by Ali Wunderman
I spent all of February on the ground researching and writing my first ever cover story, 3 Perfect Days in Belize, for United's in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. I'm beyond grateful to have been asked to write this feature, but the real story here is the people of Belize who worked hard to get me everything I needed with only a week's notice in the middle of the pandemic with a very small budget. This story is for you guys.
For those wanting to understand why I've fallen so in love with Belize, I believe the introduction I wrote can help explain it:
"Belize is a place that evades stereotypes. It’s neither completely Central American (the national language is English) nor entirely Caribbean (it seems as though there are no all-inclusives in sight). Rather, this tiny country of 400,000 people finds its footing in its diversity, blending the customs, cuisines, and communities of people from Maya, Kriol, Garifuna, and mestizo backgrounds, to name just a few. Even the landscape eludes uniformity, with island-flecked cerulean seas contrasted by the dense rainforest, its jade canopy obscuring countless stone ruins and networks of caves, where the entrance to Xibalba (the Maya underworld) is said to be. And, thanks to an unshakable commitment to conservation, wildlife is found everywhere, which is why Belize is home to the largest concentration of jaguars in the world. While crisscrossing from happening Ambergris Caye to adventurous San Ignacio to gentle Placencia, you may pick up on the spirit of individuality left over from the original pirate settlers—and end up finding yourself as well."
There isn't enough room to thank everyone who made this story happen, but I'll do my best! In San Pedro I need to give a shout out to Nick Lighter of Matachica Resort, Ben Popik and Jacqueline Musante Feldman of The Truck Stop, Melody S Wolfe of Paint N Splash, my BFF Mary Rodriguez for tagging along with me, and Rebecca Coutant for your insight and recommendations.
In Cayo, my dear Cayo, I must thank Steph X Elena and the whole San Ignacio Resort Hotel for hosting me, Cameron Boyd of Black Rock Lodge for serving me breakfast and birds and then taking me in, Roni Martinez for taking me birding and being such a legend, Angela Wu of Belizing.com for helping me get around, Zhawn Celso Poot for driving me and hanging out with me. Davina Bedran and Aldo Pineda thank you guys for taking me to the palapa during the only 4 hour break I had in 10 days.
And in Placencia, Martin Krediet of Turtle Inn for the amazing boat ride that ends the story, and Celso Sho for twice sharing the scarlet macaws with me. Doyle E Gardiner and Annelise Hagan you guys get a special shout out because I love ya (also DTOURZ Placencia - Doyle Gardiner is in the story).
Belize is such an incredible place, I hope you all will read my story and consider taking a vacation there. But perhaps you can glean from this post; it's really the people that make Belize so worth visiting.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, I and so many people worked incredibly hard to bring it to life.
Get the full works here! https://www.hemispheresmag.com/three-perfect-days-belize/
Day 1 Hemispheres’ article describes Wunderman’s visit to San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. She awakes at the beautiful Matachica Resort and Spa north of San Pedro. Her visit takes her to the Belizean Melody Art North Gallery, where the talent of local art can be appreciated. The Belize Foods Tour was another fantastic experience as Felipe Paz guided her to sample delicacies from the various restaurants in downtown San Pedro.
Day 2 sees Wunderman flying over to the mainland in a puddle jumper. As she makes her way to the mountainous western Cayo District, a stop is made at the Belize Zoo. “I’m especially entranced by Da Queen and Panama, a pair of massive harpy eagles that look like holdouts from the Jurassic period,” writes Wunderman. After the stop at the zoo, the road trip continues until she was dropped off at the San Ignacio Resort. An upscale boutique property overlooking San Ignacio Town, Cayo. Wunderman gets to one of Belize’s most popular towns on a Saturday. This is an excellent time to head to the San Ignacio market featuring open-air stalls with infinite options of Belizean products. “The diversity of produce astounds me; locals casually pick up various fruits that I couldn’t even begin to name,” she writes.
After spending a day in scenic San Ignacio, Wunderman is up for a birding adventure on the third day with guide Roni Martinez. The next stop is Black Rock Lodge, still in the Cayo District. On the way there, they see two keel-billed toucans-Belize’s national bird. After enjoying some delicious Belizean breakfast of fry jacks and coffee, they head out to try to spot some feathery friends. The birdwatching yields a surge of winged creatures, including a red capped manakin and a flock of aracari. Martinez names each one of the birds zipping by. He can even fire off names by listening to their twitting when they are out of sight. At the end of the third day, Wunderman returns to Placencia and joins a lagoon tour, and winds down with a glass of Sophia’s Rose. The tour leads to the newly opened Placencia Yacht Club to ideally observe the last rays of the day. “The sunshine, wildlife, and good vibes of the past few days have brought out the best in me,” Wunderman says.
She ends the three perfect days toasting to another beautiful adventure with Belize’s beer-Belikin.