Having been in town now for a few weeks, we are meeting some great people. Locals who have lived here their entire lives, tourist who are only in town for a few days, and expats who have made this quaint village their new home. It’s amazing how they work together to give back to this community. Having found this wonderful little bar and grill just off the Placencia Sidewalk; The Pickled Parrot, we are quickly feeling welcomed in the community and meeting some awesome people.
With a great atmosphere, this place provides a relaxing feel, wonderful food and the coldest beer we have found in the village! The owners quickly greet you with a warm welcome and serve lunch specials that daily fill their place with locals, tourist and expats.
Having dinner on Friday, we were told to make sure we come down to the beach on Sunday for the “Summer Beach Olympics”. A fundraiser by local Rotary club, who provides scholarships for local children and various other community needs. Uncertain as to what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised and it definitely reinforced the idea of how this community works together to support this village.
Local businesses, bars, Firefighters and tourist groups competed in activities, from Greased Beach Ball Relay, to Kayak Races and Human Foseball. The most entertaining was a game of “something to do with pantyhose on your head and knocking over water bottles”. When you add these entertaining activities to the breathtaking views and atmosphere on the white sands of Placencia………. how could this not add up to a nearly perfect day……and that it was!
A perfect day in Placencia Village!
While in Placencia, you will not find the enormous influx of tourist, especially in the low season. Another of the many reasons I’m loving this area. However, you will find some great beachside restaurants and bars. The employees are friendly, the beach is sandy and the beer is cold. What more could you want on a hot , breezy day in this beautiful beachside village. Three in particular are tucked together on a great stretch of sandy beach, just off the infamous Placencia sidewalk. Tipsy Tuna…… Cozy Corner…..Barefoot Beach Bar.
Each of these beach bars have great lunch and dinner specials. From live music, happy hours, karaoke and beach volleyball, you’ll definitely be pleasantly surprised at these great beach options.
Lessons in Belize!
I’m learning lessons each day…..some small, but nonetheless important, others large and very critical to an extended stay in this small country.
Belize is hot! After being here awhile, I’ve noticed the streets become quite abandoned during the heat of the day. Locals tend to stay indoors and tourists are tucked into local beach bars or in the nearest pool. Having learned this lesson with our new bikes…..ride early in the morning, or late in the afternoon.
There are several grocery stores….a few larger stores, several smaller ones, many carry the same items, many with unique items. So yes, in order to find everything you need on a typical grocery list, you will visit several of these stores. I’m discovering many of the daily tasks that I seemed to detest back home, have now become quite enjoyable. Grocery shopping in the states, consisted of shopping at the mega box stores and purchasing much more than you needed or would consume in a typical week. Stores were filled with hectic, stressed out customers always in a hurry. Here I’m learning to slow down and enjoy the process. The counters are lined with fresh tortillas, rolls and bread, made by locals earlier in the day.
Fresh fruit and juices are staples here ……no preservatives. Maybe this is why we are feeling so much better since we arrived. We love to eat, we eat allot, but it’s healthy and fresh. One US dollar buys seven bananas or seven oranges. Pineapples are around $2.
There are three produce markets within walking distance, each having a few unique items, so stopping by each one is typically a good idea. When I asked about fresh romaine lettuce and spinach…… “honey, those come in on Tuesday and Friday, oh…about 10:30 or so. Get there by noon, or it will be sold out.”
So to find what you need, may require browsing through the small grocery stores or stopping by a couple produce stands. Yes, this is a common task. I’m learning to slow down, enjoy the process and realizing, it’s ok…..it’s part of the experience and charm of living in this small Belizean village.
Lesson for this week…….if I want a salad on Wednesday……don’t forget “honey, lettuce comes in on Tuesdays”.
Unlike Ambergris Caye, where the main mode of transportation is golf cart, Placencia does have a number of cars, delivery trucks and personal vehicles. However, bicycles are a very important part of life in this small village. Most expats living in the village for a portion of the year purchase bikes. Living in Placencia, a bike can easily transport you to any of lifes necessary locations in a carribbean beach town……restaurant, bar, beach, fishing pier, grocery store. What more do you need? Many people have asked if we miss not having a car. No, I do not! I do not miss any any aspect of owning a car. I do not miss a car payment, car insurance, buying new tires, maintenance and cleaning.. So, no thanks, when we want to explore other areas of the county, we can easily rent a car….I’m fine with my bike!
My recent purchase of a new bike was similar to a child’s excitement with a new toy on Christmas morning. I couldnt wait to get air in the tires, attach the new wire baskets…..I was going to explore! With Placencia village being at the end of the peninsula, I decided I would venture up the coast, of course, having to turn around and come back had yet to cross my mind. Another mistake! By the time I was ready to leave, the morning sun and heat were in full force. Another “Lesson In Belize”…… if the locals are not out riding bikes in the midday heat…..probably not a great idea!
I head out with my new bike, a bottle of water and my 4lb chichuaha whose wondering why the hell I didn’t leave him in the house! I had purchased this great little doggie carrier….sort of a front pack instead of backpack…..great, he can see where we’re going, he’ll love it. He can ride in the basket or the or in the little front pack carrier…he’ll love it. He did for awhile, then decided he needed out. I think this was his signal for a bathroom break! I don’t think he was “loving it”.
