Back in 2010 after traveling to Belize for our 25th anniversary, we were presented with an incredible opportunity to purchase a waterfront condo on the tropical island of Ambergris Caye.  We didn't have to think long before taking advantage of this chance to experience a totally different lifestyle in a foreign country, and we moved here full-time in the summer of 2011 after I (Emily) retired from my job just one week prior.  In this short amount of time, we have had so many adventures, seen many amazing places, and learned so much about the food and customs of these proud and extremely friendly, welcoming people.  We have also met many interesting visitors to the country, and some of them have become good friends.  We have been truly blessed to have had this opportunity.

We have always enjoyed traveling and have done much of it over the course of our over 28 years together.  But traveling all over this small and exotic country (along with excellent side trips to neighbors Guatemala and Mexico) brought that love of wandering back to the forefront, amplified it, and gave us the courage to do more than we could ever do before.  And now that I am retired, we finally have the time to have many more travel adventures. 

Ultimately, and especially after meeting some inspiring full-time nomads here, we realized that we are not ready to hang our hammock in just one place.  And we missed participating regularly in two of our favorite activities besides travel, road cycling and hiking, neither of which are possible on the island of Ambergris Caye.  Even travel is more difficult from an island.  Although it was a dream of ours to live car-free and we've genuinely enjoyed the fun and challenge of riding our beach bikes everywhere, we miss being able to hit the open road when the desire hits.  And we want to be able to take our favorite companion Paisley along with us when we travel, at least some of the time.  In Belize we always have to leave her behind.  Well cared for to be sure, but not where she wants to be most, with us.

So today we announce, with bittersweet feelings, that we have just sold our condo in Ambergris Caye and moved back to the United States.  Because of Paisley, we aren't going to become world travelers at this time, but we do plan to do a lot of traveling in the US and some of Canada as well.  We're thinking about a motorhome.  There is still so much we haven't seen in our own  country, especially out west, and we want to see as much of it as we can while we're still healthy and fit enough to enjoy it.   But that's not to say we won't miss many things about Ambergris Caye and indeed, the entire country of Belize.

What we'll miss most:

  • The most genuinely friendly people we've ever encountered.  Their smiles, their "good mawnin, good mawnin"s are sincere and infectious.  These Belizean locals who have so much less than most Americans are much happier, much less stressed out, and their simple lives, focused on family, church, community, seem to be the reason.  Not to mention the sunshine that seems to put everyone in a better mood.
  • The balmy breezes and turquoise sea -- Yes, it's hot, humid, and muggy at times, but when you're taking it easy in the shade, it's super pleasant.  Shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops are the order of the day, so it's easy to go outside.  Very seldom is a jacket needed, and I think I've worn long pants about 5 times here total.
  • Everything is less crowded.  When we traveled to the mainland to go hiking, often we were the only people in an entire park or site.  We've hiked for miles on trails where the only other living, breathing creatures we encountered were birds, insects, and maybe a fleeting glimpse of a small forest mammal.  That is refreshing and so rare in the populous US.
  • Fewer rules.  We've climbed ruins and trails that would certainly be deemed "too dangerous" and off limits in the US. 
  • Our blog readers.  Yes, that's you.  You good folks from all over the world have been one of the biggest surprises we've experienced!  We've received so many kind, supportive notes and comments, and I hope we've been able to answer some of your questions and maybe inspire some of your own dreams.  Some of you have even become friends, and we've had the pleasure of meeting a few of you in person as well.  We sincerely thank you for coming along for the ride with us.  

At this time we are going to put this blog on hiatus and take a "blogging break".  We are undecided about having a travel blog in the future as we think we want to go back to more private lives, but if we ever decide to start another public blog, we'll update this one with the link, so feel free to keep your subscription.  Of the many lessons we've learned from our Belize adventure, one of the biggest is that we can never predict the future or what we'll be doing in a year or even six months!

I'll close with one of my favorite quotes and one of the wisdoms we gained from our experiences here.  Once you live in a place, no matter how lovely, it is all too easy to lose that "childlike enthusiasm" that a new place inspires.  We're hoping to get that enthusiastic feeling back in our future travels, wherever they may take us.

