Tag Archives: Ambergris Caye

Giving Back to Belize

19 Sep

As a parent, I feel that one of my many responsibilities is to teach my children about compassion and  giving back to others.  It is no secret that American children have it really good.  We live in a land of fancy stores, well manicured homes, and a great education system compared to much of the world.  Most American kids don’t really understand the reality of true poverty.

So, when it comes to teaching my kids this concept, it can be hard.  I, like so many parents, can easily  get caught up in our daily life of material things and stuff.  We are a society caught up in iPhones, video games, and celebrities.  It is truly a difficult task  for our young people to see beyond that.

While vacationing abroad, I always make a point to stop at a local school, village, or library.  In past years, I would stock up some needed donation items to distribute to local charities.  Our family would show up to distribute our donations and my kids would love the attention and praises of being told how kind they were.  Honestly, this attention would overshadow the meaning of why we were there.  I never had much success with impacting my kids for more than the time it took them to get their next virgin pina coloda.  I really wanted to make an impact in their  young minds, but have had little success in the past. On our recent summer trip to San Pedro, Belize, a different approach was attempted (this tactic was somewhat by mistake, dictated  by luggage restrictions).  We showed up empty handed, except with a basketball from our local University, and thought we’d send a monetary donation after returning home.  The focus of this visit turned away from my kids and onto the true meaning of the less privileged kids of Belize.  The visit was all about observing and really seeing the needs of the children who attend this tiny school.

The reality of  the struggles this school in Belize faced was a sobering experience.  The soccer field was dirt, buildings sat over a swampland,  and the level of poverty shown in the homes near the school property was unlike anything we have ever seen.  Yet with all the obvious obstacles this school faces, they have amazing success in educating some of the poorest children in San Pedro.  After spending almost an hour touring, learning, and asking questions. my kids were impacted.  They left quiet (which NEVER happens with my crazy bunch) and asked questions for hours.  I knew they were impacted.

Upon returning home to the U.S., my kids genuinely wanted to give back.  They decided (on their own) to donate many of  their old toys and sell them at a yard sale.  With the help of some donuts and juice, they were able to raise $75 to send to the school.  They were on a mission and deeply touched by their experience in Belize.  My youngest even asked for his birthday, instead of a remote control car, to send that money to the kids in Belize.  It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps! Most importantly, they were looking beyond themselves and felt like they were giving back to the kids of Belize.

So my goal, as a parent, is much more then just this one small school in Belize.  The bigger picture is what I hope for with my children.  I hope to raise compassionate adults, who realize that the impact of  giving can touch so many lives.  I hope that as adults, they too will find the importance of giving back and teach their children to do the same.  If every parent could just pass on a little bit of this way of thinking, our world would surely be a better place!

Click HERE for more information about Holy Cross Anglican School, Belize

Tropical Paradise

27 Aug

When I was planning our 2012 summer family adventure, I was looking for something unique.  Something a little more adventurous than the typical beach vacation and a way to expose my kids to some new experiences.  I wanted my kids to do things that were beyond anything they could have ever imagined.  Through hours of research and planning,  I finally decided on Belize.  Having already made a trip to this tiny country (minus the kids), I had a good idea of what to expect and thought that it would fit the bill for my active brood.  I was right.  The kids had a blast, enjoyed some amazing experiences, and even learned a bit along the way.  Mission accomplished!  Our adventures in Belize began in the jungle and continued with some “chillaxing” on the island of Ambergris Caye at the Coco Beach Resort.

Coco Beach was the perfect tropical family resort.  Two bedroom condos, amazing pools (with an unbelievable climbing and sliding structure), swim up bar, and a staff that loved kids (or at least faked it really well).  I will admit that Coco Beach was not the easiest place to get to.  The trip started on the mainland, included a quick puddle jumper flight over to Ambergris Caye, a taxi to the dock, and lastly a quick boat ride to the resort.  While getting to this tropical paradise was a little draining for me (ok, totally exhausting), it was all part of the adventure for the kids.  They were totally fascinated with the 12 passenger plane and the a boat doubling as a taxi was totally amazing.  The minute we arrived to Coco Beach, the torture of the long and hot day became a distant memory.  This resort is fabulous!

