- 28 October 2001
28 October 2001 – Expect little and Belize will be a gem. Beach and jungle lovers – this is your paradise. We opted to spend our time in Belize City, though, where there’s a super slow pace. Sunday is almost dead, but as we walked the dusty, paved streets, jovial locals – with English-speaking accents sounding Jamaican, American and British – greeted us frequently with, “Welcome to Belize” or “Enjoy your stay in Belize”. At the swing bridge, which some say is the biggest action in town when it is opened by hand twice daily for boat traffic, traffic can get a bit congested, but not once did I hear anyone toot a horn. No one is in a mad dash here.
Service at the restaurants we’ve visited is much the same way, slow, but steady, and the seafood, especially the highly touted red snapper, is delicious, albeit a bit pricey. We took a taxi tour around town and after a couple of hours, Charles, our driver and guide, told us, “Well, you’ve seen it all”. He’d pointed out the police station, municipal hall, sports center, the old Colonial officers’ house and a few other places that most wouldn’t describe as destinations for tourists. And, he proudly pointed out the healthy tree that Princess Margaret planted a couple of decades ago, on what is now called Princess Boulevard. During our tour, we noticed several signs for car services, food and church even, in Chinese as well as English. We’re told that many from Hong Kong bought Belize passports when the island reverted from Britain back to China.
I’d read about St. John’s Church, the oldest Anglican church in Central America, and asked Charles to swing by. “It’ll be closed until this evening,” he told me. No matter, let’s visit, we told him. Sadly, St. John’s Church’s better days are a distant memory. Inside, the simple plaques and memorials do little to inspire awe and a slight refurbishment of the wooden pews means the entire interior is coated in thick sawdust. Most of the people in Belize are Catholic, not Anglican, even though the British ruled here until 1981. A new casino in the capital city of 77,000 people is another destination for visitors; we stopped by and saw mostly well-dressed casino workers, standing idly by the scores of blinking lights on the slot machines.
After exploring Belize City via the taxi and walking many of the streets, I sat outside a café and found time to write postcards. That’s the best part of Belize – there is time to do everything.