After a rather intense period of activity on my heroine’s quest to achieve my Vision of Success a.k.a. working, my inner voice told me I needed a sabbatical. I was feeling fatigued and run down (both early signs of burn-out)! I was also mentally and spiritually tired because in the quest for my Vision I had been doing too much striving, which leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. This dynamic can become very unhealthy and dare I say, even a bit insane. Luckily when this happens I know where to turn.
The second step of Alcoholic’s Anonymous‘s twelve steps states, “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” I needed to strengthen my spiritual connection. One way I know to strengthen my connection with my Higher Power (my Goddess) is to completely unplug from the world and get back to my Self. Given this, I decided to take a mini-sabbatical, a month-long solo retreat on Ambergris Caye, Belize! Trying not to be too ambitious (less striving return), I’ve set only one rule and four intentions for this adventure: 1) painting (because it’s something I enjoy but haven’t done any new landscapes since these), 2) contemplating Book III of my Adventures of Isabelle series, 3) getting my Advanced Open Water SCUBA certification and of course in between all of this 4) doing some serious chillin’ which means beach time, eating, napping etc. The rule? NO WORK ALLOWED!
Thanks for joining me on this phase of my journey! I hope you enjoy it and come back for more! This post like many of my travelogues will combine my musings, written descriptions and video compilations of the gorgeous sites and sounds as my adventure unfolds so check back every couple of days for updates and in the meantime please enjoy my first vid: “Getting Here!”
Days Zero, I and II: Recon, Grocery Shopping and Ak’Bol
I arrived Belize City late morning on Wednesday cleared customs and got on an earlier Tropic Air flight than I had scheduled headed for San Pedro. The 15-20 min flight in their little island hopper is a thrilling ride with a gorgeous view of the multi-hued Western Caribbean ocean below. I was met at the San Pedro airstrip by the driver for the house I’m staying in while on the island. Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed in his un-airconditioned mini-van taxi cab was how bloody hot and humid it is. The last time I was here was in the winter season and I immediately began to question my intelligence in choosing to come to Belize in mid-August! At first, I asked to stop to get groceries to take to the house but after a stop at a grocery store that only had Folgers and Kirland’s brand coffee, I decided to just get to the house and worry about groceries later.
Soon I found myself on a sandy “dirt road” apparently approaching the house (for privacy reasons I will insert house name and link after my sojourn). We entered the house from the beachside and after a cursory introduction to the house, the driver was gone. I stood looking around the living room kitchen area where he had unceremoniously dropped me and my luggage. It’s a lovely little 2-bedroom house. I quickly found the bedroom because I knew this was the only room with AC which was blessedly on and went and sat on the bed to collect myself. Eventually, I dragged my bags into this sanctuary from the heat and opened the bags intending to unpack. After not sleeping the previous night and a 6:00 flight this morning out of Dulles it didn’t take me long to abandon “settling in.” I conked out till the next morning!
Thursday was about recon and getting settled but the first stop was coffee. Luckily for me there is a neat little coffee shop called Marbucks attached to the Daydreamin B & B across the sandy lane from my place. I also ordered what was to be my first of many breakfast sandwiches (egg, cheese, spinach and avocado in a plain bagel) and ate and drank taking in the lovely little place with its central pool which is more like a fountain in which you can swim.
After breakfast, I was off in my little golf cart, rented for the month. I headed about 5 mins north first to check out (Ak’bol Yoga Resort) a place where the owner of Marbucks had told me I could swim off the pier, then south to town. After crossing the tiny Boco del Rio bridge I was officially in town. I drove down Middle Street taking in all the sites and sounds of San Pedro before turning around somewhere near the airport and heading north along Front Street which took me past the open town square where two years ago I’d danced in the New Year with my then-boyfriend. I saw the town pier and recalled sitting on it, my feet dangling above the water eating chicken and rice from a takeaway container while a spotted eagle ray glided through the water just below us. It had been relatively cool then compared to the sweltering heat in which I now found myself.
Next stop, the little grocery store on the circle in which a statue of St. Peter stands surrounded by all sorts of marine life. Provisioned up with coffee and breakfast fixings I hightailed it home to finish unpacking, shower off and lay in my air-conditioned room to cool off. I ended the day returning to Ak’Bol Yoga Resort for a very satisfying dinner taken on the sand in front of the bar while looking out at the sapphire blue Caribbean sea.
Day XIII: Having Too Much Fun to be Blogging Daily!
August 27: I’ve been on Ambergris Caye 13 days now and a few days back I realized it simply isn’t realistic for me to do a daily blog. I can’t do everything I want and relax and blog daily so instead I will write little periodic updates with the things I most want to remember and take away from this amazing trip. (I made recordings of my memories and they are transcribed below with the dates on which they were made.)
