Once again, I decided to escape the harsh Canadian winter and spend it in Guatemala with a friend. As usual, my trip wasn’t just one stop at a beach and an all-inclusive resort. Despite my intention to relax, I had come to realize that my trips are never quite relaxing but instead consisted of at least 2 long bus rides, some in chicken buses, hostels and street food. While this kind of travelling certainly isn’t for everyone, the experiences and encounters with local people make it all the more worth it.
I was unable to find a cheap flight to Guatemala, so instead ended up flying into Belize for 1/2 the price. My plan, if you can call it a plan was to fly into Belize, catch the bus to Guatemala and then go to Nicaragua. I had heard Belize was expensive and been on a student budget, decided to just use it as a one night stop.
I arrived at the Calgary airport and I knew it was going to be a good trip when they announced that West Jet was celebrating it’s 1 million flight to Belize and everyone was a winner! We all were handed a bag with one free hotel, a free week parking and a 20 dollar food voucher! After all these years of flying, I was finally reaping the benefits!
When I arrived at the Belize airport, it was about 20 degrees warmer while I waited for my ride to come. I had booked a night at the Red Hut Inn. A hostel bed for $20 US a night in the safer part of town (the north part). While I waited for my ride to come I met a couple of interesting guys from Belize. The guy was a soccer coach for youth and had travelled everywhere. Speaking with him brought me back to why I love travelling. Having the opportunity to meet someone from a different culture and to find out you have more similarities than you think is inspiring! Studying about intercultural competencies for my research certainly makes me more aware of why it is important to relax and just engage in dialogue with others. Before I had left, I must admit there was a part of me that was a little worried. I had read that Belize was dangerous and women should be cautious. While of course, it is important to be cautious, if you are too cautious and scared to talk to anyone, you may deny yourself an opportunity to learn about ourselves and others.
Finally, my new Belizian friend called my hostel for me (since my phone didn’t work) and they said they were on their way. I questioned if they forgot me, but nonetheless waiting at the airport for an extra 45 min had given me the opportunity to meet someone new. The driver picked me up and drove me to the Red Hut Inn-http://red-hut-inn-belize.50megs.com. On the way, he taught me a bit of Kriol (one of the 3rd Belizian languages) and then dropped me off. The Red Hut Inn was a fairly basic hostel, but good enough for one night. There was a large rooftop patio where a couple of American guys spent talking, a guy from Germany and a girl from Toronto.
Another thing I love about hostels, is while they may not be glamorous, they do offer opportunities to learn about other people and cultures In my experience in staying at hostels, hostellers are often more adventurous and willing to take risks, while saving money on accommodation and of course, the social areas are platforms for enriching conversations to take place.
However, my stomach took over and my first priority was food. Not wanting to travel far for food, the receptionist recommended a local Greek restaurant called Sahara Grill (
about a 10-minute walk so I headed there and had a lamb chop, rice and veggies a glass of red wine. Not exactly Belizian cuisine, but I’ll take it. Tomorrow, I am taking the bus to Guatemala city so this was my experience in Belize, but I will come here on my way back.