the flight was packed and it was early, about 6am when we boarded our flight to belize city. none of us were thrilled as it was an eight hour layover in a city that everyone said, “when you go to belize spend as little time in belize city as possible and get out into the countryside, the beach and all the fishing.” when all you have is a layover the options are few. so #beersbigideas hit the trip advisor app to discover where best to waste the few hours we had until getting back in flight to guatemala.
one key principle of #beersbigideas is, “when you remove expectations, you open the door to the unexpected.” fortunately we had this working in our favor as all of us had open minds and were ready to jump in to this barren city.
first stop a little cafe neighboring a nice hotel known for their “johnny cakes” or “journey cakes.” they were tastey and we ate them down quickly with some hot belize coffee. next stop, St Johns Cathedral, suggested by the Grand Poobah, the oldest standing Anglican Church in central america. we headed out on foot into the streets taking in the sites. a few miles later we arrived at the cathedral and proceeded to take seats in the old pews. we sat for about 20 minutes reflecting, taking in the obscure clash of old world and new, the tombstones hanging on the walls, dates of the dead ranging from the 1800’s to the 1970’s from the vietnam war. each of us in our own heads, letting the church walls speak, the experiences of the past week settle in and bounce some prayers through the stainglass windows.
there was no air conditioning so after the sweat started to flow we carried on down the cobble stone streets, all marked with names reflecting the times of british colonialization. we decided as a collective to make our way to the well known brewery, Belikin Brewery. as we headed down the streets and approached the bridge we walked past a band of about 8 black Belizean street boys all playing drums. walking past, but then doubling back from an intuitive move to entertain the unexpected. we quickly found ourselves engaged with the street kids while their fearless rastah leader argued with a police officer concerning a noise complaint from a neighboring business. the squabble was quickly resolved and we became lost in the music and play with these crazy talented street boys known as “drums not guns”. we managed to record some of their jams which will be heard on the next #beersbigideas drone video and podcast (yes podcast!). the revolution will not be televised!
smiles on our faces this 8 hour layover quickly changed into an adventure. the next encounter was a second cafe for a quick espresso lift then surprising pick up from a cab driver named, Claro. now #beersbigideas has a thing with cab drivers. none of us are sure why this is, but we seem to bond with cab drivers and they with us. Claro quickly turned from stranger to friend to #beersbigideas colectivo member. he’s a 49 year old pimp of a man who received a limp after battling polio at the age of 4. Claro can also free dive up to 60 feet which he did often for lobster fishing as a kid to bring in money for his family. Claro schooled us on the ways of alcohol, air freshners, sea diving, women and international travel. he also wears tank tops, mesh tanks no less because well, “they make me feel like a man!”
Claro drove us to the Belikin Brewery which was unforunately closed due to the holidays. we then settled on a nearby hotel with a good bar to at least taste the sweetness of the local brew. our conversations ranged from the spiritual while reflecting on the quiet of the cathedral visit to next steps for #beersbigideas to steve and i thinking about writing a book. we all unanimously voted Belikin as the best beer of the trip coming strong with three varieties: lager, stout and premium.
a good friendly buzz settled in and it was time to go. we jumped back in the cab with our boy Claro for more education on life and ladies as we headed for the airport. we managed to capture a picture of Claro and headed in for our flight.
lesson learned…you never know what the wind will blow in when you keep the positive vibes rollin. the three of us knew there were beautiful tourist spots outside belize city, but time restricted us to the one place we were advised not to go. the irony…the least desirable portion of the journey became one of our highlights. why is that? not because of the cities beauty or all the tourist attractions, but because of the people and the experiences those people gave to us as a team. we removed expectations and therefore opened the door to the unexpected and as a result received gifts that will stay with us forever.
cheers to drums not guns, to Claro the cabbie, to johnny cakes & Belikin brew!
don’t stop Belizin,