July 4, 2017 was the day I had to leave Belize.
I rose at 5 AM, since I had an early flight. To my surprise, Raj had gotten up before me to open the doors to his house. We exchanged fond farewells, and then I slung on my heavy packs and left.
The walk from Raj’s house to the Belmopan bus station, which normally took 15 minutes, seemed to go on forever. It was as if my body was fighting me: trying desperately to keep me from leaving the country that had been my home for six weeks. And it truly felt like home.
Nowhere else I had been, save possibly one, had I encountered so much kindness from so many people. The warm, jovial, and easygoing nature of nearly everyone I met in Belize made them feel like old friends. This applied not only to native Belizeans, but to tourists as well. The Slovenian couple I met at Casa Ricky’s stood out in this regard.
Then there was the jungle. I fell completely in love with the jungle: the sounds, the smells, the abundance of wildlife – I learned to cherish it all. Do not get me wrong, there are serious risks to jungle living. The chief danger of all, the intense heat, put me in serious jeopardy on my first full day at the archaeology school. But it was worth it.
For the above reasons, I was not the least bit excited about having to leave Belize. I was also not a fan of the small, northern California town I lived in at the time. Knowing that I had to return there made the walk to the bus station even more difficult, and I hoped that none of the passersby could see the sadness on my face.
I eventually arrived at the Belmopan bus station and boarded a bus to Belize City. I barely remember the trip from Belmopan to the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport. One way or another, I got there.
I went through security and entered the departing flight terminal. The waiting area was packed with presumably American tourists on their way home, some of whom had obviously spent much of their time on the beach (as evidenced by sunburnt shoulders and faces). Everyone seemed friendly enough, but I was in no mood for chatter.
I found a nice, isolated bench where I could sit and look pensive. Of course, given time even brooding becomes boring. I thus began to wander around the terminal, and bumped into a Belizean delivery worker. He was just as talkative and charismatic as everyone I had met in Belize, and we had a good conversation.
Unfortunately, before long the fateful hour arrived. I got on my plane – pensively, I might add – and began the long flight back to northern California. I took special care to look unapproachable the entire way.