This post continues the retelling of my 2017 trip to Belize: participating in an archaeology field school and learning about jaguar conservation.
June 22, 2017 began the same as the previous day: with an early morning bus ride from San Ignacio to Belmopan. I was scheduled to meet with Karen of Belmopan Tiny Houses at 9 am, to see about moving there.
I pulled another Marcus Brody on my way to Belmopan Tiny Houses, which means I got lost. I called Karen to let her know that I would be late, and she graciously came and picked me up.
On our way to the tiny house location, Karen told me that she was an urban planner by trade. She had actually worked with the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) to help establish the Central Belize Corridor (CBC). The CBC is a strip of natural habitat that joins two large forest blocks in Northern and Southern Belize, allowing wildlife to move between the two areas. It is part of Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative, which is an ambitious project designed to connect jaguar populations throughout Latin America. The CBC runs quite close to Belmopan Tiny Houses.
When we reached the location, I was instantly impressed. A series of unique tiny houses ran along an elevated, horseshoe-shaped walkway: bordered by a gravel driveway on one side and an extensive lawn on the other. The whole property was ringed by a strip of native vegetation, which reminded me of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area that I had lived in for three weeks.
Karen showed me the tiny house that was available. It had a small kitchen, a bunk bed, a loft, and a bathroom with hot water. It also sat at the back of the horseshoe, affording me extra privacy. The tiny house looked like paradise to me, and I knew I wanted to stay there.
I hastily took a bus back to San Ignacio and returned to Bella’s Backpackers. I told the manager, Daniel, that I would be moving before my six-day reservation had ended. He graciously refunded me for the three days I would no longer be at Bella’s, reaffirming my confidence in his professionalism.
While lounging in Bella’s common area that afternoon, I met an Englishman named Jaime. He was enthusiastic and likable, and had just finished traveling through Mexico – partially in the back of a pickup truck.
Jaime and I got along well, so after dark we hit the town to sample some of San Ignacio’s much-acclaimed street food. I was not terribly impressed by the selection in our neighborhood, but the food I had was cheap and tasty.
We eventually wandered onto a street that was obviously designed for tourists, which turned out to be a mistake. I felt like a piece of meat in a lion enclosure: overzealous merchants and tour operators gave us little peace. There were plentiful dining options on this street, but they were all out of our price range. I could not help but wonder, is this what real tourism feels like?
Jaime and I shook ourselves free of that clingy street and returned to Bella’s. I was a little sad to be leaving tomorrow, because I had grown fond of Bella’s friendly staff and communal atmosphere. However, I knew that moving to Belmopan Tiny Houses was the right decision. That would prove abundantly true in the coming days.