard but I sure am thankful that I did. I'll be back in January for my sixth visit...see you at the Split! One love.


where i found my love

As I sit day to day in my office, today I look out the window and am thankful to be inside as I see the wind whipping up the dry snow and seeing it settle back down on the wet streets. I sit here wondering why, why did I leave and why haven’t I gone back yet. I had never imagined that I would ever get to see or enjoy such a wondrous place. I had gone down with the intentions to study, long hard hours of studying, and ended up falling in love, not only with the island but with my husband. Belize was where I found him, and we have been together ever since, and just celebrated our first anniversary. With him it had all started with watching basketball in the evening with a little chill in the air that made it necessary for him to put his arm around me; walks every Sunday after church and ice cream, driving the golf cart through rain and deep puddles. It was the happiest I have ever been and it has always been our hope to get back to Belize once we were married. Now we just dream and talk of the hot sand, the warm sun on our face and the endless time that the island seems to give to every person that has visited it. It is a place that I will never forget because the love that Belize has given me is the love that I come home to everyday after leaving my office. It is the love that I know will be there even through the toughest times, the not so happy times, and eventually back to the happiest of times when we get to again stand hand in hand with sand between our toes on the beach where we had first met.


What a coincidence that is where I fell in love with my wife...oh wait...Happy anniversary Love!

Remember this?



I'm a Better person in Belize!

As I sit in traffic on a Friday night, six lanes in either direction at a standstill, I wonder if our table will still be there for us when we arrive at our dinner destination downtown….

Traffic on front street was at a standstill…..Pedro has found someone in dire need of his considered opinion, and the rest of us can just wait…how important can it be to get to the next bar 2 minutes earlier!

The waiter asks for our drinks order, and I ponder the choice of several “handcrafted” beers, before deciding to wait, as I’m driving

Do I want a Belikin?...What do you think, I can crawl “home” from here!

It was a frustrating day, I got caught up on a conference call, and missed the high on a stock I’ve been waiting to sell, but the options expire soon, so I took the profit and moved on.

I didn’t get around to logging on to the internet today,or yesterday either, come to think about it, but I’m sure things went just fine without me…

We finish out meal, and as we are driving home, we stop at a red light: an SUV pulls up next to us, music blaring..I make eye contact with the guy in the passenger seat…not someone I’d invite over for cocktails…the music is turned up louder, and the stare down continues: I reach down beside my seat to turn off the safety, just in case….…the light changes, and we head back to suburbia

As I walk down the beach after dark, I see a shape ahead of me…a dreadlocked guy with his machete and a sack of coconuts is on the path ahead…I don’t know his name, but we’ve seen each other around…we smile, I give him a beer and he gives me a couple of coconuts and we move on, just 2 people enjoying love

The changes in perception when I get “home” to Belize are so many and varied that they are hard to quantify, but suffice to say that life in Belize is just somehow better….when we “retired” we each wrote down the top 3 places we would like to live…we both had San Pedro #1 and never looked at the rest of the list…we’d been here 3 times on Cruises, and the magic had stayed with us

A nice home and economic security, a beautiful and loving wife and the world’s best dog all are part of my great life in Texas, but could I sit and write about how my heart skips a beat each time I return, or how I count the days until I get back?

Belize is a place where you need to check your Type AA personality at the Airport….there is nothing that you can do to change anything…things will happen eventually, so you may as well just sit back and enjoy the view!

We enjoy the Cab ride to the water taxi, and the hour and a half of just mellowing out and adjusting to becoming “the minority”…the kids who will just come up and talk and smile at us because they know of no other way to behave…

When we arrive at the dock, Genie is there to meet us…He hugs “Miss Jane” and her smile lights up her face…this is where she is the happiest..we walk down the pier, and he jokes to his friends…”This week I eat good…Mummy and Daddy come to visit”

We won’t be at the Venetian or Bellagio this week…it’s a couple of days here and a couple more there…no TVs, no A/C, bed by 9 most nights and up at dawn for a beach walk.

Our Villa @ Reef Village should have been finished by now, but it’s running about a year behind schedule: I could get upset, but really, what would that accomplish……

The diving was good, we caught plenty of fresh fish for lunch, and Eric Donaldson sounds sweet from the blown speaker out on the deck…we just start cleaning and cooking all we have, because somehow, enough people will show up to eat it all, something that still mystifies and amuses me!

We walk around San Pedro, not heading anywhere in particular, but stopping every few minutes to talk to someone we know…we live in a city of 6million strangers, but will see 50 friends of varying degrees in one morning on front street!

