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  • Writer's pictureJon Watkins

Belize- That Time We Almost Died

Jenn claims that we almost died in Belize on three different occasions! Outside of our near-death experiences, it is a beautiful place to visit, eat and snorkel! Although we wouldn't recommend staying in Belize City, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is fantastic! You can scuba the Great Blue Hole, swim with nurse sharks at Shark Ray alley, explore The Secret Beach or see what a "chicken drop" is at 'Wahoo's Lounge'.

Transcript from our podcast...


John: Thanks for checking out our podcast. My name is John and my wife Jen is sitting next to me pouring wine, getting ready for the show to begin.

Jen: Glug glug, glug.

John: Stags leap.

Jen: I know.

John: This is like, when did our podcast reach a budget of Stag's leap?

Jen: Well, this is birthday wine, left over birthday wine.

John: It's quite the gift too...

Jen: I know.

John: Napa valley, it's a cab. It's amazing.

Jen: It is so good.

John: We will enjoy for the next 20 minutes. So, if this is the first podcast you've ever listened to of ours, we pour a glass of wine and we talk about our travels.

Jen: There you go.

John: It's that simple. And we've in the past, talked everything from cruises to Nashville, to Disney world. And today we're talking about Belize

Jen: Belize or die. [Inaudible00:47] I just know the stories that we're going to tell instead of bullies or bust, I'm going Belize or day. We almost [crosstralk00:54]listen, listen to the whole podcast to find out.

John: I don't think we almost died. I think you're exaggerating; we’re going to tell you everything about our upcoming adventure to Belize, but first we have our first sponsor.

Jen: Yay.

John: We did it.

Jen: We did it.

John: We're a successful podcast. I mean, we're losing money, hand over feet, but it's like the idea. We're almost a successful podcast. Now, big, thank you to Sheila Mac, Sheila Mac has a self-help book and I'm a big fan of self-help books.

Jen: Yes, you are.

John: I need a lot of help.

Jen: You do.

John: Wine doesn't do it enough for me, It actually brings me down. So, a self-help book then picks me back up and Sheila Mac has a book called Bootstraps in Bras Straps it’s the formula to go from rock bottom and back into action in any situation. So, really, it's a resource for those who need guidance and assistance to take their lives back into their own hands. So, boots is a formula, the B is being, the O is orientation. Then there's another O after that, when you spell boots and that would be order of operations, the T is thinking and then the S is stepping up, which is also you know, one of my favorite movies. So, between that, that's how you apply the boots formula, and Sheila can help those who are experiencing financial turmoil, career shifts, relationship problems quiet, grieving, a loss, parenting adult children, caring for elders, victim of abuse, desiring addiction, recovery, and seeking lifestyle redesign.

Jen: Literally everybody should read this

John: Listen, you're, fractured, you're having a hard time in life. You are, I know that. You know why? Because you're listening to this podcast. Sheila can help you. She can pick you up and fix you with bootstraps and bras straps and her website is All right on with our trip to Belize.

Jen: Belize.

John: Did you want to go to Belize?

Jen: You know, it never was like on my top places, but then when we found out that we were going, I was very excited.

John: So, this was for my mom's 50Th birthday. We all decided to go out to Belize to celebrate you at the time were six months pregnant with our first son. So, this was a few years ago, nine years ago to be exact. And we just knew that there was some place called the great blue hole that people like to snorkel. That's when I think of Belize that's the only thing I know about. And we aren't really that ... we're snorkelers in the sense that if we go to like Hawaii, we'll stick our head in the water.

Jen: We're like fair weather snorkelers.

John: Yes, exactly. Give me a raft I'll put my head in for a second.

Jen: Maybe a floaty.

John: Yeah, and then I'm back on the beach having a cocktail.

Jen: Yes.

John: So, ...

Jen: We don't dive, we're not divers.

Jen: No, we're not.

John: So, we flew to Belize City and it turns out there's Belize City and then there's like these islands?

Jen: Yes.

John: Keys?

Jen: Oh, I don't know.

