Monday, February 15, 2010


There are times in everyone's lives when the scales fall off your eyes and you realize how petty you really are. You grumble and complain about the snow which makes biking hard or even impossible, when all around the world billions of people have never even seen snow. You go to a restaurant that you don't like because your friends want to, the whole while muttering under your breath about the swill they are making you eat. Yet there are quite possibly people in your own neighborhood that go to bed hungry several times a week. This post is not meant to make you feel guilty; what I want to tell you is how blessed we are. We live in a prosperous country that is ran by law and order with full grocery stores around every corner. We have shelter from the snow and the cold as well as closets that are packed with clean clothes. Could we really ask for more?

During my recent trip to Belize I saw a totally different view of the world.  Yes I have seen pictures of babies with swollen bellies and ramshackle huts with no running water or toilets in magazines, but you soon get so used to such graphic images that you become callused. If you actually visit these coutries and view the huts with your own eyes and smell the raw sewage running in the gutters the experience is very different. Here you cannot put aside the magazine when come across something you can hardly stand to look at. We as Americans have been in our little bubble of comfort for so long that we quibble and gripe about the most trivial things, why can't we just got along and be thankful for the plenty we have?

One thing that amazed me was the bizarre juxtaposition of bueaty and squallor. Coming into Belize City to land the sea was the deepest shades of blue and greens, it looked like I was going to be landing in a paradise. Upon landing reality forced itself upon my senses. Trash covered the streets, broken down and vacant homes were everywhere.

After an hour of dodging refuse, stray dogs, and beggers you were able to find a beautiful open air market with selection and quality that would rival many American mega marts.

John, Derek, and myself were able to stay in the guest home of a Mennonite mission who is ran by Weston,  a friend of mine since childhood. We didn't do too much touristy stuff but we were able to make it to some Mayan ruins as well as briefly visit Guatemala. The view from on top of the main pyramid was breathtaking after many months of dreary skies and snow.

Guatemala, although similar, was in many ways a different country. Instead of relying of bicycles for transportation most people had motorbikes, many of which looked to be in good shape and rather new. In Belize most people speak Creole which is just broken English. We went from being able to understand the natives to having no idea what they were saying about 100 yards past the Belize-Guatemala border.

This town was obviously a place that tourists frequented because there were shops lining both sides of the streets selling everything from drink coasters to hammocks.

In an indoor market I came across two brothers practicing their soccer skills

Nothing is more iconically American than Coke

When we look at other peoples and coutries we have a hard time finding common ground, but we have to look no further than children to see that we are more similar than we know. If I could go back in time 15-20 years this could very well be me learning to ride a bike or playing with trucks in the dirt.

If you look closely enough you can see she is playing with a Hummer.

Single-speed rigid Third World style

In stark contrast to the squallor of the cities of Belize is the landscape.  Especially coming from a state where the only thing I have seen green in months has been pine trees was a bit of a shock.

One pleasant suprise was that the food wasn't near as bad as I thought it would be, in fact it was rather good. I do believe that rice, beans, and chicken would get tiresome after thats all you had to eat for months on end.

In Belize I saw many people overcoming and coping with situations that would have most Americans curled up in a ball crying. From this I realized that even when we think we have it bad there is someone that has it much worse and is quite possibly having a more fulfilled life that we are. So quit whining and be thankful for all the blessings you do have!

As I touched down at Dulles International Airport I felt joy from finally arriving home, but at the same time a sort of sadness. I had come home with killer bee stings, fire ant bites, not to mention the multitude of other bites from countless unidentified insects, but I still couldn't wait to go back.

1 comment:

Adventure Monkey said...

Great post - thanks for the reminder!