Discussions over a Belikin will be about almost anything except the things I argue with people all day about when in the US, and the folks I only get to see every year or so are amongst the purest relationships I have…there is no “upside” or gain in their company, just the pleasure we share from being in our beautiful host country

Yes, there are some things that it would be nice to see change….trash recycling, better sewer and water service, more onus on education and less corruption, but these are all part of the magical mixture that makes Belize the wondrous adventure it is

Belize is not just a place, an attitude, a mindset or even a set of smells and tastes that combine to offer a unique’s something different to each and every soul that finds their way there, never to be the same again…and I’m a nicer person in Belize than when I’m anywhere else in the world


This must be the place

The word serendipity has become a favorite of mine when i attempt to describe my love for Belize.
It most adequately encompasses all the magic and synchronicity that was involved in my finding my beloved San Pedro.I have never known such love for a piece of earth,it's inhabitants,flora and fauna and the beautiful waters that surround it.
I feel that I am the best version of myself when i am there.
I have met people that have profoundly enriched my life,people that I will grow old with.
I have made friends with several fish and enjoy visiting their neighborhoods upon each return trip.
I struggle to defend myself when it is suggested to me that everyone feels that way on vacation.Of course,it has something to do with the freedom a vacation affords,but it is so much more.I am convinced that my brain chemistry changes once i enter the country's airspace.I breathe deeper.I am forced to slow down. My perceptive abilities are heightened,I love the colors of the wooden buildings,the smells wafting out of kitchens and food stalls,the way the winds at night are alternately intensely so hot and so cold and heavy with moisture.Sitting on docks and gazing out into the infinite turquoise waters or staring down at the creatures are both favorite activities.
When I describe my feelings about Ambergris Caye more than one person has observed that i must have "found my place".
I agree completely.


My Mistress

It first started online. It wasn't that I was unhappy, I just wanted to see what else was out there. More for my own amusement than anything else. There she was...she was beautiful. Staring back at me from the screen of my less then optimal laptop. Oh come on now, it's just a cropped picture, worked over to the max. Nothing can be that beautiful. You can make a wharf rat look beautiful with the right equipment and time. I want to check this out. This can't be for real. From what I read, this doesn't end at beauty, it seems she's laid back, warm in her gestures and kind. One date wouldn't hurt. It wouldn't even be a date more of just an "I told you so" to the other part of me that thinks this is real. Two months, I'll have to wait to meet her face to face.
As I walked through the enclosed ramp to get off the plane, I started to pick up on her scent. She was there waiting for me at the end of the hallway. I could sense her. She embraced me as I walked out into the open air. From there she had a whole week planned for us. Snorkeling in the reef, glass bottom boats, incredible food, and a lot of relaxing with some close friends of hers. They were all so immersed in this enchanting beauty, this bearer of peace.
On the plane back to my first love, I could only think of how I wanted to stay here with my new love. That was it I couldn't go back to my dear Washington and pretend that everything was endurable. I needed the excitement and that pleasure I got from my new love "Belize". She was warm, Beautiful, Laid back. Don't get me wrong, Washington was great to me, but Belize, she was seductive, adventurous, and all over sensational.


My Beautiful Belize

My eighth time to Belize in a period of two years and still I never tire of its beauty. Flying into Belize City I take note of the Ying/Yang of the land and sea. The dark green of the forest melting into the blue/green sea is separated only by a thin sliver of sand. After landing and making my way through customs, I am greeted by several familiar faces that are always welcoming and warm, like the country they inhabit. A customs agent asks me if this is my first time to Belize, I tell him no, this is my eighth time. “Welcome back” he says with genuine enthusiasm. I smile, say thank you and think, it’s more like welcome home.
Rounding the corner to the departure lounge, I am greeted by a landmark that is only slightly-lesser known than the Mayan ruins. “Rum punch, the best in Belize” he chatters. An institution in the Belize City airport, Jet has only missed one day of work since he took over Jets Bar somewhere in the early ‘60’s, due to a heart attack. A man of slight stature at just over four foot something he more than makes up for it with charisma and charm. He hawks his rum punch and hot dogs like a vendor at a Sox game, working the crowd and getting his “hugs” from all the ladies. (who said four foot something was a bad thing?) So the next time that you are in the Belize City airport, when you hear a voice that neither booms nor shouts, look through the crowd for a diminutive man with a lot of charm, wearing his trademark guayabera shirt hawking “Rum punch, best in Belize” and tell him I sent you.
Although there are many sights to admire and mesmerize, the one sight that I carry in my memory is the one in which we take the puddle jumper from Belize City to San Pedro. Flying low over the reef, I catch a glimpse of several rays, dark shadows gliding over an emerald green reef. Waters turning from emerald green to turquoise to a dark shade of indigo, only divided by the waves that break over the reef looking like a strand of pearls that had been laid out by Neptune himself. The hum of the plane’s engines drown out any thought except for the one of me landing soon in San Pedro, my second home.
Although I own no condo, nor parcel of land, I feel that Isla Bonita has come to own me. I fell in love with its charm and its magic from the first day I set foot upon its sandy beaches. Sitting in a well worn hammock, as I take in the view of the reef, I begin to take note of one reason San Pedro has such an allure for me. It is the warmth of the people and the friendliness in which they greet you. It is even reflected in the children that you see on their way to school or later in the evening playing on the beaches. Their smiles, grins and laughter are pure joy that hold some of San Pedro’s magic. But there are other things entwined within this island that draw me back to it time and time again. From the sights of the reef, to the smell of the vendors cooking their ware, to the music that resonates throughout the island, they all form a tapestry of joy and magic that can only be San Pedro.
I find it funny how one sight can render such joy and also such heartache. Flying over the reef can bring such elation when flying into San Pedro, but bring a heavy heart when heading home to the states.
As I dream and plan my next flight to San Pedro, I will keep the reef’s view in my memory. However, I will still be waiting to hear those words “Welcome Back.”
You mean, “Welcome Home.”