John: Whatever they are. They're separate.

Jen: Yes.

John: So, we flew into Belize City and we stayed at some random hotel and I looked back everywhere to try to figure out which hotel it was, but that's okay. Cause I wouldn't recommend it anyways,

Jen: No, it was also a casino. We got in kind of late . It was dark outside and it was a casino I want to say, was it the princess?

John: Maybe.

Jen: it was a casino hotel and they locked you in. It's always weird when they're like, do not go outside. Like every single person you'd meet. They'd be like, can I carry your bags also, please don't leave the premises. And so like, everything was locked. There were armed guards at the perimeter. And I feel like after they showed us to the room, they locked us in our room as well.

Jen: Right. It was like ...

John: it was that intense.

Jen: Room wasn't great.

John: No, but what do you expect from a place that locked you inside and said, please don't leave.

Jen: And we stayed there because we needed to catch a boat the next day. And there was no boats that late.

John: So, that’s why we did it. And you might have to do the same thing. You might have to go to Belize City, arrive late, stay the night somewhere. And then the next morning they have these boat shuttles. That'll take you to more like what you think of with Belize. So, like San Pedro, which is where we actually stayed, which is Ambergris Caye, I think I said that right.

Jen: I'm not even going to try to say it.

John: I'm just going to just slur through it so it sounds like I know how to pronounce it, but that's like when you see photos of Belize, that's where people are. It's not Belize City.

Jen: Yeah. Because when we first landed, I was highly disappointed. I was like your mom took us to 3rd World Country

John: It turns out that we had to just do one more trip to get to the islands. So, we get in the shuttle to go to like, like a bus shuttle. It's more like a SUV to get to where the boats are that we[crosstalk05:44]

Jen: We took a taxi to the ...

John: And the driver decided instead of going just the normal way, he knew a fast way a shortcut. And he took us down this alley,

Jen: Sketch, sketch alley.

John: Think of like the alley in the movie that you're like, oh yeah, those people are going to die. That's what we were.

Jen: It looked like we were in the heart of like the worst parts of east LA. Like there was graffiti everywhere,

John: Everywhere.

Jen: Just yeah.

John: We got to see a whole mother side of policing and we're like oh, this is why we weren't allowed to go out.

Jen: Okay, this is fine.

John: We're in a car it's going to be fine. Well, at some point and this is kind of graphic, so I'm gonna warn you with that. So, you might want to push the 30 skip if you're afraid to hear it but our taxi ran over a dog.

Jen: Yes. A little dog,

John: A little puppy. And there's dogs everywhere.

Jen: Everywhere.

John: And then someone out of no ... like jumped in front of the taxi. So, he stopped and the next thing you know, there was a gang...

Jen: Belizean thugs.

John: Surrounding our taxi cab. And we could see the boat shuttle.

Jen: Yes. The port,

John: The port 200 yards. But we're in this alley, surrounded by a gang. And now they have picked up the poor dead puppy and they're smacking the window and I'm with my mom’s. I'm with my pregnant wife and my sister.

Jen: Yep. And this is the first time we almost died in Belize.

John: Finally, the guy, I think he was getting worried because he started grabbing baseball bats and he just floored it.

Jen: And we were yelling at him. We're like, go, go, go.

John: And we floored it out of the alley. He did like a screeching halt next to the port

Jen: And we just got out. Did we pay him? I mean, I don't even know.

John: We were shaking.

Jen: It was traumatic.

John: Yeah. Yeah. Cause I'm like, wow, I don't know which one of you. I had to throw out of the car first to save my own life on the highway. So, I’m glad he Just started going. So, we hopped on this boat shuttle.

Jen: Well, there's two ways to get to these islands. There's two ways to get to the islands. You can either take these boat shuttles or you can take a plane

John: Looking back.

Jen: Yes.

John: Do you wish we would have taken a plane?

Jen: Yes.

John: Even though these planes are tiny little Cessna

Jen: I know, I know.

John: They fly constantly though to like San Pedro and then back to Belize City.

Jen: I don't think they're being looked at.

