Ambergris Caye, Belize's largest island about a 15-minute flight from Belize City, wakes up around 5:30 a.m. The sun begins peeping over the morning cloud cover, highlighting the way for men on their morning commute.
For eight days, Len and I had yet to see the sunrise during our time away, but on this day, we were on our way to the airport to fly home. It was our first look at the early-morning activity that had eluded us during our sleep-in holiday.
The mode of transportation all over this 25-mile-long island, the golf cart. Not the mighty ATV or carts found at posh clubs, but ones that took a good 10 minutes to start - that is, if there was no rain the night before. We laughed many times, that this place is where golf carts go to die. For most, it's either the bicycle or the golf cart or two feet. Few cars and trucks ride the dusty streets of this busy city. And when you happen to meet one on the small thoroughfares, you inhale and hope that you have done so just enough to squeeze the golf cart through the tiny space it has been allowed.
This morning, cart after cart meets us as we make our three-mile or so journey into San Pedro. The mask mandate is strict here; even in outdoor spaces, the mask is required and only eyes connect with us with these early morning risers, and sometimes, a nod of the head greets us. Hardly ever does a person ride a cart alone; three or four men in long sleeves make their way to the north end of the island (the Mexico border only 18 miles away) where a variety of construction projects progresses at an island pace. A juxtaposition of dwellings sit on the north end; multi-million dollar concrete homes, massive resorts with intimate two-person bungalows, an abandoned beach bar (once named the best in the world) a victim of the pandemic, and then, the small weathered shacks with clothing drying in the morning sun while children sell coconuts to anyone who will stop. Then, there's the sargassum - a brown algae which is seaweed to me - that frames the beautiful coastline of the Caribbean changing the pristine white sandy beaches attracting tourists into layers of brown and black mush repelling all, everyone with the exception of puppies who, for some reason, find it a delightful playground. Removal becomes a full-time, hands-on job for the residents and resorts, and even at an electric pace, the next day shows little progress from the day before. Along the road, we watch men who are shoveling head-high mounds of seaweed from a wagon hitched to their golf cart into ditches along the northern road. This has been one constant during our time in Ambergris Caye - the great seaweed elimination.
We feel sure that by the time we return home, a chiropractor will be called to snap our back into place - golf carts are not meant to glide on dirt roads which are basically a series of endless holes or across patchy cement downtown streets. However, the open air frolics did me a world of good, and we made it a game as to who made the most optimum, obnoxious sound as we bounced from hole to hole.
It was our first trip post-pandemic, and it was needed more than air. With a COVID-19 test before we departed and one before we flew home - plus masks and common sense - we didn't fear. Fear would keep us home, and that would never do.
Was it annoying wearing the mask on a plane? ABSOLUTELY. Did we do it? ABSOLITELY! Did we complain? ABSOLUTELY!
Were we happy? ABSOLUTELY!
Here are some of the best moments of our trip - ones that were brief but contributed to the fact that we are now rested and one day, will return to Belize. There's so much more to do, for we only touched the tip. For a week or for a lifetime - as many people we met were making happen - you better be-lize it that it's a great destination to find the best in the world.