I Hate Belize… Belize City To Be More Specific

Interview Series:

Ayngelina at Tikal

Ayngelina at Tikal

Foodie and travel blogger, Ayngelina Brogan, from BaconIsMagic.ca has been telling me how much she loves Central America but hates Belize; Belize City to be more specific. This actually doesn’t surprise me as it is pretty evident that the sentiment resonates throughout the internet. Many people who visit Belize and only see Belize City, especially Cruise Ship passengers, end up with the impression that the old capital reflects the entire country. A justified assumption or not, it makes for an interesting discussion.

 

Tell me a little about yourself, your blog and travel style.

 

I’m in my mid-thirties and two and a half years ago I decided to leave my career, boyfriend, apartment and friends to take a one-way flight to Mexico. I then spent the next 14 months in Latin America, with a short side-trip to Belize. I am really interested in learning more about the Americas and in particular about the culture, especially the food.

 

What made you decide to travel to Central America?

 

Prior to this trip I had already lived in South East Asia and spent considerable time in Europe but I hadn’t been to Mexico, Central America or South America. My plan was to spend 6 months heading down and then move over to Africa. But Latin America really captured my heart and I found it difficult to leave countries, it was like leaving a relationship. Even at 14 months I feel like I need more time there and I know I’ll go back.

 

What was your impression of Belize prior to visiting and how did that change after you left?

 

To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Belize when I first entered, in fact I spoke Spanish going through immigration. Once I arrived in Belize City I finally realized it was not a Latin American city, which was reinforced by all of the English, the money and the culture.

Belize City, Belize

Belize City, Belize

People had warned me not to go to Belize City, especially as I was traveling independently as a woman. I was an over-confident traveler and thought they were being silly. In fact I walked from the bus station into town to find somewhere to stay. I wasn’t aware of any safety issues until I arrived at the hotel. The manager warned me that I needed to go find something to eat and get back to the hotel before it got dark as it was a Friday night and things would get hectic.

The food was delicious. I can say that without a doubt.

I ended up spending most of the night talking to the man who was guarding the door. He explained the issues with gang violence and that everyone in the city knew at least one family member that was killed by a gang member. He advised me to just move from Belize City to San Pedro or Caye Caulker.

There were a number of things that conspired to a negative time in Belize: I was looking for a Latin American experience and to improve my Spanish, my introduction to Belize City wasn’t great,  in Caye Caulker it seemed to be a week of Spring Breakers who were just partying all the time and the local men, although harmless, were very aggressive at getting your attention. I started hearing more news of people who had issues of being robbed or attacked in Belize City.

Finally I had to move onto Flores to meet someone so I just cut my ties and went to Guatemala.

 

You say Belize City is scary, care to elaborate?

 

I’m not worried about being robbed, I have been robbed three times. If someone wants my stuff I just hand it to them and let them run away. But there is a level that goes beyond that where people would also attack you. I had heard many stories of this and just decided it wasn’t worth putting myself in danger like that.

 

Crime and poverty are big issues in all major Central American cities, what makes the city of Belize different?

 

Absolutely, Central America’s capital cities definitely have issues. Managua (in Nicaragua) is also a place I would prefer not to visit again even though I adore the city. I wrote about a common scam of people getting robbed there and there are gangs of glue-sniffing children there that will swarm you. Guatemala City is also another city that I’d prefer to avoid in the future.

That said I do know you can’t judge a country based on its capital. Which is why I’m always careful to say that I did not like Belize City and not generalize to the whole country. In fact there is a part of me that really would like to visit the rest of the country just to prove to myself that what I saw wasn’t representative.

Elections in Caye Caulker

Elections in Caye Caulker

Let’s try to be positive, what did you like about your entire Belize trip?

 

There were elections during my time on Caye Caulker and I had a really great talk with a local about the struggles with tourism on the island and how it impacted the infrastructure and what they were doing to maintain a balance.

 

Final question, if you could re-do your trip to Belize, how would you make it different?

 

I am definitely going back to Belize, I hope in the next 12 months. I will probably skip Belize City and Caye Caulker if that’s possible. I’d like to spend a few weeks traveling to see some of the other areas, those that are popular and those that aren’t so obvious. Maybe San Pedro, Ambergris Caye or Placencia or Hopkins.

 

Now a question for the readers. Do you believe that the negative impressions of the biggest city of Belize are right? Or are they all assumptions based on personal experiences of a few travelers?

 

About Lorenzo Gonzalez

Lorenzo Gonzalez is the founder of Belizeadventure.ca, a resource for travel information on Belize. He enjoys traveling, social media and Paranda music. Contact him at lorenzo [at] belizeadventure.ca. Learn more...

  • SanPedroScoop.com

    Very interesting…and I know what she means. It took me MANY visits to Belize City to see the beauty of it. Many. And it’s certainly not a place I visit a bunch.

    If you are coming to Belize for a Latin American experience, you are going to be surprised. To me, the city and the cayes are much more Caribbean…more Jamaica than Guatemala.

    I hope she comes back. And I hope she tried the bacon here. Running W bacon is MAGIC!

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      I saw her recently and told her about the Running W bacon and she laughed… lol

  • http://twitter.com/Expatior Chris Booth

    You simply have to have another go at Belize, it’s brilliant! Hopkins and Lamanai are both brilliant. Went there on my honeymoon and couldn’t have asked for nicer people or more interesting surroundings.

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      I love Hopkins! Great chill vibe there.