A Christmas Holiday Letter

In the year 2000, my husband and I moved to San Pedro to build our dream retirement home. Our last Christmas in the US, I sent out our usual Christmas Letter to friends and family just as I had always done, but this time, it had a bit of a twist to it. When I read here on the AC boards about the Writing Contest, this old Holiday letter came to mind and I thought it would lend a bit of a smile to everybody who reads it now. I hope you'll let this qualify as to this years Writing Contest of Why We Love Belize (so much that we sold it all and moved to San Pedro!)

(Sung to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song)

Come listen to a story 'bout a couple named Bailey,
Their entire friends and families all thought them to be crazy,
But hopefully someday soon they'll be joyous of the thought,
Of taking a trip to where they can't be caught....
Mad world that is...traffic jams, cold weather, daily grind.

Well the first thing they did was sell off their llama herd,
Said goodbye to 'em all without so much a word,
Bundled up their cash and headed to Belize,
Found themselves a little plot on isle of Ambergris Caye (key)...
Island that is...Coconut trees, Caribbean Sea, 80 degrees.

Now the next thing you know they've got the farm for sale,
Their kids are all moved away so they say "what the hell,
Island living is the place we want to be"
So they break the news to all their friends and families...
Gonna move that is...Leave the country, Fly away, Enjoy life.

Now they know how envious you may be of hearing this tale,
But it won't happen until they make the sale,
So they'll keep ya'all posted to the upcoming event,
For when they leave the good ol' USA aboard a Continental Jet...
Head for the island that is...Build a home, Go fishin', Skinny dip.

But before they close this letter there is one thing that they wish,
Is to thank you all for keeping 'em on your yearly Christmas List.
Just because their gonna move away is no cause for alarm,
They plan to keep in touch just like they did when they lived back on the farm...
Communications that is...AT&T, e-mail, friendly visits.

Y'all come visit now...ya hear!

Merry Christmas and Happy 2000!!
Leisa and Jerry


"Again! Again, I want to do it again!"

As a scuba diver, I became fascinated with the idea of going to Belize and loved her from afar for years before ever I saw her beautiful face. Eventually the universe conspired to have me meet her and I've never been the same since.

On my first trip, I was initially bemused by the quaint dusty little San Pedro Town. Within days, I'd become completely enchanted and I never wanted to leave.

On my second trip, in San Pedro for less than an hour, I was already out on the dock to feel the breeze on my face and the late day sun over my shoulder. From a distance, I heard someone calling out my name. Since I didn't believe anyone was expecting me, what was I to make of this? There, out in a boat, someone was waving both arms over head and calling to me . . . welcoming me home. I couldn't even see who it was, but they knew me and knew I'd come home again.

Nowadays, I've lost count of how many times I've been back "home". Instead of counting trips, I have filled a Belizean treasure chest with new friendships, innumerable memories and extraordinary experiences both above and below the water. Over the years, I've:

met some incredible people including three of my best friends, one new "sister", and become the richer for it; fallen head over heels in love, fallen back out again with a thump and become the wiser for it.

stood alone on the backside of Halfmoon Caye feeling like a happy castaway; jumped up and down with a dive master, both of us screaming in delight, as we sighted a pod of pilot whales; whiled away the time at the Paradise palapa bar and heard for the first time, Santana's "Maria Maria"; learned to punta dance and love a new genre of music; finished my evenings standing on the dock's end to better let the Belizean breeze cleanse my soul; been startled by a heron fishing in the dark; gazed for hours upon the multi-hued unbelievable greens and blues of the Belizean sea; forded streams and crawled through a cave system into the Mayan underworld to cast my eyes upon a crystal maiden; felt the jungle compress my breath and then had the sight of the Rio Frio Cave release it.

