Belize City, like a lot of cities in Central America, doesn’t have a good reputation. It is much less laid-back than the rest of the country and few find it charming.

Yet it changed.

We were there in 2001 and again in 2003. I had memories of a chaotic and dirty city, of barred windows and slightly unsavoury characters, of people locking their door tight as soon as the sun set.

Belize City still isn’t everyone’s favourite travel destination. Yes, it’s a bit dirty and some areas can be sketchy. I wouldn’t wander alone by the waterfront after dark. But the streets were cleaner and despite a few beggars and drunks, most people were welcoming.

We found a logical explanation to this—the all-almighty cruise ship.

When we last came in 2003, the waterfront was being built. It’s now fenced off and caters to cruise ship passengers who wander into Belize for a couple of hours—if they dare.

We walked to the lighthouse, at the end of the waterfront. For about 400 metres, we passed a Disneyland Belize—dubbed the “Belize Tourism Village”—complete with a fake “craft market” of made in China souvenirs, horse buggies shuttling tourists along the waterfront (US$20 per passenger for the ride!) and friendly police officers. There was even a pricey Mexican restaurant—because you know, Belize and Mexico are pretty much the same country and nothing says Belize like Mexican food, ya see?

Security was tight around the waterfront and even we couldn’t enter the area now reserved to cruise ship passengers that used to be public. No doubt the city centre was also “cleaned up” for these rich tourists. Not that it matters much to them: I doubt anyone ventures pass the tourist-friendly area.

In a way, it’s a shame. Why do these people even bother getting off the ship? What will they see of Belize?

On a side note, we just heard tonight on CNN that San Pedro Sula is now the most dangerous city in the world. Great to know, after we were there!

The Lighthouse
Shoe Tossing
Belize City Harbour
Jesus Is The Answer
On The Swing
Sadistic School
Old House
Belize City Church
Licensed To Sell Drugs and Poison
Belikin Beer
Old-Style Ads
Belize City
Belize City

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  1. Jeruen January 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Hello from Antigua! I just wanted to say that your eye for finding awesome signs to photograph is quite amazing! I like the licensed to sell drugs sign, as well as the sadistic school.

    You’re right, I am loving Antigua. Although tomorrow I head north, satisfying a crave for more mountainous terrain. I am heading up to Chichicastenango, and perhaps head all the way to Nebaj. We’ll see.

    1. Zhu January 25, 2012 at 1:25 am

      Sounds like you are having fun! Antigua is a great place to relax and it’s really picturesque. I knew you were going to like it! It’s a good mix of culture, history and adventure.

  2. Barb January 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I have never been here but, it looks like the Gringo tourist machine changes a lot.
    The verb “to sterlize” pops into my mind.
    On the more home grown style, I am loving those funky signs.

    1. Zhu January 25, 2012 at 1:26 am

      I love weird signs and I have quite a collection by now 😉


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