Most of my friends would describe me as the antithesis of a backpacker, so when they learned I was traveling by myself through Thailand, Australia, and Bali, they were in a suspended state of shock. When I returned home from my travels unscathed, refreshed, and oddly, with a slight Australian accent, my friends knew I had hit my life’s stride in traveling. So when my University friend, MK, asked me to join her backpacking through Belize, I excitedly responded, “you betta belize it.”
One month later, we arrived at our first location in Belize, Caye Caulker (Caye is a fancy word for island). We arrived by way of speedboat from the mainland, where we sliced through the aquamarine waters feeling the warm breeze hugging our faces. Immediately, we were transported into vacation mode. After this truly enjoyable water taxi ride, we arrived on the tiny caye whose coastline was decorated by bright-coloured buildings. As I looked out from shore, the beach was lined with wind-surfing boards, and I felt innately cooler simply viewing these. Backpacks in tow, we meandered our way through the little town where my eyes locked on a tortilla-making shop. This place got about 15 points more awesome—so far everything on this island was agreeing with me. That was, until we reached our accommodations.
In aesthetics, which is what initially drew us to this particular bungalow, it appeared the tiny building had character—it was rustic, unique, and set amidst palm trees. It was propped 5-feet off the ground by bamboo stilts—kind of like a tree-fort. Little did MK and I know that it would be our worst nightmare.
The precariously steep ladder to reach our refuge may have succumbed to the colony of termites residing on it, as it seemed to be crumbling away. The actual house itself was only accessible by applying a hybrid dance routine where we simultaneously jigged the key in the socket, while rhythmically hip-checking the door. When we finally walked in, I kid you not, a parade of beetles crawled past our feet to exit the building. And the best/worst of all: a large iguana was perched like a proud peacock on the patio, challenging and taunting us with its beady little eyes. My luxurious Belizean vacation had somehow turned into something out of a National Geographic documentary.
So my friends, my advice when backpacking in central America (unless you like the creepy element of surprise) do your research. Lonely Planet books, youtube videos, website reviews, twitter feeds, and now Instagram photos.
I am somewhat proud to say we actually toughed it out for 2 nights in this animal’s paradise before throwing in the towel and upgrading. But like any bumps in the road while traveling, it’s a story to tell. If anything, the experience brought my friend and I closer together, and moving forward we had such gratitude when our next accommodations, which we carefully selected after much research, was animal-free.
**Angela Urquhart is a certified yoga instructor, tourism manager, wellness ambassador, and writer. Her debut novel, Dramatically Zen, will be released this upcoming October. Please “like” her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dramaticallyzen. Namaste!