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

Barry and Paisley at Belize International
Emily at Jacksonville International Airport (Jacksonville, Florida) after a long and exhausting day of travel

No regrets!

Lowell Brown
3/14/2013 09:39:15 am

Wow! What a surprise. Welcome back!!

Gavin Wishart
3/14/2013 09:44:12 am

So long you two. It has been a pleasure following your blog and it gave us great insights into Ambergris and Belize in general prior to our visit last October. Should you ever make it as far as Vancouver BC Canada let us know.

3/14/2013 09:55:59 am

Aside from San Pedro Scoop, this is my second favorite blog. As of next week, it will be a year since our amazing stay on Ambergris Caye and at the Grand Caribe. I miss it greatly and found the courage it took you to move there enviable. I only wish I could muster the courage to do the same. Best wishes to you on your new adventures and thanks for helping to keep me in touch with the island I quickly grew to love.

3/14/2013 09:59:58 am

Emily, sad to see you go but... Your blog has been such a help to us and your introduction to our mutual driver, Dennis has been a huge help as we are getting ready for our own permanent move to Belize. Dennis has been kind and answered all emails even called us one evening to put our minds at ease. We only have a short time left here in the states so in a sense we are trading spots with you. Thankyou so much for the time you have put into this blog and may you be blessed in all of your travels and with each other as time goes on. Thanks again!

Nancy Matthews
3/14/2013 10:01:02 am

I have followed your blog for a while. You are from my NC home state. I wish you the best in you new travels. I celebrated my 60th b-day on AC with 3 of my college buddies. I know what you mean about how friendly the people are. Be safe in your next adventure and have fun! I am an avid reader!

3/14/2013 10:06:19 am

I will miss reading your posts and pictures. Best wishes for your future endeavors.

Michael Campbell
3/14/2013 10:12:24 am

As a Tennessean who has visited Belize once and really really wants to go back, I was able to live vicariously through your blog. Best wishes, and, well, darn.

Doug Faulder
3/14/2013 11:05:33 am

Oh, I am sorry to hear that. I enjoyed your Blog immensely. I hope you will post more whenever you hit the road!

3/14/2013 10:33:53 am

May you future travels be happy and enjoyable ones.

Eileen & Dan
3/14/2013 11:28:18 am

Congrats on selling the condo. We are so excited about your return!!! Cannot wait to see you!!!! Much love & biggest hugs!!!

Bryan Lingg
3/14/2013 11:32:29 am

Thank you for all the wonderful insights of your travels. I have certainly lived vicariously through you both! Best of luck in your future endeavors...

3/14/2013 01:13:37 pm

Hope your travels are wonderful wherever life takes you! I fully understand your wisdom about losing the wonder and enthusiasm once you live in a place for awhile, even if it is Paradise! I've so enjoyed your blog and hope you'll return soon.

3/14/2013 01:23:30 pm

I've enjoyed following your Belizean adventure. Thanks for sharing with us all. Be safe, best wishes and have fun with your new nomadic lifestyle!

Paula Segrest
3/14/2013 01:28:25 pm

Wow ..... that was so amazing to read. I'm yeah, in a bit of shock, but have no doubt you've followed your hearts with your eyes wide open. Bravo! I love you guys!!

3/14/2013 02:55:49 pm

I really have enjoyed reading about your adventures from time to time, especially your trips to the mainland in Belize, along with some of your other travels. Its a great thing that you took advantage of your time and location to see so much. I haven't been to Belize for a while, but have visited many, many times in the last 10 years. My travel wishlist is so long and I, too, am not getting any I hear ya! Happy future travels to all three of you! Paisley hit the doggie lotto!

Your bird pics, OMG.... some of them were so stunning that I have become a rookie bird watcher and can't wait for my upcoming trip to Trinidad and Tobago, which is supposed to be a prime bird watching island! Oh, and hiking too!

3/14/2013 05:54:01 pm

Emily and Bear- Although we have never met, I feel I know you. We have owned our beach condo at Sunset Beach since 2001 but have never lived full time in Belize. That is the real adventure! I have enjoyed your blog immensely- especially the postings about nature and the incredible unspoiled natural beauty. You will be missed. Keep the adventure going! Good health and happiness

Mike Mitchell
3/14/2013 09:57:44 pm

Wow! Maybe we will see you in Utah someday! Best wishes and safe travels.

