As I stepped down from the stairway of the small commuter plane onto the tarmac at the Belize International Airport, which is almost a laughable joke, I took a deep breath of fresh air. How frickin sweet was that? My litmus test of every country I have traveled to, is what it smells like, which in many cases is crap..literally. For me I have found many third world countries lacking is sewerage containment and treatment facilities which translates into what I call stank!
My first experience and I can tell you, majority of experiences I encountered while traveling extensively throughout Belize, was fresh air. Walking the streets of San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye, with the sounds of golf carts, enticing smells coming from outdoor grills and friendly smiles from locals put relaxation on my brow.
Now don’t get me wrong, when visiting Belize, you are entering a world that has almost stood still compared to most countries. Dirt roads, multi colored shacks, and shops lining streets reminiscent of my days in the streets of DaNang during the 60’s. What is different here is the lack of that feeling that at any time someone would snatch your wallet, or like DaNang, be happy for that M16 ! This country isn’t that kind of world, rather just a tourist town with some petty crimes for the most part. More about that later.
But let’s not rush into that world, because that wasn’t where I started this adventure that I want to take you on. My first week was spent on the mainland of Belize, on it’s Southern Coast area just below Dangriga. I was on the Discovery Tour of Sanctuary Belize, a development of over 1500 homes in what I would call the Ultimate Expat Community in Belize. The owners have set up four day tours of the property, lot’s available and the present facilities available for groups of about 20 potential owners each week.
As we landed on the small private resort runway for the Kanantik Resort where we were to stay, I saw the single van sitting by the runway. The small commuter plane taxied down and parked in front of the van, something I have never experienced. We were shuttled to the resort, and greeted at the welcome center for check in, then guided directly to the poolside bar..oh boy, was I a happy boy now.
After following the porters who delivered our bags to the hut where we were to sleep, we joined what I thought were other guests in the pool. As it turned out, these were actually employees of Sanctuary Belize David and his wife Julie, our hosts for the four days, along with Jeff who works for BuyBelize.com. It didn’t take long to realize how much fun these guys were, but I had no idea how our relationship would change over the next few days.
As time went on, more of our group arrived and the conversations flowed between us. What were we expecting to find out about Sanctuary Belize, what had we heard, hoped for feared. Although most of us had done our research, there was still the stories of the failure of previous owners, now in jail. We discovered that for most of us, we were looking for the same thing, something better than we were seeing life’s trail leading us back home. A safer place for our retirement funds, better cost of living, a community feeling where we could all work together to survive comfortably, and friendships.
Sort of like the living in the days of the Pirates, cutthroats they were, but loyal to the point of their swords.
Was Sanctuary Belize that place ? Time would tell. Tonight was just about the group of us getting to know each other, and hear an introduction by David and his clan. In the morning after breakfast, we would be taken by boat to Sanctuary Belize, and the adventure will unfold.
My plan with the next group of articles is to give a day by day experience of what I learned about Sanctuary Belize, what exactly it was, is and will become. I will share the facts, my fears, and what could change the rest of my life, and possibly yours if you choose to seek sanctuary.
After the blogs about Sanctuary, I will proceed with daily blogs on my two weeks on the island paradise of Ambergris Caye and Caye Calker ( pronounced key btw). You see, my plans included visiting the entire island, looking at prospective home sites, business possibilities, the politics, medical facilities and meeting as many locals and Expats as possible. Even if I don’t decide to move onto this island, I want to look at it as my “Getaway” from the mainland, just as Hawaii has been for me on the West Coast. I also wanted to make some long term friends here, and learn about all the resorts and restaurants. After all, I am a Travel Writer, and there is always a story out there and an editor looking for one.
So..take your seagoing medications, and get ready to board the vessel mates, for your first voyage to Sanctuary Belize. Oh what surprises are in store for you next time we meet.