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The most surprising country ever.

Posted on by Brita Schumacher
In all honesty, Belize was never on my “list.” The pictures I had seen on Facebook showed beautiful clear waters with friends scuba diving and snorkeling. Don’t get me wrong, I love some beautiful clear water and tropical vibes, but when I travel, I also crave a little deeper cultural component with a side of adventure.
I had been to every country in Central America except Belize and with direct flights out of Charlotte, Belize it was! Sunshines, can I tell you I have never been more (pleasantly) surprised by a country in my life.
Belize is the size of Massachusetts, but it huge in diversity.
Diversity of landscape:
There are over 900 Mayan sites in Belize!

 60% of Belize is covered by jungle, making it one of the most forested countries in Central America. Therefore, it is home to exotic animals like jaguars, tapir and monkeys.(Remind me to tell you about my crazy night hike to look for jaguars. Seeing a jaguar still remains on the bucket list!)
Belize is also a world renown birding destination for those midlifers among us, like me. (lol) In all seriousness, I have never seen so many resplendent birds like toucans sweeping over my head as I drank my coffee with a pool and jungle view in San Ignacio. Can I got back to that moment right now, please?!
Remember those tropical islands with crystal clear waters? There are plenty of those too. In fact there are over 400 cays! (pronounced keys)

We loved snorkeling among all the colorful tropical fish and my boys swam with giant turtles and sharks. Andy and the two older boys also spearfished. I could never, but I sure loved the lobster and conch dinner we had!

Caves: I cannot leave out the caves! Canoeing in a cave was one of the favorite things we did in Belize.  There are 1,400 caves in Belize some filled with ancient Mayan artifacts and even human remains like the famous ATM cave.

Languages: The official language in Belize is English, but I was so excited to also hear Spanish, Kriol, Garifuna, Maya and old German (Plautdietsch).  
Oh my goodness this is my favorite part of Belize! I had no idea the diversity of cultures.
Creole: Blends of African, Europeans and indigenous influences. You really get the Creole vibes on the cayes and in Placencia from the language to the food.
Garifuna:  In the 17th century West African slaves were brought to the Caribbean and their descendants intermixed with Indigenous peoples creating a distinct culture. Today they contribute their unique language, dances, and cuisines to Belize.

Maya: The Maya people in Belize may not retain their traditional dress, but they certainly maintain their way of life. Dotting the Southern landscape are roofed homes and Mayan families. Visiting a Mayan home is so special!

Mennonite: It is the coolest thing to be driving in a jungle landscape and see a horse and buggy bumping along with men in overalls and big hats and the ladies in long dresses and bonnets. English is their second language and as they are pretty isolated most retain their old German language.

There are also Chinese, Lebanese and of course Mestizos living in Belize. It is truly a kaleidoscope of cultures, and the most beautiful part is how they live and interact in complete peace and harmony.
Money: Did you know not only is Belize primarily English speaking, but also the U.S. dollar is the currency.

The food! Oh my goodness I love the food in Belize from the fry jacks, to conch fritters, to the coconut rice, all the fresh seafood, rice and beans with a heavy dash of Marie Sharp’s hot sauce.
Oh gosh, I forgot about the waterfalls! Belize is dotted with waterfalls. My family decided to cliff jump and swim in a waterfall. I was having a mild heart attack, but they the best time ever. 
Have I sold you on Belize? Small but mighty, there’s a reason I went twice in 2023.
I have two different itineraries for Belize. Should I share them?
Have a great day-sending you Belizean sunshine!
Xo, Bree