Belize is a beautiful country. But it’s most beautiful feature isn’t the world’s second largest coral reef, or the palm lined beaches in front of the caribbean sea, or the inland mountains carpeted with thick green jungle. Belize’s real beauty lies with its people.
On a recent trip my girlfriend and I had the opportunity to meet a handful of these warm and wonderful individuals that populate Belize. In Belize City we struck up a conversation with a fruit saleswoman who shared a few stories about visiting her sister in the States and arguing with U.S. immigration agents. In Hopkins, a toddler, the son of a souvenir shop owner, slapped my girlfriend’s butt and grabbed her hand in order to drag her to their house so he could play the drum for us and try to make us dance.
But the moment that captured the Belizean spirit best was when the bus broke down. We were traveling down the Hummingbird Highway on one of those ubiquitous repurposed school busses. The road was rough, as it often is in Belize. As soon as we were far enough along into the middle of nowhere, the bus started rumbling and shaking. Flat tire.
We pulled over near a small village school house, and nearly everyone got out of the bus. A few people were grumbling, but most were patient and took things in stride. A few of the passengers were actually helping the driver and his assistant change the tire. As the rest of us waited, random drivers passing by on the highway stopped and offered people rides.
You rarely hope to get a flat tire when traveling anywhere, but the combination of the gorgeous scenery, and the tremendous display of human kindness and generosity turned that flat tire into one of the highlights of the trip.