Heading north and passing the airport, its quite interesting how the airstrip so closely borders the local road, requiring the gate that must lower and stop traffic for low-flying aircraft.
Passing through the village and you can venture down many of the side streets leading to the lagoon. Amazed at the beautiful homes being built on the lagoon side of the peninsula. Having excellent boat access and unbelievable sunset views, it’s obvious why this area is becoming so popular.
So exploring part of the peninsula, which turned into seven miles north, was strenuous but a beautiful ride. The panic did not set in until I suddenly realized I must turn around and ride the seven miles back! I was exhausted, sweaty and Floyd was no longer enjoying his doggie pack, nor the basket. Little kids and even grown men were pointing and laughing at him, as he did resemble a small squirrel on a bike!
Every trip we have made to Belize has been a breeze! Easy flight from Dallas to Belize City. Puddle jumper to Ambergris Caye on a 12 minute flight. Easy flight, no checked baggage, no hassle. Granted, this trip is a little different, as this is an extended stay in our new place and we have packed some necessary items that are difficult and expensive to find in Belize.
Having an early morning flight, several pieces of checked luggage, and taking a dog on an international flight, we decide to get a hotel near the airport. Avoid the last minute rush to the airport in Dallas traffic. We thought this was a great idea. Someone had different ideas.
Our adventure went something like this…..
Two taxis, three planes, eight pieces of luggage, a four hour layover, one missed connecting flight, a dog who desperately needs to pee in the Houston airport….you get the picture!
We arrive in Belize city, only to realize we are dangerously close to missing our connecting “puddle jumper” flight to Placencia. Oh yes, did I mention, it’s the last flight of the day. Southwest has open seating, so we strategically grabbed seats as close to the front of the plane as possible, knowing that landing in the small airport in Belize, you want to be off the plane first and get in the customs line as quickly as possible. Another strategic move….after we clear customs check, we have to pick up the checked baggage and have those cleared at customs. Oh yes, our dog Floyd, we have to have his paperwork cleared to enter the country. We now have 15 minutes before our connecting flight to Placencia. We decide to split up. I get the luggage, you get the dog cleared and we meet at the customs line. It’s going to be close, but we can do it!
Almost every time, we have been waved through customs, no problems. You guessed it, not this time. This is the moment I realize our ingenious idea of putting the fishing poles in the TV box was probably not the best idea! In my defense, finding this box in the attic solved the fishing pole problem. They fit perfectly, we can add t-shirts for extra protection. As you enter Belize, if you have new items to claim, you will pay duty fees. Of course, a new TV box, looks like you are bringing….. a new TV into the country! What was I thinking?
As the agents see us enter the customs area with eight bags and a new TV box, we are immediately waved into the “Items to Claim” line. No! This line takes much longer and we are dangerously close to missing our connecting flight. All eight bags, up on the table, unzip the luggage….anything to claim? No. But sir, this big TV box is not really a TV, it’s the only thing that would hold our fishing poles. Really, the TV box has clothes and fishing poles. I try to explain as they cut the box open, to yes, find clothes and fishing poles. They smile and shake their heads. I grabbed the tape, which I had in my carryon, (I guess I assumed they would check the TV box), taped the box….. grabbed the zipper on the suitcase, which they didn’t even look in after laughing about the fishing poles…….you guessed it…..the zipper breaks. I should have assumed this would happen with this “oversized $5 flea market suitcase” I bought the week before so we could take advantage of Southwests two free checked bags policy. The porter who helped load the luggage is aware we are trying to catch the last flight to Placencia, grabs the open suitcase, throws it on the other seven bags and runs to the check-in counter. I yell to him….”.that suitcase is open”.. he holds the top down and rushes to the counter. I had visions of my underwear being strewn throughout the airport. At this point, I really didn’t care. We make it to the counter where the very calm employee, just smiles and states,” sorry, the flight just left, the next flight leaves tomorrow morning.”
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. My suitcase is busted open, we missed the last flight out for the night, we have no hotel room and my dog desperately needs to pee. What are our options? We really don’t want to spend the night in Belize City, and most hotels wont take a dog anyway. If we can get a rental car, it’s a four hour drive.
Another strategic move….you run across the street and check for rental cars, I take the dog outside to pee. We meet back here. As I run out of the airport, taxi drivers are yelling….taxi lady??….no, I don’t need a taxi….. I need grass…..my dog has to pee!
No options for cars, but Floyd feels better, just as an employee says, “check with Maya airlines, I think they have one flight left for the day.” Thank You Jesus!! It’s boarding now, two seats left. They grab our TV box full of fishing poles, my busted, half zipped, flea market suitcase….I grab the dog and run to the gate. Yes, they were boarding and yes, there were two seats left.
We can now relax and laugh…..and we did!
The very unusual experience was well worth the hassle, as this is how I spent our first day in Placencia!
Lesson from Belize……..
Relax, it all works out! We arrived safely, provided some entertainment to the airport staff and learned some valuable lessons…..pack lightly….buy those cardboard tubes to transport your fishing poles……and pass on the $5 suitcase from the flea market!!