Escape the Winter Up North…and Head for Belize

Looking out my window, I watch a beautiful sea grape tree and a huge almond tree swaying in the breeze. A slight distance away, I can see the incredible turquoise of the Caribbean Sea, and I feel so lucky. 

My husband Marcos and I moved to San Pedro town on Ambergris Caye in Belize almost four years ago from another beautiful town, Santa Fe, New Mexico. There are many differences between these two places. However one of the most marked is the weather.

I always loved the changing seasons and now realize they were the drivers of lots of activities and behaviors in Santa Fe that are not necessary in my new sub-tropical environment. There was the changing of clothing from summer to winter. This was no small matter for my family of four, and required a great deal of storage space to accommodate off-season items.

There was the replacement of the furnace filter, snow tires had to be put on cars, windshield scrapers had to be bought, blankets and comforters needed to be retrieved and washed, irrigation systems had to be turned off, and chimneys cleaned. And did everyone have intact hats and gloves, or a down jacket that still fit? And, where is the number for the guy who brings the cord of wood?

No more of that now that we live in Belize.

There are actually seasons in Belize, though they are subtle, and are not the cause of some of the more frantic yearly behaviors that were season centered in our Rocky Mountain environment. Someone once joked to me that on Ambergris, we have three seasons: High, Low, and Lobster. That is not completely without significance; the high season brings lots of tourists, low season is the time to paint, repair, travel, and plan. And lobster season means we get to add this delectable seafood to our diet on a regular basis.

My winter wardrobe here consists of two pairs of jeans, a light sweater, a raincoat, and a lightweight vest to contend with our cooler weather. I get to wear the jeans about twice a year.

November and December in Santa Fe are dreary months. Leaves have all fallen, flowers are gone, temperatures are cold at night and moderately cold during the day. It is low season for tourists and high season for frantic shopping and planning for the holidays. And the next four or five months are often about coping with wintery or blustery weather while waiting for summer.

Such a contrast to life on Ambergris at the same time of year. Last Christmas Day in San Pedro, we were invited to a gathering of friends on the island, and asked to bring our favorite holiday dish and a gift not to exceed $25. Since there isn’t a lot to buy here, many gifts were quite creative or funny and there was no stress at all involved in obtaining them. About 20 adults spent the day eating, drinking, talking, playing silly holiday games, laughing out loud, and sharing stories of adventures and misadventures on and around our small island and around Belize. The day was spent on the veranda, the attire was shorts or sleeveless dresses and, of course, flip flops.  The social atmosphere was as warm and breezy as the afternoon.

I do miss autumn and the changing colors, but the spectacular turquoise of the Caribbean Sea, the white of the sand, and the deep beautiful green of the trees swaying in the wind here on Ambergris still amazes me.

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