had a short-sighted turtle try to kiss me; felt nurse sharks bump against and swim between my legs; watched awestruck as a tornado of jackfish swirled around me; laughed through my regulator at a barracuda yanking on my fin; been humbled by an eagle ray that allowed me a few precious moments of communion; gone into a swim-through hole only to come face to face with what is surely the largest nurse shark ever; shivered in the water column of the great Blue Hole, with fear and wonder alike, as a shark came right over to check me out; wound my way yet again through the stalactites of that magnificent place, and . . . every . . . single . . . time . . . upon reaching the surface, felt my heart sing out "Again! Again! I want to do it again!"

Belize has taught me to always leave my stress in the Houston airport on the way down to her and that, upon leaving her, should any stress be left waiting for me, it will barely be a burden.

Oh yes, my life has changed because of my time spent with her. In Belize, I've found a freedom that makes me stronger. I've become a different person, a more patient and understanding person. I've discovered who I hope to become, what to look for in life and what I can give back.

No matter that I travel to many other places in this wonderful world, for her, beautiful Belize. . . my heart will always sing out . . . "Again! Again, I want to do it again!"


Tears in the Sky

I can verbally try to explain my love for Belize. Especially my home Caye Caulker.
But really its the tears in the sky.
Its knowing most all my neighbors by name, Its the greetings and Hi Ms Cooper,and being called Mommy(took me a few years to digest that one)and the you alright greetings that make everyday a good day.
But really its the tears in the sky.
As a person of maturity,more so of body than mind,its riding my bike everyday living a healthier life and the absence of cars and traffic. Its the simple things, less is more.
But really its the tears in the sky.
Its what I did in my old life in the U.S. and what I do in my current life in Belize that make me a better person. Its being able to help the community and seeing results, and thanks in young peoples eyes that come to you for help.
But really its the tears in the sky.
And of course its the beautiful waters, people,jungles,Mayan Ruins,being lucky enough to live in such a special place, mabe not luck, most all of us gringos had to go through a lot of work to be able to live here,it was the most important life change in our life's and it did not come easy...and mabe that's why ,
The tears in the sky.
You see..I leave this wonderful place for a few weeks twice a year..go to the States..visit family, buy some art supplies and get myself back here..hop on Tropic or Maya Air and every time I get Caye Caulker in eyesight I burst out in tears..I weep and wail like a baby..
Its more than just being happy to be home and I cant truly explain it..I get the oddest looks from first timers on the plane..when we land and the plane door opens..
I am always welcomed with a welcome home Ms. Cooper by the attendant..
This is the best home I have have ever had,its almost like a secret from those that don't know. Wondering as I take one last look around the plane which lucky passengers will find the magic..which ones will be blind to it....
Who will return with tears in their eyes..


Belize, My Oasis

Luck was on my side when my first trip to Belize was booked. As a student, there were five countries that I could have spent my January semester exploring. Belize was an option and my first choice only because I had never heard of it. My second and third choices were tourist spots in Europe that I was sure I would travel on my own to someday. Little did I know, I would see Belize three more times before I would ever think about going to those places. By the luck of the draw, I got my first choice and lucky is exactly how I feel everytime the breeze touches my face, or I see a friendly local smile at me, or I sip a cold Belikin...

Why do I love Belize? I love Belize for so many reasons. I love the kind people of Belize and the friends I have made over the years. I love the flora and fauna. I love the weather, the beer, the hot sauce, the reef and the jungle. I could write a list far too long. But that’s just too easy. What I really love about Belize are the countless blissfully happy moments that I have acquired in my travels there over the years. My evening spent sitting on the shore of Rendezvous Caye with a glass of rum punch listening to the lapping waves while staring up at the most stars I have ever seen in my life. Standing in the middle of the jungle at night with my flashlight off, listening to the sounds of the jungle by the light of only a few stars peeking through the canopy of trees. Sipping a Belikin at The Split while reggae music plays and the breeze blows through my hair. Spotting the iguanas sunbathing in the trees while we kayaked along the Belize River. Swimming so fast to barely keep up with the graceful and deceptively fast whale shark just to get one more glimpse. I still remember the sounds from the first time I heard the roar of howler monkeys in the morning. Also, I am pretty sure the best nap I ever took in my life was in a hammock on South Water Caye many years ago. Of course, I can’t forget what it felt like when I first looked up and out after climbing Castillo’s steep steps on all fours at Xunantunich. I could never choose just one as all of these and the countless other moments have impacted me so deeply. They are the reasons that I love Belize.

