Belize Vacation Sweepstakes (Essay#47)

A Dream Deferred No Longer

During the summer of 2000, a friend and I decided to save our earnings for an adventure in Belize. At 21, I had yet to explore anywhere outside of the United States, and I was ready to see more of the world. I worked the early-morning shift in the stockroom of a national retailer, and then I would work on the weekends at a gift shop. When I found out my friend hadn’t saved very much at all over the months, I decided to work even harder to try to save enough money to cover us both for the trip.

When summer ended, I took another administrative job working to plan tax schools for farmers across the state, and I picked up odd jobs here and there, from painting a mural at a Mexican restaurant to teaching wheel-throwing classes on the side. My days were exhausting, but my vivid imaginings of lush tropical rainforest, Mayan ruins and exotic foods kept me going from morning until night. My meager savings began to grow slowly, and I became excited about my first real journey abroad. I had to find a better-paying gig.

After an extensive job search, I finally discovered a position that related to my degree in English with a minor in art. I relocated to a new city to start my career as a marketing copywriter for a small, family-operated design firm. Months quickly turned into years. I fell out of touch with my friend. We had never gotten around to booking our tickets, and I just kept working. Working, saving and dreaming.

What initially started as my Belize vacation fund became a down payment on my home in 2004. Since then I’ve started my own marketing business, and I’ve traveled to the Philippines, Mexico, parts of Europe and Thailand. But never have I forgotten how Belize—at least the fantasy of it—started it all. While spurred by a promise of an adventure far from home in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, I made my own home close to the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. I can attribute much of what my life looks like today, 10 years later, to the longstanding allure of Belize.

I am grateful to The Lodge at Chaa Creek for offering friends and families the chance to actively participate in meaningful, likely life-changing eco-tours in western Belize. For me a visit to Chaa Creek’s 365-acre nature reserve would mean the realization of a dream too long deferred. I would relish the many experiential learning opportunities for which Chaa Creek is renowned, so I can return home from the adventure with a better understanding of the environment, history, culture and archaeology unique to Belize. I have a promise to keep, after all.

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