“It is getting dark and starting to rain! All the hotels will be full by now. You guys shouldn’t be on the street at night!” warned an old lady who had been watching us from above for the past 10 minutes, as we stood in a circle, looking around at each other asking the same questions in different forms in the light sprinkling of rain.
“What should we do?” (Are we screwed?)
“Lets try that dirty looking hotel over there” (Nah, but we might be?)
“Or that one?” (I think we’ll be okay…but broke)
“We’ll ask both and see which one is cheaper” (we cant be that screwed)
“What if they’re full?!” (what if we’re screwed?!)
“Where are we going to sleep!?”(are we screwed?!)
We had just arrived in San Ignacio. We said our parting goodbyes to our beloved Caye Caulker—a fun and lazy little island where we spent the last couple of days walking barefoot and drinking rum and cola. As one of our friends noted, “It’s one of those islands that just suck the time away from you. Someone asked us how long we had been there and we couldn’t believe a week flew by when we did absolutely nothing! We knew we had to get out of there [as comfortable as it is!]”
The hot bumpy 2+ hour bus ride from Belize City to San Ignacio was mediated by the lush landscape we drove through. A beautiful site with massive green trees, near and far, high and low, passed by our windows.
San Ignacio is like the delicious melty chocolate core of a Ferror Rocher that is Belize.
And by that, I mean it is awesome. There are so many things to do from this city. Hang out in the Mayan ruins, go kayaking, white water rafting, Iguana Reserve, waterfalls, cave exploring, inner-tubing, forest hikes—there are so many cool things to do from this place! San Ignacio is surrounding by the forest, so climb up a tall hill to enjoy the view of the unknown world that exists in that green madness.
Our first day in San Ignacio consisted of finding accommodation. The (only) hostel in San Ignacio was fully booked /temporarily closed (DRAMA..see future post), and now we needed a place for $15 Belizean or less, which was a bit difficult since the rest of the accommodations were bed and breakfasts or hotels that were also full. We arrived about an hour before the sun set which (as was apparent to everyone) was not very convenient nor safe for us young travelers.
I’m sure we looked like an incredibly easy target. Two girls and two guys; Jack and Java sent off to ask for prices while Sarah and I watched our luggage under this lady’s balcony.
“You kids need to be careful here at night!” she preached again.
“Yes we know, but the hostel was full and now we’re looking for another place to stay!” We yelped back at her.
“If you can’t find anything, you can stay with me! I live alone and I have extra space!”
We all looked at each other wide eyed.
“You can stay for free. I am not trying to make money off of you; I am just worried about your safety!”
She invites us up to check out the place, Jack and I go in to scope it out. Jack almost gets eaten by her huge growling muscle dog guarding the door.
The nice lady had two extra bedrooms, one with a single bed and the other with a single bed and a hammock. She had a small couch as well. We decided to take her offer (and poor Sarah slept on the tiny couch in the living room by her own insistence!)
We met her lovely (and incredibly intimidating) dogs: Queenie (okay this one wasn’t very intimidating) and Prince.
After a short chat we tell her we are starving and will go buy some dinner. She tells us we are welcome to hang out inside or on the balcony when we come back if we like.
We made friends with the workers at this joint because the food was absolutely delicious.
Our host went to sleep early while we played some more card games and invested in a nice Belizean rum on her balcony. Cautious of our noise level, we soon went to rest our adventurous little minds.
The next day, confused on how to repay her, we offered to buy her some food but she said she lived simply and needed nothing. We talked about Belize, her huge family (I believe she said she had 12 kids! Explains the motherly instinct!) and the trouble she sometimes gets helping out poor little travelers like us who arrive late with no accommodation. Apparently the hotel owners get mad at her for ‘stealing’ their business and she has gotten in trouble before. This made us upset because they have gotten the police involved, but this lady was only doing so from the kindness of her heart and if the travelers had no other option. We had a very nice chat with this lady and couldn’t be more grateful for the experience she gave us by allowing us into her home.
I am always surprised when someone offers their home to complete strangers. The fact that even though her house had been completely stripped bare from the inside while she was away visiting her family one year,and that she is still welcoming to strangers makes me very happy that there are good people with faith all over the world. A look inside a local’s home gives you a glimpse of their life. I am so grateful this kind woman opened her doors to our disheveled little souls and gave us an experience that tourists rarely get to experience. Blessings from the UK (my current location!)!
Have you ever had the experience to be taken in by a local in your travels?