Belize is my oasis, my sanctuary, my favorite place in the world. My heart beats faster and I get goose bumps just thinking about being there again. When life feels too fast or stressful, I can close my eyes and picture myself there and immediately feel calm. When I go back, I get the same feelings that I had driving through my hometown the first time I visited after leaving for college. Belize feels like home to me. I want to take my family and friends to Belize because I feel that everyone should be so lucky to accidentally stumble on a little known place that is so irreplaceable in my heart. Sometimes when the wind blows a certain way here in Pennsylvania, I am immediately taken back to breezy Caye Caulker. It is so vivid for that one moment, I can almost taste the Belikin.


Paradise Found!

It was a cold winter when I discovered Belize. I had heard a few things about the country that used to be named British Honduras, but not much. The internet is truly a wealth of information and I “Googled and Googled” to find out everything I could about this little country tucked between Mexico and Honduras.

“Natures Best Kept Secret” sounded like a slick PR program. The official language is English, in the middle of Central America? The Belizean dollar is locked to the US dollar at 2:1? Second longest barrier reef in the world? The Blue Hole! Rainforest, jungle, Mayan ruins, 180+ islands, beautiful water and beaches. WOW! I have got to go!

In searching for a place to stay I discovered Ambergris Caye and a world (literally) of wonderful people on Advice and encouragement was bountiful from frequent travelers, Belizeans and ex-pats from around the world. As a Christmas present to myself, I made hotel and air line reservations, but then I had to wait until March. The winter did not seem as cold any more.

March came and I traveled with anticipation and excitement. As soon as I stepped off the plane in Belize, I felt I had made the right choice. I’ve traveled many places in the world and I have never met more cordial and helpful people. This was true of all the people I met over the next 10 days.

The 15 minute flight from Belize City to Ambergris Caye was so enjoyable, and so scenic, with hues of blue and green dotted strips of islands. And then there was San Pedro. All the pictures I had seen and everything people had said were TRUE!

For 10 wonderful days I explored, swam, fished, snorkeled, strolled the beaches, rested under palm trees cooled by the ocean breeze, ate great food, enjoyed music and the nightlife. Every morning I woke up to a true paradise view of the blue waters of the Caribbean rimmed by the white caps of waves being held back by the reef. The sunrises and sunsets were truly amazing and beautiful.

With all this beauty it is easy to fall in love with Belize, and it is truly “Nature’s Best Kept Secret.” But, Belize’ most admirable “Best Kept Secret” is the people; warm and friendly, easy to smile and say “hello”, “good morning” or offer to help if you look lost; they alone make this country stand out from all others. It is like my home away from home and it calls me back every time I leave. Trip #5 will be in February 2010 and I have another cold winter to work through, but it is not so bad since the warmth of Belize is there waiting for my return.

Why do I love Belize? Because it is my Paradise Found!


Why I Love Belize

When I think of Belize it is of course the island life in the tropics. Belize in comparison to all other places on earth is a step back in time, and a step back to our basics, a life of peace and happiness. When I am on Ambergris Caye my entire body, spirit and mind are in a place I have never experienced anywhere else I have been. The island is the perfect combination of time, climate and humanity… a place where wealth can be measured in how you feel and what what life means to you.

The people of Belize are truly the number one reason why Belize means what it does for me. Tropical islands; sunshine; sand and surf can be found all over the beautiful area we call the Caribbean, but only in Belize can the warm-hearted, giving, and happiness of the Belizean people be found. In our travels to Ambergris every year we have made several friends and many more acquaintances. No where else is trust and friendship so easy to find, and it starts with a smile and a “good morning”.

We often tell our local friends and co-workers about our travels and vacations to La Isle Bonita and as we describe our trips, most of our talk involves first names of Belizeans or descriptions of other locals we have yet to make their acquaintance. As time slows on the island, and we roam about the beaches, we always run into a smiling face of a worker raking the beach, or a local craftsman carving and creating a piece of his life for us to take back home. When we dine with the locals downtown, or grab a bite in the park from the street vendors we know we have found the most perfect and safe haven to be found anywhere on our planet. When we look into the eyes of the kids headed home from school, we see how rich they are, they have everything, because they have Belize…. And that is truly the reason why I love Belize.

M. Sjulstad

Only a few....

