I grew up in small towns in southern Ohio in the 50s. It was a simple life for kids then—riding bicycles, playing ball, wandering the neighborhood with your friends, looking for pop bottles to get the deposit back.
My first exposure to Placencia instantly brought back those memories. I saw barefooted kids playing in the empty lots and in the park, kicking soccer balls, riding bikes, going anywhere in town with nary a care. Even gathering bottles to collect the deposit.
Walking down the main road my first day in the village I saw a group of bicycles. I asked one of the men nearby if the bikes were for rent as I wanted to explore the area faster. He said, “no, but you can use mine”.
It shocked me that someone would trust a total stranger. But I soon learned that you aren’t a stranger long in Placencia.
When I returned the bike a few hours later, the men were busy cooking on an outdoor grill. It was a fund raiser for the local soccer team. As we chatted, not only did I end up with a delicious $3 home-cooked dinner of pork steak, mashed potatoes, beans and slaw…I also made some new friends.
The people in Placencia seem quite happy with their simple lives. Almost everyone waves, nods or speaks to you, even if they’ve never met you before. Locals, expats, tourists…all are treated in the same friendly manner. You see people talking and wandering…there is no rush.
At first, the village looks a bit disorganized. It’s a hodge-podge of buildings in various sizes, shapes and colors. The main street is not straight and there are few street signs or addresses. No need—in this little village everyone knows each other.
The restaurants and stores have simple hand-painted signs. Many are partially obstructed by vegetation or faded by the elements, which makes it hard to locate them. But, if you want to find someplace specific, just ask the next person you see.
I initially went to Belize for a seven-day Trade Winds sailing cruise which operated out of Placencia.
I went early to spend two nights in the village and was quickly smitten by it. On returning to land after the cruise I wanted to see other areas of Belize, too. I spent two days exploring around San Ignacio in Cayo District and two days in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Both areas had their own unique features but I couldn’t take my mind off Placencia. It kept calling me back.
A few weeks later I did go back, for three weeks, all on the Placencia Peninsula. I explored the whole area in more detail, this time looking at real estate. There are several new developments along the northern parts of the 16-mile peninsula…even some gated-communities. They are very nice and may be what some are looking for…but not me.
I yearn for the simple, easy life of a time long past…a small-town lifestyle I remember so well and rarely find anymore…life in Placencia village. I’ll be going back soon…for several months…or maybe forever.
Editor’s note: Placencia is one of the places our team will cover in the new Blueprint for a New Life in Belize. They’ve been in-country for the past week, filming, scouting, collecting. This is a virtual boots-on-the-ground walk-through of the best opportunities that Belize offers right now. Find out more here.