John: No, no, they're not at all.

Jen: You know, if I wasn't in this state that I was in.

John: Six months pregnant.

Jen: Yes. I think that I would have been more comfortable on the boat.

John: It's a 90-minute boat ride and we try to put you in a comfortable spot, which was next to the engine fumes. To really just,

Jen: Just sucking in the fumes.

John: And it was choppy.

Jen: Yep. And it's crowded.

John: Oh yeah.

Jen: There was like cause... It's locals that are on it as well as like tourists and it, yeah it's crowded.

John: The one we were on more had locals than tourists.

Jen: Yes.

John: And it stops constantly and all these ports, so it took about 90 minutes. I looked it up to get from where we were in Belize City to San Pedro and Ambergris Caye. So, it is what it is. It was not great. It actually triggered Braxton Hicks for you. So, you started having like these contractions, which was kind of scary for us because now we're on this island,

Jen: Yes. I'm sure the traumatic dog experience did not help that whole situation.

John: That's true. Now I do want to tell you about Ambergris Caye. I think, but the whole idea is it's beautiful. It's a 25 mile long island it's Northern Belize and this is like where snorkeling and diving.

Jen: This is where you want to go.

John: This is it. You either take the plane there or you take the shuttle there, but this is where you're going

Jen: Probably take the plane.

John: Take the plane,

Jen: Take the risk.

John: And it's, I mean, packed with resorts, good resorts, bad resorts, hostels, restaurants, bars, everywhere. You can rent bikes. You can rent golf carts. You can rent scooters. Like there's a snorkeling shop. You don't need anything. You can show up and you can get everything here. And there's a lot of people who like used to live in the states or somewhere else who have moved here to run a dive shop or a bar. A lot of Americans now just own bars in Belize

Jen: And they just dive.

John: Yeah.

Jen: Like that one guy, he owned a bar and he just like randomly closed whenever he knew it was going to be a good day to dive. There's just a sign outside of his bar.

John: It's island time for you,

John: The best time to go to this area of Belize is from November through April,

Jen: Which is when we went, we went in November.

John: The weather was perfect.

Jen: It was perfect.

John: It was awesome.

Jen: Yeah.

John: It really is like when you get there a beautiful island, tropical paradise the great blue hole of course is the place. I mentioned one of the best diving sites in the world that we did not go.

Jen: I know, because I wanted to go.

John: But it's far ...

Jen: When we started looking into it. Yeah. It's really far. And unless you're diving, it didn't sound like snorkeling was.

John: No, they're like you can but...

Jen: You can snorkel, but it's to dive.

John: Yeah.

Jen: It would've been really cool is taking like a helicopter to fly over it, to like, see it

John: You didn’t want to get on one of the planes. What made you think you're going to get on one of those helicopters?

Jen: You're right.

John: All right, go ahead and tell the next story of how we almost died. Cause there's so many.

Jen: I know. Okay. Gosh. Which one should I do? The one where your mom met some strangers on the beach?

John: Yeah.

Jen: So, the first time your mom met some strangers on the beach. Yes. There are multiple times. The first time she met two strange men on the beach, as she was taking her morning walk and the men were like, Hey, let us take you and your family to another resort.

John: Yeah. Let us buy you lunch at another resort. You've only seen this part of the island. Oh, hop on our boat. We'll drive you somewhere.

Jen: And Oh my gosh. She comes and tells us at breakfast that we're all going to be doing this.

John: As a family activity.

Jen: And I'm looking, I'm looking at John, and I'm like, there's no freaking way I'm getting on a boat with two strange men after, especially, which has happened to us and Belize City.

John: In a dog alley.

Jen: But John, for whatever reason is like, it'll be fine. It'll be fine.

John: So, really, I blame myself on this one. As much as my mom for even, I can't believe, I can't believe we got on this randos boat. It was like,

Jen: They showed up, they showed up.

Both: We got boat got on their boat.

John: Went out into the ocean,

Jen: Went out into the ocean.

