Stretching upon an area of 22,966 square kilometres and harbouring only a little over 380,000 inhabitants, Belize is an excellent tropical paradise for anyone to explore as there are no crowds, no sky-high prices, and there are a lot of fine beaches. However, like any other place in the world, it does not come without cons and before you go there, you have to be aware of the full palette that you might experience there. Formerly called British Honduras and bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west, it reaches into the Caribbean Sea majestically. So, without further ado, let us see the top five facts to know before going there!
1. Mayan reverberations:
As you might have expected from a Central American country, Belize is riddled with ancient Mayan ruins, many of which can be visited by tourists and locals alike. There are many opportunities for people interested in the elder days but you might want to free up a few days if you are going to walk down this path as these ruins are not only awe-inspiring but also expansive. They should be explored with thoroughness for the visual grandeur that they offer in return is simply invaluable. The most cherished ones are the following: Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, Lubaantun, Altun Ha, Lamanai, Caracol, and Cerro Maya.
2. Language barriers:
Do you know why tourists are absolutely enamoured by Belize? Not only because of the fine beaches and the friendliness of the people but also because the official language there is English and it makes it more accessible than other, more remote countries. Additionally, if you happen to dabble in Garifuna, Belizean Creole, Spanish, or any incarnation or dialect of a Mayan language, you should attempt to interact using them as they are all recognised as well. There is nothing like the beam of a local who sees you making an effort to talk with them in their own mother tongue. Stay polite and be rewarded with happiness (wink)!
There are a couple of things to understand here – first and foremost, the fact that the capital city of Belize is not its largest one. The capital is Belmopan whilst the largest city is Belize City. Secondly, the country is located on an inevitable drug trafficking route. This turns up crime rates and most violent murders are related to illegal substances. The highest crime rate in the country is in Belize City where murder occurrences per 100,000 inhabitants reach 40. This means that roughly every three days, a person dies due to violence and cartel-related operations. Petty theft and burglary are also present in the country and you should never flash expensive devices around. Always watch your back and do not get involved in local quarrels as they can get pretty nasty. Mind your own business and stay out of trouble – this is the best advice that we can give you as the crime rates of Belize reach into the top 10 of the world, unfortunately. Visit this ambivalent tropical paradise at your own risk!
Knowing the tipping customs of a country is key when visiting it as it offers a direct niche into the mannerisms of its inhabitants. Thus, know that Belizeans to not expressly expect you to leave extra after being served but it is accepted if offered. So how to avoid confusion? Well, simple: tip 10% and all will be well. Generate smiles with generosity (note the alliteration) and feel better for being a good person (wink)! Oh, and round up those taxi bills – that ancient parlour trick never gets old!
5. In the land of no ATMs, cash is king:
Alright, that subtitle sounded more fun than it is an absolute truth. There are a few ATMs here and there within the bounds of Belize but you should by no means rely on their help. Additionally, shops and restaurants will seldom be equipped with Credit Card Processing Devices and you might find yourself in an awkward situation if you do not lug cash around. However, having too much cash on you is also a problem as the local crime rates do not exactly allow for the free flashing of pouches of gold. Stay simple and carry just as much as you need – Buddha’s Middle Way (wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Belize and what unforgettable memories have you taken home? Have you experienced any cons? Would you go there again were you given the chance? Hit the comment section below and refrain not from telling us all about it! Until the next time, brave adventurer! Safe travels!