A holiday for the books.
Placencia, Belize. That was Yara and I's destination for the renewal of our 90-day visa. I hit my alarm clock at 5am on Monday morning, with no expectations. All I knew was nothing....I had no expectations. Only beach time, a couple of books, and a good friend. We took a bus from San Pedro to Puerto Cortez, where we were going to catch a boat first to Big Creek, Belize, then on to Placencia. When we arrived to Puerto Cortez we had some waiting to do, so we grabbed a coffee and sat by the water where we met some architect grad students heading on a different boat further up in Belize. We headed to immigration with the other people headed to Belize to get our passports sorted then we boarded the boat for a two hour ride. We stopped at Big Creek for immigration to look through our stuff. Then reboarded and 10 minutes later, docked in Placencia. We were greeted by natives without shoes. Lovely.
Stopped at the bank and followed a couple other people who were staying at the same hotel as us. And what is so cool about Placencia is there is a path way that runs parallel to the beach. On the closer to the beach side is mainly hotels and the other side are more hotels, restaurants, shops, and homes of the locals. Walked through a tunnel of flowers and branches to find our hotel, Sea Spray. Our room was really small. Too little beds and a bathroom jammed into a very small space but it was perfect for us. Set our stuff down and headed to the beach. I always forget how tired I am after traveling. And after a taxi, bus, and boat, I was exhausted. We decided to have dinner at the restaurant right next to our hotel looking out at the ocean, I had conch fritters....so yummy. Then headed to bed.
We both looked forward to sleeping in but HA! I don't know what it was, but the sound of the ocean, beautiful beams coming in our window, we couldn't sleep. So we got up and went out to the ocean. And lazed. One thing about Placencia, I came armed with my meager Spanish, ready to get my way around, but hardly any one speaks Spanish. The locals speak Creole and English. Oh! I loved the accent. Like butter!
As we lounged on the beach we met a Dutch boy, named Robert. Very cool dude. We had lunch at Pirate's Cafe, and made friends with our waitress, Lisette. Yara and I had started thinking about something.....a secret that will be revealed soon. We asked her if there was anyone local who could help us. And thus began our epic journey to find a man named Anton. This search would be one that would define our trip, meeting many twists and turns and full of interesting characters.
Later we met Robert for dinner at Pirate's again....cuz the food was just too good. I had Jamaican curry with coconut milk. So good. Then we headed to the Purple Space Monkey restaurant with Robert and met a local, Sean. A diving instructor who is on the path to becoming an official for the Belize government, a national policeman of sorts. Yara and I had our goal on our minds, so we decided to ask Sean if he knew Anton. He did actually. He was his cousin. Struck Gold! He called him but he wasn't answering. So we hung out for bit and then heard there was some karaoke going on, so we headed over. No singing for us that night, but enjoyed watching. We said goodbye to Robert and Sean and then Yara and I had a midnight swim, and consequently lost my shoes and then went the next three days barefoot: When in Rome!
Next morning we had a mission. So we set off in search of Anton again. I think we walked the city three times, we went by Sean's diving shop to see if he had talked to him. But Sean had left for Guatemala for work, so we asked his friends working there who said he hangs out near the Tree of Wisdom. We found his studio but the lights were off. We hung around the wisdom tree for awhile then decided to walk around and start asking again. Got a hot dog from a vendor. We walked by Pirate's again and the owner asked us how we were and how our search was going. There was a local sitting at the bar who overheard our conversation. He said, "Hey, I know where he lives, I'll take you to his house." So Devin, Yara, and I trudged over to almost right behind our hotel. We walked up and there he was ANTON! We found him! So, we asked him when we would be a good time, and made an appointment for 2pm the next day.
Yara and I spent the rest of the day on the beach and took like a two mile walk on the beach past many fancy resorts, happy with our little closet. It was starting to get dark, so we were going to take the road back, but this was easier said then done since I had lost my shoes. And the road was made of stones. So Yara started sticking her thumb out to passing cars and we hopped in the back of a truck to get back to town. (Are figuring out how cool the people of Placencia are? Amazing.)
Later we headed to the Tipsy Tuna to see a Garifuna band. Devin was there with a friend, David and taught me how to dance punta and asked the band if I could practice on one of their drums during a break. Still gotta a long way to go. Then we headed to Sunrise for more Karaoke and this time I did sing. I sang "Summer Nights" with Devin and "Mama Mia" with Yara. Brought the house down.
Then Thursday was the day. We woke up, hit the beach for a bit. Then were were on our way to Anton's. Anton has done work all over the city. His murals are in many of the local business and restaurants. He teaches art at the local school and renown for his tattoos. Yes. Yara and I got tattoos. *See pictures. And the wonderful thing about Anton, is he understand that his work means something. And he cares about how it is done, and it something he wants to be proud of and that it is a spiritual experience. Now I know this was a crazy thing to do. But what I got holds a lot of meaning for me. And after you see it, I think its pretty self explanatory. And really, there's no other way for me to explain my actions, except it felt right. And that is what I have to say about that.
The next morning we got up and made our sluggish retreat to San Pedro. It was a beautiful vacation, full of beautiful people, a fantastic traveling buddy, great food, music, weather, everything. Again, can't express my gratitude to God, for what is happening here, in me.
Below are some of the pictures from our trip.