This past year my whole family took a cruise and very briefly visited Belize. The snapshot included incredible snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where we glided around the coral reefs and floated among the stingrays. We lunched on a delicious concoction of stewed beans and chicken while sipping a cold Belikin beer. We topped it off with the best homemade coconut ice cream I’ve ever tasted. The trip left my family with wonderful memories and reminded me of my aging father’s love of life. Although he didn’t snorkel he insisted on being there when we explored. He cheered us on, just as he had always done when I was growing up and experiencing new adventures.
When I was young, he taught me a love of nature and how to treat it with kindness. Although the terminology was different he taught us to reuse, recycle, and conserve. On walks, he would recite the names of trees and teach me their value. His knowledge has blessed my life in many ways. He passed away at home at the age of 83 just six months after the family’s cruise. Luckily, we had those precious memories and have re-lived the moments many times. I had shared my dream with him of returning to Belize someday.
This past Christmas, my sister gave me a gift certificate for airline tickets to visit Belize. She said it was a gift from her and Dad. I hope to honor my father’s love of nature and zest for life by visiting Chaa Creek. I can’t wait to walk through the jungle with my son as we learn about the native plants of Belize and identify the birds and their rhythmic calls. The excitement of seeing a blue morpho for the first time is almost too much. Perhaps we’ll mountain bike the trails of this 365-acre reserve or canoe the Macal River. Most of all, I can’t wait to close my eyes at night and listen to the sounds of the Jungle lull me to sleep. In this magical place, Dad will be smiling when we close our eyes under the Belizean moon.