Finding Our Own Kind of Relaxation in Small-Town Belize

“We’re trying to get better at retiring,” laughs Leslie Sorrell. She and her husband, Will, bought land in the seaside town of Hopkins, Belize, a decade ago with the intent of retiring from their demanding careers.

The former political consultant and accountant immediately took to the slower pace. “We didn’t mind not putting on suits or no longer being called at 2 a.m. with a crisis.”

But they didn’t spend their days napping in a hammock either. Instead, they took up building. “We’d bought property with a plan to build our dream home. We spent a year creating the plans of a beautiful home with wrap around porches. But instead, we bought and renovated an inn. We remodeled cabanas. We built a commercial space; we were going to make fresh cheeses,” says Leslie.

According to Leslie, their friends and family laugh, “We thought you said you were going to retire.”

They still haven’t built their dream home. “I don’t know if we will because we want to travel more,” says Leslie. They recently went on a week-long trip to Mexico’s Yucatán that turned into a month-long road trip through the Yucatán Peninsula. After all, they were having a great time and no commitments so why not extend it?

Back in Hopkins, the couple lives in what Leslie refers to as the Belize version of a mobile home. “It’s beautiful with mixed hardwoods. It’s a tiny studio about 400 square feet and cost $20,000. Will did the build out and finish work.”

The commercial space they built has a professional kitchen and is about 1,600 square feet. Leslie says, “It’s perfect for a microbrewery or other commercial space.” They’ve named it Skating Cow Creations and it has its own Facebook Page. It’s for sale.

Hopkins is a small town of about 2,500 people and two miles long. The sparkling Caribbean Sea draws tourists from around the world to snorkel, fish, dive, and sink their feet in the soft sand.

“Because it’s a tourist destination, there are 25 restaurants. Burritos are $1.50 at one local place or you can have brunch for two with an omelet, house-made jams, and a glass of champagne for $30. Our builder’s wife has a restaurant that does whole fried fish for about $7.50 and the best conch soup in the village. They sell out but always save some for us,” Leslie says.

Leslie and Will find it easy to get around on bikes for their daily transportation though they do have a car they use when they leave town.

“I dropped six inches off my waist with an active lifestyle and eating wholesome food. There’s no processed food here. Our lifestyle is mostly walking and cycling and swimming right off the beach. You can swim out and grab a lobster for lunch. We had to cut back on the lobster. It was lobster omelets, grilled lobster,” says Leslie.

Hopkins is also close to the mountains and Leslie and Will enjoy hiking to nearby waterfalls. They don’t run out of things to do.

People ask them, “What do you do and are you bored?” and Leslie and Will always laugh because they’ve found plenty to do with their time. They’ve got spreadsheets of projects. Right now, they are taking a break from building to do more traveling.

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