The prizes in Passports with Purpose always sound fabulous but do they live up to the hype? Julie Schwietert Collazo has penned a guest post about her stay at Tranquility Bay in Belize. Julie was the beneficiary of the accommodation prize donated by the resort in the 2009 Passports with Purpose, which raised money to build a school in Cambodia.
This year we are raising money for Room to Read to build two libraries in Zambia. Our goal is $US80,000 – an ambitious target but we can get there with your help. Please head over to Passports with Purpose and buy a raffle ticket (tickets on sale from November 30).
Now read Julie’s guest post and see her pictures of Tranquility Bay…
Tranquility Bay Resort in Belize
Belize’s Ambergris Caye has no shortage of expats who own or manage hotels and tour outfits, and each one has an interesting story about what motivated them to leave their home countries to settle down in Central America. But as the mom of a two-year old and a two-time expat myself, I’m always most fascinated by couples who move abroad with their kids … or who give birth to their kids in their adopted country.
The fair-skinned daughter of the managers of Tranquility Bay Resort, is slathered in sunscreen and decked out in a floppy, wide-brimmed hat. She was born here and is being raised here, at the northernmost end of Ambergris Caye, where the fish are fresh, the internet is spotty, and transportation is limited to feet, boats, or golf carts. For the visitor, at least, it doesn’t seem like a bad place to raise a child: the weather is ideal, the locals are friendly as family, and a rotating cast of visitors to the collection of bungalows painted in bright tropical blues, greens, and yellows keeps things interesting.
And then there’s the sea, all that blue-green shimmering like a piece of silk unfurled and rippled into soft waves by a warm breeze. The barrier reef, the second largest in the world, is within view. It touches land – one of just two places in the world where this occurs, I’m told – just a few miles away.
My daughter, who is traveling with me, takes to the managers’ daughter right away, and they crawl across the wooden deck of Tranquility Bay’s restaurant together, eyeing the movement of fish and rays through the cracks between wooden boards. They sway to music together and worry the guests who aren’t with kids when they wander too close to the edge of the dock.
Tranquility Bay is far north of the overpopulated southern end of Ambergris, which is straining a bit with side-by-side resorts and vacation rentals. To get here, you have to want to get here. You fly into the San Pedro Municipal Airport from mainland Belize on a small prop plane, then board Tranquility Bay’s boat for a 45 minute ride along the coast. Once you arrive, you’re rewarded for your effort with a welcome drink and an orientation chat; there aren’t any other services to speak of up on this part of the island, so the staff help you understand where and when you should eat and what activities they have available.
Personally, after a week of intense work, I didn’t actually want to do any activities. As appealing as snorkeling just offshore, getting PADI certified to dive the reef, or taking a day trip to see Mayan ruins straddling the Belize-Mexico border sounded – and it all did – I was perfectly content to make sand castles with my daughter, play in tidal pools, and practice emptying my mind of all thoughts by lounging on the beach for long periods of time.
Tranquility Bay has 10 cabanas of varying sizes, which are ideal for families or small groups of friends. Definitely budget at least three nights for your visit; the trip out and back isn’t onerous, but it’s long enough to make you want to stick around for a couple days once you’re there.
Julie Schwietert Collazo is a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer and editor who publishes mostly about travel, science, and food, but who has far too many interests to fit into a box. Her work has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Budget Travel, Scientific American, DISCOVER, and Fodor’s Puerto Rico and Fodor’s Caribbean, among others.
This is day 28 of NaBloPoMo – I am publishing 30 posts in 30 days in the month of November. You can read them all here.