August 17: Laying outside on my deck moon bathing. I’m struck by the fact that I will probably miss the wind most of all. Moon bathing, being buffeted by the wind, watching the black palm tree dancing wildly, animated by the wind, the moonlight glistening off its fronds as they slap in the breeze imitating the sound of rain.
A Pictorial Gratitude List
August 24: Driving into my little sandy yard with my Breadfruit and Almond trees I’m struck by how much I am going to miss this little wooden house on Ambergris Caye and that there are certain things I want to remember. I want to remember today: painting all morning then going for a late lunch at Ak’Bol, the sweet taste of the stewed chicken, the first taste of coconut milk in the rice and beans hitting my taste buds, the sweet ripe fried plantain, that feeling of bliss. I want to remember laying on my back in the yoga palapa out on the water while the wind gently caressed my legs. Swimming my laps in the warm Caribbean waters then just snorkeling, playing with the large crab with one claw valiantly ready to do battle with me, painting his one good claw at me and even jumping up making a stabbing motion at me, a mammal about 100 times his size and how this made me laugh! Chasing a yellow stingray who glided among the sea-grass. Ending my swim holding onto the wooden algae-covered ladder looking at the little tiny baby stripped sergeant major who I could not believe could be so small and all of the little beautiful hermit crabs with every variety and shape of shell with their colorful spider-like legs.
August 28: Yesterday I took a drive out to Secret Beach (see my video review below). What I don’t want to forget is the excitement I felt driving through the mangrove swampland; so wild and untamed and how on the way back I just had to stop because I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of God’s world. Of course the thrill of seeing an alligator gliding along in the water next to the road once back in some semblance of civilization (was on paved road by that point). I had not swum at Secret Beach instead drove straight to Ak’Bol on my return to go for a refreshing swim and to get the road dust off of me. When I plunged into the water off of the ladder I was stunned to see a very large Loggerhead sea turtle right in front of me! He/she was about 2.5 x 3 ft and covered in algae and had several remora of all different varieties and colors hanging on to it. In my excitement, I made the mistake of immediately trying to swim down to it which send him flying off to quickly vanish in the blue murkiness of deeper water! Why did I do that?!
After my lovely swim, I lay in a lounge chair looking out to sea as the Sun began to make her exit for the day. Two brown pelicans came in to view and my eye was caught by the fact that they were flying in tandem! Following each other’s every movement; soaring banking against the wind, circling, going higher, gliding then finally both plunging toward the sea, beaks pointed down, wings drawn in. They made very little splash as they entered the water. The larger of the two came up with a fish but his partner had to duck his/her head under again to come up with a fish. Since pelicans do not have sexual dimorphism and because they only mate for a season and even then only nest together, I had no idea if what I was witnessing was a male-female couple, just two friends or something else entirely but I enjoyed imagining a romance where they enjoyed the ariel ballet of a tandem flight followed by a tasty seafood dinner!
My Review of “Secret Beach” (not so secret)
August 30: The smell of burning trash, which will forever transport me to my childhood visits to Jamaica, roused me from my sleep this morning in time to greet the dawn. Because I had not smelled this pungent smell before from inside my house I got up to investigate. Stepping out on my front porch I was met with the sight of a water-color landscape, the sea like glass reflecting the most gentle hues of blue and rose pink! It seemed all about me was stillness until I became aware of the rustling and scurrying in the bushes of the animals waking up. Birds were singing and twittering to one another and gliding past heading south as if they had to be in town early to open shops. As I took the stairs onto the beach and out to the sea wall crabs scurried away and a large grey iguana ducked back into his hole. I stepped along the concrete wall to sit on one of the pale yellow wooden lounge chairs and as I did I saw two slow-moving hermit crabs in beautiful shells clinging to the edge of the wall that ran perpendicular to the shoreline. I tried the chair closest to me with my hand and found it dewy so I squatted on it to regard the lightening dawn. For some reason, early mornings in the Caribbean always make me think, this must be what the first mornings on earth were like. In too short a time the mosquitos found me easily on this windless morning and ruined my peace (as they always do!) so I quit the shore and hurried back to the safety of my elevated dry porch. From here I watched what I assume was a mating dance between two small birds. One would advance a bit and the other back up then they circled and repeated the process each time getting only incrementally closer to one another. The dance seemed interminable and as the tension (for me grew) I suggested audibly that they “get it over with” but I don’t think they heard me because when I finally went back inside they were still hopping and popping around.
September 7: I will not soon forget the amazing times I had SCUBA diving, both my training and pleasure dives. I’ve compiled some highlights in the below video. If you wish to see more vids check them out on my YouTube Channel @TheSuccessDoc