John: To another island,

Jen: Almost died. Number two,

John: They took us to a timeshare.

Jen: They took us to a timeshare.

John: It turns out it was just one big timeshare thing. And then now we're stuck at this resort.

Jen: Very nice, it was like being newly constructed. I'm sure it's done now.

John: Yeah, and they gave us a tour. So, this was how we experienced Belize. We had a timeshare tour.

Jen: Yes.

John: I don't think we got lunch.

Jen: We got drinks.

John: I think they give us a drink? And that was it.

Jen: Yeah. I mean, I didn't drink.

John: No, no and we were safe. See, we survived it.

Jen: I don't know how [crosstalk12:59],

John: But I will tell you, they knew what resort we were staying at. They came by the rest of the trip to see if we wanted to buy a timeshare daily. So, and they were always looking for my mom who was like, like someone running from creditors, who always hide when she saw them. So, all right, the next time we almost died.

Jen: The next time we almost died; your mom actually sought out a random person. She found a young Belizean man with a boat that she just happened to see outside of our resort and was like, hi, can I pay you money? So, you can take us out on your boat. And he was like, sure. And she just threw out some ... I don't even know how much he gave them. I don't know if she gave him like a hundred dollars, $200.

John: Knowing my mom 50.

Jen: I mean, I don't know, but he was very excited about it. He had never done this before and he went and like got a cooler with some beers. Cause he's like, okay, I think this is what I need to do. I mean, seriously, he was young and he had this little boat and so she's like, okay, we're all going to get on this kid's boat. I'm like, again, we're getting on strangers boats. And in a place that I don't feel comfortable, oh my God, gosh.

John: Now hindsight,

Jen: Hindsight.

John: Best.

Jen: That was like the best...

John: It was awesome.

Jen: Like the best little excursion.

John: This kid knew all the cool places.

Jen: He showed us...

John: So, awesome to talk to. It was a lot of fun. I think he brought someone to, because he didn't know.

Jen: Yeah. He probably thought...

John: I don't know some strange woman threw money at me. So, can someone give me protection but he took us to like the Hol Chan Marine Reserve which is this place where nurse sharks are. And it is shallow there. And it's crowded with divers and snorkelers. But like in that area of the reserve, there's like a mangrove forest. You can only get to this stuff by boat and there's charters everywhere. But we have like this private tour from a guy did this every day.

Jen: And he even showed us like local stuff, you know, like, oh, like I live over here. And so that was kind of cool to get like a real locals perspective,

John: Shark Ray alley. That's where we actually jumped in and swam with the NERC sharks. And they're friendly. They're bottom feeders, but they look scary.

Jen: Yes, they do.

John: And I just remember, I'm like at the bottom of the ocean floor, looking at this eel, that's swimming around. And I look up to see my six month pregnant wife belly and all swimming was sharks. I'm like, what am I doing? How dumb am I? But it was like such a surreal experience. Definitely, if you go, you got to go to shark Ray alley again, it's part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. That's like...

Jen: Yeah, that’s was really cool to do.

John: He took us to this beach that he said was a locals beach called the secret beach.

Jen: Nobody was there.

John: Nope. This is where he was gonna murder us.

Jen: Yeah.

John: After showing us an amazing day.

Jen: Yes.

New Speaker: [crosstalking16:00].

Jen: Maybe not murder us, but definitely rob us. But maybe he started talking to your mom and realized we didn't have it.

John: The Secret beach, my point is it's no longer secret. In fact they have a big sign there now. This big orange sign that says Secret beach, and it's become like this place for Instagram influencers to take photos.

Jen: Where was Instagram nine years ago?

John: We took the worst family photos of all on the secret beach. We will not be sharing those on our Instagram page. They have been deleted from everything. It's seven miles north of where we were. And it's just clear water...

Jen: Clear white sands...

John: Peaceful,

Jen: Those huge shells, what are they called conch shells. We actually like took one home. I don't know if you could do that anymore.

John: Cool. Come on government.

Jen: But yeah. I mean just the most picturesque beach that you can think of.

