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Friday, February 28, 2014

Hello from Belize!

Hello from Belize! It feels nice to lay in bed writing at the end of a great day. Yesterday afternoon we arrived in the southern part of Belize (after two days of boats, buses, and taxis). We really like the laid back beach vibe here in Placencia. Life is slow and relaxed with a perfectly typical Caribbean temperature. We've overcome the last of the rainy season and tourism rates are now at their highest.

placencia belize
Having fun on the beautiful beach
Our room is simple and cheap but we fortunately found it easily once arriving in Placencia. Last week we tried, too late we learned, to book accommodations throughout Belize for the next two weeks and got turned down by over 15 places! Sometimes you just need to get "boots on the ground" (as my husband would say) to get things in order.

For $20 USD a night we've rented a room with a double and single bed, small private bath with hot water, and a very powerful fan (staying at Eloise Travel Lodge if you're curious). We're close to The Sidewalk, the popular area of town with beach front access. For those who are familiar with Wasaga Beach (shout out to Canada!) I'd say Placencia is similar but better -- reggae /pop music playing everywhere, not too crowded, very clean (Belizeans take a lot of pride in maintaining their environment), and everything within walking distance. I definitely like staying in this part of town.

Matthew put up our mosquito net which makes our bed feel a bit more luxurious (at least from the inside)
Today we woke up around 7.30am and went north for a walk along "The Road".  If you're wondering why these names are in quotation marks, it's because that's what they're known as, simply The Road and The Sidewalk running parallel to each other and the beach.

We spent the afternoon at the beachfront Barefoot Bar, a colourful and friendly restaurant with an excellent internet connection (much faster than Honduras!). We had $3 Carib beers (for him) and $3 Bingo Bags (for me -- coconut rum with pineapple and mango juice) along with a fish burger and tostadas. Though we were very relaxed and low-key in Utila, staying in Placencia feels more like your typical vacation experience with the beautiful sandy beach and colourful cabanas. 

Tonight we hit up Omar's Creole Grub for a fabulous seafood dinner (lobster in butter and garlic for him and creole style grouper for me... though I definitely stole more than a few bites of his dish!). Today is the last for the lobster season throughout Central America so we decided to splurge and omg was it worth it!

We're in Placencia for a few more days before going to Belize City. After that it's off to San Ignacio to see Mayan ruins then east to Caye Caulker to go snorkelling along the Belize Barrier Reef. Follow me on Instagram to see real time updates and photos. Until next time, sending much love and peace y'all. (Sorry, reggae vibes taking over, ya know how it is...)

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

2 Tickets on the Vomit Comet Express

How to travel from honduras to belize

After a month in Utila, Honduras, my husband and I indulged in many lazy daze on the bay (literally, that was the name of our guesthouse) interspersed with a daily snorkel session and walk through town.  Our stay on the island was coming to an end though, which meant a kick in the pants for our day-to-day pace of life.

How to Travel from Utila, Honduras to Placencia, Belize

On Sunday morning we started our two day trip from Utila, Honduras, to Placencia, Belize with our backpacks, bottles of water, and snacks for the day. At 5.45am we walked to the Utila Princess ferry dock to buy tickets for the 6.20am trip to mainland Honduras (by the way, the ferry has been relocated to the eastern part of Utila Town until Sept. 2014 while they are repairing the main dock). Each ticket comes with a complimentary tablet of anti-nausea medicine, which leaves little mystery as to why this ferry is affectionately nicknamed the Vomit Comet.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Day in the Life

8am -- wake up to next door neighbour's rooster who likes to crow incessantly starting at 5am. Within a few hours its sound has permeated my sleep bubble. Matthew is often returning from his morning jog and about to hop in the ocean to swim laps. I smartly choose to remain cocooned in bed. What happens when you don't ignore the rooster? Exercise, that's what.

Occasionally we'll both sleep til 8 or so then together we'll go for a normal person's definition of an early morning walk.

About to jump into the ocean after a run

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What I'm Wearing: Black and White Maxi Dress

Coco & Simone black and white maxi dress / Caribbean Joe turquoise sandals via Sears

When packing for Central America I knew I wanted to include a dress that was a bit more modest (with sleeves and past my knees) in case I needed to cover up or just step it up a notch. When I came across this black and white chevron print maxi dress, I knew I found what I was looking for (on Instagram no less!). The fabric is soft, thin, and stretchy so this makes for quite a comfy dress! With its bold pattern, accessories aren't really necessary.

I used the discount code INSTACOCO to get 15% off, which ended up being the equivalent of shipping to Canada. I've only worn this dress a couple of times so far but anticipate getting a lot more use of it as we head further south into Central America where modesty and fashion come more into play.

Or... I just wear it anyway and live up to my reputation of always being a little overdressed.

via Etsy
Linking up today with Karly Kim / Glossy Blonde / Style Elixir

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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Struggling with the Feeling of "I Should"

I arrived in Honduras with a wicked cold, the kind of cold that takes three days of build up just to reach its pinnacle before knocking you out of the game for another two days. I was excited to finally reach the island of Utila, where we planned to stay for the next month, but my energy was completely zapped. The only thing I was up for was reading books. Lots and lots of books. I didn't even want a glass of wine to accompany my reading time, which if you know me is saying a lot about how sucky I was feeling (clearly my vocabulary didn't benefit from all that reading if I'm still using adjectives like 'sucky').

