We’re getting settled back in after spending 6 weeks in Belize. 6 weeks!!!
It was amazing.
I posted our family’s trip throughout on Instagram but I want to give a recap plus share my recommendations here in more detail in case you were thinking of visiting a place like Belize. (WHICH I TOTALLY RECOMMEND.)
Here we go, and PS lots of photos!
So remember Madonna’s song “La Isla Bonita”? (“Last night I dreamt of San Pedroooo…”) The island she sings about is Ambergris Caye (pronounced am-BER-gris key”) which is the island we went to and the main town there is San Pedro. Half of the people visiting Belize go to Ambergris Caye. Think Mexico, Key West, Costa Rica, and a small touch of Hawaii rolled into one and that’s it. It really is a beautiful place.
To get there we went from Phoenix to Houston (2.5 hrs) then to Belize City (another 2.5 hrs) and then hopped on a small plane to San Pedro (15 min.)
The island is located just south of Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula. It is about 25 miles long and running parallel along the coast is the world’s second largest barrier reef, meaning there is coral and abundant tropical ocean life. We swam with sea turtles, sharks (!), moray eels, stingrays (eeek!), lobster, snapper and grouper, and colorful tropical fish. More on our ocean adventures later…
The national language is English so language was not an issue, but it’s not the kind of English we speak here. It’s called Kriol and almost sounded Jamaican to me. People understood me, but understanding them took a bit of time to catch onto. Many islanders speak Spanish, too.
We rented a condo on the beach through a realtor. At 3,000 sq ft, it was plenty of space for all of us and even for hosting friends for a week. We stayed on the south part of the island which was about 15 min away from the main part of town.
THIS VIEW daily from our pool. I mean….
Transportation is all golf carts. I drive an XL SUV and I basically had the island version of it with the three rows. It’s a BUMPY ride and running errands in it was basically a sport. Nope, no seatbelts or trunks. It took time to rev it up in the mornings and one time I ran out of gas and had to be towed home by the local police. Good times. Let me just say I will never take my car back home for granted again!
While we definitely were in vacation mode, we were also there for that long simply because we needed a place to “live” temporarily between houses. So we kept up with a lot of the similar routines and tasks from home. On most mornings, Russ worked remotely, Maddix did school work to finish her 6th grade year (we worked with her teachers to get assignments and projects in advance and she submitted them via email.) And Reese did reading and writing practice.
My favorite journal entry from Reese ::
Russ and I would take turns early in the morning going to the gym to workout. I’m so thankful we found a great gym, Belize Fitness. They opened up just two weeks before we arrived. My trainer, Rachel, sent me my workouts via the app FitBot and I’m proud to say I pretty much kept on top of it. It was the first trip I ever took that I didn’t come home feeling like I totally went downhill on fitness goals. YASS.
A few mornings I went out on our dock at sunrise and did yoga. Mostly, I did more of watching the sunrise and less of actual yoga.
Then the rest of the day would be swimming, going into town, excursions, exploring, etc.
As with any trip, my first thought is of FOOD. The food was a mix of Latin and Caribbean flavors like jerk chicken, rice and beans, snapper and grouper, conch fritters, coconut rice, fried plantains, tropical fruits, and tacos.
The local specialty for breakfast is rolled tacos.
You read that right – TACOS FOR BREAKFAST. That alone made this country golden in my book.
Back home I typically cook every day and we rarely eat out. But on the island it’s hard to grocery shop and easier and more economical to eat out at restaurants. That being said, we had a chef come and cook for us twice to have dishes on hand and I learned local recipes (coconut rice and ceviche!) and we had at least one meal a day at home.
Popsicles kept us cool during the day.
Coconuts are everywhere and people do use them for their fruit and water.
Roadside stands sold fruits and veggies and one stand also sold salsa and fresh pineapple juice.
NOTE – these are NOT bananas. They are plantains and apparently you cannot eat them raw. Just ask Paige LOL.
An amazing French bakery was in town, and the family that owned it happened to live right above us. Their little girl Ava became Reese’s friend and it was so cute watching them play despite a language barrier.
For Reese’s birthday the baker made her birthday cake, graciously opening up the bakery to do so on a national holiday. It was literally one of the BEST cakes any of us have ever eaten. Later I found out that this baker was the winner of a show in France called “The Best Bakery in France.” I mean…what are the odds.
Our favorite place on Friday nights was The Truck Stop, which is an outdoor complex with kind of a food truck vibe but with AMAZING food, a bar, ice cream, outdoor games, and family movie nights on Fridays. It allowed us to keep up with our tradition of Friday pizza night – just in a way cooler setting.
One of our favorite places was Mahogany Bay Village which had Russ’ go-to coffee spot to work at, a yoga studio, a cute salon, a chocolate store, and one of our favorite spots for lunch and dinner. Because the development was definitely catered to Americans and is a collaboration with Hilton and Coastal Living magazine, it was one of the only spots where we found foods we would find back home like black bean veggie burgers, fresh salads, and quinoa bowls. We loved all the local food, but it was nice to get a change sometimes from the carb- and meat- centric dishes. The resort/residence property kept the laid back Belizeian vibe in a beautiful setting. The kids loved playing and I loved hanging out there.
Coconut water iced coffee + cookbooks to read from their little library. My kind of relaxing.
Stay tuned for Part 2 with ::
- me and the girls’ island style (lots of coverups and color)
- our top excursions (like spearfishing for lobster and swimming with sharks) and
- lessons learned from traveling and “living” abroad as a family!