3/14/2013 10:48:53 pm

well sad to hear for Belize, you guys have contributed much to my daily reading!!!! Peace, godspeed, and best of luck to you both. hugs, kisses, and flowers....

3/14/2013 10:53:19 pm

Wow, I am surprised...but then again, not surprised. Welcome back and happy hiking and biking!

3/14/2013 10:59:10 pm

I too have enjoyed all your blogs about AC and your travels. Mark and I are planning on coming to AC sometime this summer or fall and was hoping to meet up with you guys. Guess now you are even closer, we are in Chattanooga TN. Best wishes in your upcoming travels and enjoy.

3/14/2013 10:59:29 pm

I have enjoyed your blog very much. Love San Pedro and your blog kept me up to date- I will miss it. come see us in Texas.Good luck in your travels.

3/14/2013 11:59:39 pm

I really enjoyed your blog, especially the food pics and recipes. I loved your pics of your other travels too. I wish you future happy travels and BEST OF LUCK!

Jim & Phoebe
3/15/2013 01:09:08 am

Good luck Emily & Barry. We are so glad that we had a chance to talk before you left. Take care and good luck in your new adventures.

Tina H
3/15/2013 01:41:13 am

Your post has left me feeling a little melancholy. I will truly miss living vicariously through you. I am always anxious to read about your food explorations & travels. Your pictures are always stunning, whether it be the sunset or a forest bird. I wish you both safe travels wherever you may go.
God bless!

Tracey G.
3/15/2013 02:47:23 am

Wow. I'm stunned. I read your blog every morning and will miss it so much. Best wishes to the three of you and safe travels. Best regards, Tracey

3/15/2013 03:20:40 am

I have so enjoyed following your blog. Your pictures make me feel like I am right there with you on your adventures! Wishing you the very best on the newest chapter in your lives.

3/15/2013 06:09:21 am

I'm very happy for you that things came together and your condo sold. I am sad, though, and will miss reading your blog and anticipating catching up with you on the days I head over to AC. But, you are inspiring the idea of travel for me, as well and thinking of the possibility of a more carefree life rather than getting tied down for a long-term again. We'll see. And, please lets keep in touch via email and phone. Maybe our paths will cross again some day. It has been a pleasure to get to know you.

BeBelize Emily
3/15/2013 09:26:54 am

Thank you everyone for your comments! We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and kindness from our readers and friends. We so appreciate your following our blog and being so positive and upbeat. We will definitely keep you posted if we do blog our future travels. Thanks so much and a big hug to all!

peter wilson
3/16/2013 01:39:02 am

congrats on the move... i sometimes think the same although living here presents a whole different set of adventures.. if youre ever in this part of the world.. mi casa es su casa..

BeBelize Emily
3/16/2013 03:51:38 am

That's very kind, Peter, thank you! Ya never know. :)

BeBelize Emily
3/16/2013 03:54:03 am

Thank you ALL for your kind and supportive words and for following our adventures. It has been a blast!

3/16/2013 05:12:09 am

Oh, what a surprise! I have so enjoyed your blog, reading all about your days in AC, your travels and your sumptious meals. Wishing you the very best in all your upcoming travels and adventures!

LaVerne Zykan
3/17/2013 04:20:42 am

If you ever get to Washington Missouri stop by. you got my email also. my Son lives in San Pedro be their about 16 yrs Im sure know him Jim.

Dan (Dawg) Swanson
3/17/2013 06:55:25 am

Bear and Em, I have followed your blog and have been envious of your time in Ambergis Caye. We are heading back to San Pedro for spring break and was hoping to run into you. I wish you well back in the states. That was quite an adventure you had. Take care, Dawg (Dan Swanson)

3/17/2013 11:40:46 am

Thank-You so much for your most helpful blog. I read it entirely before my trip to Placencia, Belize this January. It gave me a real understanding of what to expect in this beautiful country. I will return next year for two months. Good luck to you and Barry and Paisley on your new adventures. New adventures are always good.

3/18/2013 04:50:34 am

Wishing you and Barry all the best. I hope to see you on TE with any cycling adventures once you are settled.

