Copyright 2005 Black Butterfly Press
Dr. Maxine Thompson
“Don’t go into city alone,” blonde tourist warned me at port of Belize. “They will cut off your arm for your jewelry.”
This was in October 2004, when I went on a Caribbean cruise which, among other islands, stopped in country of Belize. As I have a friend (whom I’ll call Natalia) who grew up in Belize, this made me curious as to how people actually lived.
Instead of jumping on a tour bus, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go off beaten path. I found a group of men standing outside gates of port, clamoring for customers to get into their cabs. Finally I chose most friendly-looking man and climbed into a taxi, which was actually a jitney. On this hour-long ride around island, I, not only felt deliciously alive, I saw Belize through Natalia’s eyes.
My driver, Raoul as I’ll call him, assured me that people would treat me kindly because island is largely supported by tourism. First, he took me to richer side of island. This side of town was comprised of small mansion-like homes, wrapped around by lush palms, which belonged to prime ministers and dignitaries. The neighborhood was sedate and quiet as all inhabitants were at work.
Afterwards, we blundered through back streets and alleys of Belize, and I met everyday denizens, including derelicts.
Looking back, in what Raoul described as “hood” side of island, I noticed that largest house belonged to that of Obeah woman. This house was chalky white and resembled a mausoleum. It stood out like Taj Mahal in a trailer camp as it was surrounded by what can only be described as windowless hovels and wooden shacks. Suddenly I realized and appreciated how much Natalia had accomplished by coming to America from this third-world country. (Truly, Natalia had given me an accurate picture as to how underdeveloped country was.)
But this trip also made me think. How can a writer improve his writing through traveling?
These are just some of benefits I gained.
1.. Travel gives you a broader frame of reference from which to write. 2..You get to see how people in other parts of world live. 3..Travel helps you learn how it feels to walk in another man’s shoes. 4..Travel satisfies a writer’s curiosity and can give you life-changing information. 5..Travel gives you a fresh perspective on life and expands your horizons before you close your eyes in death.