John: I didn't realize you could actually get to the secret beach by golf cart.

Jen: Yeah. I didn't know that either.

John: Yeah. Now, the jet ski or boat is an easier way, but it takes about 45 minutes each way. It's a bumpy ride, but you can drive to the secret beach again. Not secret anymore.

Jen: Not Secret, I would definitely go. It is beautiful.

John: But if you go early, you can like paddleboard, I guess you have like a dive shop there, like where you can rent paddleboards. Also. the other thing we did was drink

Jen: And eat, oh my gosh. So, much ceviche.

John: Yes, red snapper ceviche.

Jen: Oh, so good.

John: Do you remember that place we went to, there was a place called Pineapples. It was on the beach at Roman's village resort. So, it was like next to us and we cooked steak on hot stone.

Jen: Yes, that was cool.

John: That was super cool. And then next door, there was this guy who just had this teeny tiny shack bar that he opened up fresh coconuts.

John: Yes. And they're amazing if you've never had like a coconut out of...we drink juice out of a Ziploc.

Jen: Oh yeah.

John: I mean, if you're in Rome.

Jen: We did local style.

John: Yeah, we did, we did go to a nice restaurant. I think it was just you and I, we went on a date night. It was called the French Touch. And so you could go there. The best bar in town is Wayos Lounge.

Jen: Oh yeah. You gotta go there.

John: Wayos Lounge is like where all the people who live there now who like moved from the states go to, they're all just dive bums. And I think it's Thursday nights, they do the chicken drop ,where you buy a square on the floor of the bar.

Jen: It's a number,

John: It's a number. And then they put a chicken out there and wherever the chicken poops, you win the money it's like a raffle. And it is like the best thing

Jen: So, fun. So, fun. People that go there know this place. I mean, it's famous.

John: The place that we had the most ceviche at was the Palapa bar and grill. It was right off the pier. And that's like, where I think we ate there daily it was a lot. Where we were there for Thanksgiving?

Jen: We were there for Thanksgiving.

John: Maybe that's why we went to the French Touch.

Jen: Oh yeah.

John: Probably something like that. And then also in town you can like ride those golf carts. If you've ever been to Catalina island, it's very similar,

Jen: It is, its small, small feel.

John: Would you go back?

Jen: You know what? I would go back. I would do it a little bit different. Like I would try not to stay in Belize City.

John: We would land and continue on.

Jen: Land and continue, even though it just makes for a super long day, but still but yeah,

John: There's this ferry called, I can't think of the name of the ferry, but there's actually another island that we didn't get to called Caye caulker. And it's just a quick ferry ride from San Pedro and it's like way more laid back and there's like some boutique stores I would have liked to have gone

Jen: There.

John: Just explore a little bit more.

Jen: And if we ever do get into diving.

John: Oh yeah.

Jen: I mean,

John: will we ever get into diving?

Jen: Probably not,

John: But if so the great blue hole.

Jen: Or if I ever get into taking helicopters that would be fun.

John: Sure.

Jen: I mean, for the Instagram

John: Well, obviously. We need to go back to the secret beach for you yo do that

Jen: Back to the secret beach.

John: Yes. In fact, speaking of Instagram, if you haven't followed us, please do so. Yeah. We actually have some really cool trips. We're planning on going on like soon. And we won't talk about it until season two, but we will be sharing them on Instagram. A little tease.

New Speaker: A French tickle.

John: It's the French Touch, oh my God how did you drink so much Stag's leap so fast. If you don't mind rating reviewing, subscribing telling a friend about our podcast, apple, you can review us Spotify, you can just play it. And then once you play it once, just turn the volume down, play it again,

Jen: And then, then just play it again when you're not even close to your face.

John: Yeah. Like when you leave for the day, you can tell just Alexa to play oursavingstartstomorrow. When you go and then the dog,

Jen: They ...

John: Dogs love dogs.

Jen: Love us. Our voice is so soothing

John: And again, if you're going to follow us on Instagram, our handle is oursavingstartstomorrow

John: [Inaudible].

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