  • Lee & Mike (Ontario, Canada)

    Yes, as frequent travellers to Belize, we always tell people not to judge Belize by Belize City. We loved Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker (although we feel that they do not represent the true flavour of Belize) and now we spend alot of time in Cayo District (San Ignacio / Santa Elena & Cristo Rey).
    We heard from one of our Belizean friends that the new mayor in Belize City has a goal to clean up Belize city, pave the streets, reduce crime, etc. Let’s hope that his vision comes true and people arriving by cruise ship, etc. into Belize City will get a positive impression of this little jewel of a country.

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      I’m from San Ignacio.. glad you like my town :)

  • http://twitter.com/ilivetotravel Raul

    I think it is great you help your readers learn more about Belize, even what may not be the stuff the local tourist board would want to publish. I think it helps make Belize more real. There are plenty of places in the world with high crime located in places that are well worth seeing. The important thing is to be aware so one can be prepared!

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      Thanks for the kind words Raul. I’m glad happy to help any traveler who wishes to visit Belize!

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      Thanks Raul!

  • http://twitter.com/timecrunched Ellen & Justin

    I agree about Belize city, but as a whole the country is one of our favorites so far. We spent three weeks there this summer. We also liked Caye Caulker because it’s a good base for excursions. We were there mostly for adventure-based activites so for that, it was perfect. We can’t say enough about the place.

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      I love Caye Caulker! The Split is heaven for me!

  • Redhb

    I do agree with the young lady, that Belize City is a terrible place to visit… The corruption of the government makes the city and civilians preys to the untamed vultures!!
    I am a Belizean myself of origin; so I can say that without hesitation…. I remember quite well growing up in Belize City as a young boy getting mugged on my way to or from school. Sometimes I would get a nice nasty beating if I couldn’t fight off the assailants.
    Sad to say; but my people are pathetic and pitiful at the same token…
    But I’ve also got to admit that not the whole country is the same; for there are many beautiful places that are quite unique, safe & very peaceful to visit, on short or long term stays!
    I personally don’t and wouldn’t recommend anyone going to Belize City whenever asked about going to Belize. I would often tell people that they should avoid the city at all cost..!!!
    It is very sad when strangers that are not of Belizean background; asks about the drug trade and corruption that has famed its once untainted beauty!!
    I don’t like talking bad about my homeland, but the fact remains that THE GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE is ruining the place known as a safe haven for many Belizean immigrants living overseas and other foreigners that once enjoyed its Carribean Beauty..!!!

    • Charlie Harper

      I am really sadden that you would say such foolish things..me personally if i knew who u were i would slap u..how dear you say that your own belizean people are pathetic and pitiful..you shouldn’t punish everybody becuase of a few rotten eggs..u sir are the pathetic one..

      • Redhb

        Thanks for your response Charlie Harper! Why am I not surprise by your attitude… And you’ve proven my point with your behavior! I don’t have time for your nonsense; but I do have to admit, I was wrong by not specifying; and that you’re right about specifics…. So, I do apologize for my harsh words being misused wrongfully and not accordingly to its right fitting.
        Anyhow, instead of trying to pick a fight with someone you don’t even know, why don’t you gather a team of good intellects to fight against all the filth of corruption that goes on in the face of the honest, and good citizens of Belize!! Better yet; why don’t you and your buddies do something about the Guatemalans crossing the western and southern borders attacking & robbing the innocent civilians of Belize!!… That’s a good cause to fight for Mr. Charlie Harper!!!!!
        By the way, leave the bad boy attitude for the bad boys and thugs…!!
        I believe in my spirit that you’re bigger than that…!!

        • Charlie Harper

          i have not proven your point at all..i cant stand someone who leaves their country and turn around and disrepsect its own people..i do accept your apology and also, instead of you asking to stand and fight for all those things you lsited why dont you start yourself and help fight the good cause..

  • http://twitter.com/SunandStilettos Lily Lebawit Girma

    How unfortunate! I happen to like Belize City – and I believe it’s just one of those cities you can only appreciate when you know where to go and what to do, and have friends to hang out with. Beyond that, I find its Caribbean beat and gritty streets fascinating. Yes, there are bad areas, just like Washington DC (where I used to live) has its own. But I never felt threatened walking around the center of the city in the daytime and to/from sights. The Creole food/eateries (the best in the country), the friendly folks and the history – there’s a lot there if you really look!

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      Having local friends makes a huge difference! :)

  • Paulita Bennett-Martin

    Love Belize City. Love Belize. But I understand the comments, completely.

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      Did you live there Paulita?

      • Paulita Bennett-Martin

        I did up until I was 4. Maskall Village and Bz city were my two spots growing up. My fam is all still there, mostly all the BZ city and PG. Love it all, it actually is a great city, in my opinion and there is a ton of potential for it. I go back and visit fam, and I just got done staying there for the summer doing marine research. Great site, have a wonderful day!!

  • commonsense

    quite frankly, I don’t care what anyone thinks and believes…..Belize City is the heart of Belize. no like we city….better stay with Disney land.

    • http://www.belizeadventure.ca/ Lorenzo Gonzalez

      Lol

  • Hillary Shackley

    I lived on Ambergris Caye for almost 2 months and LOVED it- couldn’t figure out how to stay there permanently, making money was the issue. My only complaint was the cost of utilities and internet- OUCH! My cook was wonderful and the people were all friendly to me. Hope I can figure out how to get back.

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