Live Inspired: What I think about before I take a photo

Behind every snap, cultural, social and historical context needs to be considered.

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

I think about photography — and now videography — all the time.

I think about it when women in colorful skirts walk past colorful buildings. I think about it when old men in cowboy hats lean up against a building while devouring ice cream cones. I think about it every time I go into a market and the worn, leathery hands of the vendors contrast with the youthful ripeness of the produce.

Sometimes beautiful angles just occur, when the world so naturally aligns and a portrait emerges, so defined. Sometimes beautiful moments just happen, girls in flowing dresses dancing around a cotton tree, the sun’s golden light igniting pieces of their hair.

I think about taking these photos all the time.

But often, I don’t.

Why I refrain has nothing to do with the laws of whatever place I’m in, as someone on Instagram suggested to me recently, and everything to do with the complex cultural, social and historical considerations surrounding every snap.

Best places to drink in Placencia, Belize

From wine bars and bitters stands to beach bashes and renowned restaurants, your guide for where to find the best sips on this tropical peninsula.

Related content: • What to do  • Where to eat

Placencia, a laid-back village on Belize’s Central Coast, is far from a party town, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places to indulge between stints on the beach.

Start with these seven imbibing establishments:

Where to eat in Placencia, Belize

Check out these 10 street stands, fancy hotel bistros and bakeries to get your grub on across this tropical Belizean peninsula.

Related content: • What to doWhere to drink • 

For a small village with essentially one main road and a boardwalk, the food scene in Placencia, Belize is nothing to sniff at.

From cheap roadside bites to lauded eateries, there is plenty to peruse, starting with these ten highlights:

Live Inspired: In Gracias, change

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Shortly after I arrived in Gracias, Honduras last week and enthusiastically began posting photos of this beautiful colonial town brimming with red-tiled roofs and pristine, cafe-filled parks, someone on Instagram messaged me to ask a simple question:

Why was everything in Gracias so clean and well-kept and, well, so very different than where I had previously stayed, in Puerto Cortes?

My instinct was to say that like most places in this world, Honduras possesses range and dimension.

“Why are places in the US different from each other?” I countered. “Every place has variance.”

What to do in Placencia, Belize

A guide to the best beaching, bitters hopping and day tripping the peninsula has to offer.

Related content: • Where to eatWhere to drink

Tucked at the end of a peninsula on the Central coast of Belize, Placencia draws vacationers and retirees alike thanks to its tropical climate, prime beaches, laid-back vibe and English speakers.

The village won’t overload you with activities or bustle — part of its charm is that the Belizean adage “Go Slow” takes on a literal meaning here — but the longer you hang around, the more likely you’ll find there is more to this town than first strikes the eye, from the warmth of the intertwined local and expat communities to back streets that wind into the canals, revealing pockets of life not seen from the main stretch.

Like other tourist destinations in Central Belize, the prices are on the high end for Central America, a reality that should be evident at the first passing of shore-lining mansions and the celebrity-attracting Turtle Inn — a Francis Ford Coppola property that touts rooms for upwards of $500 USD a night. But just as there is luxury to be soaked up if you’re so inspired, there are deals to be found, too; and plenty to entertain for a week or more.

Live Inspired: On to Honduras

• In partnership with John Reamer & Associates

Last Friday, I departed Belize for Honduras.

Whenever I move on to a new country, I always get those jitters, that feeling of newness and change and excitement and anticipation of what to expect (since I rarely know or have time to exhaustively research any town).

But with Honduras, it was a little bit different. 

After a couple months in Belize, I was getting accustomed to a certain reaction when I told people I was traveling to the country most known around the world for its extreme poverty and recently, a migrant caravan that trekked more than 2,500 miles to the U.S. border around the time of the 2018 midterm elections (many of the migrants have given up on gaining entry, deciding to stay in Mexico or go home).

“Why?” many Belizeans asked me. “Why would you go?” 

I was finding, in many places, that the stereotypes we sometimes consider uniquely North American persist throughout Central America too. 

GUIDE: Caye Caulker, Belize

Chances are, if someone starts talking about Caye Caulker, “Shark-Ray Alley,” “KoKo King” beach and “The Split” are going to be among the first phrases out of their mouths. (Shoot, guess I just perpetuated that trend.)

Well, this isn’t that kind of guide — mostly because I didn’t DO the first two (I’m really bad at being a tourist), and the idea of needing a tour guide to tell you about the third is more ludicrous than a Belizean street without potholes.

Live Inspired: My loveletter to Belize

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

Almost exactly three months ago, I sat on a bus bound for the Belize border after wandering through Guatemala for about four months (minus a couple stops in the States).

I felt this contraction in my chest, then.

I remember thinking, and writing, that I felt I would always be connected with Guatemala, that I would always harbor some special feeling toward the country.

It’s still true. I still practice with my Guatemala-based Spanish teacher twice a week. I still think and read about the political happenings in a place whose landscapes astounded me and whose traditions overwhelmed me.

But even now, it feels far away. Because as this month draws to a close, it’s leaving Belize  (to move on to Honduras) that my heart is breaking over.

Live Inspired: Finding home in, leaving, Corozal

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

A month ago, I rolled into Corozal, a stranger.

Something compelled me to come, though no one had offered a recommendation; though the town wasn’t known for anything in particular; though I knew nothing of what to expect.

I booked a week in an apartment. I wondered if it was too long.

Then I stepped off the bus from Belize City and almost instantly had a feeling. A feeling I would stay longer than planned. A feeling that something special was in the air.

Four weeks later, as I snaked through the sea grape trees at the water’s edge, mentally preparing to finally move on, I understood that instinct.

I was meant to arrive in Corozal. It was a place that slowed my anxiety and calmed my soul. A place where, though I didn’t know it yet, my community was waiting.