Although I will miss reading your blog I completely understand the hiatus. Blogging is a commitment and time consuming. You certainly deserve one less thing to think about right now :)

3/19/2013 01:32:47 am

Will miss your Belize adventures !

Carbunkle Trumpet
3/19/2013 09:44:35 am

CRAP! Safe travels to you both and one day our paths will cross.

3/20/2013 02:04:52 am

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
Saint Augustine

Best wishes on your travels!

3/21/2013 07:28:39 am

I have enjoyed your blog and used your information to plan our family vacation. We just returned March 15th from taking our children to AC for our daughter's 21st birthday. We were just next door at Grand Caribe in A9 for a week. Upon returning home I was looking at the real estate listings and was stunned to see your unit for sale. Then I read your current blog post. I am glad you enjoyed your time there although so brief. We hope to go back soon and maybe have an extended stay.

David Christmas
3/24/2013 12:31:16 am

It's been really fun reading your blog, and a nice diversion checking in from work. I like that you guys change it up in huge ways to keep your retirement experience rich. I'm sure Barry is going to love getting out there again on his Trek carbon road bike. Good luck with whatever is next!!

David Christmas
3/24/2013 05:44:09 am

...and of course you must be looking forward to cycling on the open road again too, Emily! I was just thinking I didn't know anyone who was logging the nutty miles Barry was before you guys left for Belize

BeBelize Emily
3/24/2013 06:07:18 am

Yes, he was pretty crazy, eh?! He was able to ride a lot more than me since I was still working up until a week before moving to Belize. But I did ride quite a bit that last year (for me) and enjoyed it immensely! We can't wait to get back to our bikes!

BeBelize Emily
3/24/2013 06:55:57 am

Yes, he's a bit of a nut job, huh David!? ;-) I was still working so couldn't ride nearly as much as he did, but I did ride a fair amount that first half of 2011 and can't wait to get back to my road bike!

BeBelize Emily
3/24/2013 11:13:05 pm

Thanks David! Yes, Barry is a bit of a nut, huh? ;-) Since I was still working up until a week before we left for Belize, I couldn't do the crazy mileage he was putting in, but I did and still do enjoy cycling very much and can't wait to get back to it.

3/25/2013 07:57:37 pm

Thanks for a great blog which I have followed closely the past year. I guess it's one of the reasons that we are thinking of buying something on Ambergris Caye for future use. Would it be too much to ask for you to update your last post with what you like the least about Belize. This past year there has been a lot of negative press regarding San Pedro and as you are now leaving you are probably perfect to give an objective point of view. In spite of the negative publicity we have just booked our first trip to Belize this summer. Best regards Richard

BeBelize Emily
3/25/2013 11:10:36 pm

Hi Richard -- I'd rather not add negativity to this post as we left Belize with mostly positive memories and, as I said above, no regrets about our time there. But I'll try to answer your question here.

I've already alluded to what we liked least about living on the island, and that was the difficulty of traveling -- sometimes we felt kind of trapped there, since taking off to go anywhere was time-consuming and expensive. Traveling was even more important since we're retired, and there just wasn't enough for us to do on the island on a day-to-day basis that we really enjoyed (no road cycling and limited hiking/birding). If we'd been avid divers or fisher(wo)men, we would have enjoyed it a lot more, I'm sure. We also had never experienced life in such a touristy place -- there are a lot of vendors, and we were frequently approached to buy carvings, jewelry, Maya bags/textiles, which got tiresome after about the 10th or 20th time. Made it hard to sit on our veranda with a book since we knew we'd be approached even though we lived there and didn't need another thing. The vendors in Belize are not aggressive, but it still got old. The traffic in town also bothered us a bit during high season, and certain food/beverage items we enjoyed were either unavailable or very expensive compared to in the US. But every place has its pros and cons, and only you know what those are for you. We learned a lot about ourselves from our time on Ambergris Caye and this new-found knowledge is already helping us make better choices today.

5/1/2013 01:44:53 am

Miss seeing you riding around the island and your great pictures, especially the food ones :)

BeBelize Emily
5/10/2013 12:39:52 am

Thanks, Laurie. We miss you too. It was always fun to run into you at Grand Caribe or in town. I'll keep checking your blog!

