Belize (ex British Honduras) is a tiny, independent state of Central America, on the Northwest Caribbean coast, with a population of just 380,000. The Mayan civilization flourished on this land until 1200 AD. followed by Spaniards and Britons who explored and conquered the area. It was a British colony, known as British Honduras, until the independence of 1981. The official capital is now Belmopan that was built after 1961, when a major hurricane destroyed the old capital of Belize City, which continues to be the most important commercial and population center of country. Belize’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems are rich in biodiversity and include tropical forests and the famous Mesoamerican Coral Reef, the second largest in the world. Belize is the only country in the region with an official English language..
The friendly and welcoming locals of Belize, with their rich cultural heritage and diverse backgrounds, add to the country’s charm and make visitors feel right at home. The official language is English but they consist a diverse mix of cultures including Maya, Creole, Garifuna, and Mestizo.
Belize is a small country that boasts several interesting locations, including Belize city, the charming San Ignacio and the beach town of Placencia. There are also some stunning islands like Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, while the nearby Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is a natural wonder that attracts visitors with its rich marine life and world-class diving opportunities. In Belize there are also important monuments of the Mayan culture, such as the archaeological site of Lamanai, Xunantunich and Altun Ha.
From Chetumal, Mexico, after a thorough check by border guards with a trained dog, we board a boat bound for Corozal and from there to San Pedro, on the island of Ambergis Caye, an exotic destination mentioned in Madonna’s song La Isla Bonita. After the necessary formalities and passport stamps by the kind official of this English speaking country, we arrive at the ultimate destination which is the island of Caye Caulker. With few US dollars to exchange with local Belize dollars in this expensive country, we look for accommodation in some of the low budget, basic and far from clean wooden huts, painted in bright colors. The vibe of the island takes you to an authentic Caribbean charm. The dreadlocked locals’ breath smells of rum from miles away, and at an open-air restaurant the owner asks me if I want any “special services”. I ask him what he means and he replies: coke, marijuana. I politely refuse and he repeatedly apologizes. Definitely no hard feelings. The island does not have any substantial sandy beach and the turquoise waters that surround it are more accessible at some artificial points. The point called “Split” is a narrow channel that divides the island of Caye Caulker in two. The waterway is the result of Hurricane Hattie that hit Belize in 1961, causing great devastation throughout the country. A bar with Latin music welcomes travelers. But the most important reason why we came that far, is the underwater world. After inflexible negotiation, with a cost of $70 per person (including food) we board a sailboat that will introduce us to the amazing beauty and fauna of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.