The views from the plane to and from Ambergris Caye.
The little boy in the taxi our first trip telling me about all of the places to eat in San Pedro and when I asked him where was his favorite place to eat he replied “home”.
Meeting other Ambergris Caye message boarders and making lifelong friends.
Meeting Belizeans and making life long friends.
Snorkeling the reef.
Fishing with the local children on the piers and being taught by them how to fish correctly.
The wisdom of Tulu.
Dancing barefoot in the sand.
Being completely mesmerized by the blue and clarity of the water.
Laughing with friends at a local bar.
One zillion photo opportunities.
Naps on the beach in the shade of the rustling of palm trees.
Beach combing.
Turning the lights out at night in the house we stayed at in Mountain Pine Ridge and watching the fireflies, inside the house.
Horseback riding in the rainforest.
Dining at street vendors.
Flagging down the Belikin truck to buy beer.
Laying on piers watching the fish and rays. And at night the fluorescences sparkle in the water.
Shopping in the little markets and finding the coolest things to make for dinner.
The view from the top of the temple at Lamanai.
Walking - the main means of tranportation.
Being humbled by how simply the Belizeans live.
Being humbled by the geneosity of the people of Belize.
Having said only these few things I would conclude that the many experiences I have had there and the friends that I have made there have enriched my life and forever changed me.
That is the reason I love Belize.


Belize, A Love Story

I remember the magic I felt the first time I came to Belize. Maybe it was the warm tropical air, maybe it was the smiles on the faces of all of the people I met, perhaps it was the lush open countryside, or the vibrate blues of the Caribbean Sea. Whatever it was, it had a hold of me instantly. I returned every year after that in time to escape the harsh reality of January in the States, if only for a week.

I remember my first Belikin was in San Pedro. I stumbled out of the water taxi, exhausted and nearly defeated by the long day of travel. I didn’t make it far, Cannibals Bar at the end of the dock as a matter of fact. I sat and embraced the wisdom of “Island Time”. Several hours and several Belikins later, I also understood the difference between “Island Time” and “Belize Time.” It was time to leave the water taxi terminal. I was living in a Jimmy Buffett song.

Belize not only offered me a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of life in the States, but proved to hold some “magic” for me as well. On a return trip, I stumbled into a bar in Corozal, again exhausted from the day’s adventures and mishaps, when I locked eyes with my soulmate. It was simply kismet that the two of us came together at that moment in a foreign country so far away from home. We both knew there was something for us in Belize, and we were lucky enough to find it.

Two years to the day later, we married underneath the Palm Trees on Ambergris Caye surrounded by all of the friends we had met in Belize throughout the years. We are now thrilled to call San Pedro our home.

Belize is not just a place to visit on vacation. If you look closely, you might discover your destiny.


why I love Belize

As I sit day to day in my office, today I look out the window and am thankful to be inside as I see the wind wiping up the dry snow and seeing it settle back down on the wet streets. I sit here wondering why, why did I leave and why haven’t I gone back yet. I had never imagined that I would ever get to see or enjoy such a wondrous place. I had gone down with the intentions to study, long hard hours of studying, and ended up falling in love, not only with the island but with my husband. Belize was where I found him, and we have been together ever since, and just celebrated our first anniversary. With him it had all started with watching basketball in the evening with a little chill in the air that made it necessary for him to put his arm around me; walks every Sunday after church and ice cream, driving the golf cart through rain and deep puddles. It was the happiest I have ever been and it has always been our hope to get back to Belize once we were married. Now we just dream and talk of the hot sand, the warm sun on our face and the endless time that the island seems to give to every person that has visited it. It is a place that I will never forget because the love that Belize has given me is the love that I come home to everyday after leaving my office. It is the love that I know will be there even through the toughest times, the not so happy times, and eventually back to the happiest of times when we get to again stand hand in hand with sand between our toes on the beach where we had first met.

Kristi Maroni

Why I love Belize

Belize. I had heard about Belize for more than a year. My daughter and son-in-law had stayed on Ambergris Caye last year for their 10th wedding anniversary. They've done a good bit of traveling--the US, Europe. But something about Ambergis Caye struck a special chord. They called from Belize with a proposition; the family would spend Thanksgiving in Belize in 2009. And that's exactly what happened. From the moment we stepped off the plane in Belize City, it was apparent that this wouldn't be an ordinary vacation. The beauty and friendliness of everyone we met was the first clue. The flight across the magnificent, clear blue-green water to Ambergris Caye was the next, and the bustle and hum of San Pedro only added to our excitement. Ambergris Caye is the kind of place where you can "do your own thing" -- as much or as little as you want. Snorkel, dive, go to the mainland to explore, or just relax by the pool drinking rum punch and Belikins under the palms. It was a perfect vacation in an ecological wonderland and it felt like leaving home when we came back to the "real world". The people of Belize and Ambergris Caye have a precious gift in their beautiful homeland, and I am thankful that they are willing to share it with all of us who are lucky enough to visit. Till the next time, Belize.....

