This report is way past due, I know. In fact, I'll be back on AC this November and am counting the days. I read the boards all the time and have never gotten the courage to add my two cents worth, but after reading a trip review the other day from someone who couldn't understand the allure of the island, I just had to write. I've read that San Pedro is nothing more than a shanty town, that the beaches are dirty, the accomodations lacking, and the food either too expensive or not fit to eat. To those who feel this way, I respectfully ask that they not return and leave the island to those of us who love it.
I stayed at Banyan Bay during my stay, and each day I walked into town while my husband and FIL were bonefishing. Every step along the beach into town brought some new surprise and another reason for falling in love. The rusty old bike leaning against a palm; seashells encased in concrete, little birds running toward the water and then hightailing it back as the surf rushed up; the little boy with his bucket of fish, the school girls riding three across to or from school, their little faces wreathed in smiles; the shadows on the sand cast by the palms. I could go on and on. So many memories captured on film, but so many more held close to the heart and undescribable, so beautiful they are.
During our stay we visited the reef, the marine reserve, took a day trip to Caye Caulker, ate at Carambas and Elvis, enjoyed beans and rice from a little sidewalk stall. We met and visited with a truly delightful young boy, Jason, who told us about the schools, homework, helping his mother sell her jewelry, local information on any number of subjects. We met his dog and we enjoyed a good laugh when my husband took a candid picture of him "doing his business."
We drank Belikans and smoked Cubans and when we weren't walking the beach, we were weaving our way through the potholes on our golf cart, swerving between the locals, the taxis and others like ourselves having a grand ol time falling into the holes and coming out the other side still alive.
I watched the fishermen clean their daily catch, feed the rays that enjoyed the scraps, saw a little boy catch a nurse shark with his fishing pole and saved the memory of his huge smile and his mama's shrieks as he reeled it in. I have the memory of watching my husband and his dad enjoy the day and each other's company and talk trash each night over beer and cigars.
I wish I could put into words the magic of AC. I like my comforts as much as anyone else, but the island gives those willing to listen and experience the magic a longing to never leave. I would give up my big house and my fancy car and my professional career to never wear shoes again, to eat beans and rice and find love and happiness in an AC sunset. The magic of the island weaves itself around any who are willing to take a moment to embrace not only the beauty, but the imperfections as well.