5/14/2013 10:01:20 am

ok guys, its been a couple of months now. Please let us know what's going on in your lives. I live just down the road from Efland and would like to have dinner with you guys someday. Best wishes, Fred

BeBelize Emily
5/14/2013 11:02:54 am

Hi Fred! What a nice comment! Sorry to say that we are not in NC any longer. We have been traveling for the past couple months -- Jacksonville for a month, then visiting my mother in western NC for a few weeks, now in Ohio visiting Barry's folks for a couple of weeks. Our next jaunt is over to Kansas City, where we'll be house-sitting for some friends for awhile. Planning on lots of travels from there, especially out west. Maybe one day we'll start up a travel blog, but for now we're enjoying the break. :)

5/17/2013 10:47:11 am

Hi! My husband and I live in Sanford, NC right now, visiting Belize (condo rental in Ladyville) in July for a week, thinking of/hoping to retire there soon, in THAT condo. He's already retired military and nurse, I'm 56 and still working as a nurse...DYING to retire soon. :-) I plan to read all your entries here, but any fast "do's" and "don't's" you or anyone can tell us about? Have a per, Shady, (dachshound) we will take with us if me move there. Thanks a bunch! Georgette and Allen

5/21/2013 12:26:06 pm

Hi Georgette! I don't know anything about Ladyville, but just make sure there's enough for you to do there. Retiring full-time to Belize as we did requires that you keep busy, or you'll be bored. We found that we ran out of things to do on the island. We really enjoyed our travels and planning for our next trip, but ultimately there just wasn't enough to sustain us for full-time living there. I am not sure what is going on in Ladyville, but condo living means no yard work and much of your maintenance is taken care of, so there's even less to do, as we found out. I would recommend spending a good few months there before you decide to move there full-time. You may decide that part-time in Belize is best and spend the rest of your time in the US or elsewhere. If you're on Facebook, check out the group "Belize Expats" to ask many questions of current expats, or if not, you can participate in a Belize Expat forum ( where you can get a lot of your specific questions answered. You are not alone in wanting to move to Belize, but just make sure you do your homework first. Good luck!

Ina McLean
6/17/2013 11:53:03 am

Wow, I just found your blog, so wasn't aware of your leaving SP. Sounds like it's the right decision for you two. I too am an avid cyclist, and will miss mountain biking terribly, but look forward for diving and kite boarding to take its place. Come to my current home town of Bend, Oregon if you REALLY want some awesome scenic cycling in an extremely cycling and dog friendly smallish town. Good luck!!!

BeBelize Emily
6/18/2013 11:47:16 am

Hi Ina -- If you really enjoy mountain biking, you might want to plan a long trip back to the US at your favorite time of year to get some in. I surely wouldn't advise selling your bike. We were so glad to have our road bikes to come home to and ended up purchasing mountain bikes (used but new to us) as well. You might find the summers in Belize get a bit too much (heat and humidity) and appreciate a change to cooler temperatures for awhile. It's a personal decision, but I think a lot of folks find that part-time living in Belize keeps it fresher and more delightful than full-time. We definitely have Oregon on our travel list. Neither of us has ever been to the Pacific NW, and although we know we couldn't live there because of the weather, it looks absolutely beautiful, and we can't wait to do some cycling there. Thanks for your recommendation!

1/31/2014 09:37:58 am

I'll miss reading your Belize posts! Enjoy exploring the US and Canada!

BeBelize Emily
2/2/2014 12:25:05 am

Thanks Lorenzo! We are having fun and doing lots of traveling.

2/1/2014 04:06:31 am

My husband and I have just moved to Belize and I stumbled across your blog, just a little too late it seems! Still, I love reading about your experiences in Belize and I look forward to exploring some of the areas that you have mentioned. Best of luck for your future adventures!

BeBelize Emily
2/2/2014 12:26:23 am

Thanks Mandy! And best of luck to you and your husband in your new life in Belize. It really is a wonderful country in so many ways.

6/5/2014 12:50:22 pm

It is fun reading your blogs about the beautiful Belize :) Thanks for sharing your experiences!


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