As soon as we landed, we felt the pace of the country: a local band was playing some kind of traditional music in the airport and everything was moving at a very slow pace. It was an airport but, despite the obvious security, everything looked very relaxed, we had just arrived to the former British Honduras, now called Belize.
For those that don’t know (I didn’t before coming here), Belize is a small populated Central American country of 320 thousand people, that has not one nor two, but five ethnic groups with relevant numbers to the society. Half of the country is Mestizo (half Maya, half Hispanic), then the other half is divided in Creole (descendants mainly from African slaves but with Caribbean influence), Garifuna (also from African origin but with a complicated history), Maya (three of the main tribes, Mopan, Ke’chi and Yucatec) and Mennonite (German farmers). You walk on the road and see all of this mix, and when approaching someone you never know what language to talk, it can be Spanish or English or both.
We decided to make Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary our base for travelling in Belize, a place where we would work and learn, and come back after our trips around the country. Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is a natural reserve owned by a company focused on bringing together the wildlife and the youth, so during the high season the place is full of kids from local and American schools and in the low season (right now) is closed to public preparing everything for the next season.
We are allowed to stay here because we are also volunteers, and we joined two of the projects going on: re-organising the First Aid (Sara) and building new facilities (Joao), which we planned to do for two weeks.
First impressions of the country are very, very positive, kind and relaxed people, very eager to share their culture, and a melting pot of cultures that live in a peaceful way, which is a huge achievement. We’re curious to see what else is expecting us.