With my kids being so programmed to associate beach vacations with boogie boarding, Belize was quite a surprise.  To be honest, at first my kids were upset when realizing that Belize was not going to be like other beach vacations.  There are no waves, so playing in the surf and boogie boarding was off the table.  After about four thousand complaints about the no wave situation, the little monsters finally listened to all the other great things that Belize had to offer.  Swimming with sharks, petting sting rays, spear fishing, sailing, and exploring the island on bikes or a golf cart.  The kids were sold on Belize and never looked back.  We spent the days keeping active and the evenings out exploring the town of San Pedro.  Perfect combination of activity and relaxation!

Ambergris Caye (and the Coco Beach Resort) was total paradise for the whole family!  By the way, if you’re wondering…yes, that is my kid swimming with an 8 foot shark.  No lack of adventure in Belize!

Belize Getaway

15 Jun

In honor of my upcoming family vacation to Belize this summer, I’m feeling inspired to share my amazing experiences in Belize for Flashback Friday.  Just about 3 years ago, somehow I convinced the grandparents to watch my kids for a week (I’m sure this commitment was made after a fairly large consumption of wine) so my husband and I could get away for an extended break.  We took full advantage with a 9 day break from the kids and daily routines of life.  We headed to Belize with no kids, explored 2 very different regions, and had an absolute trip of a lifetime.  I’m not really quite sure how I ended up taking our 1st and only week away ever  to this tiny Central American country, but it was a decision that made travel my passion. Many people would ask why Belize?  I can only imagine that I came across it by chance and our airline flight miles made the final decision.  Perfect fate.

Let me first start off by explaining my family.  I grew up traveling a bit and enjoyed the family adventures from my childhood.  Still to this day, my parents are a couple of crazy jet setting retired folks.  Travel and adventure is in my blood.  My husband on the other hand, not so much.  He grew up in a small town alongside the corn fields and hog farms of the Midwest.  His idea of a travel was taking a 2 hour road trip and an international destination to him was Tijuana.  So when I booked our 1 and only getaway, since becoming parents, to Belize I was a going out on a limb.  (I say one and only, because I was pretty confident that the grandparents would NEVER do it again after spending a week with our “angels”).

As we were landing into this simple and relatively poor country, my husband was busy looking and watching out the window.  He looked at me in shock and said something along the lines of  “where the hell are you taking me?  Why didn’t we just go to Hawaii?”  At that moment, I promised him it would be great, but I really crossed my fingers and hoped more than you can imagine that my research was correct.  I was pretty confident in my planning of our Belize trip, but I knew that my role in my family’s future for vacation planning was riding on this decision.

Well, it all worked out and overly exceeded our expectations.  This tiny little country in Central America is a true gem.  Situated on the Caribbean, you get a Latin American feel, with a flair of the Caribbean culture, and add a dash of Mennonites (yes, as in the German religious folks that don’t use electricity).  Unique, diverse, and amazing.

We started our trip off with a 90 minute drive to the Ka’ana Resort in San Ignacio (a region near the Guatemalan border).  We were stunned by the beauty and detail that was put into this resort.  Over the next 4 days, we explored and learned.  We visited Mayan ruins, caves, and dined on some of the most amazing foods we had ever experienced.  You truly felt that you were the only people at this fabulous boutique resort and I loved every second of living the life of a celebrity.

After our Jungle adventure, we hopped on a quick 20 minute puddle jumper off to the island of Ambergris Caye.  This busy little town still has dirt roads, filled with golf carts, restaurants, and gift shops.  The Caribbean Sea was as blue as pictures showed and our hotel, Victoria House, was perfectly situated just far away enough from town for relaxation, yet close enough to enjoy the hustle and bustle.

The last half of our trip was spent lounging on the beach, exploring the town of San Pedro, enjoying oceanfront massages, and of course taking advantage of Belize’s incredible water activities.  Being that I am not a scuba diver,  snorkeling and fishing  filled our desire for new adventures.  Under the sea was better than I could of imagined…sting rays, sharks, and bright colored beautiful fish.

So, I’m off again to the beautiful country of Belize, but this time with 4 wild, crazy, and adventure seeking kids.  I know it won’t be nearly as relaxing (actually it won’t be relaxing at all), but there will be plenty of adventures and stories to tell.  Reflecting back…I think I picked the perfect place for our summer adventure.  More posts to come, but with a wild & crazy family twist!  As they say in Belize…you’d better Belize it!

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