It’s been a week since I came home from Belize, and it’s been an interesting couple of days. Much like other times I’ve come home from trips, it’s been difficult getting back into a daily routine. I spent much of the last week trying to be productive, but feeling a bit lost along the way.
From the moment I stepped back onto U.S. soil, there were a lot of changes I noticed from a cultural perspective. I remember buying a pre-packaged sandwich and a water bottle from the airport Saturday and being shocked to realize it had cost me $15 U.S. dollars! In Belize, the meals would typically cost $15 Belize dollars, meaning it was only $7.50 U.S. The meals from Belize were also made from scratch, and as a result, they were fresh and delicious. Sitting in the airport terminal eating a limp sandwich, it was quite the wake up call that I was home. The food from Belize is definitely something I will miss.
I will also miss the kind nature of the Belizean people. The employees of the Tropical Education Center (the place we were staying) made me feel welcome and at home, more than any other place I have stayed on trips. The people that I had the opportunity to speak to at the clinic showed me the empathetic nature of Belizeans and the love they have for animals. A local artisan that I spoke to while purchasing a necklace took pride in her work, and showed gratitude towards myself and my friends for purchasing her pieces and supporting local artists.
Another aspect of Belize I will miss is the country’s dedication to conservation and sustainable practices. Every place we went to eat, the discarded food was gathered to be composted. At the zoo, water bottles were collected to be recycled. Many single-use plastics that would be carelessly discarded by your average U.S. citizen were reused and revamped by the Belizean people. It made me think about how much of our culture in the U.S. is centered around materialistic things. In Belize, the people do not have access to the resources those in the States do, causing them to have a lot more environmentally sustainable practices. As a result, the people of Belize have been able to make the best out of everything they are handed, and do not take things for granted.
While I was on the plane ride back, I did a lot of reflecting on my trip and the things I have learned along the way. Ultimately, I came up with four important life lessons that my time in Belize has taught me.
Number 1: Accept the imperfections
There were a lot of times when I would feel guilty for complaining about things because going on this trip was my choice and I was supposed to be enjoying it. However, what I learned was that sometimes you will complain and that’s okay. The key is to keep yourself in check and not let your complaining upset the entire trip.
Number 2: Be present
Being in the age of documenting our entire lives, this is a tricky one. On the one hand, you want to enjoy looking at the Spider monkey swing through the trees, but on the other, you have to post a cute video of it for Snapchat! It is important for there to be a balance. While many people had their phones glued to their hands at all times to take pictures, I tried to give myself time to capture it through the lens, but then put the phone down to live in the moment.
Number 3: Be flexible
It’s important to remember things won’t always go as planned or as expected and that’s okay. It can be frustrating and disappointing, but sometimes the reality exceeds expectations. Or if not, it has the potential for a great story to tell afterwards.
And most importantly, for anyone planning to travel the world, or experience something for the first time…
Number 4: Be open
Don’t be afraid to try new things! Sometimes it won’t work out, but it’s better to say that you tried than to sit back and have regrets later on for what you could’ve done. Venturing outside of your comfort zone is never easy, but it is always worth it.
I have had an incredible journey these last few weeks in Belize. It was sticky, sweaty, exhausting, scary, amazing, heart-warming, fulfilling, and the most exciting adventure I have ever gone on. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. If you have been reading my blog posts, thank you for following me on this journey.