Patricia Barber

Here are the directions.....

Just post on the message board at in the "WRITING CONTEST - WIN PRIZES!" section a bit of writing on Why You Love Belize. Start a new topic with your entry. Then folks can make little comments to it....

Entries must be received by Dec. 21. Winners will be announced on Christmas Eve. Get those pens and pencils and keyboards ready!!!! Anyone still breathing is welcome to enter. Including children...

Entries and/or questions can also be emailed to [email protected].

First Prize: Seven days and nights for two at The Tides Beach Resort

The Tides Beach Resort is local relaxation at its best. We are a beach front resort located north of San Pedro Town situated in a quiet part of the island, yet conveniently in walking distance of the town. We are a small but quaint resort with twelve beautiful and spacious rooms. All with a spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea.

Our Colonial Facade take you back to the was beautiful Belize was some one hundred years ago. With the architecture of the hotel, we've strived to maintain the beauty and originality of the island. Our rooms come available with many amenities. Each room comes standard with two double beds and two ceiling fans. King size beds are also available for our guests upon request. Each room is equipped with a private bath with hot and cold running water, air conditioning, and refrigerators.

If it's sun, fun and more fun you crave, The Tides Beach Resort is ready for you!

Second Prize: 2 free nights at Portofino Beach Resort, and option to get a discount on the rest
Stylish resort on the beach.... A haven of romance, relaxation, luxury and adventure can be found at Portofino Beach Resort, located on Ambergris Caye just North of San Pedro. ...when you are looking for spacious and stylish accommodations on a Tropical Island and secluded white sandy beaches with swaying palm trees, Portofino Beach Resort is the perfect destination for you. The property is 4,5 acres, including 330 feet of private beach. At the back of the property you will find the lagoon with mangroves, many different types of birds, and the occasional crocodile...

During the few years that we have been open, we have built an excellent reputation with our guests, travel agents and wholesalers all over the world, due to our personal service and luxurious accommodations.

Third Prize: $600BZ Gift Certificate from Belizean Arts
The Belizean Arts Gallery features Fine arts, paintings and cultural art from Belize, Central America and the Caribbean. Nestled inside Fido’s Courtyard, Belizean Arts is the place to pick up a beautiful piece of Belize.

Each artist showcased is Belizean, either naturalized or Belizean-born, and their artwork is different from the each other in so many ways.

Fourth Prize: Early Morning Bird Tour for four with Elbert Greer
The trip is to Cayo Pajaros and Cayo Rosario, two small bird nesting islands in the back.

These two islands have multiple names and even the map has two names each. Bird Island AKA Iguano Caye is where all the White Ibis are nesting and the entire island can be considered the source of White Ibis on Ambergris Caye. Cayo Rasorio is sometimes called Guana Caye.

Roseate Spoonbills are sharing the two islands for nesting as well as Tricolored Heron White Ibis and Reddish Egret. All these rare species are nesting in Colony on these two small islands packed tight and one might consider the entire island a natural sanctuary dedicated to that one purpose.

Another Prize: $400BZ Gift Certificate at Emerald Mine
The Emerald Mine - Unique Fine Jewelry in Belize Specializing in Hand Crafted 18Kt Colombian Emeralds along with Distinctive Fancy Sapphires & Rubies, Treasure Coins & 14kt Enameled Sea Life Jewelry.

We have a large selection of hand crafted Colombian 18 kt. emerald jewelry with stunning stones from the Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor mines.

The Emerald Mine features a large selection of rings for all tastes, Pendants, bracelets and sets for all occasions, Unique sealife jewelry in enameled 14 kt., Men’s nautical jewelry. We also have a large variety of authentic certified treasure coins in handmade unique 14 kt. Ring, pendant and earring settings.

Another Prize: Dinner for 2, including a bottle of housewine, from Portofino Restaurant
Le Bistro was designed with concepts of Euro-Caribbean Fusion Cuisine. Our chef’s background in French and Italian Cuisine fuses the Freshest local Seafood, Meats and Produce available in Belize and features mostly an all Sauté Menu with Individual Custom Plate Presentations.

Le Bistro has been so popular we are expanding again to accommodate our Rising Star. We are also the only restaurant on Ambergris Caye that offers Pier Dining at Night; under the Mayan Stars with your own personal wait staff.

The Pier Dining is popular with Honeymooners and other Special Occasions and reservations are recommended.

Another Prize: Dinner for two at Elvi's Kitchen
The most famous restaurant on Ambergris Caye is undoubtably Elvi's Kitchen. Whether you're craving crab claws, lobster, calamari, scallops, mussels, fresh water lobster, shrimp, conch, or fish (whole, steaks, or fillet), Elvi's is "Di Place" for seafood.