It's been almost four weeks that we've been in Central America and I'm currently on my ninth book. At the beginning of our trip I felt incredibly guilty for this. The first few days in particular, when I wasn't up for much of anything else, I read four books in a week (The Happiness Project & The Divergent Trilogy, for those who are curious).

Rehab in the afternoon, Utila, Honduras
My extra happy face
I didn't love the trilogy but it was fast-paced and kept me entertained. It was so similar to The Hunger Games though that I was thisclose to putting it down. But then the feeling of "I should" came creeping. I struggle with feeling like I should finish each book I begin. Especially now that I download books, I don't always have a way to flip through the pages catching little snippets of dialogue to see if the plot and characters are interesting. But I feel like I should finish what I begin, even if I'm not enjoying it. Completion will be rewarding in itself.

A couple days later, I was lying in a hammock watching the reflection of the water dance across the roof of the porch and despite the tranquility of the moment, I couldn't help but feel the weight of obligation. I should be doing more. Who goes all the way to Central America just to read? Why don't I go swimming or biking? Kayak to the cayes off the island? Go diving? I feel like I should be active! Do more! Make memories!

Wall mural Utila Honduras
Getting off my butt to go exploring. Where does the door lead?
Scuba diving in Utila Honduras
Coming back from my first dive
That nagging feeling also extends to social situations. I mentioned in yesterday's post that your social life in Utila tends to revolve around whichever dive shop you choose. Most travellers come to Utila to scuba dive, but the shops also rent out snorkelling gear, kayaks, and charter boat trips for whoever is interested. All of the dive shops partner with guesthouses to provide accommodations, bars, and/or communal areas. The majority of people who come to Utila are my age so by all accounts you'd think I'd fit right in.

I suppose it's not really a matter of "fitting in" though, but more so that I'm just not really interested in partying. The social scene here reminds me of university. I had a fantastic time going out in university but things are a lot different when you're not single nor interested in drinking your face off. On top of that, Matthew has difficulty hearing so loud atmospheres are tough for him. I feel like a snob sometimes because we decline group invitations all the time. I enjoy quiet time with my husband, watching the sunset, having dinner, and going to bed before midnight. That seems to make me an anomaly with fellow backpackers in Utila, but I'd rather hang out with M than anyone else. He's my bestie, what can I say?

Those low-key days on the bay led to some quiet introspection and for me I think it comes down to the realization of accepting my likes and dislikes instead of trying to pursue what I feel I ought to like. Not every day has to be go-go-go. If I want to hang out in a hammock during the blistering heat of the afternoon, enjoying a book and relaxing quietly, then that's okay! I like socializing, but prefer smaller groups where I can be involved in conversation and not just yell in someone's ear. I've met some really interesting people, I just tend to meet them on my terms.

Perfect afternoon
Enjoying the sunset, reading a book, sipping a mojito
I hope this post doesn't sound like I'm complaining. I'm just airing my thoughts and trying to work things out to myself. As I become more in tune with who I am, it's freeing to release myself from these self-imposed obligations. The phrase "I should" is such a buzz kill for me. What I've turned to instead is simply embracing the freedom of hanging out in Central America and experiencing life in the moment. I don't have to actively "make memories" by orchestrating activities. Memories can be made just by having fun.

Do you also struggle with the feeling of "I should"? How do you overcome it?

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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

10 Things You'll Learn When Visiting Utila


1. Sand flies are everywhere. Bring lots of deet-filled repellent and use it often.

2. Your social life will likely revolve around whichever dive shop you choose. We dove with Alton's Dive Center and I would definitely recommend them to others. I'll be writing a post about my experience learning to scuba dive so look out for that soon!

3. You'll hear lots about the Skid Row Challenge and you'll see the tank tops everywhere. What is the challenge, you ask? Skid Row is dirty little bar on the main strip that offers a free shirt if you pay 10 bucks to take four shots of moonshine-like liquor. The bar is small and dank with a rowdy and kind of tough crowd, but the challenge is notorious. So many people are sporting their tank tops on this island and I just don't get it. I'm reminded of Macklemore's lyrics in Thrift Shop -- "having the same shirt as six other people in this club is a hella don't." Plus, I already have enough clothing to carry as it is.

Photos of Skid Row's, Utila
Picture of Skid Row, courtesy of Trip Advisor
4. Nobody wears helmets. Ever. Also, it’s quite possible to fit five people on a motorcycle, scooter, or ATV. No big deal.

5. Things aren’t quite as cheap as you may have been expecting.

6. The ferry gets cancelled whenever the waves are deemed too rough, which seems to happen fairly regularly. We ended up flying over to the island because of bad weather (despite keeping our fingers crossed for the cheaper option!).

flying to utila honduras
Getting ready to fly to Utila on a single prop five seater plane
7. For a country that’s the #1 producer of bananas in the world, it’s surprisingly difficult to find bananas on the island of Utila! I'm kind of a banana snob as well and hate when there are any brown spots/bruises but have learned to put this aside if I want to keep fresh fruit in my diet.

8. Hondurans on the mainland speak Spanish, but locals of Utila actually grow up speaking English. Spanish isn’t taught until they reach grade school. Despite the fact that it’s English, I only understand about 60% of the dialect. The Utilan accent sounds similar to a Barbadian one.

9. There are very very few stop signs (suggestions, more like it) and no traffic lights on the island of Utila.

10. There aren’t any posted road names. I have a lot of the respect for the postal workers and food delivery men around here!


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