…I fell in love with San Pedro. Warm winds carried on the sea he called to me, te dijo te amo. I prayed that the days would last, they went so fast. Tropical the island breeze, all of nature wild and free, this is where I long to be, La Isla Bonita…
We all love this Madonna song right? It instantly transports you to an island paradise; listening to it you can almost feel the sun on your skin. Admittedly, I have sung about San Pedro countless times, but never had any clue what locale this song was actually referencing. That is until I started to research the first country on my SoleJourn. Turns out, many believe Madonna’s San Pedro to be the capital of Ambergris Caye, Belize!
Belize has been high on my destination list for at least the last 10 years, and I have started planning to go there more than once, but it never happened. I have always pictured myself tramping Belize independently, so I guess I was just saving it for the right time. Well, I think the right time has just about come. The perfect starting point for my journey, if all goes according to plan, I should be in Belize this time next year!
A very small Central American country, Belize still manages to house incredible diversity with something to satisfy everyone: beaches and island breezes, jungles, rivers, caves and wildlife. You can snorkel, dive, fish, hike, swing in a hammock or drum. A meeting place of Latin, African and Indian cultures, you can hear a handful of languages spoken and eat several different cuisines all within its 8,867 sq miles. With an exchange rate held at $2BZ to $1US, this is certainly one of the more expensive countries I plan to visit. So, hoping to get in a bit of everything and stick to my budget, about 3 weeks seems like the ideal length of time to travel around Belize.
While I have considered flying to Mexico, and then crossing Belize’s northern border by bus, it is more likely that I will fly directly into Belize City. Lack luster by all accounts I have seen, Belize City will probably serve as little more than a transportation hub: its central location and access to buses and boats traveling in every direction make it the perfect starting point.
From Belize City, I think I’ll travel north toward the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha, landing in Orange Walk where I can base myself for a few more of the sites that have made my must see list: ruins at Lamanai, and a Mennonite community in Little Belize. From there I will probably head north east to the Cayes (Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker) where I will get my fill of doing absolutely NOTHING and maybe some snorkeling, possibly of the Blue Hole. These northern Cayes, now pretty developed and a bit pricey, will quickly send me running toward southern Belize where it seems to be less developed by tourism and cheaper.
Traveling by boat or bus I could make my way down to Dangriga, Hopkins, Placencia, and the Southern Villages where I can enjoy more budget friendly prices and some of Belize’s laid back Garifuna culture. I hope to visit at least one of the Mayan villages before I head west toward the jungle for some exploring, eventually crossing into Guatemala.
While today’s San Pedro may be significantly less wild and free than it was over 20 years ago when Madonna first sang about it, I am ready to live that Isla Bonita life, nonetheless!
Stay tuned as I continue to dig up all that Belize has to offer!