From appetizers of ceviche and buffalo wings to classic island entrees, the flavors that you enjoy at Elvi's will stay with you for a lifetime.

Another Prize: Two hours in Julian's World
I can flat out fix your computers. Give 'em to me. Need better color? Faster RAM? Or just a new internet connection...

Many years of tearing things apart have given me the experience necessary to tear your stuff apart. Ask my mom. She'll tell you...

I can tear #$%* up!

Another Prize: Full Day Scuba Diving for two with Elbert Greer
White Sands Dive Shop is a full service PADI dive shop specializing in daily diving, SCUBA instruction and snorkeling for San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Belize.

Our local Diving and Snorkeling scheduled departures are 9:00 and 2:00, we will pick you up at the dock of your hotel.

Another Prize: $200BZ Gift Certificate at Rojo Lounge @ Azul Belize
Rojo Lounge was designed to have a casual atmosphere where people can experience what we like to describe as "Tropical Lounge Cuisine." From the moment you arrive the air speaks of the tropics.

This is the hippest restaurant and bar on the Cayes. Rojo Lounge, in a sultry open air palapa on a beautiful beach, is definitely red hot. Lunch offers a selection of sophisticated snacks like chili dusted shrimp, grilled lobster salad and conch pizza ... Dinner is romantic and delicious, with surprising combinations such as cashew-crusted grouper stuffed with lobster and guava glazed ribs...The bar serves killer frozen mojitos.

Another Prize: $200BZ Gift Certificate at Tanisha Eco-Tours
Tanisha Eco-Tours with Daniel Nuñez, Snorkeling - Maya Ruins - Wildlife. When it comes to wildlife we are the experts and the pioneers, beginning the Lamanai and the Belize wildlife tour from San Pedro in 1993.

Take a trip over to the mouth of the Belize River to see the amazing manatees. Follow the River for 30 to 40 min then arrive at the village of Bomba where we board a bus that takes us to the site of Altun-Ha. An exceptionally clear and unpolluted river leads you into New River lagoon and the ancient Maya city of Lamanai with its stone temples and carved stone monuments nestled in the tropical forest. Travel by boat to the Belize River and have breakfast on boat while seeing wildlife in river.

We also offer Zip Line & Cave Tubing trips and tours to Xunantunich, Caracol, Cahel Pech, Mountain Pine Ridge, St. Herman's Cave, Blue Hole Lake National Park, Green Hills Butterfly Farm, Diving,Tikal, Hidden Valley Falls, and Barton Creek.

Another Prize: One hour Swedish massage at Xaman Ek Retreat & Spa
Enjoy a relaxing 1 hr. Swedish massage at Xaman Ek Retreat and Spa 5 1/2 miles north of town.

A full body firm massage given for a relaxing and rejuvenating result. Your feet will be cleansed with hot towels and at the completion of the Massage a hot towel will be applied to your back and all of the oil will be Removed from your skin, with the final touch being a hot moist towel Scented with eucalyptus oil, then applied to your face to revive you.

Another Prize: $100BZ Gift Certificate at El Fogon
El Fogon has an atmosphere typical of the old San Pedro Village kitchen 25 years ago with an outdoor fogon where all the food is cooked and prepared.

On El Fogon's menu you can find any, if not all, of the typical home-cooked Creole and Mestizo foods that are typical to Belize, in particular San Pedro; you name it, they got it.

Another Prize: $100BZ Gift Certificate at DandE’s Frozen Custard & Sorbet
What sets DandE’s frozen desserts apart from all the rest. “Frozen custard is churned as it freezes, like old-fashioned, hand-cranked ice cream. Easy to get to, DandE’s Frozen Custard and Sorbet is conveniently located on Pescador Drive (Middle Street) in downtown San Pedro, next to Caramba Restaurant.

The “Not Just” Vanilla and Double Rich Chocolate are on the menu every day plus a variety of “flavors of the day” which include such favorites such as: Cheesecake, Sour sop, Mango, Pina Colada, Coconut, Black Cherry, Chocolate Chip Mint, Butter Pecan plus many more. DandE’s Frozen Custard & Sorbet also serves thick, delicious shakes and mouth watering sundaes and banana boats.

Stop in today, because as the sign says, “If you like ice cream, you will LOVE DandE’s Frozen Custard & Sorbet!”

Another Prize: $50BZ Gift Certificate at Antojitos Santelmo
On Coconut Drive, just north of Banyan Bay on the west side of the road. Across from Marinas Grocery. One of my favorite places. Great burritos, other local specialties, super reasonably priced.

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