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Ritziní and Beliziní
by Valerie Clark

Where do Southerners go to find balmy breezes
right now? Why, farther south, of course.
Valerie Clark tells us all about Belize. This girl
can put some words on you.


I was so disgusted when I read that the location for that idiotic television program "Temptation Island" was Belize. I had always thought Belize's cool pine forests, steamy jungles, and fabulous cays were secret treasures to which only a lucky few of us were privy. Now, my precious pearls were being cast before these swine. I now feel I need to let you folks in on this info before the pigs trample my paradise to pieces.

Belize is a place that can be any type of vacation you fashion. The cays (islands) off the coast offer a largely undeveloped tropical paradise. Ambegeris Cay, the largest and most tourist friendly, has lovely small hotels and condominiums along the shore, sand streets (no cars), small restaurants, quaint shops, a school, a town square, some lovely nightspots and watering holes.

There is an airstrip that connects Ambegeris to the mainland and the other islands. The most celebrated attraction is the fabulous coral reef that runs along the coast, about a 10 minute boat ride from the shore.

Even if you've never imagined yourself a sportsman, let the natives guide you to an underwater paradise that is considered second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Serious divers consider this a premier dive destination, but enough of the beauty is at a level even virgin snorkelers can enjoy. My recommendation is to book a full day excursion, because the four hour trip was not enough. The beauty is indescribable. Exciting too, as I personally saw a man of war (harmless but scary) and a barracuda (benign in appearance, but not so harmless). OK, back to the boat, that's enough of that.

The area is also famous for bonefishing, and local outfitters can arrange fishing, diving, and snorkeling trips for you from the island. I have friends who visit twice a year just to fish.

Taking an island hopper to the mainland, we connected with a driver from the resort where we were staying in the interior. Here is where I suggest you make arrangements through an agent who has actually visited and is a specialist in Central American travel. Because Belize is largely unspoiled, it is also largely undeveloped, and you could end up with a lot less than you bargained for.

In our case, we ended up in the lap of luxury. Our cabins were built of mahogany, our linens were luxurious, the food was world-class, the tours were fun, the guides knowledgeable and friendly, and we met travelers from all over the world.

The Mayan ruins are spectacular in Belize, and most are easily accessible. There are cave tours, river tours, horseback tours, hiking tours, camping tours, pottery tours, you get the picture. Easily enough for three days of sightseeing. We used an agency located in New Orleans to book our trip, but if you go on-line and search Belize-Tours or Belize-Resorts, there are tons to pick from.

I'm telling you guys, you have got to see this place soon, because I'm afraid Conrad Hilton and Commodore Cruise Line are gonna ruin it for us.


Valerie Clark is a New Orleans native who jumps at the
chance to go. Say the word--she's packed. Val is a
Registered Nurse, the wife of Don, the mother of Jay and
Jamie, and mother-in-law to the USADEEPSOUTH editor's
terrific son, Will.

Reach Val at this address.

Read Jamie's HIGHWAY 61 poem and see Will's photography by clicking HERE.

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