We decided to visit San Ignacio to meet Carina and see her place. It was a pretty exciting idea. We came to see the country, but also have plans to open a bed and breakfast/recording studio eventually… Somewhere.
Geri is definitely all about the beach, but the mountains are more my speed. Since the whole meeting felt like providence, she was still very interested in seeing it.
Spent the early morning working on an interview for ProSoundWeb. Internet is painfully slow here. T-Mobile moved into Belize a month ago, so it saved us a fortune on calls and internet service. My mobile hot-spot is moving faster than their internet, but still close to dial-up speed. Texting and data are free now and calls went to .20 per minute. I think it was over $4 a minute 2 months ago.
Also had to contact the other Airbnb folks we were staying. Had to shift our schedule to add San Iganacio. Everyone was very understanding and accommodated us.
That solved one of my big concerns with being here. I make my living on the internet. Bad phone service and slow internet would turn me into one of those distracting background characters Woody Allen like to use for photobombing scenes. Just another random person losing it.
Had breakfast with Donna at D’s Hostel one more time. Packed up the room and went to the bus station. The first bus out was full and we didn’t get in line fast enough, so we had to wait almost an hour. We also realized that we left our fruit, watermelon juice and Geri’s precious Mayan chocolate bars in the fridge. Crap. Hated to leave them, but didn’t want to sit in the bus station for another hour if we missed the next one.
(Still haven’t figured out how to take a natural-looking selfie. Geri looks great as always.)
Got on the bus and it was full. Geri sat in the back, I got pulled to the front because this one doesn’t allow standing. Another exhilaration hour and a half later, we arrived in San Ignacio. (Stay tuned, more fun on the subject of bus travel coming soon.)
San Ignacio has a beautiful downtown. Another one that reminded me of those small towns in the north Georgia mountains. A center island with something I assume was a visitor center or government office. streets running around it with shops all the way down each side. Small bars, shops and restaurants with the most amazing smells around us.
I kept texting and calling Carina with no response. After arriving in San Ignacio, realized that I didn’t need the area code. Got her, got picked up and drove around the town picking up kids and food from markets.
Drove about 12 million miles through the jungle to her house near Barton Creek Cave and archaeological preserve and caves in the mountains. Another road that felt like the surface of the moon. It was actually about 8 miles from town, but took almost 45 minutes to get there. Carina said that the road is scheduled to begin paving this year. Hopefully it will be done before our next visit.
Her house was beautiful. She has about 110 acres that is for sale. Health issues are making her consider an area closer to a major hospital. Her love for those kids and that land is making it a tough choice, but I personally think it’s for the best. (and yes, we have her contact information if you are interested, just message me. We loved it, but the draw of the coast is just too strong for us.)
The property is amazing. Jack fruit, breadfruit, mangoes, bananas and all types of flowers grow wild around her house. Spectacular views of mountains and valleys. Lush green land as far as you can see. Amazing place.
There is a beautiful river across the street that we became intimately acquainted with. Her well was down when we got there. (Sometimes the need for a bath is stronger than any sense of pride.) We ended up hauling water from the river to wash dishes and to flush toilets. (The new well is on the way, along with some other plans for making it more accommodating for guests.)
The property was already setup for a retreat. Six small cabanas line the other side of her property. Five for guests, one is showers and toilets. If there was a beach closer, we would have been open to living here.
She has a never-ending capacity for telling stories and experiences to back them up. We learned about her Olympic career as well as her time racing motorcycles. There was never a dull moment with Carina.
(You might be a hardcore cyclist if your bedroom has a carbon fiber racing bike in it.)
She also has three of the kids from her bicycle team living with her. Helen, Shawn, and Tyler are all good kids with tough stories and hard lives. These kids are over-comers. They could be taking the easy road and using their past as an excuse for a wasted life, but they don’t.
These kids are pumping that energy into dreams, fueled by passion, and an understanding of opportunity. The Belize Youth Club. Expect to see some great things from them.
(Shawn Codd from the Belize Youth Club.)
We learned more about the history and political condition of Belize than we have ever heard from anywhere else. She has been in Belize over 20 years. She speaks the local language, with the locals, and went through the local market like an auctioneer. We went to the house with 6 or seven heavy bags of produce, chicken and chocolate milk (the big treat for the kids) and spent less than $50 for several days worth of food.
Another side note: Everyone in Belize seems to believe in owning dogs. Not like pets, but more like security systems. She has several large dogs and a horse that believes it is also a dog. If the dogs are her security team, then the horse is the groundskeeper. He mows the grass, removes the fallen fruit, trims back low branches and provides the fertilizer.
He also tries to visit inside the house if the doors are open.
(I didn’t try, but he would probably play fetch.)
This was the most time we spent with a group of locals while here. It was a good experience and we learned way more here than we learned in a year on forums and websites. Do your research before visiting or making plans, but you need to be here to know what is really here.
We washed and hung our wet clothes on her clothesline. After a home-cooked dinner of chicken and rice with a cucumber salad (just rice and salad for the vegetarian here), we watched a few geckos chasing each other and making their weird chirps like tree frogs.
Slept upstairs, with the bicycle. Listened to bugs and birds and random animals all night. Storms moved in and the rain cooled everything off. Very pleasant evening.
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.