Life is a Breeze in Placencia, Belize
On the Caribbean coast of Central America, a small village called Placencia rests on the shores of Belize. It’s a beautiful place that hints at views of paradise. My accommodations would be in a quaint bed & breakfast with its own private beach. But first, I had to get to Placencia. When you fly in to Belize internationally, you’ll arrive at Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. It sounds like it could be fancy but you’d be pretty incorrect on that guess. I’m fairly certain there isn’t any air conditioning; if there is, they run it at 85 degrees. It’s a tiny airport with one or two restaurants and a couple of gift shops.If you’re trying to make the most of your time in Belize, you’ll get to know the airport pretty well. I flew out of this place 3 separate times in a single trip. The easiest and quickest way to get around the country is by air. There are two airlines, TropicAir and Maya Island Air, that can get you to a handful of places. Belize may be a small country but the roads are not easy to navigate.
So I arrived in Belize and waited a bit to catch a flight down to Placencia. It was about 40 minutes in a really small, really bumpy 12 seat prop plane to another even smaller “airport”. It’s basically an airstrip with two buildings for each flight company. From here, it was off down the bumpy road to my B&B, Miller’s Landing. It’s owned by a nice couple originally from Texas. They’ve lived there close to 20 years and have two pretty awesome dogs to hang out with.
First on my agenda was a nap. My room was about 200 yards from the water. I could lay in bed and listen to the waves until I drifted off. Or I could chill in one of the many hammocks around the sand. Either way, relax time was amaaazing. I ended up sleeping for a long time. I woke up around 4AM local time and just listened to the sounds. I sat on the sand and waited for the sunrise. It didn’t disappoint.
While I wandered up and down the strip of shoreline, I noticed two things: there are a shit ton of coconuts here and there’s an even bigger shit ton of Styrofoam. The second part was kind of sad. Belize prides itself on being eco-friendly and protecting its huge swaths of jungle and ocean. It’s so far away from big cities yet these beaches were covered in trash. I looked for rocks to break open a coconut, only to end up grabbing white Styrofoam chunks instead. I managed to find a broken tree branch with a sharp edge and went to work on the coconut. I was pretty damn determined to break one open Cast Away style for no reason in particular.Honestly, I don’t even like coconut or coconut water. After about 10 minutes of absolute torture to that poor tree, I made a big enough dent that I could crack open some of the outer shell. I used a sharp piece of coral I’d found to cut it open even deeper and finally split that beast in two. I drank from my bowl of accomplishment and immediately spit it back out because I really hate coconut.
After all that sweaty work, I knew I deserved a hard earned meal. Unfortunately for me, I went to Belize during its “slow season” (end of November) and my B&B wasn’t cooking lunch or dinner. Ms Annie, the lady-half of the establishment, made me breakfast each morning but I was on my own for the rest of the day. I took a walk down the beach toward a few resorts that were equipped with restaurants. Yeah, after a very hot 15 minute walk, turns out they were all closed up too. Heading back, I found a small sports bar looking cafe behind one of the resort pools that had real actual humans. I had missed it on my walk a few minutes earlier. They were open and I feasted. It was perfectly okay that this was the only spot near me that was open because the food was a-freakin-mazing. I had fajitas that were said to be made “Belizean style” (whatever that means). I chatted with the cook who is actually Guatemalan. I guess that’s Belizean style. Didn’t matter to me because these fajitas had to be the best I’ve had in my entire life. Props to that cook. The weather took a nasty turn rather quickly and it began to pour and the wind was nuts. I got stuck at the cafe for a bit but that earned me some free dessert.
The rain calmed eventually and I headed back to the B&B for some r&r. I had the entire beach to myself and sometimes the dogs or the iguanas. Oh yeah, there are iguanas all over. I had a few run out of trees while I walked past and I startled them. Definitely startled me in return.
The next few days were full of tours and jungle adventures. After that, though, I had to head into Placencia proper and see the actual village. I took a cab ride to find an ATM and see what the little town had in store for me. First stop, smoothies. Question: What better place to drink a fresh fruit smoothie than right on the beach? Answer: There is no better place. My meal of fries, chicken sandwich and smoothie cost around $4USD. Prices here were pretty low for the quality of the food. I walked the roads a bit and came across an art shop. Now, there are little art tables set outside of buildings that are run of the mill kind of tourist trinkets — some shell jewelry, coconut carvings, postcards — nothing to really draw me in. I passed them all and continued down a strip to a place called Lola’s Art Studio. The studio has art from artists all over the country. I ended up spending entirely too much money in this place but I made off with some nice pieces. If you’re in the market for original artwork, this is the spot. She will roll up the canvases for easy transport too. The never-ending procrastinator that I am, mine still require frames.Maybe 200 steps down the sidewalk I met a man named Evan. He had the typical tourist wood carvings under his shop canopy but something drew me in. He was a pretty nice guy who loved to talk. Evan told me it’s nice to have a tourist who will sit down and hang out for a bit. Most of them want to buy their goods, say a few words and be on their way. He and I hung out for about an hour and he got to work on a mermaid carving — custom made from driftwood. It’s an original piece and I got so many questions about who and where it came from. If you see Evan, tell him hello and maybe buy your own original art.
Throughout the village, you’ll pass many locals out doing their local thing. Nearly every one of them greeted me with a smile. It’s a friendly town to hang out, grab a bite to eat and maybe sit on the beach and watch the local kids play soccer. Placencia is quiet and charming. I was told by one of my taxi drivers that a cruise port will be built and finished soon. Once that opens, the tourists will flood this place. If you can, check out Placencia before its taken over by gringos. Since the town is positioned away from the coast on its own little peninsula, it’s an escape from the rest of the world. Well worth a visit when you’re in the area.