Belize: Small in Size, Magnificent in Memories


I am flying-arms outstretched, watching the world undulate below me.  Valleys and mountains rise and plants fan out in Technicolor brilliance.  My hair flows past me, wisps that escaped the trappings of my band. My camera is swinging gently in the current; I capture it for a picture, focusing on a minute detail that I would forget in the grand idea.  An animal flies by me, using its adaptations to look like it is gliding with effortless motion.  I try to use the camera to capture the majestic nature surrounding me, to catch the movement.

The current surges around me, a push and pull that I can’t ignore.  I come upon a taller bit of the ground; I reach out with my arms, try to keep my legs tucked, attempting to not touch anything below me as I glide through its branches, fauna flitting beneath and around me.  The pure, perfect turquoise blue is mesmerizing, unable to be captured by any photo.  The light reflections are blinding, but dance along the ground. I close my eyes and let the quiet surround me. Suddenly the peace is broken. I find myself gasping for air, pulling upwards, and attempting to expel the water from the last wave out of my snorkel tube.  My teammate swims up beside me, telling me that our guide had found a nurse shark within 10 meters of where we currently were treading.  I settle myself, take a deep breath, and fight the water current to reenter the world below the waves that previously were just seen pressed against the bubbled glass of an aquarium. I had seen so much during this trip that I never thought possible: bones of ancient beings trapped within crystal and clay, pottery standing broken in the thousands, underwater oasis both in the daylight and deep within caves.

There was white sand between my toes in one place, and hard rock in another as well as rainforests, fields, and underworlds. I had stood at the top of one of the tallest Mayan temples and smelled the wind perfumed with fields being burned for new crops. Belize, though small and monetarily poor, is rich in culture, history, and nature. The population is intertwined with each other and their past, attempting to find their way into the future while preserving all that already happened. A world where a lemon is worth a fortune and a pineapple nothing, and with a total population smaller than most small cities in the United States has found its way into my most poignant and peaceful memories.  When stress seems to overcome, I find my way back to the reef, or the top of the temple Xunantunich, closing my eyes in the water and the wind. It is there, in my memories, that I found myself grateful for the chance to travel, for the chance at peace, for the chance to experience a world so removed from my own. It is there, in my memories, that I find myself grateful for love and compassion, and a desire to try for so much more.

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